On July 1, 2021, changes to Florida law opened the door to allow condominium and cooperative associations a new option for addressing disputes between unit owners and the association through pre-suit mediation. Learn more about what this means in our featured article, “Options for Dispute Resolution in Condominium Associations.” Also, did you know that Becker’s Mediation Team can help you resolve your community association-related lawsuits – or even help you avoid them altogether? Check out the “Did You Know?” section for more information on our services.
The Homeowners’ Association Act was amended during the 2021 Legislative Session to address a homeowners’ association’s authority to adopt amendments to its governing documents pertaining to rentals. Learn more in, “HOA Rental Amendments.”
Over the past few years there seem to be more communities with persons who are threatening, being aggressive, or even stalking board members and/or the association’s manager. What is a board member or manager to do? Find out in, “Can I Get a Restraining Order?”
Free speech underlies the importance of THIS CASE. Learn more in, “Fox v. Hamptons at Metrowest Condominium Association, Inc.”
On July 1, 2021, changes to Florida law opened the door to allow condominium and cooperative associations a new option for addressing disputes between unit owners and the association through presuit mediation. Previously, certain disputes between condominium associations and unit owners (or cooperatives and unit owners) were required to be submitted to arbitration through the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (the “Division”) before filing a lawsuit.
By: Yeline Goin
The Homeowners’ Association Act (Chapter 720, Florida Statutes) was amended during the 2021 Legislative Session to address a homeowners’ association’s authority to adopt amendments to its governing documents pertaining to rentals. The new law, Section 720.306(1)(h), Florida Statutes, became effective on July 1, 2021. In summary, any amendment to a governing document enacted after July 1, 2021, that prohibits or regulates rental agreements applies only to a parcel owner who acquires title to the parcel after the effective date of the amendment, or to a parcel owner who consents, individually or through a representative, to the amendment.
Over the past few years there seem to be more communities with persons who are threatening, being aggressive, or even stalking board members and/or the association’s manager. In those cases where the person acting in a threatening manner is not an owner, such as a tenant, an occupant, or a guest, then the association may be able to evict or require the owner to evict or remove the person who is a threat. However, if the person who is acting in the threatening manner is an owner, then Florida case law provides that the owner cannot be removed from his or her home for these actions. So, what is a board member or manager to do?
Suntide Fox v. Hamptons at Metrowest Condominium Association, Inc.
223 So.3d 453 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017)
Free speech underlies the importance of THIS CASE. Metrowest Condominium Association, Inc. (the “Association”). Mr. Fox was not a fan of the Association’s board of directors and management. He expressed his displeasure through various social media and other online means. Eventually, the Association filed a lawsuit against Mr. Fox. Prior to trial, Mr. Fox and the Association settled their dispute. The trial court entered a final judgment based on the terms of the settlement agreement. As part of the final judgment, the trial court reserved jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The peace did not last. The Association filed a motion for contempt of court against Mr. Fox. The trial court granted the motion for contempt and in the contempt order the judge prohibited Mr. Fox from posting additional derogatory remarks regarding the Association on online platforms, including social media. Mr. Fox appealed.
On appeal, the court examined the strictness in which the law views “prior restraint” free speech. Free speech is not unlimited, and there can be consequences for speech (e.g. defamation lawsuits), but the law relating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abhors prior restraints on people’s speech. The court held that the provisions of the contempt order preventing Mr. Fox from posting further comments about the Association online was violative of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and thus invalided the contempt order.
So why does THIS CASE matter? Courts are constrained by the constitution, and if the association seeks redress in the court system, the remedy must pass constitutional muster. When going through the process of considering conduct restrictions and enforcement of same, your board should work in close contact with legal counsel to determine the appropriate way to proceed to accomplish the Association’s goals.
Question of the Month
Community association boards and managers should ensure that their communities have adequate disaster planning measures in place as hurricane season approaches. To help you in weathering the storm, check out Becker’s Hurricane Guide which provides important tips and information to help protect your community.
For more information, contact your Becker attorney.
HEAT SAFETY TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS
Record heat waves stretched across the U.S. this summer, but illness from exposure to heat is preventable. Employers have an obligation under the law to make sure employees have safe working conditions and should have a plan to protect them from heat-related illnesses.
Becker Shareholder Jamie Dokovna outlines a few potentially life-saving tips below!
- Be especially vigilant on the first few hot days of the season. According to OSHA, 50% to 70% of outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments.
- Working outside on landscaping, pools, beaches, tennis courts, and other outdoor amenities makes employees particularly vulnerable.
- Any plan should include the following:
- Adequate hydration
- Access to shade
- A requirement that employees wear appropriate clothing for the weather
- Employers, especially supervisors, should be aware of heat related illness symptoms such as the following:
- Be patient. The body needs time to build a tolerance to the heat.
For more discussion about how to cope with extreme heat, tune into this episode of “Take it To the Board,” where host Donna DiMaggio Berger interviews Jane Gilbert, Chief Heat Officer of Miami-Dade County.
This popular podcast episode addresses timely issues, including:
- Would naming heat waves help them get the attention they deserve?
- Are all heat-related deaths reported?
- How can cities coordinate with each other to address this growing issue?
- How can individuals and organizations cope with a power outage during a heatwave?
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!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Beginning Friday, September 19, our online class library will be unavailable while we work to process any outstanding CAM credits by the September 30, 2022, license renewal deadline. Our online classes will be available again in early October. Thank you for your understanding.
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
- Condo Board Member Certification
- 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
Webinar: How to Navigate and Respond to the New Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Temporary Guidelines for Condominiums
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac amended their requirements that have resulted in lender questionnaires to be answered by associations and their managers that are ambiguous and impose potential liability. If the questionnaire is not completed the lender will not approve the loan to a buyer. But if the very broad questions are correctly answered that, too, may result in the lender declining the mortgage. Boards and managers must understand these new obligations and be prepared to answer the questionnaires properly.
Can They Do That?
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’
Think you know what community association life is all about? Think again. Residents must obey the rules, directors must follow the law, and managers must keep it all running smoothly. Take It To the Board explores the reality of life in a condominium, cooperative or homeowners’ association, what’s really involved in serving on its board, and how to maintain that ever-so-delicate balance of being legally compliant and community spirited. Leading community association attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger acknowledges the balancing act without losing her sense of humor as she talks with a variety of association leaders, experts, and vendors about the challenges and benefits of the community association lifestyle.
- 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 & Refereeing 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
- Keeping Cool with Jane Gilbert, Chief Heat Officer, Miami-Dade County
- 2022 Legislative Session in Florida Wrap Up with Yeline Goin, Becker & Poliakoff
- The Current Crisis with Florida’s Real Property Insurance with Andrea Northrup, Vice President of Insurance Office of America (Part 1)
- The Current Crisis with Florida’s Real Property Insurance with Andrea Northrup, Vice President of Insurance Office of America (Part 2)
- The Smoker’s Dilemma with Dennis Eisinger of Eisinger Law
- Assessing Collections with Joy Mattingly, Becker & Poliakoff
- Mapping the Terrain of Landscaping for Community Associations with Brian Steele, Director of Operations, East Coast Facilities
- Successful Community Association Living Starts With the Purchase Decision with Marisa DiLenge, Founder of DiLenge Real Estate Team (Part I)
- Successful Community Association Living Starts With the Purchase Decision with Marisa DiLenge, Founder, DiLenge Real Estate Team (Part II)
- To Lend or Not To Lend with Brewster Cole, First Vice President, Valley National Bank
DID YOU KNOW?
Becker’s mediators can help you resolve your community association-related lawsuits – or even help you avoid them altogether!
Becker’s Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Court mediators span the State of Florida and can handle mediation conferences in person or by video conference.
Howard “Buddy” Googe, Steven Davis, and Gary Schaaf each have over 30 years of experience in commercial and civil litigation in Florida and have extensive experience in all aspects of condominium and homeowners’ association disputes.
Please let us know if we can help you and your clients avoid or resolve your legal disputes.