Wow what a difference a week makes! The world became different this week, like nothing most of us have ever seen or lived through before. For the time being, this Corona Virus has changed life as we know it, requiring us not to stay inside and hide, but not to tempt fate, while staying smart and taking necessary precautions so that the disease doesn’t spread and we remain healthy.
I can’t tell you how many calls and e-mails I received this week asking me about canceling meetings, having meetings by phone, shutting down the common areas and preventing visitors. As you know, I canceled our Board Certification Seminar scheduled for Wednesday.
Here is what I can tell all of you with absolute certainty. NOBODY KNOWS FOR SURE WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT DO. SO….. I CAN ONLY TELL YOU WHAT I THINK……AND WHAT MANY OTHER FLORIDA BAR BOARD CERTIED EXPERTS THINK. But certainly, not all of us agree on everything and some may not agree with my comments below. However, the Board certified attorneys in this area routinely share ideas on topics on a fantastic e-mail exchange. It is an honor to be able to share ideas and work with all of them at this crazy time.
So Florida has a law that relates to all community associations in response to damage caused by an event for which a state of emergency is declared. Well……the entire State of Florida is under a State of Emergency. However, it is not “in response to damage caused by an event…” So, does this statute apply? I’ll go on record and say yes. What difference does it make why we are under a state of emergency? The fact is that we are. The important thing is that we are, not why we are. Although it is possible, I cannot imagine a judge, arbitrator or the Division taking adverse action against any community association Board of Directors who relies on the emergency powers statute in good faith at this critical time in our history. So I say….let’s use it.
Many of the statute’s provisions do not apply to our current situation as the statute was clearly designed to apply in response to a devastating hurricane. I have chosen to leave those portions of the statute in this blog so that our readers can judge for themselves what the true intent of the statute is and if they believe it is applicable to our current situation. Here is the condo version – similar to the HOA version:
718.1265 Association emergency powers.—
(1) To the extent allowed by law and unless specifically prohibited by the declaration of condominium, the articles, or the bylaws of an association, and consistent with the provisions of s. 617.0830, the board of administration, in response to damage caused by an event for which a state of emergency is declared pursuant to s. 252.36 in the locale in which the condominium is located, may, but is not required to, exercise the following powers: