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Law Change for “55 and Over” Communities

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Q: We heard a rumor that our “55+ Park” is no longer required to register with the state. Is this true? (D.R., via e-mail)

A: Yes. Effective July 1, 2020, Section 760.29(4) of Florida Statutes was amended to delete the requirement that “housing for older persons communities,” often called “55 and over communities” register with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The previous law required registration to be updated every two years.

The association must still meet all other legal eligibility requirements. These include the requirement that at least 80% of the occupied units be occupied by at least one individual over the age of 55, and that appropriate age verification procedures and updates are in place.

Q: What is the law regarding publication of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other personal information? The manager of our condominium association sent every owner a directory with everyone else’s telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. I did not authorize this. Is this legal? (I.W., via e-mail)

A: The Florida Condominium Act protects certain telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other personal information about unit owners from being disclosed.

If information is provided to the association for the association to fulfill its official notice requirements, then the information is “fair game,” meaning it is part of the official records and subject to inspection by any owner. For example, if you have signed a form to receive official meeting notices by e-mail, rather than “snail mail,” your e-mail address is an official record. Otherwise, your e-mail address is considered private information and cannot be disclosed without your consent.

Mailing addresses are also considered private information, unless it is the condominium unit address, or an address designated for receipt of association notices. If you have a home in another state, but don’t have official association communications sent there, the association likewise cannot give out that address without your permission.

There is some ambiguity in the law on telephone numbers. In general, telephone numbers are private and cannot be given out without consent. However, the statute says that a condominium association may distribute a directory containing the name, unit address, and all telephone numbers of each unit owner, but a unit owner may exclude his or her telephone numbers from the directory by requesting same in writing to the association.

There is some disconnect on whether permission from the owner is needed to publish phone numbers, or if the owner has the burden to affirmatively deny permission. The difference appears to be whether a directory exists or not (which really doesn’t make much sense).

Q: I found out today that my condominium board fired our management company some time ago. Didn’t the board have a fiduciary responsibility to notify all owners at that time? (C.H., via e-mail)

A: The directors’ fiduciary duties are to act in good faith, with care, and in a manner reasonably believed to be in the best interest of the association.
While good communication should be the goal of every association, there is generally no legal requirement for a board to notify owners of the outcome of votes taken at board meetings. The board is required to post notice and agendas for its meetings, and to keep minutes. You are (subject to certain exceptions) entitled to attend board meetings and ask for the minutes as part of the official records of the association. If there are more than 150 units in any condominium operated by your association, there are also website posting requirements.
It sounds like your association could do a better job communicating. You should consider volunteering to write a newsletter, which is common in many communities, and much less of a chore in the internet age than it used to be.

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