It Has Begun, 2017 Florida Condominium Association Legislation

It’s only the beginning, Florida’s 2017 Pending Condominium Association Legislation

-By Joshua Gerstin, Esq.

Recently, Florida’s House and Senate passed a bill drastically changing the laws related to condominiums. Considering the public landscape of the various issues the bill addresses, it is unlikely Governor Rick Scott will veto the bill.   Therefore, condominium associations should begin to familiarize themselves with these new laws as soon as possible.

Following are changes to Chapter 718 from the recently passed Senate Bill 1682, additional legislative changes affecting community associations are expected from the legislature in the near future (will be detailed upon passage in subsequent articles):

1.     The term “kickback” was inserted, although undefined, in the list of prohibitions against a director when choosing a vendor for a condominium association.  In certain circumstances, kickbacks or other prohibited conduct can now be classified as a crime.

2.    Theft, embezzlement, forgery of ballot envelopes, election fraud, the destruction of official records in the furtherance of a crime and the acceptance of kickbacks are all classified as crimes.

3.    A condominium association is forbidden from hiring an attorney that also represents the association’s management company.

4.    Board members, the property manager and the property management company are prohibited from purchasing a property at a foreclosure sale resulting from the association’s foreclosure.

5.    No later than July 1, 2018, condominium associations with 150 or more units must have a website dedicated to the association’s activities on which required notices, records and documents can be posted. The website must contain a members only, password protected page accessible only to unit owners and employees of the association. The legislation contains an extensive list of documents that must be posted to the Association’s website.

6.    If permitted by the Association’s Bylaws, term limits of four consecutive two year terms can be imposed on a director and require a 2/3 majority to reelect.

7.    The Board certification requirement for recalls is removed in its entirety. Directors are required to step down at a meeting five business days after a recall petition with the requisite votes is submitted.

8.    An association or any officer, director, employee, or agent of an association may not use a debit card issued in the name of the association, or which is billed directly to the association, for the payment of any association expense. Use of a debit card issued in the name of the association or billed directly to the association for any expense that is not a lawful obligation of the association may be prosecuted as credit card fraud pursuant to s. 817.61.

9.    A condominium association cannot employ or contract with any service provider owned or any person who has a financial relationship with a board member or officer, or a degree of consanguinity by blood or service provider in which a board member or officer, third degree of consanguinity by blood or marriage of a board member or officer, owns less than 1 percent of the equity shares of the service provider.

10.     Arbitrators hired by the Division are mandated to hold a hearing within thirty days of confirmation of a dispute and issue a written opinion thirty days after the hearing.

11.    Management companies are required to disclose financial interests in any vendor they recommend to an association

12.    Management companies are required to turn over all association records when their contracts expire.
A determination of whether the Division has adequate funding to handle its increased responsibilities remains an open question.  Nonetheless, Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign Senate Bill 1682. Other bills affect community associations are winding their way through the legislature. We will keep you updated as further legislation develops.

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Fax this completed page to (561) 750-8185 or email the above information to: joshua@gerstin.com

Vaccine Discovered to Prevent Zombie Homes from Plaguing Florida’s Community Associations!

Two recent Florida Appellate Court decisions offer hope for community associations plagued with zombie homes.

-By Joshua Gerstin, Esq.

Within the last decade, almost every community association has encountered the same problem, a lender forecloses on an owner and nothing happens for years.  Either the owner vigorously contests the lender’s foreclosure, the lender simply does not move forward or both.  While the lender’s case meanders through the courts, the association is left with a “zombie house”, an abandoned home lowering property values and/or an owner no longer paying his/her maintenance assessments.  Until now, once a lender filed a foreclosure lawsuit a community association could do nothing other than sit and wait, sometimes for years.

In two recent Florida appellate court cases a vaccine for this zombie house problem was discovered, the community association’s “relation back” provisions in its Declaration.  In Fountainspring II Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Veliz, Case No. 4D-3408 (Fla. 4th DCA March 15, 2017), and Jallali v. Knightsbridge Village Homeowners Association, Inc., Case No. 4D15-2036 (Fla. 4th DCA Jan. 4, 2017), the Courts ruled the association was permitted to begin its own foreclosure action after the lender’s foreclosure had already begun (and stalled). In addition to the Florida laws governing both condominium and homeowner associations, the Courts found the governing documents of each association to be a major factor in their decisions.

According to both the Fountainspring and Jallali cases, well-drafted “relation back” provisions in a community association’s governing documents allow community associations to foreclose on an owner after the lender foreclosure lawsuit has already begun.  Although the association’s lien and foreclosure remains subordinate to the lender’s foreclosure, the association can drastically cut the effect and expense of a zombie home.  Properly worded “relation back provisions” in a community association’s governing documents is another tool available to community associations struggling to keep costs down and property values up.

Please contact our office for an evaluation to determine whether your association’s governing documents have the necessary “relation back” provisions to benefit from these recent Florida court decisions.

Stay Informed, Subscribe to the Gerstin & Associates Newsletter

Subscribe to the Gerstin & Associates Newsletter

 

 Name: _________________________________________________

Mailing address: ________________________________________

E-mail address: _________________________________________

Community name: ________________________________________

Position on board, if any: __________________________________

Fax this completed page to (561) 750-8185 or email the above  information to: joshua@gerstin.com

Video! 2017 Legal Update: Medically Necessary Pets, Directors’ Emails & Enforcement of Governing Documents.

Please click here for a copy of the January 4, 2017 presentation of:

Medically Necessary Pets
Board of Directors Insider’s Guide to Email &
Achieving Utopia Through the Enforcement of Community Association Documents.

 

Presented by Joshua Gerstin, Esq. for the Delray Alliance of Residential Associations.

Please click here for a copy of the January 4, 2017 presentation.

Hidden Dangers–10 Declaration Provisions Every Community Association Must Change

10 Declaration Provisions Every Community Association
Must Change

Click here to download the full report.

 

  1. The Magic Language Exception. Known as the “Magic Language Exception”, inserting the words “as amended from time to time” after a Declaration’s statement of adherence to Florida law allows the Declaration to automatically adapt to changes in Florida law. Failing to incorporate the Magic Language Exception into a Declaration often times results in the loss of income from, and the benefits of, changes in Florida’s law related to the collection of delinquent assessments. Coral Isles East Condominium Assoc. v. Snyder, 395 So. 2d 1204 1981.

 

  1. The percentage for passage of an amendment is too high. Many associations are stuck with damaging and confusing Governing Documents because the threshold of affirmative votes for an amendment is too high. Consider amending your Governing Documents to a lower threshold of affirmative votes needed to pass an amendment in the future.

 

  1. Requiring tenant approval without the authority to do so.  Many community associations require pre-approval of tenants without the authority to do so in their Governing Documents. Undertaking an action (and possibly collecting a fee to do so) without the requisite authority can result in an expensive lawsuit.

 

  1. Enforcing Outdated and Illegal Provisions. Banning solar panels, improper age restriction enforcement (16 instead of 18), banning satellite dishes or improper debt collection techniques are only a few of the many outdated provisions in the Governing Documents of many community associations. Lack of intent and ignorance of the law is not a defense if the association is sued. Guidance to the Board of Directors and the amendment of these provisions should be undertaken.

 

  1. Failing to Rein in Rentals. Community associations, especially condominium associations, that do not limit renting in their communities may scare away lenders from lending to owners or may lose their FHA accreditation. Consider a Declaration amendment restricting new owners from renting until at least two years after their purchase.

 

  1. Releasing Homes Purchased at a Foreclosure Auction From Delinquent Assessments. Although Florida law limits a lender’s liability for past due assessments, the same restriction does not apply to third party purchasers at a foreclosure auction, unless otherwise stated in your association’s Governing Documents. Consider amending all provisions that release third party purchasers of a foreclosed home from payment of past due assessments.

 

  1. Borrowing limits. Many older community associations have bank borrowing limits set at amounts so low such loans would only be obtainable from a payday lender. Consider eliminating or increasing borrowing limits.

 

  1. Spending Limits. As a way to attract buyers in an era of “community association board’s waste money” many developers incorporated into their Governing Documents limits on the amount a Board of Directors can spend without owner approval. Unfortunately, the effects of inflation and increase costs have locked many of these community associations into unrealistic spending limits. Consider eliminating or increasing the amount your Board of Directors can spend without first obtaining owner approval by inserting an amendment that allows for a per year increase formula based on inflation.

 

  1. Unattainable Quorum. Florida law limits the percentage required for a members’ meeting quorum to 30% of the members. Nevertheless, many community associations are still unable to attain a quorum to conduct important business. Consider an amendment that lowers the required quorum for a member’s meeting below 30%.
  2. Regulating Guests. Associations with guests residing in units in the absence of an owner or approved tenant often find themselves ill prepared when a problem arises.  Declaration provisions relating to the use of homes by guests in the absence of an owner or approved tenant stops people from circumventing rental restrictions. Consider an amendment stating guests can only occupy a unit so many times per year. Another approach to dealing with long-term guests (e.g., guests staying for more than 30 days) is to require them to be screened in the same manner as tenants.

 

For a free analysis of your association’s community association Governing Documents please complete and fax the following to: (561) 750-8185 (no cover page needed) A representative from Gerstin & Association will contact you to set up your community association’s free Governing Document analysis.

 

Name: ____________________________

 

Association name: _____________________

 

Position at the association (director, property manager, etc.) _____________________

 

Email address: ______________________,

 

Telephone number: __________________

7 Deadly Sins of Collecting Delinquent Assessments

7 Deadly Sins of Collecting Delinquent Assessments

Click here to download the full report.

 

1.    Failing to follow the specific procedures in your community association’s Governing Documents such as written notice from the association of the delinquent debt. Often times such failures, when objected to by a delinquent owner, requires the entire collection process to be restarted. Sometimes, such failures lead to expensive lawsuits and a large payout to the delinquent owner.

 

2. Agreeing to payment plans that are not in writing. A payment plan that is not in writing, is not worth the paper it is written on. Secure all payment plans in writing.

 

3.  Extending grace periods and granting concessions to neighbors and friends but no one else. It is understandable you want to help a neighbor or friend that is having problems with paying your association’s assessments. However, each owner has to be treated in the same, uniform manner. Extending grace periods only to friends or neighbors exposes the entire community association to an expensive lawsuit from an aggrieved owner to whom a grace period was refused.

 

4. Publishing a list of delinquent owners.       Shaming debtors is not only insensitive, it violates the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and exposes the association to an expensive lawsuit.

 

5.     Failing to follow the specific collection deadlines in your community association’s Governing Documents. If the collection deadlines are too long or too short, have them amended. In the meantime, collections must proceed in accordance with the specific deadlines contained in your association’s Governing Documents. Failure to do so can easily lead to an expensive lawsuit and a large payout to the delinquent owner.

 

6.  Failing to add interest and late fees onto delinquent assessments. Many community associations are unaware of their ability to impose late fees or are unable to properly calculate interest. Foregoing late fees and interest can significantly undermine a community association’s financial stability.

 7. Failing to timely forward a delinquent account to your attorney for collection. Depending on whether it is a condominium or homeowners’ association, attorneys are required to wait between 60 and 90 days prior to the institution of foreclosure litigation. Banks are required to pay only 12 months of delinquent assessments. Sometimes, a bank will wait years before filing a foreclosure lawsuit.       Association’s that fail to act timely and foreclose upon a delinquent owner’s home and rent the home until the bank takes title, can cost an association a year or more of assessment payments.

 

For help with avoiding the 7 Deadly Sins of Collecting Delinquent Assessments, and for a free analysis of your association’s community association collections, please complete and fax the following to: (561) 750-8185. A representative from Gerstin & Association will contact you to set up your community association’s free collection analysis.

 

Name: ____________________________

Association name: _____________________

Position at the association (director, property manager, etc.) _____________________

Email address: ______________

Telephone number: _____________________

2013 Florida Community Association Legislative Update

Rick-Scott-signs-bill-April-22

The past legislative session was an extremely busy one for both homeowner and condominium associations.  Initial legislative proposals ranged from an entire rewrite of Chapter 720 to a depository scheme to collect assessments that would have been a disaster. In the end, at least for this past legislative session, Florida’s community associations avoided disaster.  Most, but not all, of the recently passed Florida legislation affecting Florida’s community association’s are reasonable. The hardest hit group in this year’s legislative session is by far homeowner developers. The full text of each passed bill can be found at: www.flsenate.gov; www.myfloridahouse.com; and www.leg.state.fl.us.

Homeowner Associations

Officers and Directors

F.S. § 720.3033 Officers and Directors.- This past legislative session there many changes to the laws governing homeowner association officers and directors.  Both Homeowner association Boards of Directors and their property managers should immediately update themselves on these new legislative changes to avoid unknowingly running afoul of the law. The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S. § 720.3033:

720.3033  Officers and directors.—

(1)(a)  Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, each director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s declaration of covenants, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written rules and policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, in lieu of such written certification, the newly elected or appointed director may submit a certificate of having satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved education provider within 1 year before or 90 days after the date of election or appointment.

(b)  The written certification or educational certificate is valid for the uninterrupted tenure of the director on the board. A director who does not timely file the written certification or educational certificate shall be suspended from the board until he or she complies with the requirement. The board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension.

(c)  The association shall retain each director’s written certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for 5 years after the director’s election. However, the failure to have the written certification or educational certificate on file does not affect the validity of any board action.

(2)  If the association enters into a contract or other transaction with any of its directors or a corporation, firm, association that is not an affiliated homeowners’ association, or other entity in which an association director is also a director or officer or is financially interested, the board must:

(a)  Comply with the requirements of s. 617.0832.

(b)  Enter the disclosures required by s. 617.0832 into the written minutes of the meeting.

(c)  Approve the contract or other transaction by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the directors present.

(d)  At the next regular or special meeting of the members, disclose the existence of the contract or other transaction 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 members cancel the contract, the association is only liable for the reasonable value of goods and services provided up to the time of cancellation and is not liable for any termination fee, liquidated damages, or other penalty for such cancellation.

(3)  An officer, director, or manager may not solicit, offer to accept, or accept any good or service of value for which consideration has not been provided for his or her benefit or for the benefit of a member of his or her immediate family from any person providing or proposing to provide goods or services to the association. If the board finds that an officer or director has violated this subsection, the board shall immediately remove the officer or director from office. The vacancy shall be filled according to law until the end of the director’s term of office. However, an officer, director, or manager may accept food to be consumed at a business meeting with a value of less than $25 per individual or a service or good received in connection with trade fairs or education programs.

(4)  A director or officer charged by information or indictment with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving the association’s funds or property is removed from office. The board shall fill the vacancy according to general law until the end of the period of the suspension or the end of the director’s term of office, whichever occurs first. However, if the charges are resolved without a finding of guilt or without acceptance of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the director or officer shall be reinstated for any remainder of his or her term of office. A member who has such criminal charges pending may not be appointed or elected to a position as a director or officer.

(5)  The association shall maintain insurance or a fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association. The insurance policy or fidelity bond must cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or its management agent at any one time. As used in this subsection, the term “persons who control or disburse funds of the association” includes, but is not limited to, persons authorized to sign checks on behalf of the association, and the president, secretary, and treasurer of the association. The association shall bear the cost of any insurance or bond. If annually approved by a majority of the voting interests present at a properly called meeting of the association, an association may waive the requirement of obtaining an insurance policy or fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association.

Homeowner Association Members

 

720.306 Meeting of the Members; voting and election procedures; amendments —Nominations from the floor at Annual Meetings are no longer required and an election is not required unless there are more candidates than vacancies. Further, all members are now required to receive amendments to the governing documents within 30 days of their passage.

720.303 (5) Inspection and Copying of Records. Official records must be maintained for at least 7 years and have to be made available to parcel owners for inspection and copying within 45 miles of the community or within the county in which the association is located. The Association has 10 business days after receipt by the board or its designee of a written request. Records can be made available electronically. Owners can scan or photograph the records at no charge (if they use their scanner or camera). Copying rates and personnel charges were also amended.

(5)        INSPECTION AND COPYING OF RECORDS.—The official records shall be maintained within the state for at least 7 years and shall be made available to a parcel owner for inspection or photocopying within 45 miles of the community or within the county in which the association is located within 10 business days after receipt by the board or its designee of a written request

The association shall allow a member or his or her authorized representative to use a portable device, including a smartphone, tablet, portable scanner, or any other technology capable of scanning or taking photographs, to make an electronic copy of the official records in lieu of providing the member or his or her authorized representative with a copy of such records. The association may not charge a fee to a member or his or her authorized representative for such use of a portable device.

The association may impose fees to cover the costs of providing copies of the official records, including, without limitation, the costs of copying and the costs required for personnel to retrieve and copy the records if the time spent retrieving and copying the records exceeds one- half hour and if the personnel costs do not exceed $20 per hour. Personnel costs may not be charged for records requests that result in the copying of 25 or fewer pages.

Assessment Collection

 

F.S. § 720.3085 Payment for assessments; lien claims. The most positive and important change this legislative session was legislation designed to correct or overrule the Court’s decision in the case of Aventura Management, LLC v. Spiaggia Ocean Condominium Association, Inc. HB 7119 amends F.S.§ 720.3085 and allows Florida homeowner associations to collect assessments, that were past due upon its ownership of a home, from a subsequent owner. The underlined portion below is the amended text:  

720.3085         Payment for assessments; lien claims.—

(2)

(b)        A parcel owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous parcel owner for all unpaid assessments that came due up to the time of transfer of title. This liability is without prejudice to any right the present parcel owner may have to recover any amounts paid by the present owner from the previous owner. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “previous owner” shall not include an association that acquires title to a delinquent property through foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure. The present parcel owner’s liability for unpaid assessments is limited to any unpaid assessments that accrued before the association acquired title to the delinquent property through foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure.

F.S. § 468.436 CAM Disciplinary Proceedings.  This law was amended to classify a Community Association Manager’s violation of either Chapt. 720, 719 or 718 as a violation subject to a disciplinary proceeding by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. For the overwhelming amount of law abiding Community Association Managers, this legislative amendment should not be a cause for concern. The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S.§ 468.436 (7):

Violating any provision of chapter 718, chapter 719, or chapter 720 during the course of performing community association management services pursuant to a contract with a community association as defined in s. 468.431(1).

Homeowner Association Developers

F.S.§ 720.303 (6)(d) Budgets.  If a homeowner association developer elects to maintain a reserve account for the HOA, the developer’s budget must designate the particular purpose or use of the funds.  The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S.§ 720.303 (6)(d):

(d) An association is deemed to have provided for reserve accounts if reserve accounts have been initially established by the developer or if the membership of the association affirmatively elects to provide for reserves. If reserve accounts are established by the developer, the budget must designate the components for which the reserve accounts may be used. If reserve accounts are not initially provided by the developer, the membership of the association may elect to do so upon the affirmative approval of a majority of the total voting interests of the association.  .  .

F.S. § 720.307 Transition of association control in a community —Added to the threshold for an “automatic transition” to member control are a developer’s abandonment of its assessment, maintenance or construction responsibilities or if the developer files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, enters receivership or loses title to a common area through a foreclosure.  The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S. § 720.307:

720.307 Transition of association control in a community.—

With respect to homeowners’ associations:

(1)        Members other than the developer are entitled to elect at least a majority of the members of the board of directors of the homeowners’ association when the earlier of the following events occurs:

. . .

c)  Upon the developer abandoning or deserting its responsibility to maintain and complete the amenities or infrastructure as disclosed in the governing documents. There is a rebuttable presumption that the developer has abandoned and deserted the property if the developer has unpaid assessments or guaranteed amounts under s. 720.308 for a period of more than 2 years;

(d)  Upon the developer filing a petition seeking protection under chapter 7  of the federal Bankruptcy Code;

(e)  Upon the developer losing title to the property through a foreclosure action or the transfer of a deed in lieu of foreclosure, unless the successor owner has accepted an assignment of developer rights and responsibilities first arising after the date of such assignment; or

(f)  Upon a receiver for the developer being appointed by a circuit court and not being discharged within 30 days after such appointment, unless the court determines within 30 days after such appointment that transfer of control would be detrimental to the association or its members.

 

F.S. § 720.307  Pre-transition Board of Directors. The amendment to F.S. §720.307 also lowered the threshold for a member to serve as a director on the pre-transition Board of Directors. Members, other than the developer, are allowed to elect at least one non-developer related member to the pre-transition Board of Directors if 50% of the parcels in all phases have been conveyed to the members.


F.S.
§ 720.3075 Prohibited clauses in association documents–Developers. At

any point pre-transition of control (not the 90% conveyed mark) a developer’s unilateral amendment to the Governing Documents will be subject to scrutiny as to its reasonableness. No longer considered reasonable or allowable are “ . . .amendments to the governing documents that are arbitrary, capricious, or in bad faith; destroy the general plan of development; prejudice the rights of existing nondeveloper members to use and enjoy the benefits of common property; or materially shift economic burdens from the developer to the existing nondeveloper members.”

F.S. § 720.303 (13) Reporting Requirements — Homeowner associations are now required to register with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.  Whether this will lead to enhanced regulation similar to condominiums, and its associated higher cost of compliance, is yet to be seen.  The legislation is due to expire in 2016.

F.S. §720.303(7) Financial Reports. Mandatory financial report thresholds for homeowners’ association were increased as follows:

  1. Compilation increased from $100,000 to $150,000.
  2. A financial review increased from $200,000 to $300,000; and
  3. An audit increased from  $400,000 to $500,000.

F.S. §720.303(10)(g) Directors: Recall.  A petition to challenge a homeowner’s association failure to act on a recall petition must be filed within 60 days from the end of the Board of Directors five day review period.

F.S. §720.305(2)(a) Suspensions. The suspension of  an owner’s common area use rights cannot  extend to the  common elements needed to access the unit, utility services to the unit, parking spaces, and elevators.

F.S. §720.306(1)(d) Amendments: Mortgages. After July 1, 2013, mortgage holders rights to approve or disapprove of amendment is limited to a negative notice and limited rights to contest.

F.S. §720.306(6) Meetings: Speaking.  Advanced notice is not required for a homeowner association member to speak at a Board of Directors’ meeting.

 F.S. §399.02(9) Elevators. The  July 1, 2015 deadline for retrofitting elevators  is removed. However, certain renovations to an elevator may require  compliance even in the event of a replacement or major modifications are required for compliance.

Condominium Associations Only

 

 Financials. F.S. §718.111(13).  A condominium developer is required to provide financial two years after recording of the  surveyor’s certificate.

Budgets. F.S. §718.1112(2)(f).   Up until the second fiscal year a condominium developer  can vote for reserves up until the second fiscal year after recording of a surveyor’s certificate.

Transition. F.S. §718.301(1). Transition can occur as late as seven years after the recording of the surveyor’s certificate.  without an accompanying assignment of developer rights.

Hurricane Protection.  F.S. §718.113(5)(a).  A condominium association’s board of directors has the authority to install hurricane resistant protection extends to doors and other items.  authority to install additional hurricane resistant protection is extended to include doors and other similar  hurricane protection. A code compliant unit entitles the unit owner to a credit for assessments levied related to installation of hurricane protection

Suspensions. F.S. §718.303(3). The suspension of  an owner’s common area use rights cannot  extend to the  common elements needed to access the unit, utility services to the unit, parking spaces, and elevators.

Insurance.   F.S.  §718.111(11)(g)2.   If a condominium owner does not undertake required work, the association may do so and assess the owner for the expense.

Records. F.S. §718.111(12). Condominium association members may use their own equipment, without charge, to copy Association records. Excluded records from disclosure includes personnel records of the Association and its management company. Absent a written request for exclusion, Homeowner association’s can print a community directory with each member’s name, address and telephone number, unless the member request to be excluded.

Financial  Reports.    §718.111(13).  Mandatory financial report thresholds for condominium associations were increased:

  1.      Compilation increased from $100,000 to $150,000.
  2.      A financial review increased from $200,000 to $300,000; and
  3.      An audit increased from  $400,000 to $500,000.

 

Directors: Terms & Qualifications.  §718.112(2)(d)2.  Authorization for condominium association directors staggered terms can be authorized by an association’s articles of incorporation, as well as tits by-laws. Any owner that owes money to the association is ineligible to run for the Board of Directors and his/her name should not be on the ballot.

Directors: Recall. §718.112(2)(j). A petition to challenge a condominium association failure to act on a recall petition must be filed within 60 days from the end of the Board of Directors five day review period. The challenge can be through arbitration.

 

Stay Informed

As more legislation is introduced and existing legislation is applied by the courts and governmental authorities.

Subscribe to the Gerstin & Associates newsletter.

 

Name: _________________________________________________

 

Mailing address: ________________________________________

 

E-mail address: _________________________________________

 

Community name: ________________________________________

 

Position on board, if any: __________________________________

 

Fax this completed page to (561) 750-8185. Thank you.

 

2013 Florida Legislative Update

Rick+Scott+signs+bill+April+22

The 2013 Florida Legislature was very busy this past session. Many of the bills that passed and are awaiting Governor Scott’s signature or veto will directly impact your business. Unfortunately, there has been little or no press coverage of these newly enacted laws.  Click here to view a list of the actions taken by Governor Scott so far and the upcoming bills awaiting a signature or a veto. Keep in mind,  Governor Scott has 15 days to act on bills presented to him after the close of the annual legislative session. After the 15 day deadline expires and the Governor has not taken any action (sign or veto) , the bill automatically becomes law.

2013 Florida Governor Scott action taken bills

You can view the full text of each bill that passed the Florida Legislature here.

 

 

2013 Florida Homeowner Association Legislative Update

2013 Florida Homeowner Association Legislative Update

Click here to download this article as a .pdf

The past legislative session was an extremely busy one for homeowner associations.  Initial legislative proposals ranged from an entire rewrite of Chapter 720 to a depository scheme to collect assessments that would have been a disaster. In the end, at least for this past legislative session, Florida’s homeowner associations avoided disaster.  Most, but not all, of the recently passed Florida legislation affecting Florida’s homeowners’ association are reasonable. The hardest hit group in this year’s legislative session is by far homeowner association developers.

The time period for Governor Scott to veto legislation has not yet passed. As such, legislation may be added or removed from this article as time goes on.  Please check back often for updates. Following is a summary of the 2013 Florida legislation affecting homeowner associations that passed both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate. If this legislation is not vetoed by Governor Scott, it will become effective July 1, 2013.

**********************
Officers and Directors

F.S. § 720.3033 Officers and Directors.- This past legislative session there many changes to the laws governing homeowner association officers and directors.  Both Homeowner association Boards of Directors and their property managers should immediately update themselves on these new legislative changes to avoid unknowingly running afoul of the law. The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S. § 720.3033:

720.3033  Officers and directors.—

(1)

(a)  Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, each director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s declaration of covenants, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written rules and policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, in lieu of such written certification, the newly elected or appointed director may submit a certificate of having satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved education provider within 1 year before or 90 days after the date of election or appointment.

(b)  The written certification or educational certificate is valid for the uninterrupted tenure of the director on the board. A director who does not timely file the written certification or educational certificate shall be suspended from the board until he or she complies with the requirement. The board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension.

(c)  The association shall retain each director’s written certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for 5 years after the director’s election. However, the failure to have the written certification or educational certificate on file does not affect the validity of any board action.

(2)  If the association enters into a contract or other transaction with any of its directors or a corporation, firm, association that is not an affiliated homeowners’ association, or other entity in which an association director is also a director or officer or is financially interested, the board must:

(a)  Comply with the requirements of s. 617.0832.

(b)  Enter the disclosures required by s. 617.0832 into the written minutes of the meeting.

(c)  Approve the contract or other transaction by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the directors present.

(d)  At the next regular or special meeting of the members, disclose the existence of the contract or other transaction 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 members cancel the contract, the association is only liable for the reasonable value of goods and services provided up to the time of cancellation and is not liable for any termination fee, liquidated damages, or other penalty for such cancellation.

(3)  An officer, director, or manager may not solicit, offer to accept, or accept any good or service of value for which consideration has not been provided for his or her benefit or for the benefit of a member of his or her immediate family from any person providing or proposing to provide goods or services to the association. If the board finds that an officer or director has violated this subsection, the board shall immediately remove the officer or director from office. The vacancy shall be filled according to law until the end of the director’s term of office. However, an officer, director, or manager may accept food to be consumed at a business meeting with a value of less than $25 per individual or a service or good received in connection with trade fairs or education programs.

(4)  A director or officer charged by information or indictment with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving the association’s funds or property is removed from office. The board shall fill the vacancy according to general law until the end of the period of the suspension or the end of the director’s term of office, whichever occurs first. However, if the charges are resolved without a finding of guilt or without acceptance of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the director or officer shall be reinstated for any remainder of his or her term of office. A member who has such criminal charges pending may not be appointed or elected to a position as a director or officer.

 (5)  The association shall maintain insurance or a fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association. The insurance policy or fidelity bond must cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or its management agent at any one time. As used in this subsection, the term “persons who control or disburse funds of the association” includes, but is not limited to, persons authorized to sign checks on behalf of the association, and the president, secretary, and treasurer of the association. The association shall bear the cost of any insurance or bond. If annually approved by a majority of the voting interests present at a properly called meeting of the association, an association may waive the requirement of obtaining an insurance policy or fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the association.

 

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Members

720.306 Meeting of the Members; voting and election procedures; amendments —Nominations from the floor at Annual Meetings are no longer required and an election is not required unless there are more candidates than vacancies. Further, all members are now required to receive amendments to the governing documents within 30 days of their passage.

720.303 (5) Inspection and Copying of Records. Official records must be maintained for at least 7 years and have to be made available to parcel owners for inspection and copying within 45 miles of the community or within the county in which the association is located. The Association has 10 business days after receipt by the board or its designee of a written request. Records can be made available electronically. Owners can scan or photograph the records at no charge (if they use their scanner or camera). Copying rates and personnel charges were also amended.

(5)        INSPECTION AND COPYING OF RECORDS.—The official records shall be maintained within the state for at least 7 years and shall be made available to a parcel owner for inspection or photocopying within 45 miles of the community or within the county in which the association is located within 10 business days after receipt by the board or its designee of a written request

 The association shall allow a member or his or her authorized representative to use a portable device, including a smartphone, tablet, portable scanner, or any other technology capable of scanning or taking photographs, to make an electronic copy of the official records in lieu of providing the member or his or her authorized representative with a copy of such records. The association may not charge a fee to a member or his or her authorized representative for such use of a portable device.

The association may impose fees to cover the costs of providing copies of the official records, including, without limitation, the costs of copying and the costs required for personnel to retrieve and copy the records if the time spent retrieving and copying the records exceeds one- half hour and if the personnel costs do not exceed $20 per hour. Personnel costs may not be charged for records requests that result in the copying of 25 or fewer pages.

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Assessment Collection

F.S. § 720.3085 Payment for assessments; lien claims. The most positive and important change this legislative session was legislation designed to correct or overrule the Court’s decision in the case of Aventura Management, LLC v. Spiaggia Ocean Condominium Association, Inc. HB 7119 amends F.S.§ 720.3085 and allows Florida homeowner associations to collect assessments, that were past due upon its ownership of a home, from a subsequent owner. The underlined portion below is the amended text:  

720.3085         Payment for assessments; lien claims.—

 (2)

(b)  A parcel owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous parcel owner for all unpaid assessments that came due up to the time of transfer of title. This liability is without prejudice to any right the present parcel owner may have to recover any amounts paid by the present owner from the previous owner. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “previous owner” shall not include an association that acquires title to a delinquent property through foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure. The present parcel owner’s liability for unpaid assessments is limited to any unpaid assessments that accrued before the association acquired title to the delinquent property through foreclosure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure.

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  F.S. § 468.436 CAM Disciplinary Proceedings.  This law was amended to classify a Community Association Manager’s violation of either Chapt. 720, 719 or 718 as a violation subject to a disciplinary proceeding by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. For the overwhelming amount of law abiding Community Association Managers, this legislative amendment should not be a cause for concern. The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S.§ 468.436 (7):

Violating any provision of chapter 718, chapter 719, or chapter 720 during the course of performing community association management services pursuant to a contract with a community association as defined in s. 468.431(1).

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Homeowner Association Developers

F.S.§ 720.303 (6)(d) Budgets.  If a homeowner association developer elects to maintain a reserve account for the HOA, the developer’s budget must designate the particular purpose or use of the funds.  The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S.§ 720.303 (6)(d):

(d) An association is deemed to have provided for reserve accounts if reserve accounts have been initially established by the developer or if the membership of the association affirmatively elects to provide for reserves. If reserve accounts are established by the developer, the budget must designate the components for which the reserve accounts may be used. If reserve accounts are not initially provided by the developer, the membership of the association may elect to do so upon the affirmative approval of a majority of the total voting interests of the association.  .  .

F.S. § 720.307 Transition of association control in a community —Added to the threshold for an “automatic transition” to member control are a developer’s abandonment of its assessment, maintenance or construction responsibilities or if the developer files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, enters receivership or loses title to a common area through a foreclosure.  The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S. § 720.307:

 720.307 Transition of association control in a community.—

With respect to homeowners’ associations:

(1)        Members other than the developer are entitled to elect at least a majority of the members of the board of directors of the homeowners’ association when the earlier of the following events occurs:

. . .

c)  Upon the developer abandoning or deserting its responsibility to maintain and complete the amenities or infrastructure as disclosed in the governing documents. There is a rebuttable presumption that the developer has abandoned and deserted the property if the developer has unpaid assessments or guaranteed amounts under s. 720.308 for a period of more than 2 years;

(d)  Upon the developer filing a petition seeking protection under chapter 7  of the federal Bankruptcy Code;

(e)  Upon the developer losing title to the property through a foreclosure action or the transfer of a deed in lieu of foreclosure, unless the successor owner has accepted an assignment of developer rights and responsibilities first arising after the date of such assignment; or

(f)  Upon a receiver for the developer being appointed by a circuit court and not being discharged within 30 days after such appointment, unless the court determines within 30 days after such appointment that transfer of control would be detrimental to the association or its members.

F.S. § 720.307  Pre-transition Board of Directors. The amendment to F.S. §720.307 also lowered the threshold for a member to serve as a director on the pre-transition Board of Directors. Members, other than the developer, are allowed to elect at least one non-developer related member to the pre-transition Board of Directors if 50% of the parcels in all phases have been conveyed to the members.

F.S. § 720.3075 Prohibited clauses in association documents–Developers. At any point pre-transition of control (not the 90% conveyed mark) a developer’s unilateral amendment to the Governing Documents will be subject to scrutiny as to its reasonableness. No longer considered reasonable or allowable are “ . . .amendments to the governing documents that are arbitrary, capricious, or in bad faith; destroy the general plan of development; prejudice the rights of existing nondeveloper members to use and enjoy the benefits of common property; or materially shift economic burdens from the developer to the existing nondeveloper members.”


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F.S. § 720.303 (13) Reporting Requirements — Homeowner associations are now required to register with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.  Whether this will lead to enhanced regulation similar to condominiums, and its associated higher cost of compliance, is yet to be seen.  The legislation is due to expire in 2016.

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Soon to come more HOA 2013 legislation and 2013 Florida Condominium Association legislative changes.

Check back soon.

2011 Florida Community Association Legislative Update

Each of the newly enacted 2011 laws in The State of Florida that impact you and your condominium or homeowner association. These laws went into effect on July 1, 2011.

Click here for the easy to read, print, e-mail and share .pdf version

Fire Code:

Amends s. 633.0215 of the Fire Code to provide that condos, co-ops and multi-family residential buildings of less than four stories are exempt from installing manual fire alarm systems, provided building has an exterior corridor providing egress.

Hurricane Glass:

Condo associations are permitted to install impact glass or other code-compliant windows for hurricane protection.

— Official Records:

Amends s. 718.111(12) (a) 7., to include fax numbers, and provides that email addresses and fax numbers are not accessible to unit owners if consent to receive electronic notices has not been provided by the unit owner.

S. 718.111(12)(c)5. is amended to comport with s. 718.111(12)(c)3. (protected information).

S. 718.112(2)(b)3.b. is added to provide that a Board meeting to discuss personnel matters does not have to be open to the unit owners.

Condo Elections:

Candidates: Must be eligible to serve at the 40 day notice deadline in order to be on ballot or serve.

Director Certification: Condo directors may submit proof of educational course attendance (in lieu of signing the certification form) provided the course is completed within
1 year before or 90 days after the date of election or appointment. Certification is valid as long as the director serves without interruption.

Terms: Terms do not expire at annual meeting if all members’ terms would expire and there are no candidates. When terms expire at the annual meeting, directors may stand
for re-election unless prohibited by bylaws.

— 720 HOA Elections & Meetings:

Adds condo provisions to 720 HOAs:

–Lot owners delinquent more than 90 days are not eligible to serve on the Board, and convicted felons are not eligible to serve.

–All members are entitled to speak at board meetings with reference to all designated agenda items.

— Bulk Telecommunications-HOA:

Creates s. 720.309(2), F.S., mirroring 2010 condo law, allowing association bulk purchase of telecommunications, information, and internet services.

Prohibits HOA from denying individual service to any resident from a certificated or franchised telecom provider.

— Tenants – Condominiums, Cooperatives & HOAs:

Rents: “Future monetary obligations” includes all rent due from the tenant to the unit or lot owner and must be paid to the association until all delinquent accounts are paid in full.

Form Letter: New form letter to tenants explaining tenant’s obligation to pay rent to the association;

Immunity: Tenant has immunity from any claim by
the landlord for rent timely paid to the association after demand.

— Suspensions:

Allows for suspension of common element use rights for non-payment without a hearing, but requires Board approval at properly noticed Board meeting.

Allows for suspension of common element use rights for bad acts after notice and a hearing. If voting rights are suspended, the suspended votes do not count towards a quorum or vote on an action.

— Assessments

A community association that acquires title to a unit through foreclosure is not liable for unpaid assessments that came due before the association’s acquisition of title to any other condo or homeowners’ association.

— Termination of Condominiums:

—Partial terminations and the amendments providing for them are not subject to s. 718.110(4), F.S.

—The plan of termination must state the remaining interests in the portion of the condo not terminated.

—The method of distribution and mortgagee participation to reflect a partial termination has been changed.

—Termination is permitted for reasons of economic waste and/or impossibility if a condo includes units and timeshare units and the improvements have been totally destroyed or demolished.

— Bulk Buyers / Bulk Assignees:

— Amends definitions to mean a person who acquires more than 7 parcels in “a single condominium”.
Bulk assignee is not liable for warranties under s.
718.203(1) or 718.618, F.S., except as provided by the bulk assignee in a prospectus or in the contract for purchase and sale purchase, or for design, construction, development or repair work performed by or for the bulk assignee.

— Requires a filing with DBPR and disclosures to prospective purchasers if the bulk buyer / bulk assignee is offering more than 7 units in a single condominium for sale or for lease for a term of more than 5 years.

— If a bulk assignee receives an assignment of developer’s rights at time of acquisition, and the developer had not already turned over control of the condo to the unit owners, then for purposes of the turnover of control provisions of the condo law, the bulk acquisition of units by the bulk assignee will not be considered a conveyance to a purchaser, or be considered owned by persons other than the developer, and thus will not count
toward the turnover of control percentages until the units are conveyed to owners who are not bulk assignees.

—Bulk buyers and bulk assignees are not required to comply with filing or disclosure requirements IF all units owned by bulk buyer or bulk assignee are offered and conveyed to a single purchaser in a single transaction.

—Bulk buyer and bulk assignee status applies only to the acquisition of condo parcels on or after July 1, 2010, but before July 1, 2012 (in other words, the bulk buyer and bulk assignee status will effectively sunset in 2012).

— New Insurance Legislation, Sinkholes:

—Sinkhole claims must be filed within two (2) years.

Insurers must continue to offer sinkhole coverage, but may limit coverage to homes and not other structures on the property.

—Insurers may require inspections before issuing sinkhole coverage.

—Allows insurers to initially pay only actual cash value
(ACV) for repairs to homes.

—Insurers may require that repairs be made before fully paying a sinkhole claim.

— New Service of Process Legislation

— Any gated residential community, including a condominium association or a cooperative, shall grant unannounced entry into the community, including its common areas and common elements, to a person who is attempting to serve process on a defendant or witness who resides within or is known to be within the community.

***Updated with Florida’s 2013 Legislative Amendments, Transition of Control of a Florida Community Association

Lakewood_Ranch_Florida_State_Roofing_and_Construct-500x300

 

Transition of Control of a Florida Community Association  

Click here to download this article as a .PDF

A wise man once said “transitions are never easy”. A wise lawyer once said “transition of control of a Florida community association are never easy and can be disastrous”.

Following is a general list of items for a community association to be aware of as they proceed towards the important process of the transition of control from a developer controlled association to that of a member controlled association. The following information is intended as general information and not legal advice. For legal advice an attorney must be consulted.

We accumulated the following information based upon our experience in representing many community associations and have found the following tasks and information is important for an association’s members to undertake and review prior to signing a release with the developer.

1.    Interviewing of banks. Immediately after the transition the association should open new bank accounts.  The forms necessary to open the appropriate accounts should be secured now to avoid undue delay.

2.    Begin interviewing professionals, which should in the very least include:

a.    Accountant;

b.    Property manager;

c.    Attorney; and

d.    Engineer (with experience in community association transitions).

3.    If the post office is diverting the mail sent to the association to an address of the developer, secure the forms to have the mail sent directly to the association.

4.    Secure from the Florida Secretary of State a statement of change for the Registered Agent.  This document can be downloaded from www.sunbiz.org.

5.    A form known as “Request for Copy of Tax Form” should be retrieved from the Internal Revenue Service. The completion and eventual submission of this form will enable the association to obtain the previous three (3) years of tax returns after the transition of control is complete.

6.    Begin identifying potential candidates for Board of Directors’ positions.

Following are a list of items that we attempt to receive from a developer during the
transition period:

a.    A full and complete copy of the association’s Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and Rules and Regulations;

b.    The financial records of the association from the date of incorporation through the present date;

c.    Access to, and control of, the association’s funds that remain in the developer’s bank accounts for the association;

d.    Copies of all deeds to common property owned by the association;

e.    Copies of the minute books from all of the meetings held by the Director;

f.    Bills of sale, or receipts for, any of the association’s tangible personal property;

g.    Copy of all contracts to which the association is presently a party.  Such contracts typically include landscaping, property management, accounting, janitorial, etc.;

h.    Name, address and telephone numbers of all contractors and/or employees that are presently being employed by the association;

i.    Copies of any and all insurance policies that are presently in effect;

j.    A complete list of all current home owners along with their address, telephone number and, if applicable, section or lot numbers;

k.    Any and all warranties the association might possess for items such as air conditioning, the pool, etc;

l.    Any and all permits issued by governmental authorities that regulate the association from the present date relating back to approximately one year prior;

m.    Any leases for the common areas to which the association is a party;

n.    Copy of any master keys or keys utilized for the common areas;

o.    An up to date ledger sheet for each owner and any assessment payments that are in arrears as well as a full payment history for each owner; and

p.    The “Official Records” of the association  Florida Statute §720.303(4), lists the official records that an association is required to maintain for a period of seven (7) years.  The developer is also under this duty and should have these documents in its possession.  I have enclosed for your review a copy of this statute.

***2013 Florida Legislative Amendments

F.S.§ 720.303 (6)(d) Budgets.  If a homeowner association developer elects to maintain a reserve account for the HOA, the developer’s budget must designate the particular purpose or use of the funds.  The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S.§ 720.303 (6)(d):

(d) An association is deemed to have provided for reserve accounts if reserve accounts have been initially established by the developer or if the membership of the association affirmatively elects to  provide for   reserves. If reserve accounts are established by the developer, the budget must designate the components for which the reserve accounts may be used. If reserve accounts are not initially provided by the developer, the membership of the association may elect to do so upon the affirmative approval of a majority of the total voting interests of the association.  .  .

F.S. § 720.307 Transition of association control in a community —Added to the threshold for an “automatic transition” to member control are a developer’s abandonment of its assessment, maintenance or construction responsibilities or if the developer files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, enters receivership or loses title to a common area through a foreclosure.  The underlined portion below is the amended text of F.S. § 720.307:

720.307 Transition of association control in a community.—

With respect to homeowners’ associations:

(1)        Members other than the developer are entitled to elect at least a majority of the members of the board of directors of the homeowners’ association when the earlier of the following events occurs:

. . .

c)  Upon the developer abandoning or deserting its responsibility to maintain and complete the amenities or infrastructure as disclosed in the governing documents. There is a rebuttable presumption that the developer has abandoned and deserted the property if the developer has unpaid assessments or guaranteed amounts under s. 720.308 for a period of more than 2 years;

(d)  Upon the developer filing a petition seeking protection under chapter 7  of the federal Bankruptcy Code;

(e)  Upon the developer losing title to the property through a foreclosure action or the transfer of a deed in lieu of foreclosure, unless the successor owner has accepted an assignment of developer rights and responsibilities first arising after the date of such assignment; or

(f)  Upon a receiver for the developer being appointed by a circuit court and not being discharged within 30 days after such appointment, unless the court determines within 30 days after such appointment that transfer of control would be detrimental to the association or its members.

 

F.S. § 720.307  Pre-transition Board of Directors. The amendment to F.S. §720.307 also lowered the threshold for a member to serve as a director on the pre-transition Board of Directors. Members, other than the developer, are allowed to elect at least one non-developer related member to the pre-transition Board of Directors if 50% of the parcels in all phases have been conveyed to the members.

F.S. § 720.3075 Prohibited clauses in association documents–Developers. At any point pre-transition of control (not the 90% conveyed mark) a developer’s unilateral amendment to the Governing Documents will be subject to scrutiny as to its reasonableness. No longer considered reasonable or allowable are “ . . .amendments to the governing documents that are arbitrary, capricious, or in bad faith; destroy the general plan of development; prejudice the rights of existing nondeveloper members to use and enjoy the benefits of common property; or materially shift economic burdens from the developer to the existing nondeveloper members.”

The above list is not exhaustive; however, by beginning to request these items the association will be in a better position as the transition progresses.   Additionally, it is recommended the association accept the transition of the developer via the resignation of developer members of the Board and then placement of owner member directors after an election.  At that time, developers often request the association sign a release.  By signing a release the association will waive any and all rights that it might have to claims for construction defects and/or misappropriation of funds.  As such, the association should have the transition of control occur and then retain the services of an accountant, an attorney and an engineer.  These professionals will perform what is commonly known as “due diligence”.  Without hiring these professionals there is no way the association can truly know whether or not they are aware of every issue that remains outstanding, or liability incurred by the developer, that is now an association liability.

Certain times the above referenced reports issued by these professionals have minor problems that are easily settled with the developer. Other times, there are hidden problems that would have surely gone unnoticed if it were not for the diligent work of these professionals.  Either way, the association’s Board of Directors has a fiduciary duty to its members and should in the very least understand the present state of the association before signing a release with the developer.

After the reports from the professionals are returned to the association, the Board of Directors should attempt to informally negotiate with the developer for any repairs or funds they believe are owed.  This informal approach should involve keeping the association’s counsel informed as to its status and, if necessary, the review of documents.  If the association is successful in its negotiations, the attorney for the association, as well as that of the developer, can draft the final documents.  If the negotiations are not successful, the attorney for the association should still attempt to settle the matter with the developer’s attorney with a set time period for completion.  It is always better to try and settle for a fair amount then filing a lawsuit.  However, sometimes it is unavoidable and a lawsuit is necessary