Today’s column is the fifth and final installment of our annual series reviewing new laws affecting community associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners’ associations. In the first four installments, we looked at changes for condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners’ associations found in HB 807, the main Bill affecting community associations.
Today, we will look at some miscellaneous Bills that also affect the operation of associations:
• Community Association Managers: HB 7037, effective July 1, 2014, according to its sponsors, is intended to clarify what tasks a manager can perform without “practicing law”, an issue that is also currently before the Florida Supreme Court. HB 7037 states that managers are, among other things, allowed to determine the number of days required for statutory notices, determine amounts due to the association, draft minutes, and prepare estoppel certificates. The new law also provides professional liability standards for community association managers and management companies. The new statute goes on to provide that while a management agreement may provide for limited “indemnification” (hold harmless) from the association to the manager, indemnification agreements may not cover any act or omission that violates a criminal law, or any case where a manager derives an improper personal benefit, is grossly negligent, acts recklessly or in bad faith, or acts with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard for human rights, safety, or property.
• Operation of Non-Residential Condominiums: SB 440, effective July 1, 2014 provides that numerous provisions of the Florida Condominium Act that apply to residential condominiums do not apply to non-residential condominiums. The most typical type of non-residential condominiums include commercial or office condos, but there are other types of non-residential condominiums including marinas.
• Vacation Rentals: SB 356, effective July 1, 2014 provides that local laws and ordinances may not prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of vacation rentals. The apparent intent is to vest this authority solely at the state level. However, the prohibition does not apply to any local law or ordinance adopted on or before June 1, 2011.
• Flood Insurance: SB 542, effective June 13, 2014 provides that an authorized insurer may offer personal lines residential flood insurance policies. The Bill is intended to offer an alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Bill does not apply to commercial or commercial residential policies, and therefore condominium associations would not be able to take advantage of this law.
• Citizens Wind Insurance/Resort Condominiums: HB 1089, effective July 1, 2014 provides that for “wind only” coverage for commercial lines residential condominiums, a condominium is ineligible for coverage from Citizens if fifty percent or more of the units are rented more than eight times in a calendar year for a rental agreement period of less than thirty days.
• Property Insurance: SB 1672, effective July 1, 2014 directs Citizens to stop writing new commercial residential multi-peril policies for areas eligible for coverage in the “coastal account.” Instead, Citizens may offer separate wind-only policies and commercial residential policies excluding wind. Citizens may, however, continue to insure commercial residential multi-peril policies on a building that is insured by Citizens on June 30, 2014. This Bill also prohibits insurance agents and adjusters (among others) from accepting referral fees or compensation from an inspection company related to an inspection needed to obtain insurance coverage. Further, public adjusters are prohibited by the new statute from accepting a power of attorney that vests in them the right to select the persons or companies that will perform repairs on an adjusted property.
• Insurance Claimant Rights: SB 708, effective July 1, 2014 prohibits insurers in the State of Florida from denying claims on residential policies on the basis of misrepresentation in the application if the policy has been in effect for more than ninety days. The new law creates a “homeowners claim bill of rights” for personal line residential policies.