Criminal Charges For Bad Condo Boards
Sometimes, condo boards do not act in an ethical manner, but until recent years, very little was able to be done about it unless the board member was caught in the act. In 2017, however, Florida made major changes to its relevant laws, establishing criminal consequences for some of the acts most often reported by condo owners as occurring during disputes or negotiations. Condo owners are hailing the legislation as game-changing, and while many laws lose their teeth once a few legislative sessions have passed, this one seems to have as much bite as ever.
Past History of Poor Behavior
Florida’s condo laws had been ripe for restructuring for years before the amendments were passed. Due to a lack of bargaining power and too few restrictions on incentives or kickbacks, owners and potential owners boasted very little negotiating power. This would lead to owners being stuck with inequitable terms in their leases, and potentially put many buyers off once they discovered the situation. Others would simply enter into leases and then have the proverbial rude awakening when a disputed issue came to the fore.
The amendments to Sec. 718.111 came in mid-2017, and they explicitly add specific prohibitions that one can only guess were an issue before the law was passed. If one examines the text of the amendments to see what was added, one explicitly sees that kickbacks and other financial crimes are now punishable under criminal law, where they were not necessarily before. It would be depending on the fact pattern, but with the changes, these crimes now have specific criteria and will be charged if those criteria are met.
One other important thing that is criminalized by the amendments to Sec. 718.111 is any type of voting fraud or deliberate irregularity, which is now punishable under the Florida law against forgery, with the same sentence applicable (a third degree felony). The offending condo board member will be removed from office, but there will also be additional criminal consequences. In the past, no real consequences might have attached to this type of behavior, because condo board elections were often seen as internal, private matter.
Destroying condo records, especially if it is done in furtherance of another crime, is also a crime in itself. In extreme cases it can be considered obstruction of justice, but most of the time, it will be considered withholding evidence – for example, if records become necessary in order to prosecute another crime, and they are then destroyed, the condo board or member who performed or authorized that destruction may be charged for that act. Essentially, the amendments to the act give much-needed consequences to actions that previously lacked them on many occasions.
Ask An Experienced Attorney For Help
While the amendments to Florida condo law make it easier to hold bad condo boards accountable, it does not mean that it is easy, especially if you try to do it alone. A Hollywood condominium law attorney can be a great help to ensure your rights are protected. The Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. has handled many of these cases, and we are proud that you may consider us to handle yours. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.