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New Year, New Legislation Relating to Community Associations

With the new legislative session beginning January 12th, 2016, we begin the New Year introducing new proposed legislation relating to community associations and note their possible effects on community associations. Representative John Cortes filed three separate bills in late November that aim to redefine the roles of several association departments, boards, and regulations.

HB 667: Aims to completely overhaul the laws governing community associations. It would repeal Chapters 719 and 720 of the Florida statutes relating to Cooperatives and Homeowners Associations and make them subject to a significantly revised Chapter 718, which would be retitled Common Interest Communities. Some of the notable changes in this enormous bill (it is over 400 pages long) include:

– substantial limitations on transfer restrictions
– substantial limitations on parking restrictions
– increasing association statutory liabilities related to records requests and written inquiries
– increasing board member liabilities for conflicts of interest
– revisions to election and meeting procedures
– revisions to audit and financial reporting requirements
– automatically subjecting all communities to future legislative amendments

HB 665: This bill renames the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers to Board of Community Association Mangers, revises provisions relating to licensure of Community Association mangers and Community Association management firms, including pre-license education and examination requirements, continuing education requirements, and additional fees and disciplinary proceedings.

HB 653: This bill would subject homeowner associations to the oversight of the to be renamed Division of Florida Condominiums, Homeowners’ Associations, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. The new Division would have authority to investigate certain complaints and conduct investigations related to homeowner associations. It requires the Division to adopt penalty guidelines, provides HOA fees, requires written notice of certain board meetings, authorizes HOAs to impose certain fines, revises annual meeting requirements, provides requirements for voting by general and limited proxy, and board elections and vacancies.

Other legislative amendments affecting community associations include HB 7031 introduced by the House Civil Justice Committee and SB 1122 introduced by Senator Alan Hays.

HB 7031: Exempts covenants and restrictions of homeowner associations from the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA). The bill is intended to save homeowner associations money by not having to preserve or revitalize expiring covenants and restrictions.

SB 1122: Similar to Rep. Cortez’ HB 653 the goal of this bill is to subject homeowner associations to the regulation of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Notable changes in the law include:

– mandatory $2.00 fee per parcel to Department of Business and Professional Regulation
– mandatory binding arbitration for certain homeowner association disputes
– increasing association statutory liabilities related to records requests
– revisions to triggering events for developer transition of community control

If passed, these bills have the potential to significantly change the relationship between community associations and their members and how community associations operate. We will keep you informed of new developments as these bills move through the legislature.

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