THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
It is still too early to determine which community association bills will be adopted by the Florida Legislature and, of course, which may be vetoed by the Governor. Though we are a month into the 2021 Legislative Session significant new proposals are making their way into bills, and provisions that were “must haves” are still dropping into the abyss.
So, we are a month away from the end of session and recognizing that nearly everything occurs in the last days of a session, it is way too early for anyone to hold their breath. We intend to report after adjournment when there will be something concrete to touch and see, as opposed to today’s soft conjecture.
For those who view the Legislative Session as akin to a day, or a season, at the horse races, many proposals are still in the running from last year, including swapping out condominium mediation for arbitration, limiting certain insurance claims, and adding criminal penalties for failing to provide records. New proposals seek to limit the authority of homeowners’ associations to regulate rentals, for condominium associations requiring longer notice time before liening and foreclosing, and requiring budgets be adopted no less than 30 days before the end of a fiscal year.
Clarifications include how the Not for Profit Corporation Act interacts with the Condominium Act and the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, defining what type of monetary obligation disqualifies a director from office. Preemption of town and county rental restrictions and home-based business limits may push associations to strengthen their restrictions. A notable result of the pandemic are changes to association emergency powers.
A potentially explosive idea is investing reserves in the stock market and other devices. Another is requiring homeowners’ association director recall efforts to be approved by homesteaded owners.
The first bill the Governor signed into law is 2021-1, dealing with civil liability for COVID related claims. Most claims appear to be forbidden, including many that would have named community associations; however, the devil is in the details. Gross negligence or intentional conduct are exceptions, as well as failing to comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance. As the State is not mandating protections, it is questioned whether political guidance will provide protections.