This year’s legislative session looks to be moderately busy…

This year’s legislative session looks to be moderately busy…

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2016
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This year’s legislative session looks to be moderately busy with many proposed community association bills.   This year’s legislative session begins on March 4, 2014 and ends on May 31, 2014. If you think all of the “bills” are drafted during the 60 day legislative session, think again. January 24, 2014 was the deadline for submitting requests for drafts of general bills, including requests for companion bills, and February 28, 2014 at 5:00 P.M. was the deadline for approving final drafts of general bills, including companion bills. After the conclusion of the legislative session, the Governor can veto the bill, do nothing (which allows the bill to become law on its effective date), or sign the bill into law (in which case the bill may spring into law, or will later become law on its effective date, as set out in the bill). If the bill was vetoed by the Governor, then a two-thirds vote in both the Florida Senate and House is required to override it. This year’s legislative session looks to be moderately busy with many proposed community association bills.   Senate Bill 798 (SB 798) includes many changes to existing law. Leasing amendments to a condominium declaration would not apply to those who vote against the amendment, but, obviously, would apply to those who vote in favor of it, and in contrast to today’s legislation, would be applicable to those who do not cast a vote at all. A condominium association would be granted the authority to enter the unit to inspect abandoned units and make certain repairs and even to turn on power to the unit to run the a/c to prevent mold. Provisions are included for the appointment of a receiver to collect rent.   Oddly, SB 798 provides that “a [condominium board] member may use e-mail as a means of communication but may not cast a vote on an association matter via e-mail.” Likely, this provision was created with the best of intent, but hopefully will be deleted or tweaked to make better sense. At present, board members cannot vote by e-mail, but sometimes in a true post-casualty emergency, e-mail may be the viable means of communication for some board members. It is also patently obvious that everyone, even board members, may use e-mail to communicate. The question is whether such communication by the board majority constitutes a board meeting. Of course, SB 798 does not grapple with that important and very relevant issue. It’s early in the session, so let us all hope this provision gets eliminated, or edited, to be of greater value. On the brighter side, SB 798 also allows board members to vote via video conferencing rather than just on a speakerphone, as presently exists.   Clarification is added to foreclosure legislation affecting condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations to provide that a subsequent owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous owner for not only unpaid assessments, but also interest, late fees, reasonable costs and attorney fees incurred by the association incident to the collection process. Further clarification is provided to make clear that, in the event the association owned the unit, the subsequent owner may still have liability for the period prior to the association’s ownership.   Outgoing board members are required to relinquish all association records within 5 days. If not, civil penalties may be incurred. The deadline for financial reporting is increased form 60 days from the conclusion of the fiscal year, to 90 days along with an additional 30 days to provide the report to the owners.   Cooperatives and homeowner associations are granted new emergency powers and many of the bill’s legislative amendments to Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, the “Condominium Act”, would also apply to Chapter 719, Florida Statutes, the “Cooperative Act.”   House Bill 425 (HB 425) makes numerous clarifications to the Condominium Act to clarify many of its provisions apply to residential condominiums only. Obviously, the sponsor of HB 425 is asserting that the scheme for protections and safeguards of unit owners in residential condominiums is not necessary for unit owners of both commercial and condo-hotel ventures. Rather than carve out the parts of the Condominium Act that do not apply, the state would be far better served by a new chapter of laws to govern non-residential condominiums.   House Bill 7037 (HB 7037) addresses community association managers and would, in essence, allow managers to do many activities which are, by today’s standards, considered the practice of law. The type of activities that would not constitute the “unlicensed practice of law” would include, to name a few, calculating the number of votes to adopt an amendment (sometimes, a very complicated task requiring legal interpretation), negotiating contracts regardless of the type of contract, preparing pre-arbitration demands and preparing liens. Ultimately, given the overly broad provision of HB 7037, it could be interpreted to mean the manager is lawfully able to perform all tasks to ensure compliance with the community’s governing documents. Reprinted with Permission from Jeffrey A. Rembaum Kaye Bender Rembaum – ATTORNEYS AT LAW – 1200 Park Central Boulevard South, Pompano Beach, Florida 33064 Tel: 954.928.0680 Fax: 954.772.0319 Toll Free: 800.974.0680 9121 North Military Trail, Suite 200, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 Tel: 561.241.4462 Fax: 561.223.3957 Toll Free: 800.974.0680  …

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