The 2011 Florida Legislative session does not begin until March. Not one to wait, legislators have already begun by filing two bills that directly affect community associations. One of these bills is a so called “Glitch Bill” (SB 530) designed to fix the unintended consequences and mistakes in the bills that passed in 2010. The second bill, a revival of the bill vetoed by Governor Crist limiting the liability of design professionals, is problematic for community associations.
The Glitch Bill (SB 530)
If passed, SB530:
1. Maintains the confidentiality of personnel records but allow owners to inspect employment agreements and financial records that disclose employee compensation.
2. Owners will have a choice to “opt-in” to the disclosure of their contact information that was protected by legislation passed in 2010.
3. Management fees incurred in collecting delinquencies can be included as part of the total amount owed on a delinquent owner’s lien.
4. Similar to homeowner associations, condominium associations are granted the authority to hold a closed door meeting, without their attorney present, for the discussion of personnel matters.
5. Tenants of delinquent owners will be required to remit their rent payments to the association until all, past and present, amounts owed to the association are paid in full.
6. Procedural guidance is given to fill the “gaps” in last year’s legislation regarding suspending use and voting rights of delinquent owners.
7. A majority vote in the affirmative will be required before a condominium association may enter into certain agreements to acquire leaseholds, memberships or similar interests.
8. Communications services contracts for bulk television, internet services, etc. can be canceled by a majority of the voting interest present at a regular or special meeting of the association. Any member can propose to cancel the contract, once. If the motion fails the contract is deemed ratified for its stated term.
Design Professionals Liability Bill
In 2010, Governor Crist vetoed the Design Professionals Limited Liability bill. Nevertheless, the bill is back and has been re-submitted to the legislature for passage. If passed, the Design Professionals Liability Bill would:
1. Excuse design professionals (engineers, architects, etc.) from liability for mistakes they make in performing their jobs.
a. Instead of being liable, and having to pay, for their own mistakes, community associations would pay for the damages caused by a design professional. For example, if an architect’s mistake caused a balcony to fail, the association would not be able to seek damages beyond the cost of the architect’s work (essentially a refund) as compared to seeking compensation for all the damages caused by the architect (the actual damaged balcony).
2. The design professional liability protection contained in this bill are greater than the protections afforded to all other professionals ranging from lawyers to doctors.