Is Florida’s SB 596 a good bill? YES! Part 1

This post is in response to several comments to Florida SB 596 creates a bona fide state HOA agency as necessary state oversight.   I read the 124 page bill and some general comments are in order. 

First, the bill contains just technical corrections, word changes, and division name changes in the last part, after page 40 or so.  The first part deals with the enforcement powers given to the division on condos and HOAs, and the next part deal with some regulatory changes – how HOAs are to operate. This is not a complete rewrite of Chapter 720 as occurred with California’s Davis-Stirling Act that regulates HOAs.

Second, as to changes in the law, opposing the bill because it does not contain a revision that you feel is necessary is not rational.  If the bill proposes changes that you do not like, try to get the sponsor to see it your way.  Others may not see it your way.  But this condition can be handled in subsequent bills.  However, if you feel that the bill’s “bad” seriously outweighs any “good,” then it is understandable that you may be opposed to the bill.

Third, as to some of the general objections made that the bill is too big and is not properly written legislation, I object.  I’ve read many bills from several states, and like law suit filings, the format and organization of the bills varies according to the existing structure and organization of a state’s statutes or code. 

The substantive changes in SB 596 deal with the new enforcement statutes, and some improved changes to the existing statutes.  They are not overwhelming compared to many pro-HOA bills that have been adopted by states.  I do agree that some changes really need to be fixed if they are to be consistent with the intent to protect homeowners, but not so serious as to oppose the bill. 

Fourth, it should be remembered, as Alexander Hamilton once said, “If there is no penalty [for] disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation (Federalist Papers #15).  And that’s the overriding intent of this bill — accountability through enforcement. No more free rides for HOA boards. 

Homeowners should be concerned about a watering down of the enforcement provisions, as has occurred in other states, than with nit-picking other issues.  The enforcement is by the state, as it should be, and not out of the homeowner’s pocket.  Florida cannot say that not punishing violators of the law is good public policy.

And, in contrast to the “sky is falling” clamor, accountability will not do in HOAs.  This country has survived for some 230 years subject to the constraints and restrictions of the US Constitution. So can HOAs, but perhaps those who live off the unjust current state of affairs cannot?

Part 2 will contain some details of this bill.

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Published in: on March 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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