FMO Newsletter January 2020 Print

    President's Report

    Greetings Everyone,

    With the Holidays behind us we have to focus on our future.  I am pleased to serve you as President for two more years and look forward to working with a new Board of Directors elected at our December 2019 State Assembly.

    The sale of our Headquarters Building in May of 2019 has enabled us to focus on our growth and revitalization without the fiscal constraints of the past few years.  That is not to say we will not be prudent in our spending but we can invest in items to assist us in providing better information and services to our members and potential members.

    We still remain focused on our 5-year plan approved in December of 2017.  Our efforts shall be moving forward at a much better pace.  The major components of our plan are Education, Communication and Inclusion.  With our committees in place we will be receiving and implementing fresh ideas and recommendations to accomplish our growth and exposure.

    FMO was founded through the efforts of a group of residents to oppose a new ordinance in St. Petersburg.  In those early days we focused on Government actions.  More recently our focus has been in opposition to the new generation of Corporate owners of our communities. We intend to once again to become a Political Force as well as protect our Lifestyle

    We need you and you need FMO today more than ever. Please talk to your neighbors about FMO membership.  Happy New Year to you all!

    Jerry Durham

    PS – We are in need of your personal experience in: IT/Server maintenance, Political Activism, Personnel Policies and Editorial Writing.  Please contact [email protected] with your desire to serve our residents.

    Back to top

    Executive Director update

    The certified HOA Board training is now in full swing.  Four have been completed.  The fifth one is coming up on Saturday, February 8 at Village Green Woodland in Vero Beach.  So far, the evaluation forms filled out by the attendees have been very positive.  The list of scheduled classes was included in the January/February FMO Magazine.  Since this issue went out to our members more classes have been added.  This list along with the registration form is available on the FMO website or please call me at the FMO Office and I will email this information to you.  One is scheduled for February 27 and four more are scheduled for March. 

    The new membership contest has brought in 300 plus new members.  It seems a lot of people want the free golf cart.  Increasing FMO membership is certainly important.  However, maintaining our existing members is just as important.  The non-renewals need to be followed up on a regular basis.  Everyone’s effort and hard work trying to increase our membership is greatly appreciated.  Thank you to all.

    Jane Clapp

    Back to top

    Legislative Briefs - Nancy Black Stewart

    An Army of One…

                An Army of one can’t go to war or the battle will be lost. 

                You know that, and so many of you are stepping up!  I am asking you to reach out to the Legislature.   And, I am asking you to help me recruit more soldiers!  We are in a battle to preserve your investment in your Florida lifestyle.  And in order for us to protect your lifestyle, FMO must have an Army of soldiers with the ammunition to win the war.

                As you know the FMHA has filed a bill this year which will create such huge problems, if they prevail, that I am truly upset for all of us.  It will substantially change the landscape of leased land mobile/manufactured communities and parks.  (SB 818 on www.flsenate.gov or go to bill text found at: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/818/BillText/Filed/PDF )  During my time with the FMO over the past 17 years, we have not been in a situation like this.  Ever.  Period.

                And so, as I have written in my monthly, then bi-monthly, articles in the FMO News during all this time, the power of FMO is in your hands.  You are the voters.  You are the constituents. And, now, is the time to stand-up and flex that muscle.

                FMO has never been delusional about the political power structure.  FMHA has money for political campaigns, yes.  And, they spend it to garner support and access, yes.  And, they behave within the boundaries of the law in the political arena, yes. 

                BUT…YOU go to the ballot box….that is our ammunition

                How can you help FMO win this war?  Three things:

    • Write and call.   You have all recently received a link to the FMO Watch Dog.  It asks you to write or call the Senators sitting on the first Senate Committee of reference (Innovation, Industry & Technology) to strongly oppose SB 818.  There is also a summary which will explain more about the contents of this alarming bill so you can be specific in your objections!
    • We need more soldiers!   I am asking each of you to reach out to your neighbors and friends to recruit action and new FMO members.  The more FMO members, the louder your voice in the Capitol.  It’s just that simple folks.
    • Call the FMO office for Membership information: 727-530-7539

               I want to thank you in advance for your efforts.  Please help us help   

    Respectfully submitted,
    Nancy Stewart
    FMO Legislative Counsel                                                                          

    Back to top

    Committee Reports

    Bylaws Committee

    The Bylaws committee submitted its recommendations, along with those received from members, in final format to Executive Director Jane Clapp on Nov 5th. The complete document was made available to members via our website. It was also e-mailed to the Board of Directors and all District Presidents. Bylaws Committee Chairman Russ Watson has recused himself from voting and will conduct the process of addressing the 57 changes on the agenda at Assembly.

    Back to top

    Rumblings heard from communities around the state

    The Attorney General’s office refused to directly answer our questions concerning their investigation into complaints filed by residents and former residents in Sun Communities’ s parks. They cited the need for confidentiality in an ongoing investigation. Beyond a letter sent to all residents by SUN, we have no reports of any further individual complaints being answered. The AG representative did state the matter was in the hands of an investigative unit in Tampa. The AG rep also encouraged anyone who had not applied for a refund, or who had other issues to be considered in the investigation, to file a complaint as these cases are often addressed based upon the number of complaints received. You can file your complaint with the Florida Attorney General Here. The AG rep also encouraged anyone who had filed a complaint to file a follow-up letter to both the Florida and the Michigan Attorney General’s offices. SUN Communities is based in Michigan. You can file your complaint with the state of Michigan Here.

    Rentals by the park owner continue to grow as an issue affecting the lifestyle and nature of the community many of us felt were guaranteed by our prospectus. If your community is experiencing this we would like to hear more. Send reports to [email protected]

    The practice of substituting a new prospectus for the one originally assigned to the lot at the time the home was first occupied, to which the buyer is entitled, continues. We are also hearing reports of parks not allowing new buyers to assume the remaining portion of the lot rent agreement. If your community is experiencing this we would like to hear more. Send reports to [email protected]

    This is the time of year many are engaged in rent negotiations. We would like to hear of your successes or defeats along with any tactic you thought helpful. Send reports to [email protected] While specifics of any deal may be confidential the general tactics used would be useful to add to our knowledgebase.

    Back to top

    Featured Articles on our Website

    Just a Rent Increase or Gentrification?

    Last month we offered a survey asking you: “What are the biggest problems in our parks?” Rent Increases were the #1 concern. Park Owner and Lack of Participation tied for second. These issues are related and reflect the wave of gentrification which has swept over our parks in the last ten years. To read the entire article click Here.

    How to form a Homeowners Association

    There are quite a few parks who have either lost or never formed a Homeowners Association. In this article we review the steps necessary to getting one started in your park. To read the entire article click Here.

    Back to top

    Monthly Legal Tip

    BINGO

    Q: We, as a homeowners association are taking over a bingo game that was previously run by a group of people in our park. Our association is at this point, a for-profit corporation. This will be changed after the first of the year, but, until then is there any legal ramification we must worry about concerning our for-profit status? We our abiding by the FS Chapter 849, but that statute seems to only cover charitable, nonprofit or veteran's organizations. Please advise us our safest option until our home owner's association status changes, or does it need to change? To read the answer click Here.

    Back to top

    Did you know?

    Fifty four years ago, while many of our current park residents were fighting in Vietnam or pioneering our race to the moon, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the right of cities and counties to tax mobile homes as real property. A hue & cry was heard across the state and on Nov 2, 1965 Amendment 5 to the Florida Constitution was passed. The Florida Constitution, Article VII, Section 1(b) states:  “Motor vehicles, boats, airplanes, trailers, trailer coaches and mobile homes, as defined by law, shall be subject to a license tax for their operation in the amounts and for the purposes prescribed by law, but shall not be subject to ad valorem taxes”

    Back to top