The following new laws were adopted by the State of Florida impacting community associations:
House Bill 919
Meeting Notices – Board meeting notices must now include specific agenda items, except in the case of emergencies.
Construction Deposits – Deposits that are collected from a member for construction purposes must be kept separately and returned within 30 days after completion of the project, looking much more like the requirements for security deposits in the rental of real property.
Restrictions on gifts – Broad protections have been added such as officers, directors and managers are prohibited from soliciting or accepting anything of value without providing consideration in return, except for minor food expenses or trade fair-related goods or services.
Crimes – The immediate removal from office is now mandated for officers or directors charged with specific crimes, including forgery, theft/embezzlement, destruction of records and obstruction of justice.
Conflict of Interest – Disclosure of conflicts of interest are required annually for developer-appointed board members and officers, as well as for all directors and officers before voting on matters that are influenced by the conflict.
HOA Fines – HOAs that exercise their long-standing right to impose reasonable fines for violations must hold mandatory hearings before the independent hearing committee before the fine may be made due and owing.
New Section, Section 720.3065, has been added to address fraudulent voting activities and associated penalties, classifying them as first-degree misdemeanors. These provisions aim to enhance transparency, accountability and fairness within homeowners’ associations in Florida.
House Bill 437 – HOA – Big Change
This bill introduces provisions that limit the ability of HOAs in Florida to restrict the installation, display or storage of certain items on parcels. Regardless of any association rules or covenants, associations cannot prohibit parcel owners or tenants from installing, displaying or storing items that are not visible from the frontage or adjacent parcels, such as artificial turf, boats, flags and recreational vehicles. This is likely to cause a lot of problems in HOAs, especially for communities that have homes that abut a body of water and are visible from the other side of the water. Finally, homeowners have the right to display up to two flags, including the United States flag, the official flag of Florida, military branch flags, the POW-MIA flag and first responder flags, in a respectful manner, including on freestanding flag poles. While the right to fly these flags is not new, its expansion to two flags and the expanded list of flags that may be flown are substantial changes that every HOA needs to be aware of.