Jan Bergmann

Homeownership was once described as the “American Dream” but over the years that dream has become a nightmare.  Not too long ago, the headline grabbing horror stories reported the outlandish behavior and abuses of overbearing boards and managers who apparently believed their mission on earth was to harass elderly veterans for having the temerity to fly a flag on private property, to go after handicapped people for needing a service animal and children for wanting to have the toys all children have, or should have, when they are growing up.   And what about all those promises made by all and sundry about HOAs protecting the values of the “American Dream”?

Could things really get worse?

Jan Bergemann joins us On The Commons this week.  Jan is the tireless and prolific president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice. Little happens in Florida that Jan doesn’t know about.  We talk about what happens when a poorly constructed condominium project faces millions of dollars in repair costs. Suing the developer for shoddy workmanship may not be the answer, especially when the developer is a Limited Liability Corporation.  The owners, mostly retirees who paid top dollar for their units now find themselves facing tens of thousands of dollars in special assessments while watching the values of their “dream” home plummet.   Shoddy construction and the total lack of government oversight are not the only threat to “home sweet home”.  Another major issue many condo owners face is “termination”, also known as the eminent domain bill in Florida.  This is a law that allows a majority of the owners to strip an owner of his or her home regardless of whether the owner is paid up or not.  Tune in and find out how many different ways you and your bank account are being used, abused and bled dry.  And next time someone tries to convince you that HOAs protect property values, don’t believe a word of it.

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7 thoughts on “Jan Bergmann”

  1. Florida is not the only state that allows an 80% approval for termination of condominium. Pennsylvania does, too.

    PA condo statute on termination (voluntary)

    “Cross References. Section 3219 is referred to in sections 3102, 3211, 3303 of this title.
    § 3220. Termination of condominium.
    (a) Number of votes required.–Except in the case of a taking of all the units by eminent domain (section 3107), a condominium may be terminated only by agreement of unit owners of units to which at least 80% of the votes in the association are allocated, or any larger percentage the declaration specifies. The declaration may specify a smaller percentage only if all of the units in the condominium are restricted exclusively to nonresidential uses.”

    Now the PA statute is somewhat preferable to FL statute — the FL statute allows for a smaller than 80% approval even if all the condos are for residential use.

  2. In fact, if you look at Uniform Condominium law, it also provides for 80% approval for termination:

    “Nobody buys a condominium unit expecting termination of the project, but it must be considered as a possibility. The UCA provides for termination only by agreement of at least 80 percent of the unit owners. The termination provisions then provide for any sale of real estate, protection of creditors, distribution of proceeds, and division of interests among the owners. Their interests are to be valued, basically, at the fair market value for their shares.”

    http://www.uniformlaws.org/ActSummary.aspx?title=Condominium%20Act

    We all know who wrote the UCA. Any state adopting a version of this Act would probably have the same provisions for termination.

    The problem centers on who is making the decision to terminate — and that comes down to how the votes are allocated. When a handful of investors hold most of the units, they control the votes and the entire termination process. Homestead owners are the losers in this condo game.

  3. It’s going to get worse before (if ever) it gets better.

    Since it’s obvious that the courts and legislatures aren’t going to provide the home owners with any meaningful relief, I’m wondering if there as ever been an attempt to get H.O.A. reform measures on the ballot via the initiative process (in states that allow ballot initiatives)?

    If not, why not?

  4. Here’s an example of what law enforcement authorities in Florida are concerned about:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/15/04/10/1541258/florida-teen-charged-with-felony-hacking-for-changing-desktop-wallpaper

    Florida Teen Charged With Felony Hacking For Changing Desktop Wallpaper

    posted by Soulskill on Friday April 10, 2015 @01:01PM
    from the climate-of-fear dept.

    colinneagle writes:

    A 14-year-old middle school student in Holiday, Florida, was arrested this week and charged with “an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access,” which is a felony. The student reportedly used an administrator password to log into a teacher’s computer and change the background image to a photo of two men kissing.

    The student also revealed his secrets after he was caught – the password was the teacher’s last name, and the teacher had typed it in in full view of the students. The student said many other students used these administrators’ passwords (their teachers’ last names) so they can screen-share and video chat with other students. The student was briefly held in a nearby detention center, and the county Sheriff warned that other teenagers caught doing the same thing will “face the same consequences.”

    Makes perfect sense. (Score:5, Insightful)
    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 10, 2015 @02:27PM (#49448355)

    Kids need to learn the consequences of embarrassing powerful people. That is one of the golden rules of modern society; thou shalt not embarrass thy superiors. Snowden forgot that, and this little punk forgot that.

    You respect your betters, or you get tossed in a cage. That’s the law. Ingrain that into your kid’s brains before puberty hits, or they will wind up in a cage too.

    Re: Must example set of him (Score:4, Informative)
    by mysidia (191772) on Friday April 10, 2015 @04:32PM (#49449419)

    The law is screwed up. This isn’t hacking. Hacking is when someone intrudes into a properly secured computer system containing high-valued data and conducts ransom, espionage, theft, damage in a large amount, such as stealing SSNs, identity theft, or intellectual property on which a business is based.

    This is the equivalent of the teacher leaving the grade book unattended on his table instead of locking it in the desk and exits the room for a moment, and a student sneaks over to it and pencils in a lewd picture on the cover.

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