Over the past few years, some Palm Beach County HOAs have tried to move from an every man for himself approach with cable companies to one-size fits all style. This works for some homeowners, as it makes their overall cable bill much lower, and also makes it that much more convenient by bundling it with the monthly payment they normally make to their HOA.
In some cases, however, individual owners have wondered why they have to pay for a share of the bill, even if they are not able to take advantage of the cable service. In other cases, it has been nearly impossible for HOAs to lower their bulk bill and remove service for individual homeowners who have decided to stop paying their monthly assessments altogether.
Recently, a reader of this column sent in a question regarding what their options are with the bulk cable agreement they are trapped under.
Don’t know if you can help me. My association Saratoga Lakes locked me into a cable contract of 30 yrs. Will expire 2019. The reality is that I did not sign any contract to enter into such long-term agreement. I asked them verbally and I sign a document that would put me on their bulk. But the association will not provide me with a copy of said document. I was not even told verbally that I would be locked in for years.
The contract locks the original owner into the bulk, with all subsequent owners being given the option to purchase the bulk cable at time of home purchase. I was not the original owner. I found out about the bulk cable and requested to be added.
At no time did I sign a contract for long term. They cannot provide me with document I signed. I am in the military and go home 1 or twice a yr. I don’t need cable. I had cable previously on my own with Comcast before I signed for their bulk.
Can you recommend a good attorney that can help me with this issue?
Carmen M. Krowel, MSgt, USAFR
356AS Aviations Resource Manager
The situation all hinges on when the association signed the contract for the bulk cable services. Up until last year, the HOA statute did NOT empower HOA’s to enter into bulk cable contracts on behalf of their members unless the association’s governing documents provided such authority.
Last year, HB 1195 added language that now allows HOA’s to enter into bulk cable contracts. If the HOA in which the Master Sgt lives entered into a bulk cable contract prior to July 1, 2011 (the effective date of HB 1195) and the governing documents for Saratoga Lakes did not specifically authorize the board to enter into such contracts then this owner may have a credible argument that the contract is null and void.
We know that this contract was signed prior to last year’s changes. Thus, I would find out first if the governing documents authorized such action.
If you need anything else, let me know.
Donna Berger, Managing Partner of the statewide community association law firm of Katzman Garfinkel & Berger (www.kgblawfirm.com) and the Executive Director of the Firm’s not-for-profit Community Advocacy Network (CAN) (www.canfl.com)
If any of you have attended any of the Board Member Boot Camp workshops held by the Community Advocacy Network, you will recall that the issue of bulk cable contracts came up more than once during the seminar. They may seem like a great deal for your community, but be sure to research them fully before signing any sort of contract. The world of television and multimedia entertainment is in many ways a wild Wild West shootout, but maybe that is a good thing. Maybe.
Be sure to subscribe to this column, and stay abreast of issues involving you, the homeowners of Palm Beach County! As always, if you’ve had any issues with your HOA that you’d like me to try and delve into, and possibly write about later, please let me know.