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Blog

"Another Day, Another Battle..."

As you may be aware, the Florida legislature approved six bills that directly affect Community Associations in the 2017 legislative session. The governor approved five of these bills, and vetoed one of them. This article will quickly address the three bills that provide the greatest effect on our client Associations, and will give a short summary of how they may affect your Association.

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Appeals To A Scheduled Sale

Our Firm has noticed a substantial increase in the number of appeals being filed against lien foreclosure judgments. Part of this is attributable to the overall decrease of foreclosure matters, and the increase in the number of individuals that cannot reasonably file for bankruptcy to stay a sale (due to the party owning multiple investments, having adequate assets, etc.). A Defendant/Appellant filing an appeal to a lien foreclosure judgment can be a frustrating and infuriating occurrence for an Association. And the reasons for filing an appeal can vary greatly.

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I Volunteer!

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Florida Community Associations. The members of the Board of Directors and officers of Florida Community Associations, as Not-for-Profit Corporations, are, after all, volunteers. An Association must also depend on volunteers to serve on any committees (Architectural Review Committees, Social Committees, etc.) established by the Association. The Association must, however, be careful not to utilize volunteers for matters and tasks that should be performed by licensed professionals or other trained personnel.

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Re-charging your Association!…what should an Association do about electric vehicles…

As technology increases its influence on daily life, one cannot help but notice the increasing chatter about electric vehicles. While fully-electric vehicles and “plug-in hybrids” represent only a small fraction of the number of vehicles sold each year in the United States, nevertheless, it goes without saying that an association should anticipate a growing interest in this type of vehicle from its residents.

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Let’s Get Down to Businesses

A provision which prohibits all Business and Commercial Operations may prove problematic, as it may seek to prohibit all business and commercial activities (i.e., operations) within a community. Please appreciate that prohibiting business and commercial activities within communities has become more problematic as technology has advanced. In today’s world, countless individuals perform some level of business or commercial activity from their homes. How many of us use our phones and computers on business activities from our homes? Given this fact, do you really want to stop all such activities, or do you only want the outward manifestation of such business and commercial activities to cease? By way of example, while you may want to prohibit an auto repair shop operating within your community, you probably do not want to prohibit someone from using a phone for a business.

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Short Term Rentals - Long Term Problems

Most Florida Community Associations have adopted covenants, restrictions or rules and regulations which limit or regulate the rental of the properties within the Community. Often, the rental and leasing restrictions will mandate a minimum rental or lease term (usually at least six months or one year) for the property. An integral part of the rental process, for a Community Association, is the requirement that potential renters, through the property owner, submit a “Lease/Rental Application” to the Association. The application process allows the Board of Directors of the Association to know who the proposed renter is (and how many renters are applying!) and, where permitted, to accept or reject the rental applicant. Where the goal of the Association is to limit or prohibit “transient” renters (rentals on a daily or weekly basis), recent on-line services and trends in booking private residences for hotel-like accommodations have frustrated Community Associations who wish to limit short-term rentals.

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Criminal Sections For Rogue Associations

Condominium Associations in Florida are run by Volunteers who for the most part are individuals who have no criminal intent while performing their Association duties.  According to the Final Report of the Miami-Dade County Grand Jury filed February 6, 2017, Condominium Associations and Management Companies have criminal tendencies.  The Grand Jury claims the Department of Business and Professional Regulations are not coming down hard enough or the existing Condo laws and regulations lack “teeth” to keep these rogue Associations and/or Management Companies in check.

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Alligators, Coyotes and Black Bears. Oh My! How Your Community’s Liability Is Changing

Here in Florida, we have plenty of wild animals to be concerned with: black bears, alligators, snakes, in some parts of the state, wild boar, crocodiles, and bobcats, and now becoming ever more common, even in urban areas, we have coyotes.  Recent trends in the law are seemingly increasing the risk of liability to community association for the acts of wild animals.

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Use of Terms and Conditions in Purchase Agreements

Attorneys and REALTOR®s[1] have sought to produce standardize contracts for the sale and purchase of real estate ever since I can remember. I have personally witnessed the evolution of these contracts over the past forty (40)+ years. What began for me back in 1974 as a four (4) page residential contract has grown into a thirteen (13) page residential contract (see attached).

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Choose your own adventure! How your HOA may be conducting its annual elections improperly…

Around this time every year, most of our Homeowners Association (HOA) clients are readying themselves for their annual meeting, including the election of the next year’s Board members.  Under current Florida law, there is minimal statutory guidance for Homeowners Associations as to how an HOA is required to conduct their election of Board members.  This stands in stark contrast to the rules governing the election of Board members in a condominium association, which are heavily regulated by statute, as well as state administrative agencies.  For most HOAs, the association is simply to follow the election requirements as set forth in the association’s governing documents, within minimal statutory guidelines. 

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