Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A well-informed and organized group of Floridians can make a difference in the process!

On the 13th day of the 2011 Florida Legislative Session, House leaders proposed draconian deregulation measures for Condominiums, Cooperatives, Timeshares, Mobile homes, as well as Homeowners’ Association and Community Association Managers. Almost two weeks after the deadline to file legislation, legislators bypassed standard procedural rules and attempted to fast track these changes using special budget rules.

My group, the Community Advocacy Network (CAN), immediately notified our 3,000 member associations of the attempt to quickly strip homeowners of critical consumer protections. Within hours, legislators’ phone lines were lighting up and their inboxes were flooded with e-mails from homeowners expressing their complaints and requesting meetings.

Within a day of our members taking action, legislators were calling CAN asking for more information on our position. We quickly armed our members with concise talking points, thorough analyses and a strategic plan to defeat this attack on community associations. Our members’ swift action made their voices heard in Tallahassee before the measure got too far along and legislators were in a position where they could not go back. Other groups out there similarly mobilized to defeat this bill.

Exactly a week later, the community association provisions were stripped from the bill.

I could not be more proud of our members and the other groups and individuals around the State who joined in this fight.

In addition to stripping homeowners of important consumer protections, the legislation would have put them on the hook for expensive legal costs by eliminating the state’s arbitration program and forcing them to the courts to seek remedy. The plan also would have reverted more than $6 million dollars in fees paid by owners to the state’s general budget fund.

We had been gearing up for a lengthy battle but this quick defeat shows how a well-informed and organized group of Floridians can make a difference in the process.

This work by Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Generic License.

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