2021 COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION LEGISLATION
All of the bills discussed below have been signed into law by Governor DeSantis and became effective on July 1st.
Senate Bill 630 – Comprehensive Legislation (Condominiums, Homeowners and Cooperative Associations)
This is the major piece of legislation that the 2021 Florida Legislature approved. It primarily affects condominiums and homeowners associations. Several revisions impact on cooperatives.
627.714(4), Florida Statutes was amended to provide that if a condominium association’s insurance policy does not provide rights for subrogation against the unit owners in the condominium association, an insurance policy issued to an individual unit owner may not provide rights of subrogation against the condominium association.
The Condominium, Cooperative and Homeowners Associations Acts were amended to increase condominium, homeowners’ and cooperative association emergency powers to address pandemics. Associations can hold any type of membership, board, committee or election meeting by phone, video conference or other “real time” electronic or video communication method. Associations may now implement plans based on the advice of public health officials. An association may not prohibit owners, tenants, guests, agents or invitees of unit owners from accessing a unit when access is necessary in connection with the sale, lease or other transfer of title to a unit, or the habitability of a unit or for the health and safety of such person unless a governmental order or determination, or public health directive from the CDC, has been issued prohibiting such access to the unit. Access is subject to reasonable restrictions adopted by the association.
718.111 of the Condominium Act was revised to require condominium associations to retain bids for at least one year from receipt of the bid.
Section 718.112 of the Condominium Act was amended to provide that renters have the right to inspect and copy a declaration of condominium in addition to the bylaws and rules. Section 718.111 of the Condominium Act was amended to provide that a condominium association that is required to maintain a website may make its official records available on mobile apps as well as websites.
The Condominium, Cooperative and Homeowners Association Acts were revised to permit associations to remove discriminatory language from governing documents pursuant to Section 712.065, Florida Statutes by the approval of a majority of the board.
Section 718.112 of the Condominium Act was revised to specify that only board service that commences on or after July 1, 2018 may be used when determining whether a director is subject to term limits.
Section 718.112 of the Condominium Act was revised to obligate condominium associations to post notices of members’ meetings (in addition to the annual meeting) in a conspicuous location. In addition, if the bylaws do not specify when written notice of meetings other than annual meetings must be given, notice must be sent and posted at least 14 continuous days before the meeting.
Section 718.112 of the Condominium Act was amended to provide that second notices of condominium elections must be sent not less than 14 nor more than 34 days before the election.
Section 718.111 of the Condominium Act was amended to permit condominium associations to charge a transfer/lease approval fee of $150.00 per applicant (currently $100.00). The fee may be increased every five years per the Consumer Price Index as determined by the DPBR.
718.111 was amended to delete the prohibition against condominium associations contracting with companies owned by directors or their relatives. Directors must still disclose any conflicts of interest and abstain from voting as required by Section 718.3027 of the Condominium Act.
The Condominium, Cooperative and Homeowners Associations Acts were revised to permit a challenge to a recall (removal) of a director to be filed in court in lieu of a petition for arbitration with the Division of Condominiums.
718.113(8) of the Condominium Act was revised to add “natural gas fueling stations” to electric charging vehicle stations as items owners can install under specified conditions.
718.113(9) of the Condominium Act was amended to permit boards to make available, install or operate an electric vehicle charging station or natural gas fueling station and establish the charges and manner of payment for use of same. Electric vehicle charging and natural gas fueling stations are not deemed a material alteration.
718.1255 of the Condominium Act was amended to permit presuit mediation and court litigation in lieu of non-binding arbitration before the Division of Florida Condominiums, except for an election or recall dispute, which must be arbitrated before the Division or filed in court. If presuit mediation is initiated, it is subject to the requirements in Section 720.311 of the HOA Act.
Section 718.303 of the Condominium Act and 720.305 of the Homeowners Association Act were amended to provide that fines are now due five days after notice has been provided to the person who was fined.
Section 720.301 of the HOA Act was amended to delete rules and regulations from the definition of “governing documents”. Accordingly, unless required by the homeowners association’s governing documents, it is unnecessary to record rules and regulations and amendments to such rules.
Section 718.111 of the Condominium Act and Section 720.303 of the Homeowners Association were revised to permit boards to adopt rules for posting notice of meetings on websites and mobile apps, provided website and app notices are emailed to members who have consented to receive electronic notice. Notices must also be posted on the property and when required mailed, e-mailed or personally delivered.
Section 720.303 of the Homeowners Association Act was amended to require that a homeowners association maintain all ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies and all other papers and electronic records for at least one year after the date of the election, vote or meeting.
Section 720.303 of the Homeowners Association Act was amended to exclude from owner inspection and copying information a homeowners association obtains in a gated community in connection with guests’ visits to owners or community residents.
Section 720.306 of the Homeowners Association Act was amended regarding a developer’s obligation to fund reserves and pay assessments.
Section 720.306 of the Homeowners Association Act was revised to provide that any governing document or amendment that is adopted after July 1, 2021,that prohibits or regulates rental agreements applies only to an owner who acquires title after the effective date of the governing document or amendment, or to an owner who consents, individually or through a representative, to the governing document or amendment. However, a homeowners association may amend its governing documents to prohibit or regulate rental agreements for a term of less than six months and may prohibit the rental of a home for more than three times in a calendar year. The revision to the HOA Act does not affect the amendment restrictions for homeowners associations of 15 or fewer owners under Section 718.303.
Senate Bill 56 Community Association Assessment Notices (Condominiums, Homeowners and Cooperative Associations)
Condominium and cooperative associations are now required to send a 45-day “pre-lien” letter prior to recording a lien and also send a 45-day “lien letter” prior to commencing a foreclosure, instead of the former 30 days. Condominium and cooperatives are now subject to the same 45 day time periods as homeowners associations.
Condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ association assessment invoices and statements of account must be sent by first class mail or to the owner’s e-mail address that is maintained in the association’s official records. Before changing the method of delivering such invoice or statement of account, associations must first deliver written notice of the change to the owner by first class mail at least 30 days before using the new delivery method. An owner must affirmatively acknowledge the change in delivery method electronically or in writing. At least one “notice of late assessment” in the new form provided, must give delinquent owners a 30 day notice and opportunity to pay without also having to pay attorney’s fees.
House Bill 463 Community Association Pools
Section 514.0155(3), Florida Statutes was created to provide that pools serving homeowners associations and other property associations which have no more than 32 units or parcels and are not operated as public lodging establishments are exempt from supervision by the Florida Department of Health, except as necessary to ensure water quality and compliance with Section 514.0325, Florida Statutes (requiring certain safety devices).
House Bill 649 Petition for Objection to Tax Assessment (Condominiums, Cooperatives and Homeowners Associations)
Section 194.011, Florida Statutes, was amended to permit condominium, cooperative, and homeowners associations to protest tax assessments on behalf of their owners.
Senate Bill 1966 Department of Business and Professional Regulation (Condominiums and Cooperatives)
This legislation amended Section 718.112 of the Condominium Act and Section 719.106 of the Cooperative Act such that the Division of Florida Condominiums may not suspend or remove a director for nonpayment of a monetary obligation other than an assessment. For purposes of suspending or removing a director, he or she is deemed delinquent on an assessment if payment is not made by the due date specified in the declaration, articles or bylaws, and if a due date is not specified, the due date is deemed the first day of the assessment period.
Boards of condominium and cooperative associations must adopt annual budgets at least 14 days before the fiscal year. If a board fails to timely adopt the budget a second time, the prior year’s budget continues in effect until a new budget is adopted. Such violation will be deemed a minor violation according to administrative regulations of the Division of Florida Condominiums.