Push to revise HOA rules statewide underway

There's a new effort underway to protect residents living under homeowner association rules.

Channel 9 has reported on a battle among HOA members in Poinciana that grew heated and ended up in front of a judge. Now that battle could lead to a new state law that would affect HOAs statewide.

State Rep. John Cortes said HOA disputes shouldn't have to play out with residents protesting in the streets and board members heading to court.

In Poinciana, the board members fired the property management company and moved $1.6 million in HOA funds to a new account.

A judge has now ordered them to move the money back and reinstate the company.

It is a legal battle Cortes has watched closely.

"I would say it's a giant fiasco," he said.

Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez learned that about 4 million homes and condos in Florida are run by HOAs.

Cortes said millions of members have little recourse when it comes to filing complaints.

He's drafting a bill that he said simplifies things by combining three different statutes that address HOAs into one.

It would also give HOAs access to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. That state agency would enforce HOA laws, investigate complaints and help settle disputes like the one that played out in Poinciana.

"This way, it doesn't have to go to court. They can settle out of court, be mediators," Cortes said.

Poinciana is home to 70,000 people, with roughly 50,000 governed by the HOA.

Cortes said he's determined to ensure the problems in that community lead to much-needed change statewide.

"Poinciana is not alone. There are a lot of people in Florida and other states that have sent emails and said, 'Yeah, this is happening here,'" Cortes said.