Courtesy of The Charlotte Sun
June 21, 2013
A new state law outlines new requirements in how property and homeowner
associations conduct themselves. Selected highlights of the new legislation:
Records have to be made available for inspection within 45 miles or within the county.
An association can make records available to a parcel owner
electronically via the Internet or by allowing the records to be viewed in electronic format on a computer
screen and printed upon request.
The association must permit a member to take photographic images of such records
with a camera or other electronic device at no charge.
Charges of more than $20 per hour for personnel fees and charges at an hourly rate
for vendor or employee time to cover administrative costs to the vendor or
Associations may only charge up to 25 cents per page for copies made If copies are made by an outside duplicating service vendor or association
management company personnel, the association may charge the actual cost of
copying, which is supported by the vendor invoice.
An association's budget is required to designate how reserve accounts may be used.
Officers and Directors
HOA board members are now required to certify in writing to the secretary of the
association that they have read the association's declaration of covenants, articles of
incorporation, bylaws, any and all current written rules and policies.
Requirements for contracts with companies where a director has a financial interest;
comply with state law regarding conflicts of interest and disallows any financial or
other compensation to an association's officers, directors, or managers.
The association can remove a director or officer charged with a felony theft or
embezzlement offense involving the association's funds or property from office.
Associations are required to maintain insurance or fidelity bond for all persons who
control or disburse funds of the association.
Amendment of governing documents
Thirty days after recording an amendment to the governing documents of an
association copies of the amendment will be provided to the members.
Associations will report to the Florida Division of Business and Professional
Regulation by Nov. 22, 2013, and provide detailed information about the association.
Association members, other than the developer, can elect at least one board
member after 50 percent of all parcels are owned by its members.
A developer is prohibited from unilaterally making amendments to the governing
documents that are deemed arbitrary, capricious or in bad faith, destroy the general
plan of development or affects the rights of existing non-developer members to use
and enjoy the benefits of common property. Developers cannot shift economic
burdens from themselves to the non-developer association members.
If a developer goes bankrupt, then the association's control is turned over to the
property and homeowners.
When it comes to homeowner associations, Kim Jakubaitis, like the lyrics from a Joni
Mitchell song, has seen property owner associations from "both sides now."
In 2004, Jakubaitis filed a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation about irregularities in Deep Creek Section 20 Property
Owners Association's 2004 election, when she first ran for a board seat. Only after
winning her legal battle was Jakubaitis seated on the board.
But for the past four years, Jakubaitis now serves the association as its licensed
The HOA Reform Bill, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on June 14, may have saved
the consternation and obstructions that Jakubaitis and others have faced in the past
coming up against their deed restricted associations.
Among the reforms, the new regulations allow property owners easier access to
information from their associations.
"It's not going to be a huge deal," Jakubaitis said, referring to the Deep Creek
Section 20's present policies that allow property owners easy access to its records.
However, she conceded that wasn't the case with property associations dealing with
the association in 2004.
Rotunda West Association manager Jay Lyons also sees nothing onerous with the
new law. He said: "It brings (property owner and homeowner associations) more in
line with condominium associations."
Let's have one set of rules for all associations," Lyons said.
Lyons described the RWA as an association that keeps its records open to its
members with few exemptions.
One aspect of the bill, he said, could actually save the RWA money since it will
have no longer have to go through the expense of notifying property owners and go through
the machinations of elections when board seats are uncontested.
Gil Guy, a founding member of Rally for Rotunda, said, " I'm very happy it was signed.
It will help all members of HOAs to be in a better position than they have in the past.
The statewide Cyber Citizens for Justice at ccfj.net, a watchdog group for residents in
condo and homeowner associations, celebrated the new law.
"This is a very good start, said Cyber Citizens founder Jan Bergemann. He called the
bill a first in what he hopes is "multi-year legislation."
No one really knows exactly how many deed-restricted homeowner associations exist
in Florida. According to Bergemann, estimates suggest that 1,6 to 2,5 million homes
in associations may be operating throughout the state. No one knows for sure, which
is why having associations register with the state is important, he said.
Bergemann said he's visited Charlotte County twice and spoken to big crowds of
people who wanted to see homeowner association reform.
And like others, Bergemann sees the new legislation as bringing homeowner associations more in step with condominium regulations.