Legislative Update: Estoppel Certificate Bill Dead, Bill to Make Administrative Changes to Association Practices Passes

The premature adjournment “sine die” of the recent session of the Florida House of Representatives spelled the demise of various bills that had not yet been passed. One such bill was HB 611, which was the subject of one of our blog articles describing the various changes that were being proposed by the bill in connection with procedures and charges related to estoppels provided by community associations.

A bill that did pass both the House and Senate is HB 791, which soon will be sent to Gov. Scott for his final approval before it is enacted. This bill makes some important updates to the state’s laws governing community association practices and procedures, and it includes the following changes:

  • The requirement for electronic notices to be authorized by association’s bylaws for some meetings of the board, membership and association committees is eliminated.
  • Establishes that the role of the fining committee is to confirm or reject the fines levied by the board.
  • Suspension of voting rights or right to use common elements will apply to members as well as their tenants and guests, regardless of the number of units owned by the member, even if the delinquency or failure that resulted in the suspension arose from less than all of the multiple units owned by a member.
  • Proxies will be allowed to be submitted to the association via fax or email.
  • When voting rights are suspended, the voting interest allocated to the unit will be subtracted from the total number of voting interests.
  • Establishment of procedures for implementation of electronic online voting for elections and other unit owner votes.
  • A clarification that partial payments may be applied to outstanding amounts.
  • Extends the “Distressed Condominium Act” (i.e., the “bulk buyer” law) until 2018.
  • Amends the official records “catch-all” provision to include “written” records, as already appears in the HOA Act.
  • Names Chapter 720 the “Homeowners’ Association Act.”
  • Provides that the “governing documents” of an HOA include rules and regulations.
  • The failure to provide notice of recording amendment in an HOA does not affect the validity of the amendment.

Most of the foregoing changes help to clarify and update the existing statutes in an effort to enable associations to overcome some problem areas arising in connection with the laws governing condominium, cooperatives and homeowners associations. However, a few of the changes included in the bill, such as the introduction of electronic online voting, are expected to cause considerable issues as directors, managers and their legal counsel work to navigate through the process related to the implementation of such measures.

Association members, directors and community association property managers should be mindful of these changes and work closely with their legal counsel to address any questions regarding these changes should they eventually become law.