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hands-and-breaking-handcuffs_shutterstock_58240561-300x184In the pursuit of association fraud and embezzlement, one of the most important aspects of the major legislation that was adopted earlier this year is the law’s effort to curb conflicts of interest by association board members and officers.

The new law provides that presumptions of conflicts of interest exist in the following circumstances:

  • A director, officer or one of their relatives enters into a contract for goods or services with the association.
  • A director or officer . . . holds an interest in a corporation, LLC, LLP or other business entity that conducts business with the association or proposes to enter into a contract or other transaction with the association.

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ORivera-DBR-profile-11-17The firm’s Oscar R. Rivera was the subject of a profile article in today’s edition of the Daily Business Review, South Florida’s exclusive business daily and official court newspaper.  The article, which is titled “Real Estate Attorney Oscar Rivera Traces Career Roots to Shredding Carbon Paper,” chronicles Oscar’s career in the law, which began when he was still in high school in the 1970s.  It reads:

Oscar R. Rivera’s first job at a law firm required him to go through the office trash cans to find and shred the discarded carbon sheets used to make copies of legal documents.

That was in the 1970s, and Rivera was in high school and working at a Miami management-side labor law firm. His shredding was meant to prevent a pro-union law firm from dumpster-diving to read the flimsy purple sheets to gain insight into its opponent’s strategy, Rivera said.

“If you looked at the carbon paper against the light, you could read the letter,” he said.

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Florida condominium assWebsite-300x157ociations with 150 or more units, which do not manage timeshare units, must have an independent website or web portal by July 1, 2018, according to Section 718.111, Florida Statutes. These websites or web portals can either be wholly owned and operated by the association, or operated by a third-party provider.  It is important that associations that meet the 150+ unit prerequisite begin to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are in compliance with the new law by the July 1st deadline.

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Changes in condominium association laws that were recently enacted with an aim to curb fraud in associations seem to have had a strong impact in increasing the general awareness of the problems facing Florida condo communities.  A few major media outlets have followed up on the news of the law with reports about arrests involving South Florida associations.

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Several months ago the Miami Herald reported that the administrator of an Aventura condominium named Admirals Port had been arrested on charges of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and stealing cash from the building’s laundry machines.  Donovan Staley was charged with organized fraud, grand theft and the use of a phone to plan a crime, and he could face up to five years in prison.

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Does your neighbor’s loud music, barking dog or late-night visitors keep you up at night? If you live in a condominium building, your answer is probably ‘yes.’ A recurring complaint that we receive from condominium unit owners is that they are able to hear their neighbors through shared walls, followed by the frustration of feeling as if there is no recourse. Here are some tips on how to deal with noisy neighbors:

Take a minute to thinNoisy-Neighbors-300x157k: Is this excessive noise?

Depending on the materials that were used to build your condominium building, it is possible that the walls are to blame for hearing everything your neighbor says or does. From routine noises, such as walking or watching television, to noisier activities, such as blasting music or operating loud appliances, the building’s lack of insulation may be the reason that noises become magnified in your place of retreat. Take a second to think about whether or not the noise you are stewing about is intentional. Recognizing that your neighbor may be hearing the same type of commotion coming from your unit may provide a different perspective. With that said, if your neighbor is creating excessive noise, and frequently at odd hours of the day, feel free to take the next step.

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susanodess-srhl-224x300The firm’s Susan C. Odess authored an article that appeared as a “My View” guest column in the Business Monday weekly supplement of today’s Miami Herald.  The article, which is titled “Clients Must Use Insurer’s Contractor or Face $10k Cap,” focuses on a new rule from Citizen’s Property Insurance that limits claim payouts to $10,000 unleMHerald2015-300x72ss policyholders agree to use the insurer’s preselected contractors.  The article reads:

Beginning in February, Citizens will be able to force commercial and residential property policyholders who file claims for all non-weather water losses to use the company’s preapproved contractor or agree to limit their total payout to $10,000. This arbitrary figure is artificially low, as many claims involving water losses often cost much more to repair.

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Term-LimitsAmong the major changes to Florida’s condominium laws in 2017 is a new provision mandating term limits for board members.  The new legislation marks a significant departure from the past policies for most associations pertaining to the tenures of their board members, and it only applies to condo associations and not HOAs.

The newly codified law allows for board members to serve two-year terms, if that is what is called for in their association’s bylaws.  However, a board member may not serve more than four consecutive two-year terms.  The only exemptions to this cap would be granted to candidates who achieve a 2/3 super majority of the total voting interests and to associations that do not have enough eligible candidates to fill the board vacancies.

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All too often, we are asked by boards of directors and property managers what steps can be taken to prevent residents from continuing to break rules in their communities. Seldom, however, do we hear community associations that are active and persistent in disciplining their rule breakers. Typically, violations range from disobeying noise ordinances to more problematic ones such as ignoring an association’s prohibition of short-term rentals. Regardless of how big or small—or even how chronic—an infraction may be, it is important that board members do their part in enforcing the rules and regulations of their associations. Follow-Rules-300x157

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While recovery from property damage and power outages may take precedence in the hours and days following a hurricane, it is also important to consider—and to take swift action to recover from— not-so-apparent implications of a storm. Calendar-300x157

As we enter into the “season” of Annual Meetings and Elections, deadlines are soon approaching for community associations to distribute their Notice(s) of Annual Meeting and Election to Owners. The Florida Statutes, Florida Administrative Code and association governing documents provide us with a strict protocol of when such Notice(s) must be distributed, depending upon an association’s scheduled or required date to hold the Annual Meeting and Election. Following a storm such as Hurricane Irma, a few hours or days without power may affect a printing company or management office’s work hours, and, in turn, make it difficult or impossible to timely distribute Notice(s) of Annual Meeting and Election in accordance with statutory and governing-document-based protocols.

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We hope that you and your loved ones are safe after the storm with little to no damage to your property.  Our thoughts remain with those whose homes and loved ones were impacted by Hurricane Irma.  As local, state and federal officials throughout Florida respond to those who have been impacted—whether it is because of loss of power, property damage or fallen powerlines or trees—we want to make sure we do our part to help our commuIrma-1024x535nity as well.

If you have had a chance to drive around, you will notice that there are a number of trees that have fallen on homes, causing serious damage to their roofs, windows, and even their foundation. If you’ve been able to tune in to the news to see coverage of the storm’s aftermath you have seen that many areas experienced massive flooding. Due to the property damage that some Floridians are currently experiencing, we want to make sure that everyone is well-informed on the proper way to handle any insurance claims that may arise. Keep in mind that it is important that condominium, cooperative Continue reading