Miami-Dade condominium owners who have complaints or concerns about management at their condos, board elections or special assessments will now be able to seek answers at a new office in Doral.
Florida’s government opened an office in Miami-Dade for the division of condominiums, timeshares and mobile homes of the State’s Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR). The office is located at 8240 NW 52 Terr., Suite 520, near Downtown Doral Park.
So far it has four employees but DBPR officials said Monday that in the coming weeks three more staffers will join the team.
For years, residents of the Greater Miami area had expressed the need for a DBPR office dedicated to condo matters in their area. Bureau employees in Doral said that on Monday, the first day of operations, three people were already waiting at the door when they opened at 8 a.m.
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“As regulators and people who work in the industry it is important for us to communicate with those who might have questions or issues that the agency addresses,” said Jonathan Zachem, DBPR Secretary, who was appointed to the post by Florida Gov. Rick Scott over the summer. “Being able to have a face in Dade county is crucial for that to happen.”
Zachem was in Miami for Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. Also participating were Miami-Dade Satate Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle and state senators René García and José Javier Rodríguez.
This is the first time that the DBPR condominium division has a bureau in Miami-Dade although this is the county with the largest number of condos and the highest number of residents who file complaints to the division each year. In the past, Miami-Dade condo owners had to travel to Broward County for the nearest office or file their complaints electronically.
In the Doral office, DBPR employees will deal with administrative complaints that are within the division’s jurisdiction and refer reports of alleged crimes to the police.
The initiative comes after the Florida legislature passed a comprehensive reform of Florida condo laws in May, following the investigative series Condo Nightmare by el Nuevo Herald and Univision 23.
“When we reformed condo laws the idea was to have real changes and more protection for Miami-Dade residents,” senator José Javier Rodríguez said.
“This office is an important step in implementing those changes and enforcing new and existing laws.”
Condo Nightmare, launched in March 2016, is a multiple-part series that has revealed fraud and abuse at some Miami-Dade and Broward condominium associations. The issues occurred in part because of the lack of clarity in the laws on what constitutes a crime and how it should be punished.
The reforms passed in Tallahassee seek to correct such offenses by adding criminal penalties for certain actions, such as electoral fraud in associations and manipulation of information.
Florida condo owners pay $4 a year for each unit, which is earmarked for a trust fund. There are about 1.6 million condos units in Florida and more are being built every day. But for years the state has diverted that money to the general fund and uses it for non-condo issues.
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