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Community Update

March 2021

Governor DeSantis recently signed SB 72, the COVID-19 Liability Bill.

Find out what this means for Florida community associations in our latest CALL Alert. CLICK HERE

In this Issue

Paperwork isn’t the most glamorous part of being a community association member, but this edition of Becker’s Community Update outlines why ignoring administrative tasks would be a big mistake. From governing documents and electoral procedures to zoning and entitlement status, having your details safely squared away sets you and your community on the right path. And don’t forget that concern for safety applies into the virtual space, as well. Check out the hot topics below, and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook to get real time updates on these issues and more!

In Elections Have Consequences, Jay Roberts asks you to consider your community association’s electoral procedures in the same light as the United States of America’s. Important. Impactful. Challengeable.

Ever wondered Why Community Associations Should Check Their Zoning and Entitlement History Katie Berkey explains why that understanding what is permissible on your property or how you can renovate it will save you from stumbling into violations, fines, and other headaches.

Community associations must follow use restrictions outlined in their governing documents and apply them to every unit owner/resident equally. Mark D. Friedman reviews the final ruling – all or nothing – of the Court in THIS CASE: Prisco v. Forest Villas Condominium Apartments, Inc.

Guest columnist Jack Kallus shares his perspective on how to protect your association’s data privacy when using email, text, or even photography. On the Board: Privacy Protected originally appeared in the most recent issue of Common Ground: CAI’s magazine for Community Association Leaders.

If you have new members on your board or a new manager for your community and want them to be part of our Community Update, have them subscribe here:


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Why Community Associations Should Check Their Zoning and Entitlement History

By: Kathleen O. Berkey, AICP

Zoning laws are enacted by villages, towns, cities, or counties to control the types of uses and the parking ratio, intensity, density, and dimensions of those uses. This is for the purpose of preserving property values, managing growth, preserving the character of a community This facilitates the adequate provision of transportation, and promotes public health and welfare…

Click here to read more!

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Prisco v. Forest Villas Condominium Apartments, Inc.

847 So.2s 1012 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003)

By: Mark D. Friedman, Esq.

The Board does not have flexibility to waive use restrictions for some owners but not others is at the heart of THIS CASE.

The Forest Villas Condominium Association had a rule that “except fish and/or birds” no pets could be brought into the condominium. Prisco had a dog in her unit. The Board told her to remove it. She claimed selective enforcement because of another owner who had multiple cats in her unit.

The trial court stated, “cats are not the same as dogs, and the condominium allowing a cat on the premises does not equal to disallowing a dog because dogs clearly bark, cats do not, dogs need to be walked outside of their home, cats do not as they use litter boxes for the most part.” The court acknowledged that the restrictions allow only fish and birds and no other animal of any kind, but nevertheless found that “[n]one of them require outside activity and they don’t require to defecate and urinate. As such, this Court finds that cats and dogs are not similarly alike.”

The appellate court reviewing this matter held that “restrictions found within a Declaration are afforded a strong presumption of validity, and a reasonable unambiguous restriction will be enforced according to the intent of the parties as expressed by the clear and ordinary meaning of its terms, and only where intent cannot be ascertained will the covenant not be enforced.” The appellate court found the pet restriction to be clear an unambiguous and the fact that cats and dogs are different makes no difference. The court held that what does matter is that neither a cat nor a dog is a fish or a bird, so both should be prohibited. The appellate court overturned the trial courts ruling and agreed with the Unit owner’s argument that selective enforcement had occurred.

So why does THIS CASE matter? The Association must follow the use restrictions of its governing documents for all unit owners in an evenhanded manner to avoid selective enforcement defense when it seeks to enforce its governing documents. When selective enforcement occurs, the risk is that the arbitration or lawsuit will be lost, and the association will have to pay unit owner’s prevailing party attorneys’ fees and costs.

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On the Board: Privacy Protected

By: Jack S. Kallus

Board members must navigate a number of responsibilities including legal issues. As a board member, do you know how to protect your privacy and avoid exposure when faced with a lawsuit?

Click here to read more!


Becker Awarded FLCAJ Readers’ Choice Award for Seventh Consecutive Year

We are thrilled to announce that for the seventh consecutive year, Becker has earned a Diamond Level Readers’ Choice Award from the Florida Community Association Journal (FLCAJ). This prestigious award recognizes professional advisers who offer superior service and who have demonstrated a true commitment to the success of their shared ownership community clients. The Diamond level designation is the highest level of recognition.

We are proud of our contributions to the community association industry and are thankful to our readers and to the FLCAJ for this honor.


Question of the Month

Q: Can any board member place items on the meeting agenda?

Joseph Adams discusses why this is one of those “chicken and egg” issues.


Condo/Co-Op/HOA Meeting Agendas & Notice Requirements

Q: Can any board member place items on the meeting agenda?

Florida laws governing community associations require notice of meetings to encourage owner participation. Click for a helpful guide summarizing the notice requirements under statute!


Buy the Right Insurance: It Could Make All the Difference

FCAP Manager’s Report

By: Hugo V. Alvarez, Esq.

Purchasing insurance is often expensive, time consuming, and confusing. However, today is the right time to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage in place and to confirm that your insurance company has the financial strength to handle the claims process. That way you can rest comfortably knowing that you will be in the right position to navigate an insurance claim with your insurance company should the need arise.

Click here to read more.


Women’s History Month Attorney Spotlight

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to showcase the inspiration, philosophies, and expertise of our women attorneys who help to elevate our firm and client service. Learn more about some of our community association female leaders:

Rosa de la Camara , Donna DiMaggio Berger , Kathleen O. Berkey , Yeline Goin , Elizabeth A. Lanham-Patrie , K. Joy Mattingly , Robyn M. Severs and Sara K. Wilson

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.




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.



CALL ALERT: Property Damage Claims Will Become More Difficult With Passage of HB305 & SB76

Every year seems to bring increasingly active hurricane seasons and, naturally, property insurance rates climb ever higher. Another reality is that insurance companies continue to pursue legislative changes to make it more difficult for Florida’s property owners to file legitimate claims.

SB 76 proposed by the Committee on Banking & Insurance and Senator Boyd (and its counterpart HB 305 sponsored by Representative Rommel) could dramatically reduce the time a property owner has to make an insurance claim as well as how much money an insured can recover for roof damage as well as disincentivize attorneys from handling claims against insurance companies.

Please use our Bill Tracker to find out where these and the other bills CALL is monitoring are headed and make your voices known to your own legislators as well as to those who are hearing these bills in committee.

Click here to view the Bill Tracker


Avoiding Disaster – How to Take Control of Your Construction Project

While the complexity of a community association construction project cannot be overstated, it is possible to successfully navigate the entire process.

Becker attorneys Ken Direktor and Steve Lesser welcomed experienced construction management pro James LaGreca of DSS Condos to discuss just how it’s done. Watch the webinar replay!

Make Your Documents Work For You

When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed your governing documents?
The Statute changes over time. New court rulings can change the legal landscape. What worked for your developer or for a community 20, 30 or 40 years ago may no longer work for you today. This is why your documents must evolve to reflect these changes.
Our educational webinar covers where updates and amendments are possible and how to ensure your documents reflect the expectations and lifestyle of your community. Watch the webinar replay!

Association Leadership: Season 2, Episode 12

Becker Community Association Shareholder Donna DiMaggio Berger participated in episode 12 of the second season of Castle Group’s COVID-19 webinar series. She was joined by Castle Group’s Founder and CEO James Donnelly as they continue exploring topics including the challenges associated with re-opening communities.
Watch the webinar replay!

“One Year Later: The Pandemic’s Impact on Community Associations” w/ Donna Berger & Katalina Cruz

This episode, recorded live on March 17th, 2021, marks one year of the beginning of shutdowns and the KWPMC webinar series. KWPMC Executive Director Tim O’Keefe will be joined by the two original guests who kicked off the first webinar we ever held: KWPMC COO, Katalina Cruz & Becker Attorney Donna Berger
Watch the webinar replay!


Take a Bite out of Fraudulent Assistance Animal Requests

Participants will learn about the Fair Housing laws on the state, federal and local level that impact community operations and actions with respect to requests to maintain emotional support animals on the property despite pet or animal restrictions.

March 31, 2021

Anatomy of a Water Leak

Water leaks are a major concern to association boards and unit owners alike. Come join our attorneys as they guide your association through the process of handling a water leak from detection through repair, insurance coverage and reconstruction responsibility, and potential liability claims.

April 1, 2021