On July 1, 2015, recent amendments to Chapters 718 and 720, Florida Statutes went into effect which will impact all condominium and homeowners’ associations in the state of Florida.
Chapter 720, Florida Statutes was officially renamed the “Homeowners’ Association Act,” and among the more significant changes, the procedure for fining unit owners for violations of the governing documents has been amended to clarify that fines must initially be levied by the board of directors, subject to an opportunity to be heard before an impartial fining committee whose role is limited to confirming or rejecting the fine. It remains unclear whether a fine must be reviewed by the fining committee where a unit owner fails to actually request a hearing. As a result, we continue to recommend that all fines be made subject to review by the fining committee.
Both the Condominium Act and the Homeowners’ Association Act were also amended to allow associations to implement online voting processes for elections and other membership votes. Each unit owner must consent in writing to online voting or be permitted to cast a paper ballot, and unit owners must subsequently be able to withdraw their consent to voting online. Electronic voting systems will also be subject to a myriad of procedural requirements designed to ensure the integrity of the voting process.
Associations may also provide meeting notices to unit owners via electronic delivery, provided the unit owner consents to receiving electronic notices. Previously, electronic meeting notices had to be specifically authorized by an association’s bylaws in order to be utilized.
The amendments also tightened restrictions on the ability of delinquent members to run for and sit on a homeowners’ association’s board of directors. Any member who is delinquent on any monetary obligation as of the last day on which the member could nominate themselves for the board may not seek election. Further, any board member who becomes more than ninety (90) days delinquent on any monetary obligation is now deemed to have abandoned their board seat. The Condominium Act continues to provide that any unit owner who is delinquent on any monetary obligation is not an eligible board candidate and may not be listed on the ballot.
We will continue to monitor the implementation of these amendments, and we are pleased to review the impact of these and other changes on each of our clients’ operations. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you wish to discuss these issues any further.