Becker’s Take it to the Board with Donna DiMaggio Berger podcast features a variety of guests including our very own attorneys from across the firm’s practice areas and offices. Check out this month’s “Did You Know” section for more information and to tune in to these insightful episodes that delve into everything from handling construction issues to hiring best practices, enforcing rules in your community, and more.
The podcast can be found on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Amazon Music. Subscribe to never miss out on new episodes and make sure to leave us a rating and comment – we love to hear from our audience!
As a result of Florida’s new code enforcement law, alleged violations can no longer be filed anonymously – complainants must provide their name and address before an investigation is initiated. Read more in our featured article, “Honey Those Neighbors Are at It Again! Call Code Enforcement!”
Before your association undertakes changing or entering into a bulk agreement, make sure to check out “Bulk Telecommunications Contracts.”
The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest and most respected privileges in the law. Learn more in, “Attorney-Client Privilege: Are Litigation-Related Communications Between an Association, Attorney, and Management Protected?”
The independent covenant to timely pay assessments is at the heart of, “THIS CASE: Ocean Trail Unit Owners Association, Inc. v. Mead.” Find out why this case matters.
“Honey, those neighbors are at it again! Call Code Enforcement!”
By: Katie Edwards-Walpole / Kathleen O. Berkey, AICP
There was a time, not so long ago, when Floridians could easily, and anonymously, report known or suspected violations of local ordinances and regulations to code enforcement. Neighbors could report their concerns about abandoned or unsafe structures, building without permits or by unlicensed contractors, unpermitted uses of property, noise violations, storing inoperable vehicles and junk, and letting the grass grow too tall. There are well-intentioned people who file legitimate complaints and trust that code enforcement will investigate the activity, and the property owner will do whatever it takes to comply. There are also people who use code enforcement as a weapon and the intention is less about nuisance abatement and code compliance and more about personal agendas and even harassment. Florida lawmakers intervened by ensuring that the accused violator will know the identity of the complainant, causing those who misuse and abuse the complaint system to think twice.
Bulk Telecommunications Contracts
Before discussing specific issues with Bulk Telecommunications Agreements, it is worth noting that the various community association statutes provide for the authority of associations to enter into bulk communication agreements. Specifically, Section 718.115(1)(d), Florida Statutes, specifically authorizes a Condominium Association to enter into a bulk contract for “communication services,” which would include video, internet and telephone service. Further, the Condominium Act goes on to provide the cost of such bulk contract is a proper common expense of the association. Chapter 720 contains similar language in Section 720.309(2), Florida Statutes, and the Cooperative Act, Chapter 719, contains similar language in Section 719.107(2)(b), Florida Statutes. In addition to the statutory provisions concerning the association’s authority to enter into bulk communication agreements, the association should also review its governing documents to determine if they address the issue.
Attorney-Client Privilege: Are Litigation-Related Communications Between An Association, Attorney, and Management Protected?
By: John Stratton
The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest and most respected privileges in the law. The purpose underlying this fundamental privilege is to ensure that clients receive accurate and competent legal advice by encouraging full disclosure to their lawyer without fear that the information will be revealed to others. The privilege covers written and oral communications and protects both individual and institutional clients including community associations.
Ocean Trail Unit Owners Association, Inc. v. Mead, 650 So.2d 4 (Fla. 1994)
The independent covenant to timely pay assessments is at the heart of THIS CASE. Condominium unit owners brought action against condominium association, seeking declaration that association’s $500 special assessment was unauthorized. The trial court approved the assessments, and the owners appealed. At the Fourth District Court of Appeals, the court certified that the following question was of great public importance and asked the Florida Supreme Court to answer:
WHETHER A CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION CAN ENFORCE A SPECIAL ASSESSMENT IMPOSED TO PAY JUDGMENTS, ATTORNEY’S FEES AND COSTS INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH A LAWSUIT BROUGHT BY UNIT OWNERS AGAINST THE ASSOCIATION IN WHICH THE ASSOCIATION’S PURCHASE OF REAL PROPERTY WAS INVALIDATED AS AN UNAUTHORIZED ACT AND SUBSEQUENTLY RESCINDED.
The facts giving rise to this action involve a purchase of property by Ocean Trail Unit Owners Association, Inc. (the “Association”), which the Fourth District held invalid as beyond the powers of the Association’s board of directors. See Ocean Trail Unit Owners Association, Inc. v. Levy, 489 So.2d 103 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986). The board thereafter filed a claim against its insurance carrier and imposed a $500 special assessment upon the unit owners to cover the costs associated with the invalid purchase. Specifically, the funds obtained through the special assessment were used in part to pay the $194,079.37 judgment for attorney fees, which was rendered against the Association in favor of the attorney representing the 150 unit owners who successfully opposed the purchase. The remaining special assessment funds were used to pay judgments rendered against the Association and in favor of unit owners who sued to recover the original $1,500 assessment, which the Association used to make the invalid purchase.
In holding that the special assessment to pay the previous litigation’s judgment, attorney’s fees, and court costs was valid and enforceable, the Florida Supreme Court stated:
As set forth in the final judgment entered by the trial court, the reason why the judgments were entered should not determine whether the assessments can be enforced. Rather, a unit owner’s duty to pay assessments is conditional solely on whether the unit owner holds title to a condominium unit and whether the assessment conforms with the declaration of condominium and bylaws of the association, which are authorized by chapter 718, Florida Statutes.
So why does THIS CASE matter? As recognized by the Florida Supreme Court, the timely payment of assessments is vital to allow a condominium association to meet its legal obligations. If an association (or its board of directors) does something improper under the law, there are remedies to be sought in court, but said remedies do not include the not paying lawfully adopted assessments.
Question of the Month
Q: In the past you have written articles concerning the term limits provision added to the Condominium Act. I was wondering if there have been any updates on that issue and how the term limits now apply to current board members?
CALLING ALL BOARD MEMBERS AND COMMUNITY MANAGERS
As leaders in Community Association Law, we not only helped write the law – we also teach it.
Did you know Becker provides over 200 educational classes per year throughout the State of Florida on a variety of topics ranging from board member certification to compliance, and everything in between? Our most popular classes are now available online!
To view our entire class roster, visit:
As a service to the community and industry, we are pleased to offer some of our most popular classes online for you to participate in from the comfort of your own home.
- Turnover From Developer Control
- Insights Into Your Role as a Board Member: Fiduciary Duty & Business Judgement Rule
- 2022 Legal Update
- Anatomy of a Water Leak
- Budgeting & Reserves
- Collection and Foreclosure Strategies for Community Associations
- Construction Road Map for Community Associations
- Top 10 Manager Do’s and Don’ts
- Construction Contracts and the Lien Law
- Construction Projects Gone Wild
- Dealing with Difficult People
- Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
- HOA/Condo Board Member Certification
- How to Properly Run an Election
- Take a Bite out of Fraudulent Assistance Animal Requests
- Understanding Our Bylaws
Can They Do That?
ICYMI: NEW EPISODE!
“Our association is considering hiring one of the board members to perform maintenance services in our community – Can they do that?” Becker Shareholder Elizabeth A. Lanham-Patrie discusses in a brand new episode!
Becker’s “Can They Do That” video series tackles some of the unique problems that homeowners and renters face today. We answer your 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?”
Becker Steps Up to the Mic with Podcast,
‘Take It To The Board with Donna DiMaggio Berger’
Becker is thrilled to announce the launch of its community association-focused podcast, Take It To The Board with Donna DiMaggio Berger. For decades, our firm has served the legal needs of this industry through in-person conferences and roundtables, online educational webinars, in-depth blog posts, and easy-to-understand legislative updates; we are delighted to continue the conversation on yet another platform. Join us today!
- Royal Service with James Donnelly
- Fiscal Finesse with Nicole Johnson-Pendergrass
- Nuisance or Necessary: Solving the “Pet” Problem with JoAnn Burnett
- The Technology Tango with Brett Fielo
- Community Immunity with David Ramsey
- Considering the Cost of Counsel with Denise Lash
- Rules & Referencing with Howard Perl
- The Mental Health Challenge with Chris Ayub
- Reserve Funds & Studies with Robert Nordland
- Association Advocacy with Commissioner Mary Molina-Macfie
- The Job of the Journal with Michael Hamline
- HR Hacks with Jamie Dokovna – Part 1
- HR Hacks with Jamie Dokovna – Part 2
- The Art of Community Design with Patty Mowry
- Heart of Service with Stephanie Maher
- The Making of a Manager with Otto Freund
- Happy Holidays, Healthy Communities with Andrew Fortin
- Ensuring Community Association Safety with Platinum Group Security
- Building Basics with Construction Counsel Patrick Howell
DID YOU KNOW?
Becker Attorneys Join Podcast, Take It to the Board with Donna DiMaggio Berger
Several guests of the popular community association podcast have included our very own Becker attorneys from across the firm’s practices and offices to weigh in on their area of expertise as it relates to community living. Board Certified Construction Law Shareholder Patrick Howell joins the podcast to offer his insight on construction renovations gone wrong and how to avoid them in the first place, Employment Law Shareholder Jamie Dokovna outlines HR best practices for community association hiring, Board Certified Community Association Shareholder Howard Perl discusses enforcing rules and guidelines in your community, Chair of Becker’s New Jersey Community Association team David Ramsey delves into COVID-19 Shield Laws, and Community Association Litigation Attorney JoAnn Nesta Burnett joins to discuss how to solve the “pet” problem in your community.