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Legislative Review Continues

Today’s column continues our annual review of legislation affecting Florida community associations, effective July 1, 2018.

E-Mail Communication by HOA Board Members

  • Members of the board may use e-mail as a means of communication but may not cast a vote on an association matter via e-mail.
  • This change makes the law for all three types of community associations (condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners’ associations) consistent by authorizing e-mail as a means of communication, but prohibiting votes being taken by e-mail.

HOA Electronic Notice of Meetings

  • Amends the electronic notice provisions to clarify that the association may provide notice by electronic transmission (fax or e-mail) to any member who has provided a facsimile number or e-mail address to the association to be used for such purposes. However, a member must consent in writing to receiving notice by electronic transmission.

HOA Fining and Suspension Procedures

  • Clarifies that a fine or suspension levied by the board may not be imposed unless the board first provides at least 14 days’ notice of a hearing to the parcel owner and, if applicable, any occupant, licensee, or invitee of the parcel owner.
  • If the proposed fine or suspension is approved by the committee, the fine payment is due 5 days after the date or the committee meeting at which the fine is approved.
  • HOA Boards should review their fining and suspension policies to ensure that they comply with the new law.

HOA Amendments to Governing Documents

  • Requires that proposed amendments to governing documents contain the full text of the provision to be amended, and may not be revised or amended by reference solely to the title or number.
  • Proposed new language must be underlined and proposed deleted language must be stricken.
  • If the proposed change is so extensive that underlining and striking through language would hinder, rather than assist, the understanding of the proposed amendment, a notation must be inserted immediately preceding the proposed amendment in substantially the following form: “Substantial rewording. See governing documents for current text.”
  • An amendment to a governing document is effective upon recording in the public records in the county in which the community is located. Since the statute was recently amended to include rules and regulations as part of “governing documents,” this means that all amendments to HOA rules after July 1 must be recorded.
  • Notice of proposed amendments must be mailed or delivered to the address identified as the parcel owner’s mailing address on the property appraiser’s website for the county in which the parcel is located, or electronically transmitted in a manner authorized by the association if the parcel owner has consented, in writing, to receive notice by electronic transmission. Therefore, rather than relying on the Association’s official records and the mailing address provided by the owner, the Association must use the mailing addresses identified on the property appraiser’s website. This new requirement applies to all notices required pursuant to Section 720.306, including members’ meetings.

HOA Elections

  • If an election is not required because there are either an equal number or fewer qualified candidates than vacancies exist, and if nominations from the floor are not required, write-in nominations are not permitted and such qualified candidates shall commence service on the board, regardless of whether a quorum is attained at the annual meeting.

HOA Application of Payments

  • Clarifies that the application of payment (first to interest, then to any late fees, then to costs and reasonable attorney fees, and then to the delinquent assessment) applies regardless of any purported accord and satisfaction, or any restrictive endorsement, designation, or instruction placed on or accompanying a payment. Therefore, even if an owner writes “paid in full” on the check, the association may still deposit the check and pursue recovery of any additional amounts due.

Next week we will wrap up our legislative review with a look at changes to Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act and required actions for homeowners’ associations.

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

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