This month, our featured articles explore various topics from fuel station installation to reserves for HOAs. Also, be sure to check out the “Did You Know” section – Becker’s been nominated for a Diamond Level Readers’ Choice Award from the Florida Community Association Journal (FLCAJ) in recognition of our commitment to the success of shared ownership communities. We are proud of our contributions to the industry and are thankful to our readers and the FLCAJ for this honor. If you enjoy the classes and content we provide (including this monthly newsletter), we would love your vote!
During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Statue allowing unit owners to install electric vehicle charging stations was expanded to also include natural gas fuel stations. While board’s cannot prohibit the installation of these stations, they can impose certain requirements. Read more in this month’s featured article, “Natural Gas Fuel Stations.”
There were several revisions to Chapter 720, which went into effect July 1, 2021. One such revision deals directly with reserves for HOAs – we discuss what changed and what it means for boards in, “Are Reserves Still Mandatory for Homeowners’ Associations?”
The ability for condominium associations to terminate certain contracts using a statutory procedure is at the heart of “THIS CASE: Comcast of Florida LP v. L’Ambiance Beach Condominium Association, Inc.” Read more about what happened and why this case matters.
A few years ago, the Florida Legislature recognized that the use of electric vehicles conserves and protects the state’s environmental resources, provides significant economic savings to drivers, and serves an important public interest. As a result, the Legislature created Section 718.113(8), Florida Statutes, to allow unit owners to install electric vehicle charging stations within the boundaries of the unit owner’s limited common element parking area. During the 2021 legislative session, the Legislature expanded the statute to allow unit owners to also install natural gas fuel stations for a natural gas fuel vehicle. The term “natural gas fuel” is any liquefied petroleum gas product, compressed natural gas product, or a combination of these products used in a motor vehicle. The term includes all forms of fuel commonly or commercially known or sold as natural gasoline, butane gas, propane gas, or any other form of liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas, or liquefied natural gas. However, the term does not include natural gas or liquefied petroleum placed in a separate tank of a motor vehicle for cooking, heating, water heating, or electricity generation.
Increasing numbers of people and small businesses, including community associations, have switched to managing their bank accounts exclusively over the internet. Not surprisingly, these numbers surged even higher during the pandemic. While online banking has become common place, so have incidents of cybercrime and fraud. Banks of course use a variety of security measures to protect their customers’ accounts, but there are also steps that you as the customer should take to minimize risk.
There were several revisions to Chapter 720, which went into effect July 1, 2021. One of these revisions was to Section 720.303(6)(c) and (d), Florida Statutes.
Comcast of Florida LP v. L’Ambiance Beach Condominium Association, Inc.
17 So.3d 839 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)
The ability for condominium associations to terminate certain contracts using a statutory procedure is at the heart of THIS CASE. In 2002, Comcast of Florida, L.P. (“Comcast”) entered into an agreement with the condominium developer (on behalf of the Association) that granted Comcast an easement to install cables and offer cable television services to residents at a bulk-discount rate. Every unit owner received and paid for the cable service as part of a monthly maintenance fee. The termination provision in the agreement stated it would be subject to the conditions and regulations required under Chapter 718, Florida Statutes. Following turnover from the developer to the unit owners, the Association voted to terminate the agreement and sent written notice to Comcast in accordance with F.S. 718.302.
Section 718.302, Fla. Stat. (2002), provided in part:
(1) Any grant or reservation made by a declaration, lease, or other document, and any contract made by an association prior to assumption of control of the association by unit owners other than the developer, that provides for operation, maintenance, or management of a condominium association or property serving the unit owners of a condominium shall be fair and reasonable, and such grant, reservation, or contract may be canceled by unit owners other than the developer:
(a) … the cancellation shall be by concurrence of the owners of not less than 75 percent of the voting interests other than the voting interests owned by the developer….
After receiving notice of the termination, Comcast refused to open the distribution lock boxes. Ultimately, Comcast sued for declaratory and injunctive relief for breach of contract and trespass. Before a hearing was held, the Association hired another provider to rewire the building and provide services to all residential units. The trial court ruled in favor of the Association. On appeal, Comcast argued that F.S. 718.302 did not apply to Comcast’s services, because the contract was not one for operation, maintenance, or management of the condominium as required under the statutory language.
On appeal the Fourth District Court of Appeal found that the agreement explicitly required Comcast to operate and maintain the wires and lock boxes it had installed. The Court also noted that under F.S. 718.115(1)(d), the cost of cable television service obtained pursuant to a bulk rate contract is deemed a common expense. In light of the fact that the agreement provided for a cable television service, and that the cost was part of a monthly maintenance fee, and that Comcast was required to service and maintain the cable television, the Court concluded that the agreement was one for “operation, maintenance, or management” subject to F.S. 718.302 (NOTE: the 2021 version of this statute is substantially the same as the 2002 version).
So why does THIS CASE matter? The Florida Condominium Act provides various rights to condominium associations which become effective upon turnover of the association from developer-controlled to unit owner-controlled, including, but not limited to, the ability to terminate certain contracts. It is vital for associations which recently have undergone turnover to discuss the various rights which accrued on the date turnover with the association’s legal counsel.
Question of the Month
Our association will be holding its annual budget soon. After receiving the notice for this meeting, I called our association manager to ask how and where I could obtain a copy of the proposed budget. I was told that a copy of the approved budget would only be provided to the members after the budget meeting. In other words, the proposed budget would not be provided to the members in advance of the budget meeting at which the proposed budget would be considered and adopted. Is this right?
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
Official Records Issues
Anyone who has ever served on a board of directors of a condominium association or has ever managed a condominium association knows that there are a number of laws that regulate the keeping and reviewing of its official records.
The Florida Condominium Act sets out 16 separate classes of items that constitute “official records” of an association and a “catch-all” class that includes “all other written records” not specified in the prior 16 classes and which “relate to the operation of a condominium.”
In essence, if it is written and relates to the operation of a condominium, it is an official record that is subject to review by the members. This seems simple enough. The statute specifies how long the association must keep each class of items and then sets forth the timeframe within which these must be made available to the members seeking their review. What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is – plenty.
Top 10 Manager Do’s & Don’ts
Managers and directors are faced with many decisions while operating and managing community associations. To be effective, it is important to prioritize which issues must be addressed, and in what order, and to be able to determine which matters need to be referred to legal counsel for further direction. Click below to read a list of “do’s and don’ts” that will aid both managers and directors in making such decisions.
Limited Common Elements: What Are They and Who is Responsible?
FCAP Managers Report
Condominiums generally consist of the following two components: 1) the units that are subject to exclusive ownership by one or more persons, and 2) the common elements, which are any areas not included within the unit boundaries. Unit owners, in addition to the exclusive ownership of their units, also own an undivided share in the common elements. Commonly, the association is responsible for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the common elements at common expense, while the unit owners are each responsible for their individual units at their own expense.
What about those areas of the condominium property that are used only by one owner or a group of owners but lie outside the boundaries of the units, such as a parking space or balcony? These may be a subset of common elements known as limited common elements, if so designated by the declaration of condominium.
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’
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
DID YOU KNOW?
FLCAJ Reader’s Choice Awards: We’ve Been Nominated!
For the seventh consecutive year, Becker has been nominated for 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.
Help us to maintain our readership status by voting for us!
UPCOMING CLASSES & WEBINARS
Budgeting & Reserves
1 IFM or 1 ELE
12/1/21 | 12pm EST
Jane L. Cornett
Steven H. Mezer
12/14/21 | 2pm EST
Haley Kerr (Association Prime Bank)
Understanding Our Bylaws: A Primer on Association Governing Documents
1 OPP or 1 ELE
12/8/21 | 12PM EST
Navigating the Special Assessment Minefield
12/10/21 | 12PM EST
Jane L. Cornett
Anatomy of a Water Leak
1 OPP or 1 ELE
12/15/21 | 2PM EST
Leeyen Sieza (FirstOnSite)