The Florida legislative session this year has many changes for condominiums and co-ops. Below, these changes are noted by type as they relate to FS 718 (Condominiums) and FS 719 (Co-ops).
Official Records – 718 (Condos) and 719 (Co-ops) plans, permits, warranties, declaration, articles, bylaws, rules, meeting minutes and accounting records are now required to be kept forever from the inception of the association. Previously, these items were required to be kept for seven years). All other records relative to condos and co-ops shall be kept for seven years, except for ballots, proxies and related voting material that are to be retained for one year.
Official Records and Inspection requests – 718 (Condos) – 719 (Co-ops) Access to official records must be made available within ten business days. Formerly it was five working days, but since the penalty did not arise until after ten business days, effectively nothing has changed. Records must still be made available within ten business days from the date of receipt.
Condominium Financial Reporting (718) If a condominium association fails to provide a copy of the most recent financial report to an owner who has submitted a written request for same within five business days, and then fails to provide the DBPR (The Division) with a copy of such report within the same time frame after the Division’s request for such record, then the association may not waive the financial reporting requirement for the fiscal year in which the owner’s request was made or for the following fiscal year.
Condominium Websites In 2017, the requirement for condominiums with 150 units or more, were required to create a website onto which it must post digital copies of most of its official records by July 1, 2018. That date has been extended to January 1, 2019. The term “association” has been replaced by the term “condominium” making it clear that multi-condominium associations that manage several condominiums, each with less than 150 units but cumulatively 150 or more units are now exempt from this requirement. Additionally, the website was expanded to include portal. (Sentry’s CommunityPro Portals have been deemed to meet this requirement and we are working to ensure posting of notices and links to the material will be fully functioning by the January 1, 2019 date). The primary changes are to the date of compliance and specifying which documents to post.
Website Records 718 (Condos) requires the following records to be maintained on the website: a recorded copy of the Declaration, Articles, and Bylaws, recorded amendments to any of the prior documents; the rules of the association, a list of all bids in excess of $500 received by the association for materials, equipment or services within the past year; the monthly income or expense statement; all executory contracts or documents to which the association is a party or under which the association or unit owners have an obligation or responsibility; after bidding for related materials, equipment or services has closed. In lieu of summaries, complete copies of the bids may be posted; the annual budget required by statute and any proposed budget to be considered at the annual meeting; the financial report to be considered at a meeting; the certification of each director; all contracts or transactions between the association and any director, officer, firm or association that is not an affiliated condominium association or any other entity in which an association director is also a director or officer and financially interested; any contract or document regarding a conflict of interest;
the notice of any unit owner meeting and the agenda for the meeting in plain view on the front page of the website/portal; any document listed on the agenda to be considered and voted on by the owners during the meeting or any document listed on the agenda at least 7 days before the meeting at which the document or the information within the document will be considered; notice of any board meeting, the agenda and any other document required.
The association, or its agent, is not liable for disclosing information that is protected or restricted unless such disclosure was made with a knowing or intentional disregard of the protected or restricted nature of the information.
Board and Members Meeting Notice on Website (718 and 719) Community association may adopt rules and procedures for noticing owner meetings and agendas on a website, so long as the time required for noticing such meetings is met. Any rule adopted must include a requirement that the electronic notice is sent in the same manner as a notice for a meeting of the members and must include a hyperlink to the website where the notice is posted. This notice must be sent to all owners who have provided the e-mails as an official record. Associations are still required to physically post meeting notices on the property.
Condominium and co-op owners who consent to receive notices electronically are responsible for removing or bypassing filters that may block receipt of mass e-mails sent to members on behalf of the association in the course of giving electronic notices.
Written Notices (718) of a meeting in which regular or non-emergency special assessment or an amendment to rules regarding unit use will be considered must be mailed, delivered or electronically transmitted to unit owner and posted conspicuously on the property 14 days prior to the meeting. Notice of any meeting in which regular or special assessments again unit owners are to be considered must specifically state that assessments will be considered and provide the estimated cost and description of the purposes for such assessments.
Board Member Term Limits (718) The 2017 statute limiting a director from serving no more than 4 consecutive 2-year terms has been changed. The statute now provides that regardless of the length of the term (1 year or 2 years) a director cannot serve more than 8 consecutive years unless no other eligible candidates run or at least 2/3 of those who vote to approve the person to continue serving beyond 8 consecutive years. Also clarifies that if the governing documents so provide, directors may be elected to serve terms of more than 2 years each.
Board Members- Co-Op (719) A co-op director or officer is deemed to have abandoned their office if the officer or director is more than 90 days delinquent. In residential co-ops of more than 10 units, co-owners of a unit may not serve as board members at the same time, unless the co-owners own more than one unit, or if there are not enough eligible candidates to fill vacancies on the board.
Condominium Board Member Recall (718) If a recall is determined to be facially valid, the recall of the member or members, is effective upon conclusion of the board meeting.
A unit owner or unit owner’s representative may now challenge the board’s determination of a recall’s facial validity.
An owner petition may challenge the facial validity of the written agreement, ballots filed or the substantial compliance with the procedural requirements for the recall. If the arbitrator determines the recall was invalid, the petitioning board member shall immediately be reinstated and the recall is considered to be null and void. If successful, the board member is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs from the respondent, if they prevail. However, the arbitrator may award attorney’s fees and costs to the respondents if they prevail and the arbitrator makes a finding the petitioner’s claim is frivolous.
Condominiums -Alteration or Additions to the property (718) Clarified that approval of 75% of the voting interests must be obtained before a material alteration or substantial addition to a condominium property is commenced unless the condominium’s declaration provides otherwise. This restriction applies to all condominium associations existing on July 1, 2018.
Electric Vehicles in Condominium Associations (718) A condominium declaration may not prohibit or be enforced to prohibit a unit owner from installation an electric vehicle charging station within the boundaries of the unit owner’s limited common element parking area. Installation is subject to restrictions such as complying with local building codes and not causing irreparable damage to the condo property; the electricity for the charging station must be separately metered and payable by the unit owner installing such charging station. The unit owner installing an EVCS (electric vehicle charging station) is responsible for the costs of installation, operation, maintenance and repair including the cost of hazard and liability insurance. Charges for which may be collected as any other assessment. If the charging station is no longer wanted or needed due to sale, the unit owner or his successor is responsible for the cost of removal of the EVCS.
The Association may require the owner to comply with bona fide safety requirements subject to building codes or recognized safety standards; must comply with reasonable architectural standard adopted by the association relative to dimensions, placement or external appearance, provided that such standards may not prohibit the installation or substantially increase the cost; engage the services of a licensed and registered electrical contractor or engineer for installation; provide a certificate of insurance naming the association as an additional insured.
Fines and Suspensions (718) and (719) Condo and co-op associations’ fining committees must be made up of at least three (3) members who are appointed by the board. Members may not be officers, directors or employees of the association or be a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister of an officer, director or employee of the association.
The fining committee must approve the fine or suspension by a majority vote; otherwise, the association may not impose the fine or suspension (*Note: The board initiates the fine by virtue of adopting a policy and a schedule of fines and the process for covenants violations. If the violation continues to the point in the policy that a fine is applicable, the hearing is set and the owner is notified).
Condo and co-op association must provide written notice of any fine or suspension, by mail or hand delivery, to the unit owner, and if applicable, to any tenant, licensee, or invitee of the unit owner.
Any fine approved by the committee is due within 5 days after the date of the committee meeting at which the fine was approved.
Communications by Board members (719 – Co-op) Members of a board of directors for co-ops are allowed to use e-mail as a means of communication. However, a board member may not cast a vote upon an association related matter via e-mail. (This already applies to condo boards).
The above are basic summaries of the major changes. There were quite a few smaller changes throughout the statutes. Please feel free to contact me if you would like the actual Bill (HB841). The changes are noted with strikeouts and underline to emphasize them in the Bill.
We wish to acknowledge the summaries of several of our local law firms, who annually summarize the legislative changes and from which some of this information is taken. Goede/Adamczyk/DeBoest/Cross; Arias & Bosinger and Becker.
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