2021 Legislative Changes to Florida’s Community Association Laws Part III: New Laws Affecting Homeowners’ Associations
On June 18th, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that made substantial changes to the statutes affecting homeowners’ associations. These new laws become effective on July 1st, 2021. Part I of this 4-part blog series discussed the changes to the laws that affect assessment collections and e-mail notice requirements. Part II discussed other changes affecting condominium associations. This part III will explain the numerous changes to the statutes affecting other various aspects of homeowners’ associations and cite the specific statutory sections where the new laws can be located.
- In addition to any other authorized means of providing notice of a board meeting, the HOA may, by rule, adopt a procedure for conspicuously posting the meeting notice and the agenda on the association’s website or an application that can be downloaded on a mobile device for at least the minimum period of time for which a notice of a meeting is also required to be physically posted on the association property. Any rule adopted must, in addition to other matters, include a requirement that the association send an electronic notice to members whose e-mail addresses are included in the association’s official records in the same manner as is required for a notice of a meeting of the members. Such notice must include a hyperlink to the website or such mobile application on which the meeting notice is posted. Stat. § 720.303(2)(c)1.
- Requires that all ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies, and all other papers and electronic records relating to voting by parcel owners must be maintained for at least one (1) year after the date of the election, vote, or meeting. Stat. § 720.303(4)(l).
- Clarifies that information an HOA obtains in a gated community in connection with guests’ visits to parcel owners or community residents shall not be accessible by the members. Stat. § 720.303(5)(c)3.
- Clarifies that an HOA is deemed to have provided for reserve accounts only upon the affirmative approval of a majority of the total voting interests of the association. The amendment removes the requirement for the association to have a reserve fund if the developer initial provided them. Stat. § 720.303(6).
- Board member recall disputes and challenges can be filed either as arbitration with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) or now within state court. Stat. § 720.303(10).
- Specifies that if a fine or suspension against an owner is approved by the committee, the fine payment is due five (5) days after notice of the approved fine is provided to the unit owner and, if applicable, to any tenant, licensee, or invitee of the unit owner. Stat. § 720.305(2)(b).
- Allows any HOA governing document, or amendment to a governing document, that is enacted after July 1st, 2021, and that prohibits or regulates rental agreements applies only to a parcel owner who acquires title to the parcel after the effective date of the governing document or amendment, or to a parcel owner who consents, individually or through a representative, to the governing document or amendment. However, an HOA may amend its governing documents to prohibit or regulate rental agreements for a term of less than six (6) months and may prohibit the rental of a parcel for more than three (3) times in a calendar year, and such amendments shall apply to all parcel owners. Stat. § 720.306.
- Election disputes and challenges can be filed either as arbitration with the DBPR or now within state court. Stat. § 720.306(9).
- Allows an HOA to extinguish a discriminatory restriction contained within the governing documents through a board vote. Stat. § 720.3075(6).
- The emergency powers for HOAs have been expanded to apply to damage and/or injury caused by or anticipated in connection with an emergency situation (e. to cover other emergency situations such as COVID-19 rather than just hurricanes). The law now includes contagions as emergencies and mitigations for contagions. In response to a declared state of emergency, it allows HOAs to conduct board meetings, committee meetings, elections, and membership meetings, in whole or in part, by telephone, real-time videoconferencing, or similar real-time electronic or video communication. Fla. Stat. § 720.316.
These are significant changes to the statutes affecting homeowners’ associations. Association directors, officers and managers must ensure they are complying with these new laws beginning July 1st, 2021. You should seek legal guidance from an attorney knowledgeable in community association law if you have any questions or concerns on these new laws and the legal requirements for your association going forward.