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2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION: POTENTIAL LEGISLATION IMPACTING FLORIDA COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS

The new year brought forth a flurry of bills proposing to change how Florida community associations operate. Some bills appear to clean up errors of the past. Some bills appear to be knee-jerk reactions to a constituent’s complaint.  Many proposals just leave observers to simply shake their heads.

This year may be more interesting than most as it is an election year.  Many in Tallahassee are vying for re-election or seeking to “move up” into the many open local and statewide positions.

These updates have become an annual effort. Thus, this briefly summarizes many of the bills to provide you a “heads up” and time to contact your legislators. Full text of the bills that may impact community associations are available at the “Statutory Update 2018” located at www.gelfandarpe.com under “Resources.”

You will note after reading just a few bills that many provisions are contradictory. Some just “do not make sense.” As in past years, it is likely that most of the proposals will not survive committee review, never making it to the floor of the Legislature, and even then there may be bills that die on the floor.

HB0123/SB0604 Bullying. One of the first bills filed to address Florida community associations mandates condominium and homeowner associations to adopt and review no less than every three years a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment.  The bill seeks to define both, outline penalties, and mandate reporting procedures and “a description of the type of behavior expected from each association member.” Results of mandatory investigations are to be reported to the State of Florida.

HB377/SB0734 Homeowner Associations. Concerning homeowner’s associations: mandates an annual report; holds managers responsible for denying owners access to records; allows any fine to be a lien; extends the time for transition/turnover for developer control; restates mediation for election disputes while changing the qualifications for mediators; provides the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation investigation and education components; allows prospective purchasers access to certain association documentation; and,  provides for claims by owners against developers of new communities.

HB0625/SB1768 Community Associations. Creates a separate division for arbitration, addresses the authority of arbitrators to issue show cause orders to directors and officers, and to enter sanctions for certain intentional wrongful acts, rescinding from the Homeowners’ Association Laws the mandatory pre-suit mediation program, and, transferring disputes to a division of community arbitration.

HB873/SB1238 Homeowners’ Associations. Prohibits homeowners associations from hiring an attorney who also represents the association’s management company; requires bids to be kept as other financial records; provides renters the right to inspect by-laws and rules; requires by July 1, 2019 a website to be populated with documents similar to the requirement for condominium associations; mandating financial reports to be provided without charge within five business days of a written request; prohibits the use of debit cards; rescinds the board of directors ability to contest a recall; requires a recalled director to turn over records within ten business days; criminalizes kickbacks; creates a good faith threshold for officer and director conduct; requires a notice of delinquency thirty days before voting rights are suspended; creates eight year director term limits unless the members by super majority vote override or there are not enough candidates; prohibits directors and managers from purchasing a communities parcel at a foreclosure sale; prohibits contracting with service providers owned or operated by a director or officer or a family member; and, mandating disclosures of conflicts of interest by directors and officers.

SB1530 Condominiums. Rescinds the prohibition on an association hiring an attorney representing its management company; deletes the seven-year limitation on keeping minutes and reinstates a one-year retention period for bids and otherwise requiring records to be permanently maintained from inception unless otherwise permitted for a seven year period; expands the bids required to be posted on the association’s website once a $2,500.00 threshold is met; and, rescinds the four consecutive two year director term limits.

SB0266/HB0617 Covenants. Permits a summary notice to protect homeowners’ association covenants from extinguishment under the Marketable Record Title Act; revised revitalization of covenant procedure; and, mandates board of directors considering preservation notice at its first meeting of the year.

HB0841/SB1274 Community Associations.  Rescinds the condominium association prohibition on retaining a management company’s attorney; deletes the seven-year limit on retention of minutes; revised bidding information to be posted on a condominium association’s website; reduces the minimum number of directors to three for small, condominium associations; restates assessment notice requirements; mandates rule making for electronic notice of meetings; rescinds term limits though mandating no term may be beyond two years; mandates notice posting requirements, electronically and physical; permits a director who has been subject to a recall to petition to challenge the recall; provides that when a director is removed subject to the challenge and allows for an award for attorney’s fees; requiring hurricane shutter votes for approval occur before commencement of the work; and revises the fine process including extending limitations as who may serve on a fining committee. In cooperatives: extending many of the same changes proposed for condominium associations and for cooperatives adding prohibitions on service as a director if assessments are more than ninety days delinquent; expanding cable and communication services contracting authority. In homeowners associations: revising fining procedures and election procedures if there are not sufficient candidates for a contested election.

HB1061/SB1432 Community associations. Seeks to clarify fire sprinkler retrofitting requirements and providing for signage for buildings that do not have fire sprinkler systems.

In Conclusion.

As occurs every year there are more bills, tens of bills, that impact all of our lives, including those portions of our lives that address community associations. These include bills that seek to impose personal liability upon contractors who do not have mandatory insurance coverage (HB0089/SB0604), limit when claims may be brought for construction defects (SB0536/HB0875) mandate specific notice requirements pre-suit for construction claims (SB0680/HB0759); and, creates penalties for fraudulent notices of non-payment of a construction bond (HB0723/SB0908).

Do not hesitate to contact your legislator with your suggestions or issues. Stay tuned as the legislature is not planned to adjourn until March, and many matters occur only in the last week!

 

 

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