By Atty. Brian S. Hess
It was a very busy last week of April in Tallahassee. A number of bills which could result in significantly increased burdens on Homeowner, Condominium, and Co-Operative Associations took important steps forward last week (some seemingly out of nowhere), and are now moving through both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives and to the Governor's desk. We are bringing the most potentially detrimental of these bills to your attention now, as we expect these bills will be presented to the Governor soon. We urge you to contact the Governor and ask that he veto all of these bills in support of our state's associations.
You can contact Governor Scott as follows: http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/
*House Bill 735/Senate Bill 1046: This bill was approved by the House in the afternoon of May 2, and is currently being finalized for presentation to the Governor. It could be very detrimental to associations, by placing additional burdens on homeowners associations in order to maintain their covenants as applicable to all parcel owners. Especially surprising is that in last year's legislative session, a bill was proposed to remove the applicability of the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA; F.S. 712) to Homeowners Associations completely. Among the proposed changes is that MRTA corrective actions may now require a written approval of 2/3 of all parcel owners, rather than a vote of 2/3 of the Board members; or, potentially, a Board may be able to perform corrective actions, but such would need to be performed every five years. Moreover, for those Associations that do not perform MRTA corrective actions in accordance with the timelines under the statute, covenant revitalization may now require an approval of 2/3 of the parcel owners, rather than a simple majority.
*House Bill 653/Senate Bill 744: This bill was approved by the House in the afternoon of May 2, and is currently being finalized for presentation to the Governor. The bill, which relates to Condominium, Co-Operative, and Homeowners Associations, could be detrimental to associations by placing additional burdens on each type of Association in various ways. While a good portion of the changes in the bill would be considered by many to be beneficial, we do have concerns with regard to some of the proposed changes. The bill implements certain restrictions on the use of e-mail by certain types of Board members, amends certain financial reporting requirements for certain types of Associations, and implements certain changes regarding the election of Board members. Moreover, some Associations that are currently allowed exceptions to statutes that would otherwise require more complex forms of financial reporting to their members may no longer be able to use such exception. Finally, most Associations may face enhanced notice requirements for regular or annual assessments.
*House Bill 1237/ Senate Bill 1682: This bill, which relates only to Condominium Associations, seemingly was approved within nearly record time by both houses (by the afternoon of May 1) and will soon be sent to the Governor for approval. This bill arose out of a recent grand jury investigation from Miami-Dade County, where a number of Condominium Associations and their Board members were, at best, acting poorly with regard to their Associations. While some of the provisions within the bill would be considered by many to be good changes, nevertheless, some of the changes are quite worrisome, and again, place increased burdens on Condominium Associations. The most significant and potentially detrimental changes are to recall procedures and conflicts of interest provisions for Board members, managers, and even association attorneys. Additional changes as provided for in the lengthy bill include implementation of term limits for Board Members under certain conditions, requirements for Association websites for Associations larger than 150 units, and limitations on the use of debit cards by Associations, Board Members, and Managers.