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Associations Should Send Out Billing Notice For Special Assessments

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Question:        I recently read one of your prior columns discussing the process for a condominium association to impose a special assessment and you stated that once an assessment has been levied, the Association should send out a notice to the owners setting forth the specific purpose of the special assessment and the amount each unit owner is obligated to pay. In my review of Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, I have not been able to locate this requirement. Is this still the law? (J.T. via email)

Answer:        I believe you are referring to my May 28, 2017 column titled “Board generally has authority to approve special assessments.” Prior versions of my column are available online. With regard to the notice requirements for a special assessment, and assuming the governing documents permit special assessments without an owner vote, the Florida Condominium Act, addresses this issue in two places. Section 718.111(2)(c)(1) of the Act, contains the notice requirements for the board meeting where a special assessment is to be considered. The statute requires that the notice be mailed, delivered or electronically transmitted (where the owner has consented to receive official notices by e-mail) to each unit owner at least 14 days before the meeting and also posted on the condominium property at least 14 days before the meeting. Additionally, the notice must specifically state that assessments will be considered and provide the nature, estimated cost and description of the purpose of such assessments.

Once the board of directors has levied the special assessment, Section 718.116(10) of the Act, contains an additional notice requirement. This part of the statute requires that the specific purpose of a special assessment that has been approved in accordance with the condominium documents be set forth in a written notice of such assessment. This notice must also be sent or delivered to each unit owner. This latter rule is essentially a requirement that the association send out a “billing notice” for the special assessment. This notice must also state the purpose of the special assessment, contain the amount each unit owner is obligated to pay and the due date of the special assessment.

For homeowners’ associations, Section 720.303(2)(c), of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, contains similar notice requirements for the board meeting where a special assessment is to be considered. However, there is no similar requirement to send out the billing notice as is required in condominiums.  Regardless, it is my opinion that it is necessary for a homeowners’ association to give the owners notice of the amount of the special assessment levied by the board of directors and the due date for same. Otherwise, how would people know how much and when to pay?

Question:        I own a condominium unit and I am a seasonal resident in Florida. Therefore, I cannot attend many board meetings. Some of the board members are also seasonal residents and participate in board meetings by teleconferencing services. I have requested to be permitted to also attend board meetings as a unit owner by telephone. The association has so far denied this request. Can they deprive me of my right to attend board meetings in this manner? (O.U. via e-mail)

Answer:        Probably. Section 718.112(2)(c), of the Florida Condominium Act, provides that meetings of the board of directors are open to all unit owners. Section 718.112(2)(b), of the Act, states that a board member’s participation at a board meeting via telephone, real-time video conferencing, or similar electronic communications counts towards the quorum, and treats the member as if they were physically present. While the statute permits board members to participate in board meetings by remote means, there is no requirement in the law that the association permit unit owners to observe board meetings by remote means. As a unit owner, your only legal right is to be physically present in the room where a board meeting takes place.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to jadams@bplegal.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com

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