pexels-photo-388241The Cape Coral Building Department has had a rule on the books requiring owners of residential condominiums in Cape Coral to have a letter from their association before pulling a permit to do work in condominium common areas.

You might be thinking “I pulled a permit for something like that 3 months ago, and I didn’t have a letter. Did I miss something?” To answer your question, nope, you’re fine.

Although the rule is old, the Cape Coral Building Official recently announced that the Cape Coral Building Department will begin strictly enforcing this rule. This means Associations should expect to receive requests from unit owners (which they should be doing already), and unit owners need to make sure they have secured the approval of the Association before pulling permits for improvements that may be outside, or appear to be outside, of the unit.

Special thanks to Bill Johnson, Executive Director and CEO of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association for the heads up on the Cape Coral Building Departments new stance on enforcement.

florida-1624651_640Have you ever wondered whether renting out your property using VRBO qualifies as a commercial use as opposed to a residential use? You’re not alone.

On one hand, earning income from rent, advertising for new tenants, managing and scheduling those tenants, and maintaining the property to comply with the regulations required to frequently rent out your property for short periods certainly sounds like a business.

On the other hand, it’s your residence, and the people paying you to stay in it are only using it to eat, sleep, and do other ordinary acts incident to living. They aren’t using your place to produce income for themselves.

While both sides seem to have a reasonable argument, a recent Florida appellate court decided that renting a home to someone who uses the home “for ordinary living purposes such as sleeping and eating” qualified as a residential use under that particular association’s governing documents. See, Santa Monica Beach Property Owners Association v. Acord, (Fla. App., 2017).

What is the Legal Scoop?

Continue Reading Renting Your Home Using VRBO is a Residential Use

imac-965325_1280As 2016 closes, we reached out to our team and asked them to share some of the most notable issues in real estate and land use & environmental law:

Residential Closing Best Practices Requirements by Amanda Barritt

2016 saw the CFPB regulations and Best Practices requirements move into high gear with respect to financed residential closings. Lenders, attorneys, and title companies have invested a lot of time and money coming into compliance. However, the results of the national election, along with the ruling in the case, PHH Corporation v. CFPB, are causing these players to question whether any, or all, of the CFPB lending regulations will be done away with. For now, Melissa Murphy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Attorney’s Title Fund, suggests slowing down on making significant investments in Best Practices, while continuing to make sure to comply carefully with RESPA, Section 8(c) requirements as to affiliated business arrangements until we see what happens in 2017.

Condo & HOA: Fire Sprinkler Retrofitting by Molly Maggiano

As the year winds down to an end, the opportunity for condominium associations to opt-out of fire sprinkler retrofitting is also coming to a close. The subject of fire sprinkler retrofitting proved to be a hot topic during the course of the year, due in part to communications put out by the Florida Division of Condominiums regarding the applicability of the obligation to retrofit, which left many associations who thought they were exempt confused as to whether they were subject to retrofitting, whether they should conduct an opt-out vote, and the implications of such a vote. This resulted in an abundance of frantic calls to association attorneys who were also dismayed and left to wonder whether the Division would clarify its statement. Thankfully, the Division did correct its communications, but the ordeal emphasized the importance and benefits of having a qualified association attorney on hand in crucial situations such as this.

2016 Significant Foreclosure Decisions by Shannon Puopolo

Foreclosure filings continued to decline in 2016. Notwithstanding, some significant foreclosure decisions came out this year. Below is my “Top 3” List:

  • The Florida Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Bartram v. U.S. Bank, N.A., holding that where an initial foreclosure lawsuit is dismissed by the court, such dismissal does not trigger the application of the 5-year statute of limitations, which would otherwise preclude a lender from filing a second action. Rather, the court held the lender is only prevented from suing on installment payments that are more than 5 years old.
  • The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held in Failla v. Citibank, N.A. that where debtors file a statement of intent to surrender their residence in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they must also waive any defenses or counterclaims raised in a pending state court foreclosure action.
  • The Fourth District Court of Appeal held in Ober v. Town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea that the lis pendens statute does not discharge liens that are recorded and based on conduct which occurs after the date of the final judgment of foreclosure, even if such liens attach to the real property prior to the date of the foreclosure sale.

Land Use Law by Austin Turner

It was an exciting year for land use and environmental law at both a state and local level. On January 21st, CS/CS/SB 552 was enacted to comprehensively address issues such as Everglades restoration. In response to threats like the Lake Okeechobee algae blooms and the Zika virus, the Governor declared several States of Emergency which led to permit extensions. Recently, a supermajority of Florida voters approved one of the two renewable energy measures establishing a constitutional ad valorem tax exemption for solar power. Locally, Lee County residents approved a non-binding referendum for Lee County’s land acquisition and stewardship program, “Conservation 20/20.”

On behalf of the Real Estate and Land Use team at Henderson Franklin, we wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday season and New Year. Please enjoy our 2016 e-card benefitting the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida:

 

 

iStock_000015122897XSmall.jpgAs a community association manager, I bet you often find yourself plagued by questions from Board members regarding what they need to do, what they are allowed to do, and what they can’t do.

As a good CAM, I bet you knock down many of the questions as soon as they pop up, but still there are those few that touch on legally uncertain areas which you might struggle to answer.

The Condo and HOA Law Team at Henderson Franklin is here to help.

On October 11, 2016, we will be hosting a free legal update seminar to tell you what you need to know about:

  • Electronic voting;
  • Service Member Rental Approvals;
  • Gate Security;
  • Screening with Criminal Background Checks;
  • Vacation Rentals;
  • Remedies for Owner Violations;
  • Bankruptcy issue; and,
  • Fire sprinkler Retrofit Issues.

We will be hosting the seminar at George and Wendy’s Sanibel Seafood Grille starting at 11:30am, and lunch will be provided. Click here to download the seminar flyer.

As seating is limited, be sure to register here so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about these hot button issues.

We hope to see you there!

iStock_000015122897XSmall.jpgAssociation boards frequently ask what recourse they have against owners who fall behind on paying assessments, or violate other provisions of an association’s governing documents. While most associations’ governing documents provide for the right to fine owners and place a lien on their property, not all boards are aware that they may also suspend owners’ rights to use common elements or facilities.

What Rights Can Be Suspended?

Continue Reading Can an Association Suspend an Owner’s Right to Use Common Facilities?

IMG_3202Relatively recently, sites like VRBO have revolutionized how people travel. They also have made it easier for the average person to rent out their home without the need for professional assistance.

Are you considering renting your second home or condo during this fast-approaching Southwest Florida tourism season? If so, have you considered that you might be fined if you don’t have a license?

What You Need To Know

Florida law requires anyone in Florida renting a home to guests more than three times a year for stays which are less than 30 days to have a license. This means most of the people listing their homes on VRBO or otherwise advertising their house as available for rent to the public need to get a license from the DBPR- Division of Hotels and Restaurants. Continue Reading What You Need to Know if You Are Considering Signing Up with VBRO

Southwest Florida has been fortunate in the first month of this 2016 hurricane season, but if a hurricane crops up next week, is your association prepared?

Here are a few suggestions for protecting yourselves and your association members this hurricane season:

  1. Keep residents up to date on local shelters – how to contact them, where they are located, and what they provide.
  2. Review the building’s zoning and evacuation requirements.
  3. Post evacuation routes in conspicuous locations throughout the property, such as stairwells and hallways.
  4. Make sure to provide support for disabled or special needs residents.
  5. Ensure all insurance policies are up to date.
  6. Have current video or photographs of the property for insurance related damage assessment purposes.
  7. Be sure that computer data is being backed up regularly and that the backup storage component won’t be damaged by the same event that might harm the computer.
  8. Keep landscaping sufficiently trimmed to minimize hazards from flying plant debris.
  9. Consider coordinating probable recovery scenarios with staff and board members.

By putting these nine tips into action, you can feel confident that your association is adequately prepared should the eye of the next big storm set its sights on Southwest Florida.

 

Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
under Flickr Creative Commons License

In addition to providing legal services, Henderson Franklin attorneys are involved in numerous community organizations throughout Southwest Florida. A few weeks ago you heard about Shannon Puopolo and her significant involvement in the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation. Not long after that post, Shannon and Michael Lehnert served on a Lee County Bar Association Committee that organized and ran a charity golf tournament fundraiser for the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation.  Last week, we shared Molly Maggiano’s passion for the arts and for the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

Today, meet Michael Lehnert. Michael joined Henderson Franklin in September of 2015. Since he began, Michael has been handling residential transaction and association matters. Outside the office, he serves on the boards of two local organizations, namely Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast and Southwest Florida Real Estate Council:

Michael Lehnert and Leah Heinrich

In my capacity as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Michael helped organize and support the Big Brothers Big Sisters Chef’s Cooking For Kids Event. The event was a great success due to the immense support from the local community, including, in particular, fellow board member Ryan Love of Norman Love Confections, and due to the experienced leadership of the Board, especially the current chair, Bryan Blackwell.

Michael is excited to announce that last week he had the good fortune of being matched up with a Little Brother, Dominick. They have only met once thus far, but Michael is excited about the opportunity to be a positive influence in Dominick’s life for years to come.

Continue Reading Meet Henderson Franklin’s Condo and HOA Team Members: Michael Lehnert

In light of the recent death of a 2 year old boy by an alligator attack in the Orlando Walt Disney World Resort, associations who operate water bodies within their communities may be wondering what, if anything, they should do to help prevent such tragedies and to protect themselves from liability in the event a wild animal does attack.

The concept is called “ferae naturae” in legal terms, meaning “wild animals.” The question is whether an association owes a duty to its homeowners to guard them against wild animals. In short, the answer is “no.”

The Law on Wildlife

Continue Reading Disney Alligator Death is a Wake Up Call to Florida Associations

Continuing with our series to introduce you to members of our Condo and HOA Team, today meet Molly Maggiano.

Fort Myers Condo and HOA Attorney Molly MaggianoMolly concentrates her practice in real estate matters, more specifically in the areas of community association representation, residential and commercial transactions, real estate development, and other general real estate matters.

Molly has a passion toward photography and the arts, which she expresses through her involvement with the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Here, Molly shares with us a little about why the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is such a valuable resource to Fort Myers:

The arts play an important role in enriching the lives of our community. Not only are they a form of enjoyment and entertainment, but they expose us to different cultures and offer educational opportunities that can increase the quality of our lives.

It is easy to take things such as art and music for granted and forget that such programs haven’t always been available, or may not be available to future generations if they aren’t preserved. For this reason, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center (“SBDAC”), of which I have the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors.

Continue Reading Meet Henderson Franklin’s Condo and HOA Team Members: Molly Maggiano