Blog

Alligators, Coyotes and Black Bears. Oh My! How Your Community’s Liability Is Changing

Here in Florida, we have plenty of wild animals to be concerned with: black bears, alligators, snakes, in some parts of the state, wild boar, crocodiles, and bobcats, and now becoming ever more common, even in urban areas, we have coyotes.  Recent trends in the law are seemingly increasing the risk of liability to community association for the acts of wild animals.

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Use of Terms and Conditions in Purchase Agreements

Attorneys and REALTOR®s[1] have sought to produce standardize contracts for the sale and purchase of real estate ever since I can remember. I have personally witnessed the evolution of these contracts over the past forty (40)+ years. What began for me back in 1974 as a four (4) page residential contract has grown into a thirteen (13) page residential contract (see attached).

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Choose your own adventure! How your HOA may be conducting its annual elections improperly…

Around this time every year, most of our Homeowners Association (HOA) clients are readying themselves for their annual meeting, including the election of the next year’s Board members.  Under current Florida law, there is minimal statutory guidance for Homeowners Associations as to how an HOA is required to conduct their election of Board members.  This stands in stark contrast to the rules governing the election of Board members in a condominium association, which are heavily regulated by statute, as well as state administrative agencies.  For most HOAs, the association is simply to follow the election requirements as set forth in the association’s governing documents, within minimal statutory guidelines. 

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Single Family Residential Use Restriction What it Means, What it Prohibits

The term “single family” has been interpreted to mean multiple if not numerous things.  In fact, the term may encompass a group of unrelated individuals living as a single household unit. Similarly, a religious group may qualify as a single family.  As such, the term is not even necessarily limited to an individual and his or her significant other. Consequently, single family restrictions within associations’ governing documents may have little or no teeth with which to restrict who and/or how many individuals can reside within a unit. In fact, this development has severely, if not completely, undermined the ability of associations to use the “single family” use restriction(s) found within their documents to prohibit a multitude of activities.

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4th DCA Clarifies when an Association can Intervene in a Mortgage Foreclosure Action

The 4th DCA has clarified in Jallali v Knightsbridge, 4D15-2036 (2015) when it is necessary for an Association to intervene in a Mortgage Foreclosure action.  The 4th DCA has opined in the Jallali v. Knightsbridge case that only when an Association has taken Title in a Lien Foreclosure action and after a supplemental Lis Pendens has been filed by the Bank to re-foreclose, must the Association intervene in the Mortgage Foreclosure action as that Court has jurisdiction.  This opinion distinguished their prior decision in U.S. Bank National Ass’n v. Quadomain Condominium Ass’n, 103 3d 977 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).

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The Scoop on Fire Sprinkler Retrofitting

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has announced that ALL residential condominiums in the state of Florida must install fire sprinkler systems, unless they vote to opt-out of this requirement by the end of 2016. 

According to an article published in the Palm Beach Post on Friday, July 8, 2016, quoting Travis Keels, Deputy Director of Communications for the DBPR, “generally speaking, the fire sprinkler requirement applies to all residential condominiums.

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What Did The Legislature Do To Us This Year? The 2016 Legal Update – Part I

This year, the Florida legislative session extended from January 12, 2016, through March 11, 2016.  Our Florida legislators had filed no fewer than 24 bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate proposing various changes to the laws affecting community associations.  Changes were proposed to the laws regulating all types of associations.  For example, some of these bills proposed:

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The Journey Through the Maze of Estate Planning: Way Point Number 4 – What is the Gross Value of Your Estate?

You might be asking yourself, ‘what difference does it make whether the gross value of the estate consists of a simple 3 bedroom house valued at $100,000 or is valued at $10 Million?’ The answer to this question has both a legal implication as well as a practical implication.

From a legal perspective, if the decedent is a U.S. citizen or resident and the decedent's death occurred in 2016, a Federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) must be filed if the gross estate of the decedent, increased by the decedent's adjusted taxable gifts and specific gift tax exemption, is valued at more than the filing threshold for the year of the decedent's death. The filing threshold for 2016 is $5,450,000 and the filing threshold for 2015 is $5,430,000. An estate tax return also must be filed if the estate elects to transfer any deceased spousal unused exclusion (DSUE) amount to a surviving spouse, regardless of the size of the gross estate or amount of adjusted taxable gifts. The election to transfer a DSUE amount to a surviving spouse is known as the portability election. 

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“Yeah, I dry my laundry the old fashioned way . . .”

I read recently about a resident in an upscale HOA community who spent her summer vacation in Maine.  While there, the resident became accustomed to putting her clothes out to dry on a clothesline, per local custom.  The resident assumed, however, that upon returning to her Florida HOA community, she would be prohibited from utilizing a clothesline due to restrictions in her HOA’s declaration.

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Former Board Members Must Turn Over Association Files – Part II

In my prior “Blog” entitled “Former Board Members Must Turn Over Association Files”, we discussed Directors’ responsibilities and requirements to turn over their respective HOA’s, Condo’s and Co-op’s “Official Records” when their term as a member of the Association’s Board of Directors has terminated.  Part II of this Blog discusses the advisability of X-Directors taking reasonable measures to protect them, before timely relinquishing the Official Records in their possession.

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