This year’s legislative session proved to be a busy one, with a number of bills passed by the Florida Legislature that will impact community associations throughout the state. We recently covered the passing of Senate Bill 72 in our blog, also known as the Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19, which you can access by clicking here. The following are summaries of additional bills that have passed the Legislature and are pending action by the Governor:
Senate Bill 630: Community Associations
Senate Bill 630 represents sweeping changes for Florida communities. These changes include allowing condominium associations to use the demand for pre-suit mediation process; increases the amount that can be charged for a transfer fee from $100 to $150; addresses insurance subrogation by clarifying that if a condominium insurance policy does not provide rights for subrogation against the unit owners in the association, an insurance policy issued to an individual unit owner in the association may not provide rights of subrogation against the association; and clarifies that associations’ emergency powers extend to health emergencies and includes holding virtual meetings and implementing plans based on advice from health officials. The legislation also prohibits associations from requiring certain actions relating to the inspection of records; revises requirements relating to the posting of digital copies of certain documents by certain condominium associations; authorizes condominium associations and cooperatives to extinguish discriminatory restrictions; revises the calculation used in determining a board member’s term limit; and deletes a prohibition against employing or contracting with certain service providers. The bill also makes important limitations to homeowners’ association rental restrictions adopted after July 1, 2021 and provides that any governing document or amendment to a governing document enacted after July 1, 2021, in connection with certain rental restrictions will apply only to parcel owners who acquire the property after the effective date of the governing document or amendment, or to parcel owners who consent to the governing documents or amendment. The bill also brought changes to condominium association websites, allowing them to make their official records available on mobile apps and now allowing both condominiums and homeowners associations to adopt rules for posting notices on websites and mobile apps, provided that electronic notices are still emailed to members who have consented to receive electronic notices. The bill also requires that notices of intent to record a claim of lien specify certain dates. It authorizes parties to initiate pre-suit mediation under certain circumstances; specifies the circumstances under which arbitration is binding; revises requirements for certain fines; revises provisions relating to a quorum and voting rights for board members remotely participating in meetings; revises the procedure to challenge a board member recall; revises the documents that constitute the official records of an association; revises the types of records that are not accessible to members or parcel owners; revises the circumstances under which an association is deemed to have provided for reserve accounts; and authorizes certain developers to include reserves in the budget. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
House Bill 463: Community Association Pools
This bill exempts private community association pools with fewer than 32 units or parcels from supervision by the Department of Health, except to ensure water quality. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
House Bill 649: Petition for Objection to Assessment
This act allows community associations to object tax assessments on its behalf or on behalf of their owners and provides the manner in which to do so. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
Senate Bill 56: Community Association Assessment Notices
This bill changes the notice requirement of a foreclosure action from 30 days to 45 days. It also specifies that invoices for assessments must be delivered to unit owners by first-class United States mail or electronically to the email address maintained in the association’s records. Prior to changing the method of delivering an invoice for assessments, associations must first deliver written notice of the change to the owner by first class mail at least 30 days before sending assessment and the owners must affirmatively acknowledge the change electronically or in writing. Prior to requiring payment of attorney fees related to past due assessments, a written notice (using the new form provided) of late assessment must be sent to delinquent owners by first-class United States mail providing a 30-day opportunity to pay without also having to pay attorney’s fees. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
House Bill 421: Relief from Burdens on Real Property Rights
This bill allows, under certain circumstances, property owners who have been burdened by government actions to keep their rights to make claims against governmental entities even after relinquishing title. This act shall take effect on October 1, 2021.
Senate Bill 1966: Department of Business and Professional Regulation
This act disqualifies board members from eligibility to run for the board if they are delinquent in their assessments only rather than other monetary obligations. The act provides that a person is considered delinquent if a payment is not made by the due date specifically identified in the declaration of condominium, bylaws, or articles of incorporation. Should a due date not be specified, the act determines the due date is the first date of the assessment period. It requires a board to adopt the annual budget 14 days prior to the start of the fiscal year, otherwise it is deemed in minor violation and the prior year’s budget will continue to be in effect until a new budget is adopted. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
House Bill 403: Home-Based Businesses
This law prohibits local governments from taking certain actions relating to the licensure and regulation of home-based businesses. However, whatever restrictions were already in place by an association, or those that are created in the future, will not be overridden or preempted. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
House Bill 483: Electronic Legal Documents
This act makes technical changes relating to remote online notarizations. It also modifies witnessing procedures and contains numerous clarifications. This act shall take effect upon becoming law.
We will continue to provide updates on any legislation that may impact the community association industry. Should you wish to track these bills or read the full text of each enrolled bill, you can do so by clicking on the hyperlink provided for each bill or by visiting www.flsenate.gov.