Condominium Complaint Process

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  • 1. BACK TO MENUThe CondominiumComplaint Process 1
  • 2. The Division The Department of Business and Professional Regulations, Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes, (“Division”) is charged among other things with the responsibility of ensuring that condominiums, cooperative, timeshares and mobile home parks comply with the requirements of the Chapters, 326, 718, 719, 721, and 723 and their associated administrative rules. With respect to condominium complaints, the Bureau of Compliance, (“Bureau”) within the Division, handles complaints alleging violations of the Condominium Act and the administrative rules related to residential condominiums. The Bureau’s goal in resolving complaints is to provide education to board members and unit owners. The Bureau will attempt to resolve complaints against developers and associations as provided in the Division’s enforcement resolution guidelines, (61B-20 and 61B-21), which are based primarily on the harm caused by the alleged violation, and the associations compliance history. 2
  • 3. What is an accepted complaint? 61B-21.001(1)(a) defines an accepted complaint as follows: • (a) “Accepted complaint” means a complaint received by the division containing sufficient documentation and addressing a subject within the jurisdiction of the division, pursuant to Section 718.501(1), F.S. 3
  • 4. Accepted Complaint continued…The complaint must: Allege a violation of Chapter 718, F.S., or the Division’s rules; Contain a plain statement of specific facts upon which the complainant bases the allegation that a violation of Chapter 718, F.S. or a rule occurred. A complaint that merely recites the statutes or is based on mere suspicion or speculation, without a plain statement of facts clearly describing what is alleged to have occurred, will not be accepted; Contain sufficient evidentiary documentation. For example, a complaint alleging access to records must contain the request to access the association records; and It must be an issue that the Division has jurisdiction over. 4
  • 5. Accepted Complaint continued…A complaint that fails to meet these criteria will be returned to the complainant with an explanation as to why it was not accepted with suggestions as to how the complaint may be made acceptable, and resubmitted. 5
  • 6. What is the Division’s Jurisdiction? Prior to turnover of control of the condominium association from the developer to the unit owners, the Division has jurisdiction to enforce compliance with Chapter 718 and the associated administrative rules. After turnover of control of the condominium association, the Division’s jurisdiction in a condominium association is limited to the following issues: • Financial; • Election; • Access to Records. 6
  • 7. Financial IssuesA financial issue means an allegation that involves the maintenance or accuracy of accounting records; assessments, including the process by which assessments are imposed; budgets, including the budget preparation and adoption process; reserves including the amounts and the use of such reserves for their proper purpose; financial reporting; and use of association funds. 7
  • 8. Financial Issues continued…Specifically, financial issues would be as follows: • Failure to maintain accounting records; • Assessment percentages or insufficient budget; • Developer assessment guarantees; • Financial reporting; • Budget preparation and adoption; • Reserve funding and use of reserves for other purposes; • Transfer fees; 8
  • 9. Financial Issues continued…• Bids;• Transfer audits;• Converter reserves;• Escrow of purchaser deposits;• Board member compensation;• Using association funds for non common expenses;• Using special assessment funds for purposes other than intended;• Insurance proceeds and related expenses. 9
  • 10. Election IssuesElection issues include but are not limited to the following:• Notice of the election;• Ballots, envelopes, certification forms;• Candidate eligibility;• The election. 10
  • 11. Access to RecordsAccess to records issues include but are not limited to the following:• Unit owner denial of access to records;• Records that are open for inspection and records that are not open for inspection;• Maintenance of records. 11
  • 12. The Complaint Form 12
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  • 15. Filling Out the Complaint Form Enter your name, mailing address, telephone number(s) and e-mail address. Indicate whether your complaint is against the developer or against your association. Enter the name of that party, followed by the name of the developer’s principal officer or the association’s president, as applicable, followed by that party’s address and telephone number, if known. State whether you have notified the party against whom the complaint is filed. If so, state how you provided such notification. Identify the date that the declaration of condominium was recorded in the public records, if known. In the case of a cooperative, identify the date the association was incorporated. Insert “unknown” if you do not know this date. 15
  • 16. Complaint Form continued… Check in the appropriate space whether turnover of control has occurred, (i.e., whether the developer has turned over control of the association to the non-developer unit owners). If you have retained an attorney regarding this complaint, please indicate whether it is permissible for the Division to contact your attorney. If so, please provide the attorney’s name, address, and telephone number. If you and/or your attorney have filed a lawsuit pertaining to the issue(s) in this complaint, please indicate and attach copies of the court complaint and any other pertinent documents (e.g., pleadings, orders, et cetera). Additionally, please indicate whether a petition for a Declaratory Statement and/or Mandatory Non-binding Arbitration has been filed with the Division regarding your allegations. Please include a short and plain statement of each issue you wish the Division to review. 16
  • 17. Where to file?Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes Bureau of Compliance 1940 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Fl 32399-1031 17
  • 18. Compliance OfficesThe Bureau of Compliance has offices in: Tallahassee Orlando Tampa Ft. Lauderdale/Miami. 18
  • 19. Once the Complaint is received by the Division Cases are normally assigned to the investigators within 3 days of the receipt. The investigator will contact the complainant to discuss the issues in the complaint. This will be to determine whether the complaint is within our jurisdiction and if additional information is needed. This will be followed up with a letter to the complainant acknowledging the complaint. 19
  • 20. Initial Contact with ComplainantBefore taking action on a complaint, the investigator obtains information and documentation sufficient to constitute a reasonable basis for concluding that a violation has occurred.• For example, a complainant who merely states that, "The Division needs to review our books because these guys are crooked" has not stated a reasonable basis for concluding that a violation has occurred.• On the other hand, if the complainant states, "I have looked at my associations records and the reserve account ledger balances dont match what is in the reserve bank account" they have provided a reasonable basis for concluding that a violation may have occurred.• If a complainant cannot or refuses to provide sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable basis, the case may be closed due to a lack of documentation. 20
  • 21. Initial Contact with Complainant continued…In some cases the Bureau would accept a complaint without any evidence while in others evidence would be required.• Specifically, if the complaint is that a unit owner didn’t get the year- end financial report or a notice of it’s availability, there is no evidence that the complainant can provide in this type of complaint, so we would investigate the issue.• In a case were the complaint is that the board used reserves for other than their intended purpose, the investigator would ask the complainant how they know this. If they say, “I was out at the pool talking to Joe and he told me”, this is not sufficient evidence. At this point, the investigator would indicate that either Joe needs to file the complaint or that the complainant would need to provide some form of evidence to indicate a possible violation. (May be a set of financial statements, ledgers, or bank statements.) 21
  • 22. Identifying Allegations & Determining JurisdictionEach complaint will be analyzed to determine the following: Who is the complaint filed against; The allegations; and Whether the case should be handled by a financial investigator. 22
  • 23. Identifying Allegations & Determining Jurisdiction continued… Complainants alleging that crimes have been committed will be informed that the Division does not conduct criminal investigations and that they should consider presenting their evidence to their local law enforcement agency or local State’s Attorney Office. If evidence of criminal activity becomes apparent during an investigation, the matter may be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency. 23
  • 24. Non-Jurisdiction Complaints If the association is a master association, possible Ch. 720, or is a hotel-condominium, the Division may not have jurisdiction. The Division does not have jurisdiction over CAM’s, contractors or CPA’s. However, the Bureau of Investigative Services within the Department does have jurisdiction over these individuals and may be able to assist the complainants in these instances. 24
  • 25. Resolution of Complaints The Bureau’s goal in resolving complaints is to provide education to board members and unit owners to ensure compliance with the Condominium Act and the associated administrative rules. The Bureau will attempt to resolve complaints against developers and associations as provided in the Division’s enforcement resolution guidelines, (61B-20 and 61B-21), which are based primarily on the harm caused by the alleged violation, and the associations compliance history. 25
  • 26. Customer Contact Center For additional information concerning the Condominium or Cooperative Acts and to request copies of educational materials available to condominium and cooperative unit owners you may contact the Department’s Customer Contact Center at Center at 1-800-226-9101 (Florida Only) or 850-488-1122. You may also e-mail the Department at call.center@dbpr.state.fl.us Statutes and other information concerning the division are available on the World Wide Web at www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/lsc/index.html 26