3 Important Tips for Board Members of HOAs and Condo Associations

Brian T. Meanley

Whether you’re an existing board member or a new board member this year, as Community Association Law attorneys, we’d like to offer you some advice as you begin to fulfill your duties in 2023. Here are the 3 top tips for community association board members: 1. Know Your Governing Documents  Whether you're a Condominium Association under Chapter 718 or a Homeowners Association under Chapter 720, your Community Association has a set of governing documents, and the law imposes upon you a duty to know what those documents are as well as their function and purpose.  Both HOAs and condo associations have declarations of covenants and restrictions that impose a set of obligations or stipulations on owners (i.e. use restrictions, ownership restrictions, occupancy restrictions, etc.). Under the law, there is a certain hierarchy in governing documents in which the Declaration is the most important. The other two types of governing documents, the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, determine how your corporation runs i.e. eligibility requirements for the board, elections, annual meetings, etc.  Under law, a new board member of a community association – both in condos and HOAs – have an obligation within 90 days of commencing service on the board to certify in writing that they have read and understand all governing documents and agreed to, to the best of their ability, enforce those governing documents according to their provisions.  As community association law attorneys, we also recommend that you take a board certification course, especially if you have never served as a board member before. Along with a Certificate of Completion, you’ll receive valuable information and tips for being a successful board member. Our Community Association Attorneys at Sachs Sax Caplan frequently teach board member certification courses as well as continuing education courses for Florida Community Association Managers. To learn more and find out when our next class is, call 561-994-4499. 2. Treat Your Community Like a Business  As a board member, you have a fiduciary obligation to other members and owners in your community to serve objectively, responsibly, honestly and efficiently. I believe the best way to do that...

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Recent Advancements in Association Law

Michael Chapnick

Warren Buffett once said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” As we approach the end of 2022, we thought it appropriate to see if we can reduce the risk surrounding the management and operation of condominium and homeowners’ associations by focusing on five (5) relatively recent advances in Association Law that may have a profound effect on how these communities operate.  These five (5) areas are: assessment collection letters, association registration, alternative dispute resolution, fining and/or suspension of use rights, and, last, but certainly not least, reserves. As to collections, Sections 718.121(5) and 720.3085(3)(d), Fla. Stat., now require that condominium and homeowners’ associations may not require the payment of attorneys’ fees related to a past due assessment unless the association (or its managing agent) provides the unit owner with a notice letter giving the owner thirty (30) days within which to make payment.  A rebuttable presumption that this letter has been sent is created by the execution of an affidavit by an officer, director, agent, or licensed community association manager attesting to the same.  Thus, if your association plans on attempting to recover its attorneys’ fees from a unit owner for collection of past due assessments, the thirty (30) day letter and affidavit are a necessity. As part of Senate Bill 4-D, all condominium and cooperative associations with buildings three (3) stories or higher are required to report certain information to the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, on or before January 1, 2023.  The information that is required includes, among other things: the name of the association, the number of buildings that are three (3) stories or higher in height, and the total number of units in those buildings.  Condominium and cooperative associations may register at http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/condos-timeshares-mobile-homes/building-report/. Since 1992, when a disagreement arose between a condominium association and a unit owner as to an issue that met the statutory definition of “dispute,” they were required to submit to what is called mandatory non-binding arbitration with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.  Disagreements between associations and owners in homeowners’ associations, on the other hand, had...

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