Florida Senate OKs Criminal Penalties for Condo Associations

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on May 29, 2017

condo associationsA bill is in the Florida Senate that would impose criminal penalties on condo association violations, but not for the condo owners.

Senate Bill 1682 would allow criminal penalties for fraud, falsifying information, stealing, manipulating records, failing to provide financial information, and other violations by condo associations.

Republican Sen. René Garca and Miami Democrat José Javier Rodríguez said they sponsored the bill because some condo associations had become “mini dictatorships” or “totalitarian regimes.” Election fraud is rampant in Miami-Dade but goes uninvestigated by police or prosecutors because there is no criminal violation for doing so.

If the bill is signed into law, condo associations with 149 members or more will be required to publish financial reports online, term-limit board directors, and prevent board directors from receiving money from the COA or hiring relatives to run it.

Even without criminal penalties for condo-specific fraud, Miami-Dade police have been cracking down on problem COAs, including one former accounting assistant who was charged with first-degree theft for stealing more than $150,000 from an association in Kendall.

The problem was brought to light in part by an investigative partnership between Univision and the El Nuevo Herald. The series, called Condo Nightmares, covered problems with condo fraud in the area.

Another bill in the legislature this term has addressed fee violations for Estoppel letters, which are required by home sellers to prove that the association is in good standing before a lender finances a property in an association. COAs and HOAs are allowed to charge a “reasonable fee” for the information, but some had been charging up to $1,000 for the letters.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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