Monday, March 14, 2011

New bill could eliminate the Division of Florida Condominiums and regulation of community association managers!

I was fortunate to be invited as a guest last week at the Broward Workshop’s State of the County address where Governor Rick Scott was the keynote speaker. Governor Scott talked about running our State the way a CEO would run a successful company. As such, he talked about eliminating non-productive assets or services that he does not see as being core functions of the State as well as controlling costs. He promptly sold off the state-owned planes and abolished several offices he saw as being non-productive or inane.

I was not entirely surprised to learn later that same day that a 281-page monster deregulation bill is awaiting its first airing on Tuesday, March 15th at 8:00 am in front of the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee. Among other things, PCB BCAS 11-01 deletes the provisions which established the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes as one of the many divisions within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

This Proposed Committee Bill (PCB) would also significantly change items that were previously regulated by the Division including, among other items, removing the prohibition against directors, officers and managers accepting items of value from community vendors; removing the civil penalty for those persons who knowingly or intentionally deface or destroy accounting records which must be created or maintained; deleting the requirement to provide a financial report to unit owners; removing the requirement that developers submit advertising materials to the Division.

In addition, this PCB would also repeal Part VIII of Chapter 468 of the Florida Statutes which relates to the licensure and regulation of Community Association Managers and management firms as well as the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers. In recent years, we have taken steps to impose tighter regulation of those individuals and firms who provide management services to the more than 55,000 associations in our State. The prevailing school of thought has been that there must be even stricter oversight of the individuals entrusted with managing large budgets and issues for the millions of Floridians living in these communities.

This 281-page bill removes the licensing required for occupations ranging from mold remediators to certain types of cosmetologists. If this bill is any indication, the assessment of what is and is not a “core function” of Florida’s regulatory powers cut across a wide swath of our society!

While I have heard from many folks who feel that the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes is an ineffective organization incapable of resolving disputes in a timelyor satisfactory manner, the question here is what is the “Plan B” in place for the void that will result when all State regulation is gone?

There appears to be no successor agency in place to take over the current duties of the Division should this bill pass in its current form. Would this spell a return to the only recourse for association disputes resting with the courts? Perhaps that is exactly what is intended and the State no longer wishes to be involved in association squabbles?

What say you? Are you in favor of total deregulation of the Community Association Management industry as well as eliminating the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes?

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

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