By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Companion House Bill 1375 filed. See here:
For the third year in a row, CCFJ has filed an HOA Reform Bill seeking to expand regulation of Florida Homeowner Associations, mainly through direct oversight from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR, or the “Department”)
Previous attempts have failed to gain traction in the state Legislature. Special interest groups have organized their efforts to defeat HOA reform legislation before it even sees the light of day before Legislators.
The previous objection of one special interest group in South Florida was that prior HOA reform bills would have resulted in the “condoization of HOAs,” probably in part because previous bills essentially copied language from the Condominium Act.
But the language in the 2016 version of the HOA Reform Bill (SB 1122, Filed by Alan Hays) is more tailored and streamlined. It is concise at only 15 pages.
Additionally, several Florida television stations and newspapers have chronicled a significant amount of HOA conflict in the state over the past year, especially in struggling golf communities, flooded Gulf Coast communities, and large-scale HOAs such as Poinciana.
Perhaps the Legislature is more inclined to act on behalf of its non-special interest constituents this year?
Summary of goodies in SB 1122
There are several consumer-friendly amendments proposed in this year’s HOA Reform Bill.
By the way, when I refer to HOA consumers, I mean owner-occupants, whether or seasonal or full-time.
The HOA industry tends to cater to “homeowners” that are non-resident investors, absentee landlords, HOA Board members, and affiliates of developers – generally claiming to seek a “balance” of rights of all owners.
There is a fundamental difference between merely owning an interest in property and making a community your home.
The owners with deep pockets cannot continue to have more rights than owners of modest and limited means.
CCFJ and other groups that fight for rights of individual owners understand that distinction. Here’s a list of the bill’s proposals:
1) If an Association denies a member access to official records, fines would be raised from $50 per day to a minimum of $500 per day. Fines would accrue up to 30 days instead of 10 days. And if the Community Manager (CAM) is the person denying access to records, he or she will be held personally liable to pay those fines.
2) All HOAs must register with the state by November 2016, and report any material changes thereafter, through 2026. The current requirement to register with the state is set to expire in 2016.
3) The bill removes harmful language inserted last session – a provision that allows a fine of $1000 or more to become a lien against a parcel. New proposed language would simply state that a fine cannot become a lien.
4) Amends requirements for transition of control from developer to members, with three tiers of criteria based upon the size of the association.
5) Allows for presuit mediation of election and recall disputes, rather than requiring binding arbitration.
6) States that the Department shall provide binding arbitration upon request of a parcel owner or HOA, in matters involving CC&R disputes, assessments, maintenance duties, and access to official records.
7) Requires the Department to provide training and education for HOA members, directors, and officers.
8) Expands DBPR authority, stating that it may enforce statutes with regard to records access, financial management issues, and election processes. The Department may also investigate any HOA complaints. Imposes a $2 per lot fee to cover expenses, but also prohibits fee collection if it exceeds the amount necessary to cover costs.
9) Requires sellers to disclose the following to buyers at least 7 days before closing:
- Full copy of governing documents, including amendments
- Current operating budget
10) Allows homeowners to have a cause of action against the developer for the following:
- Failure to maintain or complete amenities or infrastructure as promised
- Failure to comply with duties as required
- Unauthorized use of HOA funds
If you reside in Florida, and would like to see the HOA Reform Bill become law, be sure to contact your State House and Senate officials.
New Bills Impacting Homeowners’ Associations Filed for 2016 Legislative Session
Read the bill (SB 1122, 2016)
Track the bill