2021 Legislative Changes to Florida’s Community Association Laws Part II: New Laws Affecting Condominium Associations
On June 18th, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that made substantial changes to the statutes affecting condominium 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. This part II will explain the numerous changes to the statutes affecting other various aspects of condominium associations and cite the specific statutory sections where the new laws can be located.
- If a condominium association’s insurance policy does not provide rights for subrogation against the unit owners in the association, an insurance policy issued to an individual unit owner in the association may not provide rights of subrogation against the condominium association. Fla. Stat. § 627.714(4).
- Bids obtained by condominium associations for work to be performed or for materials, equipment, or services, are considered official records and must be maintained by the condominium association for at least one (1) year after receipt of the bid. Fla. Stat. §§ 718.111(12)(a)11.d & 718.111(12)(b).
- A renter of a condominium unit has a right to inspect and copy only the declaration of condominium and the association’s bylaws and rules, but no other official records. Fla. Stat. § 718.111(12)(c)1.
- A condominium association with at least 150 or more units which does not contain timeshare units shall post digital copies of certain official records on its website or make such documents available through an application that can be downloaded on a mobile device. Fla. Stat. § 718.111(g)1.
- A condominium association now has the right to remove any discriminatory restriction from its governing documents through simply a board vote. Fla. Stat. § 718.112(1)(c).
- Clarifies that a director’s board service that occurs only on or after July 1st, 2018, may be used when calculating a board member’s term limits. Fla. Stat. § 718.112(2)(d)2.
- Requires that written notice of a condominium association membership meeting, other than an annual meeting, must include an agenda; be mailed, hand delivered, or electronically transmitted to each unit owner; and be posted in a conspicuous place on the condominium property within the timeframe specified in the bylaws. If the bylaws do not specify a timeframe for written notice of a meeting other than an annual meeting, notice must be provided at least 14 continuous days before the meeting. Fla. Stat. § 718.112(2)(d)3.
- Specifies that the second notice of the annual meeting and election for a condominium association shall be sent to the unit owners entitled to vote, together with a ballot that lists all candidates not less than 14 days or more than 34 days before the date of the election. Fla. Stat. § 718.112(2)(d)4.a.
- Increases the amount allowed for transfer fees to $150 per applicant but prohibits a condominium association from charging a transfer fee unless the association has the right to approve the transfer pursuant to its governing documents. Fla. Stat. § 718.112(2)(i).
- Allows a unit owner to file a state court action (as an alternative to an arbitration petition with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”)) against the condominium association for not duly noticing a recall, and also allows a recalled board member to file a state court action (as an alternative to an arbitration petition with the DBPR) to challenge the recall. Fla. Stat. § 718.112(j)7.
- Includes protections for natural gas fuel stations along with electric vehicle charging stations due to environmental considerations. Requires the unit owner to be responsible for the cost of installing any natural gas fuel station that he/she requests. Clarifies that the installation of an electric vehicle charging station or natural gas fuel station is not considered a material alteration or substantial addition. Fla. Stat. § 718.113(8).
- Prohibits a lien to be recorded against the condominium association for the installation of a natural gas fuel station or an electric vehicle charging station but allows a lien against a unit owner. Fla. Stat. § 718.121.
- Arbitration with the DBPR for certain condominium association disputes has been changed from automatic mandatory nonbinding arbitration to a choice of the parties on whether they want the arbitration decision to be mandatory and binding. Arbitration is only binding on the parties if all parties in arbitration agree to be bound in a writing filed in arbitration. Fla. Stat. § 718.1255(4)(a).
- Pre-suit mediation is now available for condominium association disputes (similar to pre-suit mediation that has been available to HOAs) except in cases involving elections and board member recalls. Fla. Stat. § 718.1255(4)(a).
- The emergency powers for condominium associations have been expanded to apply to damage and/or injury caused by or anticipated in connection with an emergency situation (i.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 a condominium association 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. § 718.1265.
- Clarifies that if a fine or suspension against a unit 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. Fla. Stat. § 718.303(3)(b).
These are significant changes to the statutes affecting condominium 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.