“How do you get them to read?” Sterling Jenkins, CEO and Co-Founder at Gladly, who has both lived in and managed community associations, recently posed this question to the Community Associations Institute group on LinkedIn. Mr. Jenkins acknowledged the importance of community association’s governing documents, but that so few people who live in associations actually read them.
Amanda K. Barritt concentrates her practice in real estate law and, more specifically, in the areas of residential and commercial community associations, real estate transactions, easements, contract preparation, and real estate development. She represents residential and commercial condominium, homeowners’ and property owners’ associations, non-profit social and recreational clubs, developers, builders and individuals. Amanda also contributes articles on these topics on the firm’s blog, The Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate.
While in law school, Amanda worked as a law clerk in Florida’s Division of Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes and served as administrative editor on the Florida State University Law Review. She also co-founded Survival with the Arts, a law student organization to promote law student involvement with fine arts and literature.
In 2010, Amanda was recognized by Florida Super Lawyers® magazine as a “Rising Star” in the field of real estate law. While only 5% of lawyers in the entire State are named to Florida Super Lawyers®, no more than 2.5% are named to the Rising Stars list. She is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. This rating signifies that Amanda’s reviewed peers rank her at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.
In addition to providing legal services, Henderson Franklin attorneys are involved in numerous community organizations throughout Southwest Florida. Over the next few weeks, we will be letting our blog readers get to know the members of our Condominium and Homeowners’ Association group a little better by sharing some of the exciting organizations and events we have been involved in.
Today, meet Shannon Puopolo. Not only does Shannon handle association and real estate litigation matters, including collections and foreclosures, and other commercial litigation matters, she serves on boards of several local organizations, including the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation. Shannon gives the highlights of the Foundation’s signature event of the year for us in her latest blog:
Many Americans enjoy the annual tradition of watching the Kentucky Derby. Some even partake in dressing the part, by putting on their finest hats, bowties, and pastel-colored clothing. In Southwest Florida, the community combines this time-honored tradition with a charitable cause – namely, raising money for at-risk youth in our legal system.
On Saturday, May 7th, the Guardian ad Litem Foundation (“GALF”) held its annual Viva La Derby Party, which raises money to support, recruit, and train volunteers who advocate for abused, neglected and abandoned children in the child welfare and court system.
Thanks to the Florida Legislature, community associations can now make use of technology to increase convenience and decrease costs and time required to conduct member votes. The homeowners’, condominium, and cooperative acts were all amended, effective July 1, 2015, to allow associations to conduct owner votes, including elections, using an internet-based online voting system if certain criteria are met. The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes adopted rules to provide further guidance for electronic voting for condominiums and cooperatives, which were effective on March 20, 2016.
Where to Begin
Gated community associations are perceived as being safer communities, which attracts homeowners who are willing to pay a premium to feel safer in their homes. However, sometimes the expectation of having a high degree of security can backfire when a crime occurs within the gates.
We have seen an uptick in negligent security cases. Criminals will be criminals, and they find ways to exploit gaps in security measures. Homeowners who have taken their security for granted because of the gate and walls may be lax in taking personal precautions to protect themselves– leaving doors unlocked, not turning on security alarms, not being as vigilant when outside at night. Such oversight may result in the homeowner becoming a victim of a crime. Looking for deep pockets, the homeowner victims in some cases have sued their association for not having provided the security the homeowner claims they expect and have been guaranteed.
In reference to some new roles of community association managers authorized by House Bill 7037, which became effective on July 1, 2014, the website, flcamtest.com directs some wise words to Florida community association managers: “As a practical tip, just because you are a CAM and CAN do those task [sic], does not mean you SHOULD do those tasks.”
Community associations, including condominium, residential homeowners’, and cooperative associations, are required to provide written notice to owners who are delinquent in the payment of association assessments prior to filing a lien against the delinquent owner’s property, and prior to foreclosing on the lien. While the statutes previously required certain information to be included in such notices, they now include actual forms that must be used for the notices, as well as a form for the release of the liens.
New Authorized Tasks for CAMS
As seems to be the trend with amendments to Chapter 720, Florida Statutes, which governs residential homeowners’ associations, the 2013 legislation increases regulation by the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes (the “Division”) of residential homeowners’ associations. Specifically, the association manager, management firm, or the association is now required to submit a report…
My colleague, Sharon Zuccaro, previously blogged about Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes on Florida Homeowner Association (“HOA”) Disclosures. As Sharon pointed out, sellers of homes within HOAs are not required to deliver copies of the HOA’s governing documents to purchasers, but are required to provide a Disclosure form. The Condominium Act provides different disclosure requirements for non-developer sellers of condominium units.
The buyer of a condominium unit from an individual is entitled to receive copies of certain governing documents at the seller’s expense, if the buyer so requests in writing. If such request is made, the buyer may cancel the contract for the sale of a condominium unit within 3 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays after the contract was executed by the buyer and the buyer has received a current copy of the declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and rules of the association, a copy of the most recent year-end financial report and frequently asked questions and answers document, and a copy of the condominium governance form prepared by the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes.
Often the 6 o’clock news highlights the plight of a homeowner fighting his or her homeowners’ association (HOA) because the association is enforcing a rule that the owner doesn’t like and claims to have been unaware existed. The rule was probably there all along had the homeowner read their association documents. Also in the course of everyday conversations in this economy, homeowners who have fallen behind on their assessments are asking, “Can my condo/homeowners’ association really evict me for just a few thousand dollars I owe?” Following are answers to five common questions owners ask, often when it’s too late, about purchasing and living in a community association:
1. Can my association really “evict” me for unpaid assessments?
Yes, although it is not an eviction, but a foreclosure. In Florida, condominium associations, by law, and HOAs, if provided in their recorded documents, do have a lien to secure the payment of assessments, late fees, interest and attorneys’ fees and costs of collection.
To continue our series to recap the Real Estate Investment Society’s “Challenges and Strategies for Property Development Today” workshop, and to follow Cody Vaughan-Birch‘s post on Development Incentives and Local Pro-Growth Policies, the second panel of professionals provided an overview of the current trends, challenges and strategies in property development from a legal and practical perspective.
Southwest Florida Real Estate: Problem or Opportunity?
Steve Hartsell, a zoning and land use attorney with the Pavese Law Firm, summarized two circumstances where legal and practical strategies are needed:
In Maronda Homes, Inc. of Florida, et al, v. Lakeview Reserve Homeowners Association, Inc., the Supreme Court of Florida will soon determine whether common law implied warranties extend to the construction of common areas and facilities of a residential subdivision.
After the turnover of control by the developer, Maronda Homes, the Lakeview Reserve community experienced drainage problems. Upon hiring an engineer to conduct an inspection, the Lakeview Reserve Association determined defects exist as to the paved streets, retention ponds, underground drainage pipes and grading of the site and lots. As a result of such defects, multiple lot owners allegedly experienced stagnant water, sinkholes, loss of grass, and erosion on their lots.
The Association filed a complaint against Maronda Homes for breach of implied warranties of fitness for a particular purpose, merchantability, and habitability arising out of the alleged defective construction of the common area improvements. The Association claimed that the developer failed to construct the common areas properly to support a residential subdivision and the homes within it. The trial awarded a summary judgment to the developer.