FMO Newsletter November 2020 Print

    President's Report

    President’s Message

    Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen.

    Your emails about the practices and ignorance of the law have been staggering.  The marketplace has never been under such an attack.  Your FMO Board and I have heard you loud and clear.  It is our intention to become the best advocates that we can be.  We are putting together a plan to address these situations through every channel at our disposal.

    I must also say at this time that FMO as an organization is not the “affected party” and thus our options are somewhat limited.  The objections and resistance has to begin with you and your community.  You must begin with a complaint to the DBPR where the law is being violated.  Once a formal complaint is submitted, we have the opportunity to follow up and apply pressure to the Division. You need to understand what part of the law has been violated and include any documentation to demonstrate that. We also advise that a number of complaints on your issue be submitted from your community.

    Refusing to meet with your committee is a violation.  Make sure you formally requested such a meeting. If operational increases are implied you should ask what they are, how much are they and are there any cost reductions in operations.  Surveys should be within the county if possible and we recommend doing your own survey.

    Violating the lease is a violation.  Someone wrote that the owner was raising the rents on residents that have lived in the community for some time while letting the new residents with no increase or modest one.  Another resident wrote they received an agreement requiring the community to sign an affidavit that they will not sue for 723 violations. This violates the residents’ right to their day in court.

    These are just some of the instances we have been notified of recently.  The market is clearly changing and we need to respond in kind.  Your community and all of our communities need to stand up for their rights.  You all have demonstrated the power you have earlier this year by writing your legislators and opposing a bad bill.  You caused the change to happen.  You also got amendment 2 passed a couple of years ago to our Constitution, that no one thought was possible.  Let’s get to work together. FMO will advise you on the processes and where we need your assistance. Please begin by submitting your complaints.

    Help Wanted

    FMO is in need of a Treasurer.  This is a Board position and may be performed remotely.  Our Bylaws do require two in person meetings per year and we have an Expense Reimbursement Policy.  We utilize the QuickBooks system and have a very capable staff to perform the daily and monthly duties.

    The Treasurer will Chair the Finance Committee and the duties are as follows: 

    • Review biennial budget to be approved by the Board of Directors and presented at State Assembly.
    • Monitor the budget during the biennial period and make periodic written reports to the Board of Directors on the financial condition of the FMO.
    • Ensure that the finances of the FMO are audited at least annually by an independent auditing firm not more than ten (10) months following the end of the fiscal year; assist the office staff in verifying the accuracy and validity of 14 expense accounts on an annual basis; and assist the staff with year-end tax filing to ensure that the Federal and State tax reports are filed within three and one half (3 ½) months after the end of the fiscal year.
    • Provide to the Board of Directors a monthly report of the current membership showing the total number of members, new members, non-renewals and lost members.

     

    Stay safe, Jerry Durham

     

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    Legislative Briefs - Nancy Black Stewart

    UPDATES from TALLAHASSEE

    Many HOAs have completed the survey and requested Rapid Test for Seniors COVID-19 tests.  There is frustration surrounding this process due to lack of feedback once the survey is submitted.  To follow up on your particular HOA request for these tests, please contact:  [email protected]  Please include your HOA name and contact information so that he may assist you about the status of your request.

    The 2020-2022 Legislature has met for the Organization Session on November 17.  This Session is required by the Florida Constitution for newly elected members to take their oath of office.  During this time the House and Senate officially elect the House Speaker and Speaker Pro Tempore and the Senate President and President Pro Tempore.  There is no “other business” that may be conducted during the Organization Session.  The Capitol was closed to the public due to COVID-19 which, of course, is unprecedented.

    Several months ago the Governor contemplated calling a Special Session during this time to address civil and criminal justice issues relating to civil unrest, protests, and demonstrations.  This did not occur. 

    Prior to the Organization Session, Senate President Wilton Simpson, (R-Spring Hill), announced his President Pro Tempore Senator Aaron Bean, (R-Jacksonville), and Senate Rules Chair Senator Kathleen Passidomo, (R-Naples).  Shortly there will be announcements about committee chairs and committee memberships.  Further information may be found on the Senate website:  www.flsenate.gov

    For the House, Speaker Chris Sprowls, (R-Clearwater), announced Speaker Pro Tempore Representative Bryan Avila, (R-Hialeah), and House Rules Chair Representative Paul Renner, (R-Palm Coast).  He also named several committee chairs.  Subcommittee chairs and members and committee memberships will be named shortly.  Information may be found at:  www.myfloridahouse.gov

    Legislators will be in Tallahassee for committee meetings and Regular Session as follows (pending changes due to the pandemic):  Committees:  January 11 – 15; January 25 – 29; February 1 – 5; February 8 – 12; February 15 – 19.  Session dates are March 2, 2021-April 30. 

    FMO must pass legislation during 2021 Session to extend the Mobile Home Tie-Down Program for 10 years.  It is imperative that this occurs because the current statute that authorizes the Program expires on June 30, 2021.  Senator Ed Hooper, (R-Palm Harbor), and Representative Kaylee Tuck, (R-Sebring), have agreed to sponsor the bills.  FMO is working with the Executive Office of Governor inasmuch as the Division of Emergency Management is within the EOG.  DEM is the state agency that administers the provisions of s. 215.559, Florida Statutes.  Additional information will be provided as soon as we get bill numbers.                                      

    Respectfully submitted,                                                                        Nancy Black Stewart

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    Committee Reports

    MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE REPORT 

    At the present time, our promotion campaign to recruit new members has brought in less than 700 new members through the month of October. Due to the restrictions placed upon us for gatherings in clubhouses, FMO leadership has found it necessary to extend the promotion through the end of 2021. The month of September has seen the results of 22 new members. Karen Price once again won $100 for her efforts by recruiting 7 new members. Her name will go into the drawing 7 times for the month of September!!  

    Our Park Rep. Training Webinar, conducted twice in October, was a huge success!!

    The FMO Park Representatives are the backbone of our organization. There are way too few active ones out there. If your park has a park rep that is less active, please do not hesitate to step up and volunteer to be a Co-rep by contacting your District President. If your park is not represented, you may call/email your District President or speak to your HOA Board. If you are a HOA board member, it is NOT a conflict of interest if you wish to represent FMO in some manner. We have open leadership and committee positions.

    Look for upcoming webinars. These webinars are open to ALL FMO members and non-members alike, regardless of the subject matter. You may also join the webinar training sessions by doing so as a group.

    Our busy season is upon us. District Meetings will commence using the Zoom platform. You will receive emails from FMO inviting you to attend. Please consider doing so.

    You can contact me to offer ideas or suggestions to grow our membership. Stay Safe!!

    Jesse James,

    Chairman, Membership Committee

    [email protected]

    727-271-9565

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    Communications Committee

    A Thankyou and A Request To Help Grow Membership
    Patricia J. Keough-Wilson, FMO Director of Communications

    Wait a second. I need to get my soapbox and my microphone. Drumroll, trumpet blast.
    Now hear this. But first a thank you.

    In this season of Thanksgiving, I thank each FMO member who reads this column for supporting FMO. And if you are a member of your HOA, I extend a double thank you. Next comes the request. Would you please bring one new member into FMO before year end and encourage one to join your HOA? I know I am preaching to those who already know the reasons why but I am providing them to you to help you succeed in recruiting at least one new member for FMO and your HOA. I would rather have this column reach all those who have not joined but hope you will use it to help you recruit. Let me know how you do. I will send a personal thankyou note to you. Here goes. I am on my soapbox.

    The FMO represents all homeowners who own a home in a FS723 manufactured/mobile home park. ALL, not just those who pay dues, not just those who call up with a complaint or concern and do not pay dues. ALL. Of course, they provide service to FMO paid members but each caller is treated as important. Every phone call that rings at the FMO office is answered by a staff member determined to be polite and helpful.  And often that phone caller is directed to contact a volunteer District President for their area. So that person then dials the District President with their concern or complaint. The District President seldom asks if you are a paid member. All our volunteers know that FMO represents every single Florida homeowner in a FS723 manufactured/mobile park.

    What is a FS723 park? It is where a homeowner lives in a home they own but the home sits on leased land. Most FS723 parks today are owned by corporations. Recently some of these parks have been sold for large amounts of money and that will result in increased costs for homeowners in those parks. But that is a topic for another column. Today, I am trying to avoid laying on a guilt trip while pointing out that FMO relies on member dues to pay staff, our lobbyist, and needed legal advice. That’s a lot of people working for those who help pay their salary and contract payments and for those who don’t.

    And FMO is a volunteer organization. We have a volunteer board, volunteer committees, and yes I am a volunteer too. I need creative people to help me in my communications efforts. If you write, are a good photographer, and have any talent or interest in communications, contact me at [email protected]. And to work as a volunteer, you must be a dues paying member.

    Okay, what about the HOA. Here is what the HOA is not. It is not a social club. It may host great gatherings in non-pandemic times but that is NOT its primary role. HOAs are legally established businesses covered by the law, FS723 and a few others. Your HOA board has the legal right to name a five-member negotiating committee. It may go by other names but that committee negotiates rental agreements with the owners. It also goes over disputes or problems and seeks some sort of improvement. And the HOA and this committee represent every homeowner in that park. The HOA has expenses like insurance to cover any risk at events or for a volunteer out there helping a homeowner in need of some help in cleaning up weeds or leaves. Many HOAs have an attorney on contract to help the HOA stay current with changing laws, update bylaws, advise on some legal questions. That attorney is NOT a volunteer. That insurance is not free. And when a social event is planned, if money is not available to purchase the food, the social committee faces a hard decision whether to cancel the event or self-fund.

    The dues for most HOAs are minimal. If you are a paying member, I applaud you. If you are not, I urge you to please seriously consider becoming a paid member.

    As for FMO, the critical services FMO provides are totally dependent on members’ dues. Our lobbyist not only works to pass needed legislation but also to keep harmful legislation from impacting every homeowner in a FS723 park even if you never pay a penny of dues. Join us, please. You can join online. And if you need a little help in negotiating that, contact staff at our office in Largo. Here’s the phone number:1-727-530-7539.

    Thank you for reading and a triple thank you for recruiting a new member for your HOA and FMO. Thank that new member from me and all of FMO. Stepping off my soapbox, turning my microphone off. Thanks once more.

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    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”

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