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In this Issue
Have you heard the news? We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Association Adjusting, the one and only public adjusting company that exclusively serves community associations throughout Florida. Association Adjusting is a licensed and insured public adjusting firm led by Joseph “Joe” Connelly, an advocate for insurance consumers for more than a decade. We hope you’ll join us for a special webinar on Wednesday, September 16, to meet Joe and learn more about how to proactively prepare for the inevitable. Register here!
Additionally, did you know that September 10, 2020, is the deadline to file an insurance claim if your association experienced property damage as a result of Hurricane Irma? Read on for more information and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us should you need guidance. There is still time to act!
While there is lots of information on proactively preparing for a hurricane, there is often confusion as to what happens after the hurricane – particularly as it pertains to insurance claims. This month’s featured article, “Hurricane Insurance Claims for Condominium Associations” breaks it down.
Proper enforcement procedure, and what can go wrong if it is not done, is the lesson of this month’s “THIS CASE: Dwork v. Executive Estates of Boynton Beach Homeowners Association, Inc.”
Mark D. Friedman, Esq. & Jay Roberts, Esq., Editors
Hurricane Insurance Claims for Condominium Associations
There is a lot of information on how associations can prepare for hurricanes but much less information as to what happens after the hurricane, particularly as it pertains to insurance claims. A question that managers and board members need to consider is, what is required after a hurricane to ensure compliance with your insurance …
Is Second-Hand Smoke Leaving a Bad Taste in Your Mouth?
Long gone are the days when you would be greeted at a restaurant with the question; “Smoking or non-smoking?” Frequent flyers can no longer light up on flight. In fact, many states have banned smoking in public places. In the Sunshine State, the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, Chapter 386 of the Florida Statutes, prohibits smoking in all enclosed indoor workplaces. The Act is generally accepted to apply to both condominium and homeowners associations’ indoor common elements. But what about smoking at the pool, the pickleball courts, or the outdoor tiki bar? Assuming that your association’s governing documents grant the board of directors rulemaking authority over these common areas, and most do, the board of directors can adopt reasonable rules to ban or regulate smoking in those areas.
Dwork v. Executive Estates of Boynton Beach Homeowners Association, Inc.,
219 So.3d 858 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017)
In a recent CUP we discussed the Beachwood Villas v. Poor case, which gives the legal test for creating Board-made rules. But of course, creating a restriction is only half the battle. The next issue community leaders face is proper enforcement of a restriction. Proper enforcement procedure, and what can go wrong if it is not done, is the lesson of this month’s THIS CASE.
Jonathan Dwork (“Owner”) owned a single-family home in the community of Executive Estates of Boynton Beach, which is governed by Executive Estates of Boynton Beach Homeowners Association, Inc. (“HOA”). The HOA’s governing documents required owners to keep their roofs, fences, and driveways in good condition. HOA sent several notices to Owner stating that he was in violation of the governing documents. Receiving no compliance or response, the HOA began down the route of the fining procedure pursuant to F.S. §720.305(2). The HOA sent a notice to Owner that in thirteen days there would be a hearing with respect to whether fines would be imposed. The HOA fines committee did approve the fines. Fines remained unpaid and the HOA recorded a claim of lien and later filed a two-count lawsuit seeking to foreclose the claim of lien or, in the alternative, monetary damages for the fines imposed. The lawsuit also sought to have its attorney’s fees awarded by the court. The HOA prevailed on the monetary damages count and awarded the HOA its attorney’s fees. Owner appealed.
In considering the validity of the rules adopted by the association, the Fourth District held that the Board had rule making authority in the condominium documents; and the rules did not contravene any right granted by, or reasonably inferable from, the declaration. Therefore, the court held that the rules were valid. The court also noted that rules can be found to be invalid when they are unreasonable or arbitrary. However, as these issues were not raised before the trial court, it was not an issue reviewed on appeal.
The appellate court pointed out that this case ultimately involves a matter of statutory interpretation. The appellate court pointed out that F.S. §720.305(2)(b) states that a fine or suspension may not be imposed unless the board first provides at least 14 days’ notice to the parcel owner of the committee hearing on the issue. The HOA argued that it “substantially complied” with the statutory provisions by giving thirteen days’ notice. The appellate court was clear that F.S. §720.305(2)(b) must be “strictly complied” with, and that substantial compliance when dealing with this statute did not cut it. The appellate court reversed and remanded the lawsuit to the trial court with a mandate to enter judgment in favor of Owner (although not discussed, this likely meant awarding Owner his attorney’s fees and court costs as well).
The lesson of THIS CASE should be painfully clear. If you do not follow proper protocols in taking enforcement action, it does not matter how “in the wrong” the violator was, you will lose the legal battle. Be proactive and talk to your association attorney about setting up an enforcement protocol which makes sure that all proper due process procedures are met at each step of enforcement. Anything less could end up being a very expensive lesson.
What to Do When a Vendor Damages Association Property
Service providers often cause property damage in community associations. Imagine a furniture delivery driver in a rush to make his next appointment, clipping your community’s security gate and taking a portion of it down the road, or a garbage truck leaking hydraulic fluid on your community roadways, leaving permanent stains. What should your association do when such damages occur? There is no perfect answer, but this guide may help your association navigate a run-in with vendor-caused property damage.
Property Damage Due to Hurricane Irma?
September 10 Deadline to File a Claim
If your community association has experienced property damage as a result of Hurricane Irma and you have not yet filed a claim, the deadline to do so is drawing near. Florida homeowners have up to three years after a hurricane makes landfall to file an initial claim, supplemental claim, or reopen a claim. September 10, 2020, marks that three year cutoff for Hurricane Irma, after which you will no longer be able to file a claim with your insurance provider.
If you are unsure if your community experienced damage from Hurricane Irma and would like to speak with an independent public adjuster, we would be happy to connect you to Joe Connelly for a complimentary consultation. Joe is a longtime advocate for insurance consumers and leads Association Adjusting, the one and only public adjusting firm exclusively serving community associations throughout Florida.
Contact us today for more information. There is still time to act!
Question of the Month
Q: There have been so many orders and news conferences from the governor regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you give us a quick overview of what orders that apply to community associations are still in effect?
Shareholder Joseph Adams’ provides the answer to this question and more.
Can They Do That?
“I came across an unofficial community website that was using our official logo and name. The website included some damaging information about the association. Can they do that?” Becker attorney Rachel Farkas discusses in a brand new episode!
When it comes to association rules and bylaws, there seem to be more questions than answers. Becker’s video series, “Can They Do That?” tackles some of the unique problems that homeowners and renters face today. We answer questions, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. From service animals to nudists in your community, we get to the bottom of it and let you know – “Can They Do That?”
Don’t miss out on new episodes of “Can They Do That?”
Subscribe to Becker’s YouTube channel!
Becker Launches Public Adjusting Firm for Community Associations
Becker is pleased to announce the launch of Association Adjusting, the one and only public adjusting company that exclusively serves community associations throughout Florida.
Virtually every community association will experience a significant property damage claim at some point during its lifespan. In addition to windstorms, fires and floods there are the everyday water leaks with which volunteer boards and managers must contend. While it is reasonable to believe that after years of dutifully paying your insurance premiums your damage claims will be paid quickly and in full, the reality is often quite different.
Association Adjusting is a licensed and insured Public Adjusting Firm led by Joseph “Joe” Connelly, an advocate for insurance consumers for more than a decade.
Join us for a special program to meet Joe and learn how to proactively prepare for the inevitable!
Don’t Forget Reserves!
by: Lilliana Farinas-Sabogal, Esq.
As budgeting season approaches, community associations must once again grapple with the continuing issues of reserves. Under ordinary circumstances, reserve funding increases the amount owners need to contribute to the association every month, since reserves are required above and beyond the association’s operating expenses. In light of the recent economic changes, reserves may be something some associations view as a luxury and possibly dispensable in order to reduce the load on their owners. They are not, however.
CALLING ALL BOARD MEMBERS AND COMMUNITY MANAGERS
As a service to the community and industry, we are pleased to offer some of our most popular classes online! While our in-person classes remain suspended until further notice due to COVID-19, we are thrilled to bring you the following classes to participate in from the comfort of your own home.
HOA/Condo Board Member Certification – Watch Replay
Disaster Preparedness and Recovery – Watch Replay
Anatomy of a Water Leak – Watch Replay
Understanding Our Bylaws – Watch Replay
Is a “No Pet” Building a Thing of the Past? – Watch Replay
How to Properly Run an Election – Watch Replay
Budgeting & Reserves – COMING SOON– 9/8 at 10am, Ken Direktor, Steve Mezer
Statewide Suspension of Community Association Classes
Becker has been closely monitoring the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) developments. In the continued interest of the health and safety of our clients and colleagues, we have made a decision to continue the suspension of all Community Association classes until further notice.
As always, we will keep you informed of any changes and updates.
CAI South Gulf Coast with Thomas Code:
Construction Repair Contracts
8am – 10am
CAI Northeast Florida with Robyn Severs:
Turnover from Developer Control
1pm – 2pm
Castle Group with Donna Berger:
Combating COVID-19 In Your Community Association: Episode 16
12pm – 1pm
CAI West Florida with Steve Mezer, David Muller, Kevin Edwards, Doug Christy:
Community Associations and COVID-19: What’s on the Horizon?
1pm – 2pm
2020 Hurricane Guide – Are You Ready to Weather the Storm?
With the most active months of our 6-month storm season in Florida upon us, it is of utmost importance that community association boards and managers ensure their communities have adequate disaster planning measures in place. To help you in weathering the storm, check out Becker’s Hurricane Guide which provides important tips and information to help protect your community.