The Florida legislature recently passed CS/CS/HB 919, a bill that introduces significant changes to the regulations governing homeowners associations (HOAs). The bill aims to strengthen governance, increase transparency, and ensure fair practices within Florida’s condominium and HOA communities. Read on to learn more about the bill and its implications for condo and HOA associations in Florida.
Enhancing Accountability of HOA Officers and Directors
One of the primary focuses of CS/CS/HB 919 is to enhance the accountability of homeowner association officers and directors. The bill mandates the removal of any officer or director who is charged with specific crimes, including forgery of a ballot envelope, theft or embezzlement of HOA funds, destruction of or refusal to allow inspection of HOA records, or obstruction of justice.
To prevent fraudulent activities within the associations, the bill introduces criminal penalties for certain actions related to voting, such as willfully swearing falsely or procuring others to do so, perpetrating fraud in connection with a vote, or using coercion or intimidation to influence members’ voting decisions. Furthermore, the bill imposes liability for monetary damages on individuals who accept kickbacks.
Reforms for HOA Fines and Suspensions
CS/CS/HB 919 also brings reforms to the imposition of fines and suspensions by homeowner associations. Under the new provisions, HOAs are required to send notifications of fines or suspensions electronically or to an alternative address, if designated by the homeowner. To ensure fairness, if a violation is found, the proposed fine or suspension must be approved by a majority vote of the committee.
The bill also introduces a provision that allows homeowners to cure violations as determined by the homeowner association. This provision provides an opportunity for homeowners to rectify their non-compliance and avoid or mitigate penalties imposed by the association.
Improved Handling of HOA Funds
CS/CS/HB 919 addresses the handling of homeowner association funds and emphasizes transparency. If an HOA collects a deposit from a member to cover expenses resulting from construction on the member’s parcel or for any other reason, the bill requires that these funds not be mingled with any other HOA funds. Additionally, members have the right to request an accounting of these funds, and the HOA must remit any unused funds within 30 days after the completion of the construction or relevant event.
Ensuring Accessibility of HOA Records
To promote transparency and effective communication, the bill introduces a provision requiring homeowner associations to allow members to maintain an address different from their property address for all required notices. This provision enables members to receive important communications without relying solely on their physical property address.
Ultimately, CS/CS/HB 919 brings significant changes to the regulations governing homeowners’ associations in Florida. By enhancing the accountability of officers and directors, improving the handling of funds, and introducing reforms for fines, suspensions, and access to records, the bill aims to create a fair and transparent environment within condo and HOA communities. These reforms should help protect the rights and interests of homeowners and contribute to the overall well-being of Florida’s condo and HOA associations.
If you have any further questions about the bill, don’t hesitate to contact Ansbacher Law today.