FL bills conscript condo renters and hold them liable for HOA assessments

I am quite disturbed by this Florida legislation that attempts to save the condominium industry at the expense of unit renters, who are detested by all “loyal” condo and HOA believers.  As a non-signee to the Declaration, renters are looked upon as second-class citizens of the Condo society, treated as personae non gratae, and feared that they may destroy precious property values.

In spite of this view or renters, or maybe because of it, these two bills before the Florida Legislature, HB 329 and S 2458, now turn to these second-class condo “citizens” to impose financial obligations on renters — as substitutes for delinquent unit owners — by statutory fiat.  While any imposed obligation on the renter similar to a garnishment of the unit owner is rational and ethically acceptable, up to the amount of the rental payments, the bill gets extreme when it declares that “the unit’s tenant is jointly and severally  liable with the unit and unit owner for the unit and unit  owner’s monetary obligations to the association.”

This forced service to the private condo governments that operate outside the Constitution is quite draconian (emphasis added):

The tenant’s monetary obligations to the association include, but are not limited to, all assessments and installments, late charges, collection costs, attorney’s fees  and court costs, and other monetary obligations from the unit  owner to the association, and any interest thereon, that come  due against the unit or the unit owner from the date of the  association’s notice to the tenant, and accruing to the date all  the monetary obligations are paid in full, regardless of whether the lease is terminated or otherwise concluded. In addition to  all other remedies, the association may enforce the tenant’s liability by evicting the tenant, either in the association’s name or in the name of the unit owner . . . .”

 

While the intent of the sponsor has merit, the execution of that intent is highly defective.  In fact, the bill appears to be punitive of the renter, placing the burden for the financial crisis, the unit owners delinquency, and the condo board’s failure to prudently manage the condo onto the innocent renter. Talk about government interference into private lease agreements!  Its actions —  tantamount to state actions — in support of, in cooperation with, and constituting a symbiotic relationship, take the cake.  

There is no “Legislative Intent” section, as found in the Sponsor’s other bill, HB 237, whereby the legislature attempts to define the legitimate government purpose in enacting such statutes.  Perhaps because they can’t justify this outlandish bill to protect a private government unaccountable to the state.  Perhaps because there is no compelling reason for this violations of due process when, today, there are remedies available to the HOA/condo to collect delinquent owner rental income.

Would the Legislature dare impose such obligations on all renters to compensate for property owners not paying their real estate taxes to the local government?   Aren’t these local governments also facing huge shortfalls and are shutting down services, too? What is this obsession to protect authoritarian private governments over civil governments?

Nothing has been proposed to hold the condo strictly accountable to the state or to provide for strict penalties against condo violations of the laws and Declaration. The same abuse that the sponsor is well aware of will now infect the renters in a three-way free-for-all as to who’s at fault, and who is not obeying the laws.  It will be a nightmare.  There is even no provision to inform and warn those seeking to rent in a condo of these obligations being imposed on them by this bill. 

What is readily apparent is that property values come first and foremost over long cherished values of justice, fairness, and upholding constitutional protections that reign in out-of-control governments.  Paraphrasing Jim Wallis in Rediscovering Values,

Do we want [property] values to prevail everywhere and in all things?  Are there some areas of life where [property] values should not determine what is most important — personal and family relationships, ethics and religion, community and public service and social justice?  Are there certain things degraded when [property values] are allowed to be the ultimate measure?  Are there certain social values and practices that are higher than market values? 

 

Read the full bill at HB 239.

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Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 7:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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