Q: I have heard that there is a new law requiring condominium associations to have a website. Is that true? (J.L. via e-mail)
A: Yes, although the law has somewhat limited application. First, it is worthwhile to note that the 2018 Florida Legislature passed a Bill on March 9 that would change the 2017 website law. As of this time, the Bill has not been signed by the Governor, but it is not expected that he will veto the legislation. Once the Governor has acted on the Bill, I will present my annual legislative update.
The 2017 law created a new requirement for any condominium having 150 or more units in total to have a website up and running by July 1, 2018. The new law will change this requirement in several important ways.
For associations which are obligated to comply with the law, the required implementation date will be pushed back to January 1, 2019. Perhaps more significantly, the scope of the law has been narrowed as to which associations it applies to. For example, a multi-condominium association that operates 10 condominiums with 50 units each would have had to comply with the website requirement under the 2017 version of the law. Under the 2018 changes, a multi-condominium association that operates 150 or more units does not need to comply with the mandatory website requirement unless at least one of the condominiums operated by the association contains 150 or more units.
The 2018 amendments also tweaked some of the posting requirements from the original law, allowing posting of summaries of certain documents rather than the documents themselves.
Q: Do Robert’s Rules of Order apply to the conduct of association meetings? (N.G. via e-mail)
A: The Florida courts have ruled that adherence to Robert’s Rules of Order, or any other parliamentary manual, is not a legal condition of proper corporate procedure.
However, the bylaws of many community associations incorporate Robert’s Rules. The basic concept is that business at a meeting should be conducted in an organized manner, including establishment of a quorum, the giving of reports, and voting on items before the assembly. Voting should typically be conducted through a member of the assembly making a motion to consider a measure. After a second to the motion, the chair is to entertain discussion from the members, and ultimately call the question for a vote.
Parliamentary procedures can get complicated and contentious when participants of the meeting want to thwart an action or raise technical objections. Robert’s Rules contains fairly complicated procedures as to what kinds of motions are main motions, what are secondary motions, which are debatable, amendable, and the like.
My preference in drafting community association bylaws is to incorporate Robert’s Rules as a general, non-binding guide for the conduct of association meetings, and leave rulings on all parliamentary questions to the chair of the meeting (typically the president of the association), or a parliamentarian appointed by the chair.
Q: We have a unit owner in our condominium who is regularly behind in the payment of their assessments. The association adds interest and late fees to the delinquent account as provided in our bylaws. However, right before we refer the account to our attorney for collection, the owner usually sends a check for the original amount, without the interest or late fees. The owner always writes “paid in full” on their check. As the treasurer of the association, I am not sure how to deal with this. What do you think? (R.N. via e-mail)
A: The Florida Condominium Act provides that any payment received by an association and accepted shall be applied first to any interest accrued, then to any administrative late fee, then to any costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred in collection and then to the delinquent assessment. The law applies notwithstanding any “restrictive endorsement” or instructions placed on or accompanying a payment. A delinquent unit owner cannot settle a delinquent account simply by marking “paid in full” on their check.
Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.