‘It’s frustrating’: Legislation making it easier to remove problematic HOAs stalls in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — 9 Investigates why legislation that would make it easier for homeowners to remove problematic HOA board members has once again stalled in Tallahassee.

Over the last year and a half, Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray has covered the turmoil inside Kissimmee’s Turnberry Reserve, where after a legal fight, a group of homeowners was able to successfully remove its board. Many thought their efforts would finally bring change at the state level, but we learned this push fails year after year.

READ: Turnberry Reserve whistleblower reflects on year of turmoil, changes

Lawmakers who brought forward this year’s bill aimed at easing the process do not expect it to reach a vote. That’s frustrating to homeowners who have been through the long, drawn-out process of removing an HOA board.

The feeling inside Turnberry Reserve is a lot different than a year ago.

“We’ve been working on the grounds, new vendors. It’s been a full-time job for all of us; there is a lot of work going into restoring the community to where it should be,” Turnberry homeowner and current board vice president Maria Napolitano said.

READ: Former Turnberry Reserve property manager arrested on fraud-related charges

Napolitano is part of a group that led the effort to overhaul the community’s Board of Directors, who had employed Management 35 Firm. That property management company, run by Sherry Raposo and her longtime boyfriend, ex-cop-turned-felon Joseph Conover, was removed last year. The two are facing charges related to Conover’s role as an unlicensed security officer, and Raposo is facing separate charges for alleged fraud involving HOA records.

“We have been able to at least get through most of the homeowner accounts and get those cleared up, and homeowners are happy to know that they have accurate balances on their accounts,” Napolitano said.

READ: Body camera video provides new evidence in case against ex-cop-turned security guard at Kissimmee community

Getting to this point was a struggle. Florida’s process for homeowners to recall a board has long been criticized, with homeowners often bounced around from local courts to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to force recalls to be recognized.

Still, efforts to change it fail year after year in Tallahassee. In fact, legislation put forward this year by State Rep. Kristen Arrington and State Sen. Victor Torres, both of whom represent parts of Osceola County, is not making any progress. Even if it did, it would only change a small portion of state statute.

READ: Kissimmee property management company owner arrested, charged with fraud, impersonating officer

“It’s frustrating. I can tell you since we started this, we’ve gotten so many phone calls from communities across the state that are in similar situations, and they’re going through the same thing, coming out of pocket, fighting, going in the circle of court to the state, court to the state, with nobody to say, ‘This is our wheelhouse,’” Napolitano said.

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.