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A Guide to Legislative Changes Affecting Community Associations

April 2nd, 2018

Posted in Condominium & Homeowner Association Law

We’ve prepared the following bottom-line outline of the recent legislative amendments enacted in House Bill 841 affecting Florida condominium, homeowners’, and cooperative associations.  The amendments will take effect July 1, 2018. 

Condominiums, Homeowners’, and Cooperative Associations

Fines. Amends cooperate, condominium, and homeowners’ association law related to imposition of fines, requiring a majority vote of a committee consisting of at least three members before imposing a fine, and requiring payment of the fine within five days after the committee meeting approving the fine. The association must provide written notice of the fine or suspension by mail or hand delivery to the unit owner and other person against whom fines were imposed.

Condominium Associations

Official Records. Requires a condominium association to permanently maintain the following Official Records from the associations’ inception:

  • A copy of the plans, permits, warranties, and other items provided by the developer pursuant to s. 718.301(4).
  • A photocopy of the recorded declaration of condominium of each condominium operated by the association and each amendment to each declaration.
  • A photocopy of the recorded bylaws of the association and each amendment to the bylaws.
  • A certified copy of the articles of incorporation of the association, or other documents creating the association, and each amendment thereto.
  • A copy of the current rules of the association.
  • A book or books that contain the minutes of all meetings of the association, the board of administration, and the unit owners.
  • All other Official Records must generally be maintained for 7 years.

Records Inspection. Increases the time in which the association must respond to a unit owner’s request to inspect Official Records from five working days to ten.

  • Requires electronic records related to voting to be maintained in the Official Records and allows website notice of Board meetings.

Website. Extends deadline to condominium associations over 150 units to create a website. Deadline is now January 1, 2019.

  • Requires digital copies of all executory contracts or documents to which the association is a party or under which the association or unit owners have an obligation or responsibility to be maintained on the website. An executory contract is generally a contract in which one party is still required to perform under the contract (i.e., someone is still required to do something before the contract ends by its terms).
  • The association must also maintain a copy of all bids received by the association (after the bidding period has closed) for one year.
  • Provides either a summary or copy of all bids for materials, equipment or services which exceed $500.00 to be maintained on the website for one year.
  • Provides any monthly income or expense statement that is to be considered at a meeting must be posted on the website (does not specify time period for maintaining statement on the website).
  • Provides that an association or its agent is not liable for disclosing information on the website that is protected or restricted from disclosure unless the disclosure was made with a knowing or intentional disregard for the protected or restricted nature of the information. Also provides the association’s failure to post the required information on the website does not invalidate the action or decision of the association’s board or its committees.

Board Composition.

  • Term limits. Allows a board member to serve terms for longer than one year (no longer limited to a two-year maximum term) for up to 8 consecutive years. A board member may serve more than 8 consecutive years if approved by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all votes cast in the election (does not apply to non-residential condominiums or timeshares).
  • Number of Directors. If the association’s governing documents do not specify a number of directors, the board is composed of five directors by default. In a condominium with five or fewer units governed by a not-for-profit corporation, the board shall consist of at least three members.
  • Recalls. Provides that a director is recalled upon conclusion of the board meeting (which must occur within 5 business days after adjournment of the unit owner recall meeting or receipt of a written recall petition) if the recall is facially valid. Also permits a director who successfully challenges a recall to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs from the respondents (presumably the unit owner representative and association). The arbitrator may award attorney’s fees to the respondents if they prevail and the arbitrator finds the petitioner’s (board member’s) claim to be frivolous.

Material Alterations & Substantial Additions. Requires the association to obtain the requisite approval for material alteration or substantial addition before the alteration or addition is commenced. Prior to the amendment, if an association was challenged, arbitrators would sometimes allow the association to attempt to solicit the requisite vote after the alteration or addition was commenced.

Electric Vehicles. Permits a unit owner to install an electric vehicle charging station within the boundaries of their limit common element parking area at the owner’s expense, subject to the following conditions:

  • The installation may not cause irreparable damage to the condominium property.
  • The electricity must be separately metered and paid by the unit owner installing the station.
  • The association may require the unit owner to comply with all building and safety codes and standards and used licensed contractors.
  • The association may adopt reasonable architectural standards governing the dimensions, placement, and external appearance of the station provided they do not prohibit or substantially increase the costs of installation.
  • A contractor may not file a lien against the Association if the unit owner does not pay the contractor for installing the station.
  • The unit owner is responsible for all installation, operation, maintenance, repair, and hazard and liability insurance. The unit owner must also provide a copy of the insurance policy naming the association as an additional insured within 14 days after receiving the association’s approval to install the station. If the associations’ insurance premium is increased because of the installation of the station, the unit owner must pay the additional expense within 14 days of receiving an invoice from the association. The unit owner must also pay the cost of removing the charging station after it is no longer needed. The association may enforce this requirement in the manner provided for enforcement of assessments.

Financial Reporting. Limits the association’s ability to waive the financial reporting requirements for two years if the association fails to timely respond to a Division request to provide a financial report to a unit owner.

Meeting Notices.

  • Special Assessments. Provides that notice of any meeting in which regular or special assessments against the unit owners are to be considered must state that assessments will be considered, the estimated cost, and description of the purposes for the assessment. Note that this was primarily a minor change in wording and reorganization, not a substantive change.
  • In addition to physically posting notice of the meeting on the condominium property, an association may adopt a rule specifying a procedure for conspicuously posting the meeting notice and agenda on the website for the same period of time that the notice must be physically posted. The rule must also require the association to send electronic notices to members who have provided their email addresses including a hyperlink to the website where the notice is posted.
  • A unit owner who consents to receiving notices by electronic transmission is solely responsible for removing or bypassing filters that block receipt of mass emails sent to members by the association.

Bulk Assignees & Buyers. Removed the expiration of bulk assignee and bulk buyer status, thereby making the law permanent.

Homeowners’ Associations

  • Amends HOA law to mirror condominium law by clarifying that an HOA may apply a payment from a unit owner to interest, fines, and fees before applying the payment to assessments due, and permitting an HOA to provide electronic notice to members.
  • Email Voting. Expressly permits use of email by board members as a method of communication but expressly prohibits voting by email (director voting by email has been expressly prohibited in the Condominium Act).
  • Amendments. The association must use underline and strikethrough coding when proposing an amendment to the governing documents unless the coding would hinder, rather than assist, the understanding of the proposed amendment. Also requires all amendments to be recorded in the public records of the county in which the community is located. Note the definition of “governing documents” includes rules and regulations. Also requires notice of members’ meetings to be mailed or delivered to the address identified as the parcel owner’s mailing address on the property appraiser’s website for the county in which the parcel is located, or electronically transmitted if the owner has provided written consent to receive notice by electronic transmission.
  • Elections. Prohibits write-in candidates if there are fewer candidates than board vacancies and the association’s bylaws prohibit nominations from the floor.  Also provides that where there are fewer candidates than vacancies, the candidates shall take office regardless of whether a quorum was attained at the annual meeting.
  • Restrictive endorsements. Permits the association to apply a delinquent assessment payment in the statutory order even if the owner attempts to include an instruction or other restrictive endorsement on the payment (like full and final payment).

Cooperative Associations

  • Increases the time in which the association must respond to a unit owner’s request to inspect Official Records from five working days to ten. Requires electronic records related to voting to be maintained in the Official Records and allows website notice of Board meetings.
  • Amends cooperative law to mirror condominium law regarding the records holding period, meeting notice, removal and restrictions of board members, fines, committee makeup, and including communication and information services in bulk contracts as a common expense.

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