SOME OTHER NEW LAWS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT APPLY IN YOUR ASSOCIATION

We already blogged about a new law that will bring further chaos and confusion to the association election process, and that is the law that now allows voting via the internet if a plethora of conditions are met.  The Florida Legislature passed some other association laws as well this year.  Let’s see what they say and try to figure out whether they will help or hurt.

In both condos and HOAs – A copy, fax, or other reliable reproduction of a proxy can now be used in place of the original if it is a complete reproduction of the entire copy;

I guess anything that may help get a quorum isn’t a bad idea.

___________________________________________________________________________

In both condos and HOAs – The catch-all provision of the access to records statute has been changed to say that the records must be “written”records.

So, video tapes and audio tapes are no longer considered official records.  I can personally tell you that in some associations, owners were demanding copies of security recordings and they were expensive to obtain.

______________________________________________________________________________

For condos and HOAs – the fining statute was amended to now state that a fine is levied by the board after a hearing before an independent committee.  The fine can’t be levied unless the board gives 14 days notice of a hearing before the independent committee.  The role of the committee is limited to determining whether to confirm or reject the fine or suspension levied by the board.  

I read and re-read this provision several times.  On the one hand it says the Board can only levy a fine after a hearing before the committee.  It then immediately goes on to say that the role of the committee is to determine whether or not to confirm the fine already levied by the board.  Another example of poor drafting, confusion and opportunities to argue in court about what these provisions actually mean later on down the road.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Condo and HOA law was also clarified to the extent an owner can lose the right to use common elements or vote if the owe a fine, fee or other monetary obligation for 90 days or longer.  

Of course what you don’t see is any language telling associations that they cannot do this without the “as amended from time to time” language appearing in the association’s governing documents which automatically incorporates new laws into the declaration.  Associations who don’t have this language in their governing documents risk loss if they are sued by a unit owner.

______________________________________________________________________________

Condo and HOA law was clarified to say that the number of suspended voters reduces the total number of votes needed to take or approve an action.  For example in a 100 unit community, if a majority of owners is required, but there are 10 suspended units, a majority of 90 units is now required, not a majority of 100.

 

Again, nobody can be suspended without the “as amended from time to time language appearing in the governing documents.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Finally, Chapter 720 is now known as The Homeowners Association Act.

Excellent idea.  Hopefully, more declarations will be drafted to include and specifically refer to this ACT and any amendments to the ACT as they are passed from time to time.

______________________________________________________________________________

HOA law was clarified to say that a person who is delinquent in any monetary obligation to the association on the day that he or she could last nominate himself or herself or be nominated for the board may not seek election to the board and cannot be on the ballot.  And finally, like in condos already, a director who becomes delinquent for 90 days in regards to any monetary obligation is deemed to have abandoned the office, thus creating a vacancy.

Who really cares?  This law will not make anyone who is delinquent now suddenly pay up.

I searched and I searched.  I couldn’t find one new law that makes the bank pay associations more when they foreclose on a unit and become the owner.  I found no new law that finally allows the DBPR to assist people who live in a Florida homeowner association.  I found no new law that prohibits The Florida Legislature from stealing the monies paid by condo owners each year for condo education and enforcement of the condominium laws.  I saw no new laws that fix a broken arbitration system that allows an arbitrator to refer a case to a mediator and then basically mandate court litigation if the case doesn’t settle at mediation.  I saw no new law that allows for prevailing party attorney’s fees in recall cases when a party is found to have raised completely meritless defenses.  What can you say if the best thing about all of the new laws is that Florida Statute 720 was given a name?  All the rest doesn’t amount to much at all.  What could have been a great year for the millions of Floridians who live in community associations turned out to be a real disappointing bust.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.