I’ve returned from a few days in Washington, DC at the American Bar Association’s 21st Annual Conference on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law.

The theme of the conference was "Making the Case for Affordable Housing and Community Development".  I attended a panel discussion on current Fair Housing Issues and a session on "hot topics" from the view of HUD representatives as well as an extremely informative discussion about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

I was privileged to hear remarks from HUD’s General Counsel and found a presentation on Ethics in Affordable Housing Transactions thought provoking and illustrative of the challenges facing attorneys involved in the sale, purchase, and development of housing communities.

The continuing need for affordable housing in our country was highlighted by a discussion with two members of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission.

While much of the conference focused on government assisted multifamily housing, a number of panels and presentations dealt with other topics.  I was invited to serve on a panel discussing cooperatives as a tool for housing and social enterprise.  My fellow panelists included the Interim President and CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association and a representative from the Rural Development Program of United States Department of Agriculture.

Among the many things I learned from my participation in this panel:

  • All of us deal with cooperatives on a daily basis.  Many businesses (and many, if not all credit unions) are cooperatives.
  • There are many states that have no statutes or laws governing resident owned housing cooperatives.
  • Finally, 2012 is the International Year of Cooperatives!  Who knew?

Our resident owned manufactured housing cooperatives have a reason to celebrate in 2012!




 I just read an article at the CNN website about the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990.   That article contained a link to a story that personalizes the importance of the ADA and its intent to insure that all citizens have the ability to function to their fullest capacities regardless of their particular physical, mental, or emotional challenges.

In my last entry, I summarized the decision of an Administrative Law Judge that found a landlord liable for more than $50,000 in civil damages and penalties because the landlord was held to have retaliated against a single mother who filed a Fair Housing complaint.

As I’ve mentioned before, our nation’s fair housing laws and the ADA are rooted in the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s and all managers, board members and residents in ROCs should remember that any attempts to restrict the rights that have been granted by our federal and state legislatures and courts to persons that fall within any of these "protected classes" may subject the community to consequences that are both severe and damaging.

Just something to consider as we observe the 20th anniversary of the ADA.

Our first set of ROC seminars for the 2009-2010 "season" have been scheduled.   We’ll discuss how the new "Red Flag" identity protection rules will affect resident owned communities, cover election procedures and the differences between ballots and proxies, provide some updates on developments in the Fair Housing area and recent court cases and highlight proposed legislation that may impact community associations.   In addition to that rather full agenda, as always, we’ll devote some time to an "open forum" for questions from our attendees. 

The seminars are scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at the Molokai community in Leesburg.
  • Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at Sandalwood Park in Venice.
  • Thursday, December 3, 2009 at Old Bridge Village in North Fort Myers.
  • Thursday, December 10, 2009 at Westwinds Village in Bradenton.

The seminars start at 10 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. and all of the seminars will be held in the clubhouse at each of these communities.  We plan on covering the same topics at each of these locations so you can choose the date and location that’s most convenient.

While the seminars are free of charge to all attendees, because we do serve refreshments and want to make sure that there is enough seating and space for everyone,  please notify us in advance if you wish to attend.   Also, please note that the seminar at Molokai is being held in conjunction with the monthly meeting of the Mid-Florida ROC group and if your community is located in or near Lake or Sumter County and is not yet a member of that group, please let us know when you make your reservation and we’ll provide you with the contact information for one of the Mid-Florida ROC officers.

If you are interested in attending one of these seminars and your community hasn’t already reserved seats, please email either Karen Midlam (kmidlam@lutzbobo.com) or Kathy Sawdo (ksawdo@lutzbobo.com).  They’ll be able to provide you with directions and answer any other questions you might have.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at one of these seminars and if you have any topics you’d like to have us discuss at future seminars, please email me at sgordon@lutzbobo.com.

I’m writing this entry from Ft. Lauderdale, where I am attending the Institute on Condominium and Cluster Developments presented by the University of Miami School of Law.   This two day seminar has provided me with a wealth of material for future entries to this blog and has allowed me to spend some time learning and meeting with many of my fellow community association attorneys throughout Florida.   A colleague from our Tallahassee office, Karl Scheuerman, spoke at one of yesterday’s sessions on the many issues facing "subsequent developers" of condominiums and other community developments.  Hopefully, these are issues that your community or association will never have to face.  

Karl and I attended the dinner meeting of the Florida Bar’s Condominium and Planned Development Committee (which is part of the Bar’s Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section) that was held at the end of yesterday’s presentations.    Again, this event gave me the opportunity to discuss with a number of my colleagues problems facing ROCs and potential solutions to those problems.

As my blog followers know, I also attended the convention of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association at the Saddlebrook Resort north of Tampa earlier this month.   This annual event gives the members of our firm that work with the owners of manufactured housing communities the opportunity to network with those owners and many of the companies that provide important services to those communities.    A number of my colleagues from our firm, including Allen Bobo, Jody Gabel, Richard Lee, David Eastman, Karl Scheuerman, Carol Grondzik and I made presentations to convention attendees on a variety of topics, including:

  • Evictions
  • Fair Housing Issues
  • Dealing with Abandoned Mobile Homes
  • How to amend rental prospectuses

It was clear from our experiences at the FMHA convention that the current state of our economy has created an environment that is extremely challenging for community owners, whether they be private investors or ROCs. 

The FMHA is well aware of the importance of resident owned manufactured housing communities in Florida and will be making a concerted effort to encourage these communities to join FMHA and to participate in its activities.  I’ve always felt that the FMHA and the community associations that own and operate manufactured housing communities have many common interests and will be posting details on the FMHA’s increased efforts to bring more ROCs into its organization in the future.

 I’ll be posting the dates, locations, and topics of our upcoming November and December seminars next week.




The Florida Manufactured Housing Association’s annual convention is scheduled for October 7th and 8th at the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Florida, which is just north of Tampa.

Our firm sponsors the welcome reception on the evening of October 7th. This reception is a great way to network with managers and board members from other resident owned manufactured housing ROCs as well as investor owned communities.

The schedule of events for October 8th promises a full day of information that should be very useful to every manufactured housing community.   Topics that will be covered include evictions, Fair Housing,  how to comply with the provisions of Florida’s landlord-tenant laws for manufactured housing communities, and how to deal with vacant homes.  An "Ask the Lawyers" session is also scheduled and I know from experience that the attendees always find this session entertainng and well worthwhile.

The FMHA wants ROCs to take advantage of this great educational opportunity and I’ve offered to help spread the word about this exciting event.   You’ll find the links to the information about the annual convention at the FMHA’s website.  

I hope you’ll consider attending the convention and look forward to seeing you there.