New Palm Beach County Flood Zone Maps Now Available

Palm Beach County homeowner associations, condominium associations, commercial and residential real estate owners can now  type in their property address at:  http://maps.co.palm-beach.fl.us/cwgis/?app=floodzones and immediately view their flood zone.  The press release from Palm Beach County regarding the new flood insurance map is as follows:

New Flood Zone Maps Now Available on the Palm Beach County Website

For more information contact: Building Division

561-233-5100

For this first time since 1982 the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Palm Beach County have been revised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The new FIRMs for Palm Beach County will go into effect on 10/5/2017.

To help you view the current and pending flood zone information for your property, Palm Beach County has created a Flood Zone Map Viewer Application! You can search by address and view the FIRMs for your property by visiting http://maps.co.palm-beach.fl.us/cwgis/?app=floodzones or look for the link on our homepage at www.pbcgov.com.

Please note that this tool reports the flood zone designations that touch your property. Just because a Special Flood Hazard Area touches your property, that does not mean that your structure is located within the flood zone. It should also be noted that the flood elevations shown on the new maps are in a different Vertical Datum (North American Vertical Datum 1988) than the old maps were (National Geodetic Vertical Datum 1929). If you are comparing the new maps to a previous survey a conversion between two datum is required.

If you reside in the unincorporated area and are uncertain about your flood zone designation, please call the Palm Beach County Flood Information Hotline at 561-233-5374. If you reside in a municipality, you should contact your local floodplain administrator. For more information on the National Flood Insurance Program visit www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.

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.

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

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

2017 Pending Florida Community Association Legislation

Click here for PDF version of this article

The weather outside is cool in Florida, but the heat is surely on community associations, their directors, officers and property managers in Florida’s 2017 legislative session.

 

SB 294 (Condos, Cooperatives, HOAs)

The bill requires associations with less than 50 units to prepare a financial report based on the association’s annual revenues. In addition, if an association fails to provide the financial report to the owners if requested, the owners are prohibited from waiving the financial report for three (3) consecutive years and must file a copy with the State for those three (3) years.

  • This bill eliminates the option for associations with fewer than 50 units and more than $150,000 in annual revenue to submit less comprehensive annual financial statements.
  • Penalizes association with enhanced financial reporting requirements if they fail to provide owners with annual financial reports upon request.

HB 295 (HOAs)

  • Increases penalties for not providing access to official records to $500 per day for up to 30 days.
  • Imposes financial liability on property managers for failing to provide proper access to association official records.
  • Revises the timeframe for members to take control of the board of directors from the developer.
  • Provides for binding arbitration of disputes involving assessments, official records, and enforcement of covenants, rules, and restrictions.
  • Requires home sellers to provide prospective buyers with the association’s governing documents and operating budget at least 7 days before closing, and allows buyers to terminate the contract within 3 days after receipt of the documents.

SB 318 (HOAs)

  • This bill provides for a new, alternative procedure for homeowners associations to preserve their governing documents under Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act.
  • At the first board meeting following each annual meeting of the members, the board of directors must consider whether to preserve the association’s governing documents under Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act.
  • At least every 5 years, homeowners association must record a notice in the public records containing specific information including, the name and address of the association, a list of its recorded governing documents, contact information for the current property manager, and a legal description of the community.

SB 398 (Condos, Cooperatives, HOAs)

  • Requires estoppel letters to be issued within 10 days of a request, and caps fees at $200 An additional $100 may be charged if the estoppel letter is requested on expedited basis (3 business days). An additional $200 may be charged if the owner is delinquent.
  • Creates a maximum fee schedule for multiple estoppel letter requests.
  • Requires estoppel letters to include a long list of various information beyond standard financial information.
  • Association must publish on their website the name and address/email address of person responsible for receiving estoppels requests.

 SB 744 (Condos, Cooperatives, HOAs)

Condos

  • Requires bids for work to be performed be maintained in the official records for 1 year.
  • Eliminates the July 1, 2018 deadline to be classified as a bulk buyer or bulk assignee.

Cooperatives

  • Prohibits co-owners from serving on the board simultaneously in communities with more than 10 units, unless there not enough eligible candidates to fill all board vacancies.
  • Allows board members to communicate via email, but prohibits voting via email.
  • Directors and officers who are over 90 days delinquent in any monetary obligation to the association are deemed to have abandoned their position.

Condos & Cooperatives

  • Includes electronic records relating to unit owner voting in the list of official records of the association.
  • Eliminates the option for associations with less than 50 units to prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures in lieu of complete financial statements.
  • Removes a restriction prohibiting associations from waiving certain financial reporting requirements for more than 3 consecutive years.
  • Authorizes the board to adopt a procedure for posting meeting notices and agendas on the association website.
  • Clarifying that associations under 75 feet high are not required to undergo fire sprinkler/life safety retrofitting and do not need to conduct an opt-out vote.
  • Extends the deadline to opt-out or apply for a permit for fire sprinkler/life safety retrofitting to December 31, 2018, and extends the deadline to complete fire sprinkler/life safety retrofitting to December 21, 2021.
  • Clarifies certain rules and procedures for fire sprinkler/life safety retrofitting.

HOAs

  • Allows board members to communicate via email, but prohibits voting via email.
  • Requires the annual budget to include reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance which the governing documents require the association to undertake and which exceed $10,000.
  • Allows a developer to waive reserves until the end of the second fiscal year after the declaration is recorded, after which, only a majority of non-developer owners can waive reserves.
  • Revises certain voting procedures and calculations for reserve accounts.
  • Imposes certain limitations on adopting budgets that exceed the prior year budget by more than 15%.
  • Prohibits write-in nominations at an annual meeting when no election is required because the number of candidates does not exceed the number of vacancies, unless nominations from the floor are required by the bylaws.

SB 950 ( HOAs)

  • Prohibiting fines from being imposed on a home for 6 months after the death of the owner.
  • Prohibiting late fees and interest on delinquent assessments for the first year after the death of the parcel owner.
  • If a fine is imposed against a home after the owner dies, the association must provide written notice to the executor of the owner’s estate at least 5 times by certified mail.

 SB 1186 ( HOAs)

  • Specifies procedures for amending the declaration.
  • States that declaration amendments restricting rentals only apply to owners who consent to the amendment, or who purchase their home after July 1, 2017.

SB 1258 (Condos)

  • Imposes fines on board members and officers who knowingly violate any association bylaw or the Condominium Act: $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation, and $1,000 for third and subsequent violations. After 3 or more violations, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation may issue an order recalling the director or officer.

SB 1520 (Condos)

  • This bill makes it more difficult to terminate a condominium association.
  • Increases the minimum threshold for approving termination a condominium from 80 percent to 90 percent of the total voting interests.
  • Lowers the threshold for rejecting condominium termination from 10 percent to 5 percent of the total voting interests.
  • Expands the definition of owners who are entitled to receive fair market value for their condominium unit.

SB 1650 (HOAs)

  • Allows disputes relating to amendments of the governing documents to be resolved by mandatory arbitration in lieu of presuit mediation.

 SB 1652 (HOAs)

  • Creates specific election procedures for communities with 7500 or more homes.

SB 1682 (Condos)

  • Prohibits attorneys from representing both an association and its management company.
  • Prohibits board members and management companies from acquiring units at a foreclosure sale arising from the association’s foreclosure of the unit, or via deed in lieu of foreclosure.
  • Adds bids for materials, equipment, or services to the list of association official records.
  • Allows tenants and authorized representatives of members to inspect association official records.
  • Any board member who knowingly, willfully, and repeatedly refuses to comply with a valid request to inspect the official records is guilty of a second degree misdemeanor
  • Any person who knowingly or intentionally defaces or destroys accounting records, or who fails to create or maintain required accounting records in order to harm the association or any member, is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor.
  • Any person who knowingly and willfully refuses to release or produce association official records to facilitate a crime or to prevent a crime from being discovered, is guilty of a third degree felony.
  • Requiring associations with over 500 units to post many types of official records on its website, including the governing documents, financial statements, contracts with third parties, documents to be considered at membership meetings and notices of such meetings.
  • Allows board members to serve 2-year terms only if permitted in the bylaws or articles of incorporation. Prohibiting board members from serving more than 4 consecutive 2-year terms unless approved by an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the entire membership
  • Modifies director recall procedures.
  • Restricts association from contracting or employing service providers in which a board member has a financial stake.
  • Makes it a felony to engage in fraudulent voting activities, aid another person in committing fraudulent voting activities, or help someone avoid being caught for committing fraudulent voting activities.
  • Prohibits any party who provides maintenance or management services to the association from owning more than 50% of the units and purchasing any property subject to a lien of the association.
  • Sets forth detailed disclosure requirements for directors with possible conflicts of interest
  • A unit owner who is 90 days delinquent can be suspended from voting only if the delinquency exceeds $1,000 and requires 30-day notice.

 

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.

Attorney advises communities on support animals

SunSentinel, January 17, 2017.  Attorney Joshua Gerstin recently provided Alliance of Delray Residential Associations members with advice on medically necessary pets, making decisions through emails and governing documents, topics that community board of directors will face this year.  Read full article here.

 

To watch the video presentation or to download the presentation by Joshua Gerstin, Esq. click here.

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.

Here Come the Lawyers! US Supreme Court Declares Criminals Have a Right to Live in Your Community Association and a Right to Sue You for Trying to Stop Them

By Seth Amkraut, Esq.neighborhood_watch_05b

Click here for .pdf version of this article

Potential Personal Liability for Board Members.

Many community associations in Florida screen prospective buyers and tenants. This screening process typically includes a comprehensive background check into each applicant’s credit, rental, employment and criminal history.  Recently, an interpretation by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) of a recent United States Supreme Court Case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, et al v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., et al., severely curtailed community associations’ ability to deny sales or rentals to convicted criminals.  Enforcing blanket bans on convicted criminals purchasing or renting in your community can now subject both the community association and its Board members, individually, to liability.

With particularly awful circular reasoning, HUD issued an April 4, 2016, guidance memorandum declaring a higher percentage of adult minorities have criminal records when compared to the overall adult population.  Therefore, prohibiting a person with a criminal conviction to buy or rent in your community has a “disparate impact” on certain racial minorities tantamount to racial discrimination. Considering racial discrimination in housing violates federal law, HUD rounds the final corner and declares by extension the blanket use of criminal records to deny housing violates Federal law. This is a critical pronouncement effectively outlawing all blanket prohibitions on individuals with a criminal history and calls into question less restrictive policies. Even a narrowly tailored policy excluding only certain types of criminals must accurately distinguish between criminal conduct representing a genuine risk to other residents or property.

Making matters worse, HUD’s guidance on this issue shifts the long-standing burden requiring a Plaintiff to prove their case. Instead, community associations will be presumed to have discriminated against a proposed tenant or purchaser if a person within a protected class (e.g. a racial minority) is denied housing simply due to the person’s prior criminal record.   To rebut this presumption, community associations will have to prove the association’s denial of housing to persons with a “criminal history” actually assists in protecting resident safety and/or property. The only exception is for criminal convictions relating to manufacturing or distributing controlled substances. In essence, HUD has determined violent felons, such as murderers or rapists, are less dangerous than people manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs.

Individual board member liability.

As experienced Board members will tell you, often times upset owners (and their accommodating lawyers) name board members individually in lawsuits.  More often than not, these lawsuits are defended (and dismissed) by an association’s insurance counsel. However, most community insurance association policies will not offer coverage for housing discrimination or similar claims.  Without such coverage, both the association and the individual board members will have to pay out- of-pocket for representation and any resulting damages.  Although the individual board members may seek reimbursement from the Association (indemnification), claims for housing discrimination are known as intentional torts or intentional statutory violations. Typically, community associations are not required to indemnify individual board members against claims for damages related to intentional conduct. As you can surmise, the result of not a board member not being indemnified by his/her community association can be financially ruinous.

What can an association do? 

There is no one size fits all formula for creating Fair Housing Act compliant criminal background policies. In this new legal landscape, every community association that considers criminal history when evaluating prospective buyers and tenants must be prepared to defend the inevitable claims filed by rejected applicants.

Gerstin & Associates can assist your community association with drafting a criminal background policy allowing for the rejection of the most dangerous applicants while minimizing the risk of liability for discriminatory practices. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

Stay one-step ahead of new legislation, recent case law and new developments that impact your community association by subscribing to the Gerstin & Associates Community Association Newsletter.  Please complete and either email or fax the following to: (561) 750-8185 (no cover page needed).

Name: ____________________________      Association name: _____________________

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

Email address: ______________________     Telephone number: __________________

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Drones in Community Associations

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Background
Can Florida community associations prohibit drone use? What can a community association do to minimize legal liability if it decides to prohibit or permit drones? Drone usage is only going to increase over time. Acting now to intelligently regulate usage is the best way to safeguard members and increase property values.  Following are some pointers to get your community association started in the right direction and ahead of the curve.

In 2015, the Florida legislature passed the “Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act” (“Act”). Located at Section 934.50 of the Florida Statutes, the Act limits the use of drones by governmental and private entities. The Act prohibits operating a drone with a camera to record privately owned real property or the occupant of that property in violation of that person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. If a person cannot be seen on a property by anyone at ground level, a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.

The Act exempts the use of drone cameras by a person who is in a profession licensed by the state, to perform reasonable tasks within the scope of practice or activities permitted under that person’s license.  Theoretically, a licensed community association manager could use a drone camera to check for violations within the community. Also exempted are “cargo delivery drones” if the drone and its operator are in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) regulations. For recreational drones, the FAA has only issued an advisory to stay below 400 feet, within the sight of the operator and away from airports.

How Can/Should Community Associations Regulate Drones?

a)    Banning Drones is Not a Good Idea. As with satellite dishes and emotional support pets, outright bans imposed by community associations are often overruled.  Avoid having to amend your governing documents if a legislator undertakes drones as a personal cause by using reasonable Rules to regulate drone use in your community association.

b)    Prohibit Landing Drones on Common Areas (homeowner associations only). Owners should be prohibited from directing commercial delivery drones to land on a common area. Otherwise, the Association can be subject to liability if a drone related accident occurs. Malfunctioning drones crashing, packages dropped on people and landing on people and pets are only a few of the possible drone safety hazards.

c)    Common Area Landing Site (Condos Only). Due to limited space within condominium associations and the nature of high-rise buildings, condominium owners are unable to direct drones to land on their own property.  Instead of having a condominium unit owner place himself and others in danger by trying to land a drone on his/her patio or balcony, consider establishing a common area landing site.  Safeguarding the site with warning signs and a fence, far away from a crowded space, could minimize potential safety hazards of wandering owners. Considering the time and effort it takes to alter a common area, the sooner a condominium association begins the process, the better off it will be.

d)    Restrict Delivery Times. As with land based parcel deliveries, associations should pass Rules that limiting drone delivery times.  Permissible drone delivery times should be during the day at times when most residents are at work or away from their homes. Due to noise concerns consider banning drone deliveries on weekends.

e)    Liability: associations should consider amending their governing documents to limit the association’s liability for damages to persons or property relating to drone deliveries. The act of ordering a drone delivery should be considered the conduct that signifies the owner’s agreement to indemnify the association for damages to persons or property related to his/her drone delivery.

icon-stay-informed

Stay one-step ahead of new legislation, recent case law and new developments that impact your community association by subscribing to the Gerstin & Associates Community Association Newsletter.  Please complete and fax the following to: (561) 750-8185 (no cover page needed).

Name: ____________________________      Association name: _____________________
Position at the association (director, property manager, etc.) _____________________
Email address: ______________________     Telephone number: __________________

The 2016 Insider’s Guide to Newly Proposed Florida HOA, Condo & Property Management Laws

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The 2016 Florida Legislative Session will begin on January 12, 2016. In Florida’s House of Representatives, three bills seeking to drastically alter the governance and operation of HOAs and property managers have already been filed.

Florida 2016, HB 653, grants authority to the Division of Condominium, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes to regulate homeowner associations in a manner similar to condominium associations

Florida 2016,HB 665-Property Managers:  seeks to place stricter licensing requirements and disciplinary proceedings on property managers and property management companies.

Florida HB 2016 667  seeks to combine HOA statutes (720), condo statutes (718) and cooperatives statutes (7210) into one body of law entitled “Common Interest Communities Act”.

None of these pending bills have a Senate companion.

2015 Florida Real Estate and Community Association Legislative Update

For printable .pdf version click here.

New 2015 Florida Statutes Affecting Both Condominium and Homeowner Associations:

1.    Voting Rights Suspensions (applies to HOAs and condos):  An association may now suspend the voting rights of a member or unit due to the non-payment of  any fee, fine or other monetary obligation due to the association which is more than 90 days delinquent.  Owners whose voting rights have been suspended are not counted towards the total number of votes of a homeowners’ or condominium owners’ association. Further,  a suspension of  voting or common element use rights can apply to all of an owner’s tenants and guests, including multiple unit owners, even if the delinquency that resulted in the suspension arose from less than all of the multiple units owned by a member.

2.    Proxies (applies to HOAs and condos): A copy of a proxy is valid and  can be transmitted to a community association via email (scan) or by fax.  Facilitates voting from absentee owners.

3.    Electronic Voting (applies to HOAs and condos):  Allows for the establishment of online voting.  Specific requirements are set forth in the law, including the passage of a resolution by the Board authorizing online voting.  Owners that do not affirmatively consent to online voting are required to be given paper voting materials.

4.    Fines (applies to HOAs and condos):  Prohibits board members and individuals residing in a board member’s household from serving on a Fining Committee.  The new law also requires a community association’s Board of Directors, not its Fining Committee,  to levy a fine. In turn, a Fining Committee’s authority is limited to rejecting or approving the fine levied by the Board. A fine that is rejected by a Fining Committee is not imposed. The new law fails to set forth the notice requirements to owners for the Board of Directors meeting in which a fine is levied.

5.    Electronic Notice (applies to HOAs and condos): No longer is the authority to transmit association notices required to be in the association’s Governing Documents.  A member’s consent to electronic transmission is now the only requirement.

6.    Service Animals (applies to HOA’s and condos): New law specifies the conditions where a service animal may be removed or excluded, penalties are provided for the misrepresentation of a service animal. In addition to the criminal penalties in the existing law, a business unlawfully denying or interfering with an individual’s right to use or train a service animal may be sentenced to perform 30 hours of community service with an organization that serves individuals with disabilities. This law does not affect “emotional support animals” which are the majority of the exceptions issued in pet restricted communities. As such, this new law will have little effect on the issue of emotional support animals in a pet restricted community.

7.    Required Notice to Tenants (applies to HOAs and condos):  A bona fide tenant must be given at least 30 days’ notice before being evicted from a foreclosed home.

8.    Transient Occupancy, Squatters (applies to HOAs and condos): New law  removes “transient occupancy” from the landlord-tenant regulation under Chapter 83. Squatters and transients can be removed from a residence by law enforcement officials instead of having to file for an eviction.

9.    Drones (applies to HOAs and condos):  If a reasonable expectation of privacy exists, a person, state agency or political subdivision are prohibited from using a drone to capture an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, or occupant of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance without his or her written consent. The existing law enforcement exception, subject to certain conditions, was expanded to include activities by any person or entity engaged in a business licensed by the state (such as property appraisers, utilities, cargo delivery systems). Civil remedies for violations include compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief.

10.    Construction Defects (applies to HOAs and condos): In addition to the existing requirements of  Chapter 558, Florida Statutes, this new law introduces a new method for resolving construction defect disputes before filing a lawsuit.

11.    Private Property Rights (applies to HOAs and Condos):  Bert Harris Private Property Rights Act was amended to create a cause of action for damages if a landowner is  subjected to local and state governmental requirements so onerous they are considered “unconstitutional exactions”. Landowners now have a legal remedy when a state or local government make extortionate demands on property owners in exchange for permit approvals.  Pre-suit notice to the government is required. If a lawsuit is filed, the governmental entity is required to prove the exaction complies with the standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court and the property owner must prove damages. The measure of damages recoverable are clarified and include injunctive relief, costs and attorney fees. Governmental entities may recover attorney fees and costs if they prevail.

New 2015 Florida Statutes Affecting Condominium Associations Only

1.    Application of Assessment Payments (applies to condos only):  The use of “full and final” payment language on a check for partial payment does not apply to, nor overcome the existing statutory requirements for applying the partial payment of assessments (accrued interest, administrative late fees, costs, attorney’s fees, the delinquent assessment). Allows an association to accept a partial payment without fear an owner is trying to establish an “accord and satisfaction” fact pattern to eliminate the remaining amounts owed.

2.    Damage Not Caused by Insurable Event (applies to condos only):  Clarifies damage not caused by an insurable event is not automatically an association responsibility. Instead, the unit owner or the association is responsible for non-insurable events according to the reconstruction, repair or replacement provisions of the association’s Governing Documents.
3.    Official Records (condos only):  Non-written records (audio recordings, videos of board meetings or security camera video recordings, etc.) are not “official records” available for owner inspection as a matter of right.

4.    Extension of Bulk Assignee/Bulk Buyer Classification (Condos only): The bulk buyer law is extended until July, 2018.  Bulk buyers of  distressed condominium projects are granted additional immunity from various typical developer  obligations.

5.    Expenses in Annual Budget (condos only): Extends and clarifies the minimum applicable expenses that have to be listed in an annual budget.  Full list of expenses available at Florida Statute §718.504(21).

6.    Lien for Late Fees (condos only): Administrative late fees can now be included on a  claim of lien for past due assessments.  Important for condominiums associations whose Governing Documents do not provide for the imposition of late fees.

7.    Condominium Association Terminations (condos only):  New restrictions imposed on the termination of condominiums created by the conversion of existing improvements under Part VI of the Condominium Act. The methodology for determining market value of condominium units is clarified. First mortgages are now required to be fully satisfied prior to termination of the condominium. Further, if a termination vote fails, another vote to terminate may not be considered for 18 months. When holding a termination vote, voting interests that have been suspended are still entitled to vote on the termination. In addition, a termination vote may not take place until 5 years after the recording of the declaration of condominium, unless there is no objection to the termination.

New 2015 Florida Statutes Affecting Homeowner Associations Only

1.    Amendments (HOAs only): Failure to provide the required statutory notice of the recordation of an amendment does not nullify or affect the validity of the amendment.

2.    Naming Florida Statute Section 720 (HOAs only):  Chapter 720 of the Florida statutes is now officially known as the “Homeowners’ Association Act”.

3.    Board Member Delinquencies/Eligibility (HOAs only): Any person who is delinquent in the payment of any financial obligation as of the last day he or she could nominate himself or herself to the board, is not eligible to be a candidate and may not be listed on the ballot.  Additionally, any director 90 days delinquent in the payment of any monetary obligation is deemed to have abandoned his or her directorship.  In such instances, a  vacancy required to be filled according to law and the association’s Governing Documents is created.

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