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2019 Legislative Primer Part I – Busy Year for Legislation Impacting Community Associations

The number of pending bills this year affecting community associations in some way or another is substantial. Multiple bills regarding vacation rentals reveal the battle lines in Tallahassee between local governments, communities, and the hotel lobbyists versus the vacation rental companies. Senate Bill 1196 and House Bill 1129 are considered community-association friendly bills that impose additional regulations on vacation rental hosts and ensure the continued ability of communities to regulate short-term rentals in their neighborhoods. Support for these bills is strongly encouraged.

On the other side of the spectrum, Senate Bill 824 and House Bill 987 seek to preempt local governments from regulating short-term rentals. The Community Association Institute has created an easy to use e-mail template (follow this link to access the template) for citizens to inform their representatives of their opposition to this legislation. We encourage you to voice your opposition to these bills.

Below is a brief summary of some of the proposed legislation impacting community associations:

SB 1196 & HB 1129 – These bills address short term or vacation rentals advertised on websites like AirBnB and VRBO and allow local governments to regulate vacation rentals. The bills require a valid Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Hotels and Restaurants certificate of registration be displayed in rental listings and advertisements with civil penalties imposed for failure to comply. They also allow the Division to notify the website (Airbnb and VRBO) when an advertisement fails to display a valid license number and remove the listing within three (3) business days or face fines up to $1,000 per offense.

SB 824 & HB 987 – These are the pro-short term rental bills being pushed by companies like Airbnb to prohibit regulation of short term rentals. The bill preempts the regulation of short term rentals to the state. Local governments would not be able to impose occupancy limits, property inspections, or registration of rentals. These bills eliminate the ability of local governments, and potentially, community associations, from directly addressing for themselves short term rentals in their communities.

HB 153 & SB 1248 – Requires landlords to give their tenants a copy of any restrictive covenants governing the premises and to provide written notice of any changes to the covenants within a certain time period.

HB 155 – Community Recall Act – Amends Florida Statute Section 720.303 to require an owner must physically reside in the community, if an owner wishes to recall a member of the board of directors.

HB 721 & SB 1128 – Many associations are having a difficult time with mounting requests for emotional support animals, determining what they can legally demand, and the growing number of fake requests so that an owner can circumvent an association’s rules. These bills not only prohibit false written documents and provide penalties, but also sets boundaries for both parties to follow. Any person who falsifies written documentation for an emotional support animal or knowingly and willfully misrepresents themselves as using an emotional support animal commits a second degree misdemeanor. These bills also provide that an individual with a disability who has an emotional support animal is entitled to housing accommodation and prohibits a housing provider from requiring extra compensation for the accommodation of the support animal. Most importantly, the bills authorize housing providers to request written documentation verifying the individual’s disability or disability-related in a format prescribed by the Department of Health and cannot be prepared by a health care practitioner whose exclusive service to the individual was the preparation of the documentation in exchange for a fee.

HB 647 – Requires condominiums and cooperatives that operate buildings three stories or higher that do not have fire sprinkler systems installed in the common areas to post certain signs or symbols on buildings to warn persons of the lack of a fire sprinkler system in the common areas. The bill also requires the State Fire Marshal to adopt rules governing such signs and symbols, enforcement procedures, and revises provisions relating to evidence of association compliance with fire and life safety code.

SB 908 & HB 723 – These bills allow a condominium to finance the cost of retrofitting existing residential high-rise buildings with a fire protection system using the Florida PACE Funding Agency. The bills also impose a mandatory $500 per day penalty for buildings that do not complete the retrofit by January 1, 2023.

HB 647 & SB 1732 – These bills allow high-rises (75 feet or higher) to opt out or forgo the installation of a fire sprinkler system or an Engineered Life Safety System (ELSS) upon the approval of two-thirds of all voting interests in the community. The bills specifically exempt all condominiums buildings that are less than 75 feet high from being required to retrofit with either sprinkler systems or an ELSS. The bills propose that a sign or approved symbol be posted on the building alerting people to that fact that the building does not have a sprinkler system. The bills push back their compliance date for completion of retrofitting with a fire sprinkler system or other engineered life safety system to January 1, 2023.

Stay tuned for Part II of this legislative primer and for updates on these bills as they are often amended many times before the final version is approved or rejected.  Many never make it past the first draft and die on the vine. If you would like to review the status of any of the bills, you can go to the Florida House of Representatives or Florida Senate websites and type in the bill number or click on the links above.

Posted in AirBnB, Condominium Association, Governing Documents, Homeowners Association, Legislation
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