I am often asked by association boards if the board can meet in “executive session” to discuss a sensitive topic, such as a personnel matter or dispute with an owner or neighborhood association, without members present.
With co-author Daumantas Venckus, Law Clerk
Sellers of condominium units often rely on their realtor to make sure the proper disclosures are made in the contract. The Florida Bar and Florida Realtors have adopted a form Condominium Rider which provides not only the disclosures required by the Florida Condominium Act, but also additional disclosures designed to cover some of the issues that aren’t immediately apparent or available to the buyer with respect to the condominium association.
While the information is helpful to the buyer, sellers need to be aware of what the disclosures mean and what their obligations are in order to avoid losing the buyer, or facing a potential misrepresentation claim.
Condominium Association Approval
The association may have the right to approve the buyer. If such right exists in the Condominium Declaration, the approval must be done so within a specified amount of days prior to closing. Both, the buyer and seller must make a diligent effort to obtain such approval. If such approval is not granted within the specified time frame, the contract shall terminate and the buyer will be refunded the deposit.
Right of First Refusal
It’s that special time of year where it’s time to break out the sun block and the Yeti coolers. But what does this mean for a Condominium or Homeowners’ Association attorney? Fielding question after question from residents who want to solve all of their Association’s issues before making the trek up north. A lot of the questions we receive from owners are very similar:
- “Can my Association amend our Declaration this way?”
- “Can the owners call a member meeting without the Board of Directors?”
- “Was this meeting properly noticed?”
Nine times out of ten, my answer is always the same: “it depends on the documents.”
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in legislation relating to community associations. That trend continues this year, with approximately eleven bills affecting community associations having been introduced when the 2019 legislative regular session convened on March 5th.
The following is a summary of the bills affecting homeowner and condominium associations that have been introduced and are currently working their way through committees:
SB 610 /HB 1259
Last year, I wrote an article warning homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”) that the enforceability of their covenants and restrictions (“Covenants”) may be affected by the Marketable Record Title Act (“MRTA”). In simple terms, MRTA can eliminate the effectiveness of recorded Covenants if they haven’t been preserved within 30 years from when the covenants and restrictions were recorded.
New Law Offers Relief to Some HOAs
In my prior article, I stated that merely amending or restating the covenants does not restart the 30-year clock, but that a statutory process must be followed.
The good news is that in 2018, the Florida legislature amended MRTA by the passage of House Bill 617, to provide that certain amendments will preserve the Covenants if they are recorded before the time the Covenants would have expired. The bad news is that the new law is not effective until October 1, 2018, and, further, the new law will not save any HOAs from having to go through the statutory revitalization process if their Covenants have already expired under the current law prior to October 1, 2018.
In recent years, Condominium and Homeowner’s Associations have become a target for negligent security lawsuits and claims. Typically, a resident or guest of an Association is a victim of a violent crime and the crime victim later sues the Association. While we discussed this previously, we wanted to provide an update after speaking with Henderson Franklin’s premises liability litigation partner, Traci McKee, for additional thoughts on what Associations can do to reduce liability.
Can property owners be liable for the criminal acts of third parties?
Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” In a negligent security claim, the crime victim claims that the Association failed to implement reasonable security measures which would have prevented the crime. In most instances, the injury to the victim is severe resulting in a large potential exposure to the Association.
Under Florida law, landowners, including Associations, owe residents and guests a duty to take reasonable steps to protect against foreseeable crimes. Whether an Association’s safety measures were reasonable is typically a question for a jury. To determine whether a particular crime was foreseeable usually depends upon multiple factors such as past crimes at or near the property, and an Association’s knowledge of dangerous propensities of an individual.
With the turnover of volunteer homeowner’s association (“HOA”) board members over time, it is not surprising that certain important long-term issues may be overlooked. There is one very important law, however, which board members may not be aware of that can eliminate an HOA’s ability to enforce its restrictions.
I am often contacted by an HOA board at the last minute before their restrictions “expire” under this law and even sometimes after they expire. Below is a breakdown of the two different processes an HOA must follow to preserve the restrictions before they expire or, if the deadline has been missed, to revitalize the restrictions.
What is the law and why?
The Marketable Records Title Act (“MRTA”) is a Florida law designed to eliminate “stale” recorded claims that affect the title to real property, such as old recorded leases for which the beneficiaries have long departed or dissolved. Without MRTA, all of these documents still have to be shown on title commitments and policies even though they may have long since become irrelevant and unused. Unfortunately, there isn’t an exemption to save old (and still active) association covenants unless the affirmative steps are taken to preserve them.
What does it mean to HOA’s?
Beginning July 1, 2017, Florida community associations will have to comply with more burdensome estoppel requirements.
The 2017 Florida legislature just recently passed a new law that will require associations to comply with a request for an estoppel certificate within 10 business days. If they fail to do so, they will forfeit their right to…
The 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…
Have 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).