On May 1, 2008, Florida Governor Crist signed House Bill 995. House Bill 995, which takes effect on October 1, 2008, amends various provisions of Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Condominium Act. The following is a brief summary of amendments included in House Bill 995:
- Section 718.111 (The Association):
- Subsection (1)(d): New standards of conduct for officers, directors and agents of condominium associations and personal liability for monetary damages in the event of a breach or failure to perform per such standards.
- Subsection (12) (Official Records): Any person who knowingly or intentionally defaces, destroys, or fails to create or maintain required accounting records is personally subject to a civil penalty. In addition, official records of the association must be maintained for at least 7 years and be made available within 45 miles of the Condominium Property, within the county in which the condominium is located, or electronically. Access to association records containing Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal identifying information of unit owners, occupants, or tenants is limited.
- Subsection (13) (Financial Reporting): The developer is required to pay for required audits or reviews prior to turnover. The association may not waive the financial reporting requirements of the Condominium Act for more than 3 consecutive years.
- Section 718.112 (Bylaws) subsection (2) (Required Provisions):
- Subsection (2)(b) (Quorum; voting requirements; proxies): Votes allocated to units owned by an association may not be exercised or considered for any purpose including a quorum or election.
- Subsection (2)(c) (Board of Administration Meetings): If 20% of voting interests petition the board to address an item of business, the board must place such item on the agenda at its next regular or special meeting but in no event more than 60 days after receipt of the petition. In addition, notice of any meeting in which assessments will be considered must specifically state the nature, estimated cost and description of the purposes for such assessments.
- Subsection (2)(d) (Unit Owner Meetings): The annual meeting of unit owners must be held within 45 miles of the condominium property if the bylaws are silent as to the location of the annual meeting. Board members' terms expire at the annual meeting unless the bylaws provide for staggered terms of no more than 2 years, and co-owners of a unit may not serve as board members at the same time. In addition to convicted felons, a person suspended or removed by the Division of Florida Land Sales and anyone who is delinquent in assessments is not eligible for board membership. Notices of meetings at which an election will be held must also include a new certification form, which form must be signed by all candidates certifying that such person has read and understands the Condominium Act and the governing documents of the association. The amendment to this subsection also eliminates the authority of an association of 10 or more units to opt out of the statutory election process and provide for different voting and election procedures in its bylaws.
- Subsection (2)(f) (Annual Budget): Annual budgets must include estimated revenues. In addition, proxies for waiving or reducing funding of reserves or using existing reserve funds for purposes other than for which such reserves were intended must contain the following statement in capitalized, bold letters in a font size larger than any other used on the face of the ballot: WAIVING OF RESERVES, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, OR ALLOWING ALTERNATIVE USES OF EXISTING RESERVES, MAY RESULT IN UNIT OWNER LIABILITY FOR PAYMENT OF UNANTICIPATED SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS REGARDING THOSE RESERVE ITEMS.
- Subsection (2)(n): Any director or officer of an association that is more than 90 days delinquent in payment of regular assessments is deemed to have abandoned the office, and a director or officer charged with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving association funds or property shall be removed from office and only reinstated if resolved without a finding of guilt.
- Section 718.1124: Provides for additional requirements on a unit owner seeking appointment of a receiver for the association and notices regarding the same.
- 718.113 (Maintenance; limitation upon improvement; display of flag; hurricane shutters):
- New Subsection (6): Requires an inspection of condominium buildings greater than 3 stories in height every 5 years by an engineer or architect unless waived by a majority of the voting interests present at a duly noticed meeting. The engineer or architect must provide a report attesting to required maintenance, useful life and replacement costs of the common elements. The report must be maintained as an official record of the association under amended 718.111(12).
- New Subsection (7): Association must permit a unit owner to attach to the door frame of a unit religious objects not exceeding 3" wide, 6" high and 1.5" deep.
- New Section 718.121(4): Provides that an association may not file a lien against a condominium unit until 30 days after a notice of intent to file a lien has been provided to the unit owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, and first-class U.S. mail.
- New Section 718.1224 (Prohibition against SLAPP Suits): Prohibits SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) suits and prohibits lawsuits against a unit owner without merit and arising out of the unit owner's appearance and presentation before a governmental entity on matters related to the condominium association. Condominium associations may not expend association funds in prosecuting a SLAPP suit against a condominium unit owner.
- Section 718.1265 (Association Emergency Powers): Provides emergency powers of the board that may be exercised in response to damage caused by an event for which a state of emergency is declared including the right to require evacuation and to perform emergency repairs.
- Section 718.301 (Transfer of Association Control): In addition to the current timeframes for turnover, the statute now requires turnover when the developer files a petition in bankruptcy or when a receiver for the developer is appointed by the circuit court and is not discharged within 30 days after such appointment. In addition, at turnover the developer is required to provide a turnover inspection report prepared by an engineer or architect attesting to required maintenance, useful life, and replacement costs of the following applicable common elements: roof, structure, fireproofing and fire protection systems, elevators, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical systems, swimming pools and related equipment, seawalls, pavement and parking areas, drainage systems, painting, and irrigation systems.
For the full text of House Bill 995, see http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0995er.xml&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0995&Session=2008
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