|Bill Summary By
CCFJ Director for Legislative Affairs
Milena Macias, Esq.
HB 623 (By Representative Jason Shoaf)
SB 1154: (By Senator Dennis Baxley)
1. Certain associations may represent, prosecute, or defend owners in certain proceedings
This provision allows the board of administration or directors to file with the value adjustment board a single joint petition on behalf of any association members who own units or parcels of property which the property appraiser determines are substantially similar with respect to location, proximity to amenities, number of rooms, living area, and condition. This allows the association to file a single joint petition, to represent, prosecute, and defend the unit owners through any related subsequent proceeding, including judicial review and any appeals and applies to cases pending on July 1, 2020. In addition, this provision requires the association to post a notice that will allow owners to retain their own counsel to defend the tax appeal; or choose not to defend the appeal; or be represented together with other unit owners in the response or answer filed by the association.
This is a positive provision which allows the owners the choice of making their own decisions Ė whether or not they want association to handle value adjustment matters, to get counsel to fight the tax appeal, or just decide not to appeal. It will make adjustments more uniform and fair, and reduces the cost (both mentally and financially) for owners
2. Pools. This provision would amend section 514.0115, F.S. so that condominium, cooperative, and homeowners' associations, as well as other property associations, who have less than 32 units to be exempt from Department of Health regulations, except for water quality. Personally, I donít think thatís such a good idea and we need to find out why this was proposed. This is the same language as HB 623 and SB 1154.
3. Official Records to be maintained in a manner and format prescribed by the DBPR. This provision will require an association to maintain official records in a specified manner and format. This is something we should support so that records are easily accessible for inspection and this will benefit all owners who want to inspect Official Records. This is similar language in SB 1752 and HB 1317.
4. Requiring an association to provide a checklist and sworn affidavit to persons requesting to inspect records and maintain a copy of the checklist for a specified period of time to create a rebuttable presumption for an association that provides such checklist and sworn affidavit. This provision requires an Association, in response to a statutorily compliant written request to inspect records, to simultaneously provide a checklist to the requestor of all records made available for inspection and copying and a sworn affidavit in which the person facilitating or handling the association's compliance with the request attests to the veracity of the checklist provided to the requestor. The checklist must also identify any of the association's official records that were not made available to the requestor. An association providing a checklist and affidavit pursuant to this sub-subparagraph creates a rebuttable presumption that the association has complied with this paragraph. The language is also identical to SB 1752 HB 1317.
This provision makes sense, but having a sworn affidavit may prove difficult since many Associations are run by one-person offices. That will increase labor burden on the Association if the community association manager needs to run out and get things signed by a notary and disrupt projects that the property manager is doing. And, since a notary only acknowledges someoneís signature, not the contents of the affidavit, it may be better that something on letterhead be used instead of an affidavit.
5. Amending s. 718.501, F.S. to revise the jurisdiction of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation with regard to investigating certain complaints; defining the term "financial issue"; authorizing the division to make certain rules; providing an effective date of July 1, 2020 and allowing the division may adopt rules to establish requirements for the training and educational programs required for board members.
This is an excellent provision that we need to support. This is similar language to SB 1752 and HB 1317. This will allow the division the jurisdiction to investigate complaints including maintenance of official records, and unit owner access to association records pursuant to s. 718.111(12) F.S., as well as financial issues and elections. This provision also defines the term "financial issue" to include operating budgets; reserve schedules; accounting records under s. 718.111(12)(a)11.; notices of meetings and meeting minutes for budget- or financial statement-related meetings; any assessments for common expenses, fees, or fines; commingling of funds; and any other records necessary to determine the revenues and expenses of the association and also allows the division to adopt additional rules to further define the term "financial issue."
In addition, by establishing rules and requirements for training and educational programs for board members, the "just sign the certificate" (which is what many boards do, rather than take education classes) will be met with certain requirements to fulfill.
Even though the DBPR has weak teeth, something is better than nothing, and this will provide us with some measure of relief if boards and community association managers fail to fulfill their obligations and fiduciary duties.
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