Resources

LEGISLATIVE

Legislative News:

The laws concerning Associations change frequently. At Lighthouse, we have legal contacts, who specialize in updates concerning Association law. We offer continual training for our managers, keeping them informed of the latest changes in Association law. Below are just a few legal updates:

CALL Alert: December 6, 2017

Countdown to the 2018 Legislative Session

The 2018 Legislative Session is scheduled to officially begin on January 9, 2018, however, House and Senate Committees have been meeting since September. Here are some of the bills that have been filed so far that we are keeping an eye on and that you might hear more about as the legislative session moves forward.

HB 841, Relating to Community Associations, by Rep. Moraitis. Among other things, the bill will make the bulk buyer law permanent and add some new budget and reserve requirements for homeowners’ associations. It will also require a vote of the owners to be taken before a material alteration or substantial addition to the common elements.

HB 873, Relating to Homeowners’ Associations, by Rep. Diaz. This bill incorporates many of the changes that were made to the Condominium Act by last year’s HB 1237 into the Homeowners’ Association act. Among other things, the bill requires homeowners’ associations (HOAs) with 150 or more parcels to post digital copies of its official records on a website by July 1, 2019; prohibits the use of debit cards by HOAs; revises the recall procedures to remove the requirement for the board to certify or not certify the recall and file a petition for recall arbitration if the recall is not certified; creates new criminal penalties for kickbacks, forgery of a ballot or voting certificate, theft or embezzlement of association funds, and destruction of or refusal to allow inspection or copying of an official record; provides that in order to suspend an owner’s voting rights, the owner must be more than $1000 and at least 90 days delinquent and proof of such obligation must be provided to the owner at least 30 days before the suspension takes effect; imposes term limits of no more than 8 consecutive years unless approved by two-thirds of the total voting interests or unless there are not enough candidates to fill the vacancies on the board at the time of the vacancy; prohibits a board member, manager or management company from purchasing a parcel at a foreclosure sale resulting from the association’s foreclosure of its lien or take title by deed in lieu of foreclosure; and provides for new conflict of interest provisions.

HB 123, Relating to Bullying and Harassment in Community Associations, by Rep. Slosberg. The bill is titled “Stand Up for Seniors Act” and appears to apply only to condominium and homeowners’ associations intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older. It prohibits bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment. It requires associations to adopt, every 3 years, a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment. The policy must include the penalties for a person who commits an act of bullying or harassment, a procedure for receiving reports of an alleged act of bullying or harassment, and a procedure for the prompt investigation of a report of bullying or harassment. The penalties can include a written warning, anger management treatment, or a fine.

SB 266/HB 617, Relating to Covenants and Restrictions, by Sen. Passidomo and Rep. Edwards. These are similar to bills filed last year regarding the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA). The intent is to simplify the process for preserving covenants and restrictions of homeowners’ associations, and allow non-residential property owners’ associations to preserve covenants and restrictions. It will also allow non-mandatory homeowners’ associations to revitalize covenants and restrictions that have expired.

HB 377/SB 734, Relating to Homeowners’ Associations, by Rep. Stone and Sen. Baxley. These bills provide for some regulation of homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”) by the Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes (“Division”). There are some new consumer protection provisions related to associations controlled by a developer. The bills also give owners a cause of action against managers who do not provide access to records, give the Division the authority to investigate complaints in an HOA (but no money for it to do so), and remove the ability of HOAs to lien for fines.

HB 625, Relating to Community Associations, by Rep. J. Cortes. This bill requires the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to establish an Office of Community Association Hearings to employ community association hearing officers (instead of arbitrators). Among other things, the bill provides that a community association hearing officer can only be terminated for cause; removes the requirement that the arbitration decision be rendered within 30 days after the hearing; authorizes the hearing officer to impose sanctions against a board member or officer who intentionally prevented an association from complying with the law; and removes the requirement for pre-suit mediation of disputes in homeowners’ associations and instead requires arbitration for disputes in accordance with Section 718.1255, Florida Statutes. The cost of arbitration will be charged to the parties, and the petitioner is responsible for the initial $200 filing fee.

Other issues that we expect to see addressed this year are:

1. A bill that will extend the time to install sprinklers or an ELSS.

2. A “glitch” bill to address some of the ambiguities created by last year’s condominium bill.

3. A bill to curtail the use of fraudulent emotional support animals (ESAs). For more information and to join CALL’s 2018 Lobbying Efforts, please click here: http://callbp.com/get-involved/lobbying-initiatives/esa/

What to do about Fire Sprinkler Retrofitting.

A 2010 amendment to Florida Statute 718.112 (2)(l)(1) made the fire sprinkler retrofit requirement arguably applicable to all condos. The statute was initially only applicable to high rise condos. When the statute was amended, the words “high rise” were removed. Thus, the language of the statute appears to cover all condos, even though many feel that the statute should only apply to high rises. Although several groups have sought clarification from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), DBPR has yet to give a definitive opinion stating that the statute will only be enforced against high rise condos. So, what do you do?

Until there is some further guidance, it would be wise to consult your association attorney to determine whether your association should hold an opt-out vote. Section 718(2)(l)(1) gives condo associations the opportunity to opt-out of fire sprinkler retrofitting, if the members of the association vote to do so. The deadline to opt-out is December 31, 2016. If you fail to hold the vote, and the statute is interpreted as being applicable to all condos, the association may be in for a big expense and you may be hearing from some very unhappy homeowners. Thus, to be sure you are protected and will not be subject to retrofitting, your attorney may advise to have the members vote to opt out, and to document their decision.

TO AVOID HAVING TO RETROFIT WITH FIRE SPRINKLERS, A CONDO ASSOCIATION MUST OPT OUT BY 12/31/2016. There needs to be membership meeting, notice of the membership meeting must be mailed to all owners, the owners must vote to opt out, the results must be recorded in the public records, and notice of the results of the opt out vote must be delivered to all owners. A portion of the statute has been set out below, but, again, we suggest that an attorney be consulted regarding your association’s particular needs, 718(2)(l)1. A vote to forego retrofitting may be obtained by limited proxy or by a ballot personally cast at a duly called membership meeting, or by execution of a written consent by the member, and is effective upon recording a certificate attesting to such vote in the public records of the county where the condominium is located. The association shall mail or hand deliver to each unit owner written notice at least 14 days before the membership meeting in which the vote to forego retrofitting of the required fire sprinkler system is to take place. Within 30 days after the association’s opt-out vote, notice of the results of the opt-out vote must be mailed or hand delivered to all unit owners. Evidence of compliance with this notice requirement must be made by affidavit executed by the person providing the notice and filed among the official records of the association. After notice is provided to each owner, a copy must be provided by the current owner to a new owner before closing and by a unit owner to a renter before signing a lease.

CONDOMINIUMS: CHAPTER 2013-189-

Committee Substitute for House Bill No. 95

An act relating to charitable contributions; amending s. 726.102, F.S.; defining the terms “charitable contribution” and “qualified religious or charitable entity or organization”; amending s. 726.109, F.S.; providing that a transfer of a charitable contribution that is received in good faith by a qualified religious or charitable entity or organization is not a fraudulent transfer; providing exceptions; amending ss. 213.758, 718.704, and 721.05, F.S.; conforming cross-references; providing for applicability; providing an effective date.For the full content on this law, please visit: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/lsc/documents/Ch_2013_189.pdf

HOA’S: CHAPTER 2013-188-

Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for House Bill No. 73

An act relating to residential properties; amending s. 399.02, F.S.; exempting certain elevators from specific code update requirements; amending s. 718.111, F.S.; revising requirements for an association’s approval of land purchases and recreational leases; revising reconstruction costs for which unit owners are responsible and authorizing the costs to be collected in a specified manner; requiring an association to repair or replace as a common expense certain condominium property damaged by an insurable event; requiring an association to allow a member or the member’s representative to use certain portable devices to make electronic copies of association records; prohibiting the association from charging the member or representative for using the portable device; authorizing a condominium association to print and distribute a member directory under certain conditions; revising requirements for the preparation of an association’s annual financial statement; For the full content on this law, please visit: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/lsc/documents/Ch_2013_188.pdf

FOR ALL NEW LAWS CONCERNING ASSOCIATIONS, PLEASE VISIT: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/lsc/statutes.html

RELATED SITES

house1At Lighthouse, we know that there are valuable tools available to Associations. Below is a list of organizations that can offer insight on Community Management:

 

 

Are you new to the Sarasota area? We can help! Please refer to the attachment below for contact numbers to services you may require.

List of Service Providers

For rental properties, visit Jennette Properties http://www.jennetteproperties.com/

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Assessments

Homeowner associations can compel homeowners to pay a share of common expenses, usually per-unit or based on square footage. These expenses generally arise from common property, which varies dramatically depending on the type of association. Some associations are, quite literally, towns, complete with private roads, services, utilities, amenities, community buildings, pools, and even schools. Many condominium associations consider the roofs and exteriors of the structures as the responsibility of the association. Other associations have no common property, but may charge for services or other matters.
A predetermined set of fees usually referred to as 'Dues' are collected by HOAs, Community Associations, or divisions of property management for the upkeep of said organizations or neighborhoods in general. These fees are billed at intervals, sometimes by month, quarter, or annually.

Association Types

A Homeowners' Association (HOA) is a legal entity created by a real estate developer for the purpose of developing, managing and selling a community of homes. It is given the authority to enforce the covenants, conditions & restrictions (CC&Rs) and to manage the common amenities of the development. It allows a developer to end their responsibility over the community, typically by transferring ownership of the association to the homeowners after selling. Generally accepted as a voluntary association of homeowners gathered together to protect their property values and to improve the neighborhood, a large percentage of U.S neighborhoods where free standing homes exist have an HOA. Most homeowners' associations are non profit organizations and are subject to state statutes that govern non-profit corporations and homeowners' associations.
A community association is a nongovernmental association of participating members of a community, such as a neighborhood, village, condominium, cooperative, or group of homeowners or property owners in a delineated geographic area. Participation may be voluntary, require a specific residency, or require participation in an intentional community. Community associations may serve as social clubs, community promotional groups, service organizations, or quasi-governmental groups.
A Neighborhood Association (NA) is a group of residents or property owners who advocate for or organize activities within a neighborhood. An association may have elected leaders and voluntary dues. Some neighborhood associations in the United States are incorporated, may be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, and may enjoy freedom from taxation from their home state.
The term neighborhood association is sometimes incorrectly used instead of homeowners association (HOA). Some key differences include: 1. HOA membership is mandatory generally through rules tied to the ownership of property like deed restrictions. Neighborhood association membership is voluntary or informal. 2. HOAs often own and maintain common property, such as recreational facilities, parks, and roads, whereas neighborhood associations are focused on general advocacy and community events. The rules for formation of a neighborhood association in the United States are sometimes regulated at the city or state level. Neighborhood associations are more likely to be formed in older, established neighborhoods, whereas HOAs are generally established at the time a residential neighborhood is built and sold. In some cases, neighborhood associations exist simultaneously with HOAs, and each may not encompass identical boundaries.

Association Management Questions

Association management is a distinct field of management because of the unique environment of associations. Associations are unique in that the 'owners' are dues-paying members. Members also govern their association through an elected board or other governing body, along with association committees, commissions, task forces, councils and other units. Typically, the board selects, retains and evaluates a chief executive officer or an executive director who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the association and paid staff. Managers within the association environment are responsible for many of the same tasks that are found in other organizational contexts. These include human resource management, financial management, meeting management, IT management, and project management. Other aspects of management are unique for association managers. These include: membership recruitment and retention; tax-exempt accounting and financial management; development of non-dues revenue and fundraising. Association managers must also be familiar with laws and regulations that pertain only to associations. To attain the knowledge needed to effectively operate in association management, its practitioners may choose to pursue the Certified Association Executive designation.
A property management entity contracted by a Board of Directors or community to provide a variety of services including but not limited to collecting assessments, sub-contractor endeavors, financial advisement and statement/reports preparation and analysis, general maintenance and problem resolution, and advisement on legal and other property related matters. Some of these companies manage hundreds of properties simultaneously, while others focus on individual properties.
If your community is not self managed, the Association Management's contact information can be located on the website, and most Asociation Management companies have contact information listed on their company websites or in the phone book. Generally, a management company can be contacted online or by telephone by community or Board members, or individuals whose communities are seeking a management company for representation.
A Managing Agent is a person or entity hired specifically to assist the board of directors in enforcing the documents and managing the assets, funds, and interests of the association.
An individual appointed to act or vote on behalf of another person by representing them at a meeting of the association. The title can also refer to the written piece of paper granting that power.
A Quorum is defined as the minimum number of owners required to hold an official meeting of the association. The number of owners required can vary greatly according to the corresponding association's governing documents.
The act of initiating a Recuse involves the temporary removal of an association member or board member, or the act of disallowing his or her participation in a particular vote or proceeding.

Board of Directors

In relation to an HOA, Community or other formal organization, a director is an officer charged with the conduct and management of its affairs. The directors collectively are referred to as a board of directors, and are generally elected or appointed. Sometimes the board will appoint one of its members to be the chair, making this person the President of the Board of Directors or Chairman.
If your community has a Board of Directors, contact information, meeting times, minutes, and other information can be obtained through checking the Board information area of your website.

CAI

Founded in 1973, CAI is Community Associations Institute, a national and chapter-based membership organization dedicated to fostering successful common-interest communities. In addition to state and national legislative advocacy on behalf of associations, CAI provides education, tools and resources to those who govern and manage association-governed communities. CAI members include association board members and other homeowner volunteer leaders, community managers, association management firms and other professionals who provide products and services to associations, such as attorneys, accountants and reserve specialists. CAI is committed to being the worldwide center of knowledge and expertise for people seeking excellence in association operations, governance and management. Visit www.caionline.org or call (888) 224-4321 for more information.
CAI is a national organization with almost 60 local and state chapters. CAI members enjoy automatic membership in the chapter of their choice. Find a CAI chapter in your area.

Association Legal Documents

The term CC&R refers to 'Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions.' A real covenant is a legal obligation imposed in a deed by the seller of a home and or property upon the buyer of the real estate to do or not to do something. Such restrictions frequently 'run with the land' and are enforceable on future buyers of the property. Examples might be to maintain a property in a reasonable state of repair, to preserve a sight-line for a neighboring property, not to run a business from a residence, or not to build on certain parts of the property. Many covenants are very simple and are meant only to protect a neighborhood from homeowners destroying trees or historic things or otherwise directly harming property values. Some can be more specific and strict, outlining everything a homeowner can do to the exterior of their home, including the number of non-familial tenants one may have, acceptable colors to re-paint the home, exactly when holiday decorations are allowed up, automobile placement or repair on property, satellite placement, etc.
A set of rules or guidelines regarding the operation of a non-profit corporation such as a Board. Bylaws generally set forth definitions of offices and committees involved with the Board of Directors. They can include voting rights, meetings, notices, and other areas involved with the successful operation of the Association.
The declaration, bylaws, operating rules, articles of incorporation or any other documents which govern the normal operating procedures of an association.
A monetary claim levied against a property for unpaid mortgage, taxes, contractor work, or other charges. A lien is attached to the property, not the owner, but legally must be recorded in the property records of the county of residence. If a Lien is in place, the property owner has very limited ability to do anything involving the property until the Lien is satisfied or removed.
The Declaration is sometimes referred to as the 'master deed,' 'documents,' or 'declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions' [CC&Rs]. It describes an owner's responsibilities to the association which can include payment of dues and assessments as well as the association’s various duties to the owners. It is common viewed as somewhat of a 'constitution' of the association. The person or group of persons who either signs the original declaration governing the development and association or acquires the original developer's rights is referred to as the 'Declarant.'
An estoppel letter is used in a transfer or conveyance of real property prior to the Closing transaction. The document is sent to a bank (or other lender), to an HOA (or Condo Association), to a city/municipality, or a tenant requesting payoff of a mortgage, assessments or taxes due, or rental amounts due on a lease, to incorporate these amounts into the Settlement Statement for the buyer and seller of the real estate. Assessments and payments due must be incorporated into the amounts due at Closing and paid at the time of the Closing. Some amounts may be pro-rated, but all must be included in the Settlement Statement. The estoppel letter is the document that facilitates this process.
An interest or a right in real property which grants the ability to a landowner to use the land of another for a special purpose or endeavor. An association may for example have an easement for slope maintenance or other repair purposes. A public utility may also have an easement for maintenance or repair work to be executed at a future date.
Similar in essence to a lien, the Notice of Noncompliance is a document sometimes authorized under the CC&Rs and may be recorded in the county property records. It's essential purpose is to notify prospective buyers that the property is in violation of the documents.
Any area of improved real property intended for shared use by the members of an association.
An Ordinance is an individual or set of laws adopted by local government at the county and city level.

Helpful links

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