As a result of the Florida’s House of Representatives walking out of the 2015 legislative session several days early due to a disagreement with the Senate over Medicare and the State’s overall budget, the much anticipated “Estoppel Bill” (House Bill 611 and the companion Senate Bill 736) which showed all signs of becoming law, did not get to the House floor for final vote. However, other bills related to homeowners associations (Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes) and condominiums (chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes) did pass the legislature and have been or will be sent to Governor Rick Scott for signature or veto. Below is a summary of the legislation which will be sent to the Governor.
House Bill 791: This bill, which was sent to the Governor on May 18, 2015, provides various amendments to Chapters 617, 718 and 720 of the Florida Statutes which affect condominium and homeowners associations including the following:
- Clarifies that a complete copy, facsimile or other reliable reproduction of a proxy is valid and may be used as a substitute for the original proxy.
- Consistent with Chapter 720 relating to homeowners associations, the legislation revises the “catchall” provision of what constitutes the official records for condominium associations to include only written records of the condominium association.
- Removes the requirement that electronic notice of unit owner, homeowner and condominium and homeowners association board meetings be specifically authorized by the association’s by-laws in order to use e-mail rather than U.S. Mail for official notice purposes.
- Clarifies that prior to turnover and for the first 2 fiscal years, a condominium developer may vote “the voting interests allocated to its units” to waive reserves or reduce funding of reserves.
- Authorizes condominium and homeowners associations to implement online voting for elections and other unit owner and home owner votes through a board resolution provided that the statutory requirements are met.
- Clarifies that partial payments to a condominium association may be applied to outstanding amounts due.
- Clarifies that the role of a condominium and homeowners association fining committee is to confirm or reject a fine levied by the board.
- Clarifies that if voting rights of a condominium or homeowners association member are suspended, the voting interest allocated to the unit or home is subtracted from the total number of voting interests.
- Applies the suspension of voting rights and the right to use common elements and common area facilities to a condominium and homeowners association member as well as such member’s tenants, guests and invitees, regardless of number of units owned by the member.
- Extends the applicability of “Distressed Condominium Relief Act” (Part VII of Chapter 718) from July 1, 2016 until July 1, 2018.
- Homeowners association “rules and regulations” are included as part of “governing documents” of a homeowners association.
- Names Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes the Homeowners’ Association Act.
- Clarifies that the failure of a homeowners association to timely provide notice of recording an amendment to association documents does not affect the validity or enforceability of the amendment.
- Clarifies that a homeowners association member who is delinquent in payment of any amount to the association on the last day that such person could nominate himself or herself for a board position may not seek election to the board, and any homeowners association board member who becomes more than 90 days delinquent in any payment to the association is deemed to have abandoned the board seat.
The Governor has 15 days from the date the bill was presented, or until June 2, 2015, to either sign HB 791 or veto the Bill.
House Bill 643, The Condominium Termination Bill: House Bill 643 changes, among other things, the voting requirements and procedures for optional termination of a condominium. In voting on a plan of termination, the total voting interests must include all voting interests and no voting interest may be suspended for purposes of voting on termination. The Bill provides that optional termination of a condominium conversion cannot be used until five years after the recording of a declaration of condominium, unless there is no objection to the plan of termination. Additionally, where there is a “bulk owner” the plan of termination must meet certain statutory requirements and, in addition, (a) a bulk owner who owns at least 80 percent of the units must ensure that each first mortgage is fully satisfied when a condominium is terminated, (b) if the bulk owner’s units are offered for lease after termination, other others in occupancy immediately prior to termination may lease their former unit for 12 months after termination if statutory conditions are met, (c) all unit owners who have homestead exemption status on the plan of termination must be paid, in addition to termination proceeds, a relocation payment equal to 1% of the termination proceeds allocate to the owner’s former unit by the bulk owner, (b) all unit owners, other than the bulk owner, must be compensated for 100 percent of the fair market value of their unit, provided, however, if an original full-time unit owner who purchased their unit from the developer votes against the termination plan, the bulk owner must pay such unit owner no less than the same amount for which they purchased their unit provided certain statutory requirements are met. In the event a plan of termination is not approved, a new plan of termination cannot be proposed for a period 18 months. The statute was also revised to include timing and other requirements for unit owner objections to and rejections of a plan of termination. HB 643 has not yet been sent to the Governor for signature or veto.