11 May Senate Bill 1692 To Make Criminals Out Of Corrupt Condo Boards
By Ross Milroy | May 11, 2017
Senate Bill 1692 looks to end rampant abuses of power and corruption within our many condo boards in Miami
South Florida has been notorious for some of the most rampant abuses of power and corruption within our many condominium boards. It’s now up to Rick Scott to sign off on Senate Bill 1682 which will allow for individuals to be criminally punished for condo violations – both for the board and those engaging with it.
In a mission to control the “mini dictatorships,” “totalitarian regimes,” as Hialeah Republican Senator René Garca put it, Senate Bill 1682 if signed into law will crack down on violations that include fraud, falsifying information, failing to provide financial information, stealing, manipulating records and more.
In addition to regulating fraud, one of the best elements of this bill is the creation of term limits for board members. In many cases, buildings have a master association that was appointed by the developer with those very same members still in control from the time the building first opened its doors. There are countless stories of condo boards hiring friends and relatives as preferred vendors – issuing them contracts worth hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars. Many long-term board members have moved out of the building since their time of appointment, but they still remain on the board and have been known to create and enforce policy that is not in the best interest of the building residents.
With hundreds of units filling the coffers of these associations, issues like multi-million dollar annual parking contracts are treated simply as financial cash cows as opposed considering what will best serve those actually living in the building and paying the fees. With so many part time owners and investors that typically make up the majority of owners in Miami’s condominiums, residents wind up in situations like being forced to pay for contractors, or even a housekeeper, a minimum of $24 to park for a couple hours while they perform work in a unit.
With this law in place, directors will no longer be allowed to receive money from their associations or be allowed to hire their relatives, leaving them more prone to consider fair and best regulations. Better yet, now that they are no longer filling their own pockets, they are likely to resign the seat all together making way for someone more suited for the position. To ensure transparency, financial documents will be required to be published online via password-protected sites.
On the other side, the Bill will also allow for those owners who are looking to cheat the associations to receive criminal punishments. Those found falsifying information, failing to provide financial information, stealing or manipulating records or committing board member election fraud will now face severe consequences.
It is about time the wild, wild West of condominium control be returned to the residents. I urge anyone who plays by the books and feels tenant and owner’s rights should come before the profit of a board member to support Governor Scott’s signing of this bill into law.
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