July 5, 2010
AN EASY DICTIONARY FOR DAILY USE
Okay folks, here is a short lesson on Condominium and HOA Living in Florida: This week's lesson: Let's start with the Department where you go to file a complaint.
Their Mission Statement:
"The mission of the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes is to assist our customers by educating them about their rights and responsibilities as provided in the regulatory acts we administer; and to respond timely and appropriately to our customers thereby providing enhanced public protection, quality service, and increased customer satisfaction."
Anyone care to guess what the DBPR means by "enhanced public protection" and "customer satisfaction"?
Enhanced public protection - We have an 800 number you can call, but if you are in any serious kind of trouble, don't call us! We can't interpret your Condo/HOA documents, we can't represent you legally on any matter, we can't even enforce the laws, because it would be a conflict of interest to "our customers."
Customer Satisfaction - Keep the statistics low so no one figures out that there is a monstrous problem in Condos/HOAs. Keep the complainants going around in circles until they sell their unit and stop filing complaints.
Here are more DBPR words for you to learn....
Customer - Someone other than those unlucky few (millions) who live in a condominium or HOA and comply with Section 718.501(2)(a), Florida Statutes and pay to the division an annual fee in the amount of $4.00 for each residential unit.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty - If you do it, everyone knows you did it. But it's a conflict of interest to satisfy any customers by actually finding anyone guilty of it and penalizing them.
Task Force - A group of our finest customer satisfaction experts. They're highly trained in listening to thousands of complaints from residents all over the state and then doing absolutely nothing about it.
Common Funds - If you're a board member, the maximum amount of money that will fit in your pocket and you end up keeping after taxes. (Refer to Breach of Fiduciary Duty, read it, study it, and then ignore it. Don't get scared, you get to keep the money)
Official Records - Any bit of incriminating evidence still left after going through the paper shredder. Law Enforcement will not ever need to see any of it, so it makes really good sense to get rid of it. It increases customer satisfaction. No proof that some board member took the money = No Complaints = Higher Customer Satisfaction.
Education - Lessons in enforcement and creating lawsuits. Paid for at an annual rate of $500,000 by the condo owners. The DBPR chose to hand this "task" to the Community Association Institute, a trade organization of lawyers and service providers, known to fight any consumer-friendly bills in Tallahassee. This money will definitely help the CAI to gain more influence in Tallahassee to defeat homeowners' initiatives!
Enforcement - Bother the hell out of the customers by sending them letters with pretty "Right Here, Right Now!" logos and wait until the customer laughs at it, takes it to court or moves to Georgia.
Violation Letter - This is divided into three parts. Informational Letter, Written Warning, and we don't know yet what to call the third, so we'll just call it Administrative Action.
Informational Letter - Welcome Letter. Usually accompanied with brochures of Florida's Capitol and pictures of bull droppings.
Written Warning - Welcome Letter, brochures of Florida's Capitol, lots and lots of pictures of bull droppings and complimentary references to "The Yellow Book," closely resembling but not to be confused with the Yellow Pages.
Administrative Action - Scare the hell out of people thinking of making complaints and ruining the customer satisfaction statistics by threatening the complainants with fines of up to $5,000 per violation.
Fines - Toll free calls to 1-800-226-9101 are billed at a rate equivalent to $18 for each serious violation mentioned. But at no rate will the total of any one phone call exceed $5,000 billable to caller and all his/her neighbors. There is no limit to the amount of violations, but in order to keep costs down and keep the customer satisfaction statistics high, only one serious violation per customer is recommended.
Community Association Manager - One of over 8,500 currently licensed magicians in Florida who can make millions of dollars disappear and not ever be held accountable for it. It's simple. The person gets an attorney friend and makes him the registered agent for all the associations they entertain. When a problem occurs, the CAM blames the Agent, the Agent blames the board, the board blames the unit owners, the unit owners fork up the bill.
Registered Agent - The person who receives all the complaints and replies to them. This person usually bills the association at a rate of over $300 per violation to provide answers. Should the response cause the association to incur a fine, this person's rates just doubled.
Yellow Book - A list of telephone numbers of the wealthiest and most powerful legislators and attorneys in Florida. "718" and "720" of the Florida Statutes, refer to their hourly rates. The higher the number, the higher the hourly rate. The formula is really complicated and only a skilled DBPR employee can tell you how it works. Here is an example, Section 718.501 violations are billed at about $510 per hour, while 718.1255 are billed at $1255.
Accountability - (Pronounced, A-Cow-in-Tabul-eats-tea) Who knows what this one means! We couldn't find it in the Yellow Book, somebody must have torn the page out.
Author's Note: Not all board members, volunteers, condominium associations, home owner associations, attorneys, registered agents, legislators, community association manager and employees of the DBPR use the above dictionary. Many of them want to provide real enhanced customer protection, the kind where homeowners are protected from losing their homes for owing four cents to their association, the kind where you protect homeowners from abusive boards by going after the board members who break the law. Keep in mind the torture and cruelty those customers go through only to find out three years later and getting deep into the system that "There is nowhere else to go!"
The problem is ... Florida has been using the same dictionary and Yellow Book for many, many years and nobody has the guts to put the above definitions in the Florida Statutes. Why? Who's running the show? Please bring us peace, please do something about this huge problem. Just do your job and put one of the violators in jail!
Written by: Jan Bergemann, President
Join the Campaign to Bring Peace to Florida's Residents Living in Deed Restricted Homes and Condominiums.