Posted By Deborah Goonan
Tsk, tsk, tsk! Another Florida HOA has evolved into a war zone. You must see this news 10 video of a Mainlands 3 HOA Board meeting to believe it. Screaming (with vulgar words bleeped out), a group of angry homeowners voting to recall the Board, physical altercations that might have been worse if not caught on film. Accusations and threats dominate the dialogue. The Board simply adjourning the meeting, rather than stepping down and allowing a new Board to take charge.
According to the owners interviewed, including the Board Secretary/Treasurer, life has become hellish in this retirement community. Two Board members appointed their wives to serve on the Board, hired at least one unlicensed contractor to do work for the Association, and allegedly prohibit access to the HOA computer for the Treasurer. The Board has racked up $60,000 in legal fees fighting against owners.
In theory, we are told by Community Associations Institute (CAI) – the HOA-industry trade group – volunteer Board members are doing a “thankless job,” need not be prescreened with background checks, should not be required to obtain management training, and should remain largely unaccountable under the “business judgment rule.” After all, they proclaim, owners can simply vote for a new Board or remove one or more members by Recall. And the Association can purchase insurance policies (sold by CAI members, of course) to cover Errors and Omissions, and theft or embezzlement through Infidelity provision. No big deal!
Of course, as you can see from the TV report, it’s not that easy to get a rogue or unwanted Board to step down, even when you jump through all the legal hoops and follow procedure. This case is headed for arbitration, and maybe even civil court. In the meantime, the homeowners have to endure continued misery and possible misuse of their hard-earned retirement savings.
Good luck to these homeowners on getting local law enforcement or the Attorney General to conduct any serious investigation into criminal allegations of reported financial irregularities. In Florida, as in some other states, real estate developers and CAI lobby heavily to ensure weak regulation of HOAs. The law is simply not on the side of homeowners.
Hats off to Bob Norman, Channel 10 News, for continuing to cover HOA issues in Florida. These stories vividly highlight – for the general public – how out of control Board members and Management Companies lead to anything but happiness in the Sunshine State.
Link to Local 10 News report on Tamarac HOA (Bob Norman)