This edition of Becker’s Community Update addresses several facets of how collaboration between the association and its members can be successfully navigated, ensuring the health and well-being of both parties at the beginning of the relationship and throughout its lifespan. Security – whether provided by video cameras or sound documentation – is definitely a theme. Check out the topics below, and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook for real time updates!
Declaring bankruptcy can be a difficult decision for anyone facing unexpected financial hardships, but doing so within the shared ownership community affects more than just the individual. Joseph Arena’s “Bankruptcy Basics for Community Associations,” outlines some of the most important milestones a community/condo/homeowner association’s board or property manager must consider when addressing a resident’s inability to meet his/her financial obligations.
In “Can Owners Stop Turnover?,” Sara Wilson offers associations some practical steps to consider for a smooth transition from developer to board management. Get guidance on the benefits of hiring inspectors, understanding drainage concerns, and carefully reviewing (one more time!) those foundational governing documents – and set both association and owners up for a bright future.
Florida law, as well as Federal regulations, is very clear that personal privacy will not be sacrificed in the name of community security – even if the intent is to protect against vandalism or neglect. In the first part of our security-focused series, Elizabeth Lanham-Patrie discusses Issues to Consider Prior to Installing Security Cameras on the Common Areas. Highlights include how audio changes the legality of the footage, staying on the right side of wiretapping rules and the Video Voyeurism law, and more.
THIS CASE: Jay Roberts examines “Klinow v. Island Court at Boca West Property Owners’ Association, Inc.” in which what was initially a beautification project became a battle between the HOA and one owner. This lawsuit underscores the importance of working with association counsel to ensure any amendment to maintenance obligations within a HOA’s declaration of covenants has been correctly drafted and is enforceable. Are you facing the same dilemma?
Bankruptcy Basics for Community Associations
Associations generate nearly all of their funding through fees and special assessments paid by members of the shared ownership community. Some members who fall behind in their financial obligations may look to bankruptcy as a way to address their debts, so it is helpful for directors and property managers to be familiar with some …
By: Sara K. Wilson
In a newly developed community, transitioning control of the association from the developer to the owners is often an anxiously anticipated – and some might say, dreaded – event. Pursuant to Section 720.307, Florida Statutes, transition of control of a homeowners’ association – when members other than the developer are entitled to…
Many associations now install security cameras on the common areas to guarantee video evidence of any intentional vandalism or negligent actions which result in damage to the common areas, such as a vehicle running into the gate of a gated community. Some association want to install security cameras as a way of deterring criminal acts or violations of the governing documents…
Klinow v. Island Court at Boca West Property Owners’ Association, Inc.
64 So.3d 177 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011)
By: Jay Roberts
Amending maintenance obligations in a homeowners’ association’s declaration of covenants is at the heart of THIS CASE. In 2007, the Association proposed a beautification project which involved replacing driveways and sidewalks at the owners’ expense. As part of the plan, an amendment to the declaration of covenants was proposed which would give the association the authority to complete the project. The Klinows sued the Association for, among other things, a declaration from the court that the proposed amendments were void. The Association prevailed at trial and the Klinows appealed.
The original declaration of covenants allowed the Association to paint, repair, replace, and care for garage doors, fences, and exterior building surfaces, other than front residence doors, windows, screening, roofs, gutters, and down-spouts. The amendment to the declaration of covenants gave authority to the Association to replace privately-owned driveway and walkway materials in addition to those tasks enumerated in the original declaration. The Klinows asserted that the amendment constituted an unreasonable radical change of the general scheme of development. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the trial court ruling in favor of the Association.
In doing so, the court explained that the legal test of enforceability was whether the amendment was “reasonable.” Reasonable has been defined by courts as “not arbitrary, capricious, or in bad faith.” Further, courts have stated that modifications of covenant restrictions cannot “destroy the general plan of development.” With respect to the subject amendments, the appellate court held that the amendments were reasonable and not a radical change of the general scheme of development.
So why does THIS CASE matter? Covenants that govern planned communities are not generally set in stone, however, there are legal limitations to amendments to covenants. If your association is considering amending its governing documents, it is important for your community leaders to work closely with the association’s counsel to ensure that, if passed, the amendments will be valid and enforceable.
Question of the Month
Q: Is there a legal opinion on the impact of a condominium association’s board term limits due to the emergency declarations and emergency powers granted to association boards?
Extension of the Mortgage Foreclosure Mortarium
CAI South Gulf Coast Magazine
By: J. Kevin Miller
Florida ended its statewide protections against COVID-19 pandemic related foreclosures on October 1, 2020. However, the federal government has extended a foreclosure moratorium on the foreclosure of certain mortgages through June 30, 2021. The action was taken shortly after President Biden’s inauguration. Federal protections were due to expire in March of this year.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an estimated ten million homeowners were behind on mortgage payments in February. In an effort to deliver further relief for families bearing the brunt of this crisis created by the pandemic, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture announced a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs. The White House’s action builds on steps to extend the foreclosure moratorium for federally guaranteed mortgages.
The Ins & Outs of Preparing a Condominium Association Budget
FCAP Managers Report
In many ways, the managing and operating of a condominium association is akin to operating a business. A primary similarity is the importance of careful and accurate financial planning and budget preparation. The board of directors of an association has fiduciary duties to its members. By paying close attention to the legal and technical requirements of condominium association budget preparation, the association can better assure its members of a smooth-running fiscal year ahead.
The intricacies of a budget will differ based on a number of factors, such as the size of the condominium, ongoing and upcoming projects, various maintenance obligations, and more.
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?”
How to Handle Unexpected and Dangerous Situations
Florida associations are accustomed to preparing for hurricanes, but disaster plans should also account for other catastrophic events where there is often less advance warning, such as tornadoes, active shooter scenarios, and now global pandemics. Relying on outside crisis experts for guidance is crucial to ensure that your association is prepared to handle an unexpected and dangerous situation, and boards and managers can work with law enforcement, the fire department, or security consultants to establish a plan specifically tailored to the characteristics of the buildings and even the demographics of the community.
Regardless of the emergency, communication is key, and disaster plans should therefore regularly be distributed or posted on the website.
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!
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? As a service to the community and industry, we are pleased to now offer some of our most popular classes online!
To view our entire class roster, visit:
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
- Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
- Anatomy of a Water Leak
- Understanding Our Bylaws
- How to Properly Run an Election
- Budgeting & Reserves
- Covering Your Assets: How to Avoid Board Member Liability
- Collection and Foreclosure Strategies for Community Associations
- Dealing with Difficult People
- Construction Projects Gone Wild
- 2021 Legal Update
- Take a Bite out of Fraudulent Assistance Animal Requests
- Upcoming Class:
- 7/9/21 – Covering Your Assets: How to Avoid Board Member Liability (Shayla J. Mount, Brandon R. McDowell)
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.
Citizens Property Insurance allegedly overcharged Florida condominium association policyholders for years, according to the Fort Lauderdale, FL., law firm Becker. The firm also accuses the Florida Office of Insurance Regulations (OIR) of partaking in secret communications with the insurer, which resulted in a consent order being issued without a trial or considering the legality of the insureds’ claims.