By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Updated April 15, 2018
HB 841 enrolled, signed by governor
Full text of this lengthy bill can be viewed in the window below:
Several consumer-unfriendly amendments have been made via HB 841:
HB 841 clarifies that association board members may communicate by email. However, all votes must take place at an open meeting of the board. (See lines 387- 389, 1260-1262, 1598-1600.) For all practical purposes, critics say that allowing board members to discuss issues by email in advance of board meetings deprives association members of the ability to observe active discussion of issues, as well as the opportunity to voice their concerns or opinions.
A condominium or cooperative will now have 10 business days to respond to a unit owners’ request to inspect records, instead of 5 business days. (See lines 178 and 1164)
A July 1, 2018 deadline for creating a condominium association website or portal containing important association documentation and information (for associations with at least 150 units) has been extended to January 1, 2019. Furthermore, the condo association’s website will provide no transparency to the general public, including potential buyers. Specifically, only association members with a valid login ID and password will be able to access relevant governing documents and information. (See Lines 194 – 229)
Here’s the relevant excerpt:
The association’s website must be accessible through
the Internet and must contain a subpage, web portal, or other
protected electronic location that is inaccessible to the
general public and accessible only to unit owners and employees
of the association.
Another amendment now gives a unit owner or resident only 5 days to pay any monetary fine imposed by a condo, co-op, or homeowners’ association, following a hearing and approval by a fining committee. (See lines 1060-1081, 1570-1591, 1686-1705.)
Notice the ironic inconsistency. The association gets more time to comply with Florida statute, but the unit member or resident gets less time to comply with restrictive covenants.
With regard to conflicts of interests in condominium associations, the following amendment was added:
The association shall comply with the requirements of s. 617.0832, and the disclosures required by s. 617.0832 shall be entered into the written minutes of the meeting. Approval of the contract or other transaction requires an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all other directors present. At the next regular or special meeting of the members, the existence of the contract or other transaction shall be disclosed to the members. Upon motion of any member, the contract or transaction shall be brought up for a vote and may be canceled by a majority vote of the members present. If the contract is canceled, the association is only liable for the reasonable value of the goods and services provided up to the time of cancellation and is not liable for any termination fee, liquidated damages, or other form of penalty for such cancellation. (Lines 1003-1017)
In simple language, this means that a supermajority of board members may approve any contract with the association, despite a potential conflict of interest, as long as that conflict has been disclosed prior to a vote of the board. Association members who object to a particular contract have the option of attending an annual or special meeting, where a unit owner may make a motion to vote on whether to cancel the contract. A majority of members present at the meeting must vote to cancel the contract — otherwise, the contract remains intact.
Another important amendment removes the expiration date of bulk buyer provisions, previously set for July 1, 2018. (Lines 1084-1093) Bulk buyer provisions limit legal and financial liabilities of investors that acquire a condominium units from a previous developer or Declarant, while preserving many of the privileges and powers of the Declarant. (See FL Statute 718.704)
On the positive side —
One useful amendment states that associations must provide advance notice of meetings concerning regular or special assessment increases, and the notice must explain the purpose(s) and amount of any increased assessments. (See Lines 416-420, 1278-1282)
An addition to the condominium act creates a process that unit owners and associations must follow in order to add electric vehicle charging stations requested by residents. (Lines 867-929) Essentially, the association cannot prohibit installation of an electric vehicle charging station at an assigned parking space. However, the unit owner bears all costs for installation or removal, insurance, and power supplied to the station, and must comply with architectural requirements of the association.
Under the Homeowners Association Act, language has been added that will help members when evaluating proposed amendments to governing documents. (See Lines 1712-1735) The HOA will be required to indicate portions of existing governing documents that are being amended, added, or deleted, in an easy-to-follow format.
After some back and forth debate on the issue of attorney conflicts of interest, a last-minute amendment restored the following provision to the condominium act:
An association may not hire an attorney who represents the management company of the association.
HB 617: MRTA (Marketable Record Title Act) and HOA Act amendments (Signed by Governor)
HB 617 amends state law to provide for homeowners’ association boards to perpetuate CC&Rs forever, without any advance notice, meeting, or vote of the entire membership.
The full engrossed text of HB 617 (substituted for SB 266) can be viewed here.
In essence, unless HB 617 is vetoed by Governor Rick Scott, an HOA board will be enabled to continue the “contractual” CC&Rs that mandate the governing entity’s existence indefinitely, simply by filing applicable standard forms with the County Records office.
Property owners will not have an opportunity to vote on the issue of whether or not to continue the CC&Rs or the HOA.
Revitalization of expired CC&Rs still requires a meeting with advance notice, and a majority vote of affected parcel owners. Provisions are unclear as to whether or not proxies can be used to obtain the necessary number of votes for revitalization.
The act also allows for nonresidential (commercial) associations and covenant-restricted neighborhoods without an HOA to extend or revitalize CC&Rs indefinitely, following very similar procedures to that of Florida homeowners’ associations.
For more details, see my previous post Should neighborhood covenants and HOAs last forever?