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Community Update

October 2020

Stay up to date with Becker’s dedicated resource page on COVID-19. All information is posted to educate and inform our clients but does not constitute specific legal advice for your community. Please consult your Becker attorney for questions specific to your own community. CLICK HERE

In this Issue

The 2020 Legislative Guide is here! Florida’s 2020 Session produced a bevy of newly passed community association legislation including the long-awaited criminalization of fraudulent emotional support animal requests. New laws regarding registration requirements for “55 and over” communities, rights for HOA residents to use fireworks on the 4th of July, and housing discrimination laws were also passed. We discuss the discrimination in covenants topic in greater detail in this month’s featured article. Catch up on all this and more in this month’s issue of CUP!

This year, Governor DeSantis approved a new law that prohibits discriminatory restrictions from any title transactions in Florida. Read more in our featured article,  “Hiding in Plain Sight: What Are Discriminatory Covenants” and Does Your Association’s Governing Documents Contain them?”

For condominiums and cooperatives there are a few statutory election guideposts that start with the numbers 60, 40, 35, and 14. Learn what they signify in, “Election Season is Upon Us!”

Lastly, proving that assessments were properly adopted is at the heart of “THIS Case: Berg v. Bridle Path Homeowners Association, Inc.”

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:

Mark D. Friedman, Esq. & Jay Roberts, Esq., Editors


Section 1

Election Season is Upon Us!

By: Mark D. Friedman, Esq.

For condominiums and cooperatives there are a few statutory election guideposts that start with the numbers 60, 40, 35 and 14*.

Sixty (60) days prior to your annual meeting election the first notice must be sent to all unit owners telling them when the annual meeting and election will be held and asking anyone who may be qualified and interested in running for the board to submit a notice of intent.

Click here to read more!

Featured 2

Berg v. Bridle Path Homeowners Association, Inc.,

809 So.2d 32 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002)

By: Jay Roberts, Esq.

Proving that assessments were properly adopted is at the heart of THIS CASE.

Bridle Path Homeowners Association brought a lien foreclosure case against owner Sandra Berg for non-payment of assessments owed on the two lots she owned in the community. As a defense to the case, Berg claimed that the liens were improper because the association failed to comply with its governing documents in adopting the assessments. The governing documents required the board of directors to adopt the association’s budget, to determine the owners’ assessment to meet that budget and to give the owners a fourteen day notice of the meeting at which the budget would be considered. In responding to the complaint, Berg argued that: (1) the property manager, rather than the board of directors, determined the budget; (2) there was no evidence that budgets were adopted at meetings; (3) there was no evidence that the Bergs received notices of the annual meetings; (4) there was no evidence that notices of the annual meetings were posted on the property; (5) there were no minutes kept of the meetings. The trial court found in the association’s favor, specifically finding that “the greater weight of the evidence established that proper notice was given” and “that Berg did not prove her ‘defenses’ by the greater weight of the evidence.”

On appeal, the appellate court overturned the decision, finding that the trial court improperly shifted the burden of proving the association improperly adopted the assessments to Berg, rather than requiring the association to prove that the assessments were properly adopted. The appellate court cited Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.120(a),(c), in finding that once a defendant makes a specific denial of a claim, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving every element of its entitlement to judgment.

So why does THIS CASE matter? The association must strictly comply with both its governing documents and relevant statutory provisions in adopting the annual budget and the assessments, and have the ability to prove this compliance, in order to ensure that it can obtain a judgment against an owner for non-payment of assessments. Failure to properly adopt the assessments or maintain proof of the proper adoption of assessments may leave the association unable to collect assessments from delinquent owners. Consulting legal counsel to confirm all document and statutory procedures have been followed is the best way to avoid the frustration and expense of remedying an improper assessment in the future.


Question of the Month

Q: I went on a walk in my community and saw at least eight homes flying either Trump or Biden flags. Is it legal to fly a political flag on a home located in an HOA?

Shareholder David Muller provides the answer to this question and more.

Click here to read more!

short term

Courts Finds Short-Term Rentals Violate Deed Restriction

Community Association Management Insider

The current economic climate combined with COVID-related migration has many homeowners exploring the revenue generating options of their properties, which can put them at odds with a community association’s mission to cultivate residential harmony and lead to legal proceedings.

Becker Shareholder Jennifer Horan strongly advocates for a careful examination of association restrictions before moving forward with any Airbnb-esque scheme. “In Florida, we have a lot of cases that revolve around the same type of issue, residential versus commercial use, where the associations don’t necessarily have that short-term rental language in their restrictions,” says Horan. “A lot of the cases grapple with whether short-term rentals are prohibited because a restriction says ‘residence.’”

To read more about the legal ramifications of this conversation, please click here


Can They Do That?

Episode 21: Forbidding Political Signage – “Can They Do That?” – Episode 21 is Live!

I put up a political sign for my favorite candidate. My HOA and the Board sent me a letter telling me to take it down. I have a right to free speech don’t I? – Can they do that?” Becker Shareholder Donna DiMaggio Berger discusses in a brand new episode!

When it comes to association rules and bylaws, there seem to be more questions than answers. Becker’s video series, “Can They Do That?” tackles some of the unique problems that homeowners and renters face today. We answer 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?”

Don’t miss out on new episodes of “Can They Do That?”
Subscribe to Becker’s YouTube channel!


Navigate the Claims Process Successfully

by: Hugo V. Alvarez, Esq.

Navigating an insurance claim after a significant loss can be frustrating, costly, and time consuming. Associations have an obligation to cooperate with their insurance company fully and completely during the claims process, even in the most daunting of circumstances. Failure to adhere to that duty may result in the denial of an insurance claim even in the face of a catastrophic loss.

Click here to read more!

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.

HOA/Condo Board Member Certification – Watch Replay

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery – Watch Replay

Anatomy of a Water Leak – Watch Replay

Understanding Our Bylaws – Watch Replay

Is a “No Pet” Building a Thing of the Past? – Watch Replay

How to Properly Run an Election – Watch Replay

Budgeting & Reserves – Watch Replay

Covering Your Assets: How to Avoid Board Member Liability – Watch Replay

Collection and Foreclosure Strategies for Community Associations – Watch Replay


Dealing with Difficult People – 11/5 at 2pm – Register Now.



The 2020 Legislative Guide is Here!

Our 2020 Legislative Guide is designed to help your volunteer board and management professionals understand and implement the new laws which impact community associations each year. Given the significant percentage of Florida’s population which resides in shared ownership communities, we are virtually guaranteed to have numerous association bills sponsored each year with some of those proposals becoming new laws.

Click here to view the 2020 Legislative Guide!