Condominium Legislative Update 2017 – Governor Scott signs House Bill 1237 into Law.
June 28, 2017
Mr. Andrew Cuevas, Esq., is the President of Cuevas, Garcia & Torres, P.A., and Vantage Property Title Company. Cuevas, Garcia & Torres, P.A., provides legal services in the areas of Community Association Law, Corporate Law, Real Estate law, and Business Immigration, including title insurance services through Vantage Property Title Company. If you have any questions regarding this article or any other questions, you may contact Mr. Cuevas at (305) 461-9500 or via e-mail at [email protected]. If you are interested in reading previous newsletters, please visit www.cuevaslaw.com, select the icon for Newsletters , and then choose the area of law you are interested in.
From time to time public outcry does affect legislation – that is the American way. In Miami there has been a series of recent newspaper articles which have addressed improper activities within the community association industry including waste of association funds by Board members, conflicts of interests in hiring contractors, charging of exorbitant fees for rental applications in excess of statutory limits, and improper/fraudulent election procedures. However, public outcry, as valid as it may be, does not always translate into legislation that makes sense. House Bill 1237 is the Florida legislatures attempt to correct some of the improprieties that exist in the community association industry which unfortunately have given a black-eye to several communities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Several portions of the new legislation make sense and are much needed. However where the new legislation misses the mark entirely is that the well-received changes only affected condominiums and not home owner associations. There are numerous problems with the Home Owners Association Act (“HOA Act”) which were not addressed in this new legislation, some of which would have been resolved by utilizing the exact language used in this most recent condominium act changes, as well as other needed changes in the HOA Act which are long overdue and continue to be ignored such as the terrible system which currently exists for elections in HOA’s. There is also one other change in the new condominium legislation which, at least for me, shows that the legislature did not take into account the actual functioning of an association and the risks of taking away procedural due process. I am referring to the new Board recall procedures.
This article will not go into detail as to all the changes in the Condominium Act. We will be announcing from time to time seminars that we will be presenting at our two Miami offices, as well as other locations in Miami-Dade County, which will provide detailed explanations of all of the changes. Below are some of the topics covered in the condominium act legislative changes:
- 1) Increased penalties for kickbacks received by managers or directors related to awarding contracts to third parties
- 2) Civil and criminal penalties for forgery on ballot envelopes and other election documents
- 3) Conflicts of interests when law firms represent both management companies and condominium associations
- 4) Restrictions on board members and managers from participating as bidders in association foreclosure sales
- 5) Requirements for association controlled websites
- 6) Timeliness of providing financial statements to unit owners
- 7) Restriction on use of debit cards from association bank accounts
- 8) Term limits
- 9) Elimination of procedural protections for recall petitions
- 10) Expansion on conflict of interest protections when Board members seek to contract with companies in which certain family members participate
- 11) Attorney qualifications as to arbitrators
- 12) Changes as to when voting privileges can be suspended
- 13) Limitations on court appointed receivers right to vote on units controlled by receiver
There are several other statutory changes which also affect the operation of associations. We will be announcing soon our next presentation of the 2017 Legislative Update. We believe some of the changes will be surprising to you.
This article is solely a partial explanation of all the issues related to the topic of this newsletter, and is not to be considered legal advice. Associations should seek legal advice for all issues related to recent legislative changes. This Newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a legal opinion.