We all saw
episodes of the TV series "Seinfeld" and we all have
read about -- or experienced -- condo
commandos at work, leading to condo wars. Our media reports
daily about the shenanigans in our condominiums that many of us
Despite the fact that
condominiums have a regulatory agency called the DBPR (Department
of Business and Professional Regulations), condo owners experience
on a continual basis the failure of this agency to protect their
welfare. We see recurrent examples of DBPR employees who would
rather write five-page letters trying to explain that they don't
have jurisdiction -- no matter true or false -- instead of writing
a one-page letter to quickly solve the problem.
DBPR’s so-called “warning letters” are the
laughingstock of whole communities.
Pleas for better education --
an important tool for owners to understand the problems -- have
gotten us nowhere. Maybe
we should mention that the DBPR pays up to $250,000 annually to CAI
(Community Associations Institute), a trade organization of
service providers. Where
does this money come from? It
comes from the annual $4.00 dues paid by each condo owner to the
Condo Trust Fund. What
sort of “education” does the CAI provide annually for that
“lessons” for maximum 2,500 "invited" owners --
mostly board members -- are laced with biased information that
supports the agenda of CAI. Don't
forget, for this large amount of money it would be so easy to
create an educational system that would reach many more condo
owners with an informative and unbiased message.
Former Condo Ombudsman, Dr.
Virgil Rizzo, was on the right track when he was unceremoniously
fired by former Governor Jeb Bush in May 2006. Rizzo
was fired because he obviously stepped on the toes of some special
interests by trying to do his job of protecting the rights and
welfare of Florida's condo owners. The contents of Rizzo’s website that contained
much-needed information for condo owners obviously angered certain
"professionals" and it was gone three days after he was
fired. Now only the wording of statutes can be found on these
WebPages. What a waste
of good resources!
Since nobody seems to care
enough to supply millions of condo owners with easily accessible
and much-needed information, we think it's about time to fill this
void. It will be a
work in progress.
There is a wealth of excellent
information available, information that could help to stop many of
these expensive condo wars before they escalate. If
owners and board members alike have the right information, lots of
money could be saved each year -- money that could be used for
much-needed maintenance and beautification of these communities.
If all board members and owners
did their homework, they often would find that they are on the
wrong side of the rules and regulations. We often hear the excuse:
"Our attorney and/or manager told us that we can do
this." The outcome of many lawsuits has proved them wrong!
Please never forget:
Nobody else pays the bills for often ill-advised lawsuits.
Only the owners pay the bills.
So please take the time to
inform yourself before you commit your money and your neighbors'
money to a useless fight! Even
the worst agreement between the feuding parties is better than the
best litigation. Never
forget: The only winners in these lawsuits are the attorneys --
not you and not your neighbors!
So please use the information supplied and to wisely help yourself
and your neighbors. Don't
forget: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!