By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities firstname.lastname@example.org
Last month here on IAC, I featured several condo and HOA bills filed in the Florida Legislature. Several consumer protections bills simply died in committee, without a single reading. These bills included:
SB 1364 and HB 6103, which would have revoked the power of HOA boards of planned communities to impose monetary fines on homeowners. Related bills, HB 1039 and SB 1362, sought to prohibit the current right of HOAs (governing planned communities) to allow a fine of more than $1,000 to become a lien against an owner’s home.
SB 1296 and HB 1033, both of which would have created an Ombudsman for owners of homes in HOA-governed planned communities of single family homes.
HB 811 and SB 274, bills that proposed creating fraud investigation units that would handle allegations made by owners of property in condominium associations (but not HOAs governing planned communities).
On a more positive note, the 2022 legislative session ended with key disagreements between the House and Senate on a Construction Defects and Building Code Violations bill, SB 736. The bill proposed making it more difficult for homeowners and HOAs to pursue construction defect claims. Not surprisingly, it had the support of HOA-industry real estate developers, as well as home and multifamily property builders, architects, and contractors.
For details on these bills, and Legislative links, see my previous posts.
Note to HOA consumer advocates: Don’t give up the fight
It’s important to remember that many bills are filed each legislative session, and, each year, only a fraction of them become state law. Most bills that eventually become law are refiled two or three times (or more), before they gain traction in the state Legislature.
HOA-industry trade groups, real estate developers and construction trade groups, financial institutions, insurance industry stakeholders, and Realtor Associations understand that it takes persistence to get the attention of lawmakers. They won’t give up, until their proposals are soundly defeated by overwhelming opposition. You can bet that industry-backed bills will return in 2023, and their bills will gain momentum, unless we actively oppose their anti-consumer, anti-homeowner bills.
And here’s the other side of the coin. Homeowner and housing advocates must not allow consumer-friendly bills to die. We must enthusiastically support condo and HOA legislation that will actually help homeowners and residents to protect their rights and their financial interests. That includes speaking out publicly in support of bills that rein in abusive behavior in the HOA management and legal industries, and revoke or limit excessive powers of HOA boards, be they owner-controlled or Declarant-controlled.
This advice applies across the U.S., not just in Florida.