LEGISLATIVE CHANGES ON THE WAY?
With the 2004 Florida Legislative Session fast approaching, the following two statewide committees are presently holding hearings concerning the operation of community associations. Because both of these committees will ultimately make recommendations to the legislature concerning the need for new laws, it is important to observe their actions:
1. Florida House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Condominium Governance:
This committee, which consists of Chairman Julio Robaina and seven other members of the House of Representatives, has held at least two public hearings to hear 'concerns relating to Condominium Association Governance'.
I had the pleasure of attending the hearing held in Kissimmee on November 6, 2003 which, due to limited publication, was attended by very few persons. In fact, no one who actually lived in a condominium spoke to the committee. Instead, several persons who lived in communities having mandatory homeowners associations were permitted to speak. As you might expect, the presentations were, in general, specific complaints about how their mandatory community association had abused their interest.
It became quickly oblivious that several of the Representatives on the committee have 'concerns' with the whole community association concept. In fact, several members asked leading questions in an apparent attempt to make all of the reported 'horror' stories sound even worse.
At the conclusion of the hearings, this committee will file its report with the House, along with its recommendations relating to changes to Chapter 718. Based on comments made by many of the Committee members, we should expect this report to recommend many 'consumer protection' measures that are designed to rectify perceived specific 'wrongs'.
If you want more information, please go to 'www.myfloridahouse.com' or contact our office.
2. Homeowners’ Association Task Force:
As a result of last year’s legislative session, a fifteen member 'Homeowners’ Association Task Force' was formed for the following self-stated purpose (as found on 'www.myflorida.com'):
The Homeowners’ Association Task Force, a cross-section of representatives involved with homeowners’ associations, was created at the Governor’s request to harmonize and improve relations between homeowners, homeowners’ associations and other related entities. The members will provide input and make recommendations for legislative change consistent with his vision for government and regulation. Monthly meetings through January are anticipated with locations and dates available below.
The membership of the Task Force, which can be found on www.myflorida.com, is very diverse and the members appear to be very knowledgeable and prepared to make well reasoned (if not well received) recommendations.
On November 14, 2003 the Task Force held its monthly meeting in Orlando, at which time it listened to various speakers concerning various concerns and recommendations. At the conclusion of the public comment session, the Task Force then discussed, and took non-binding action concerning, the following agenda items:
1. The need for more pre-sale disclosure by both developers and existing home-owner sellers;
2. The need for more notice to the general membership of certain proposed board actions (e.g. special assessments and certain rules);
3. Whether members should be permitted to talk at board members;
4. Whether members should be permitted to require items to be addressed by their board; and,
5. The need to alter the election process for HOA boards.
The next meeting of the Task Force will be held on December 8, 2003 in Tampa. We encourage you to let that committee know your thoughts concerning these matters, whether by attending that meeting or by writing to them in Tallahassee.
If you want more information, please go to 'www.myflorida.com' or contact our office.
The firm of Taylor & Carls, P.A., with offices located in Maitland, Melbourne and Daytona Beach, Florida, was founded in 1981 and has practiced in the area of community association law since that date. This edition prepared by Robert L. Taylor, a partner of Taylor & Carls, P.A. The information contained in The Association e-Lawyer should not be acted upon without professional legal advice.
©2003 Taylor & Carls, P.A. All Rights Reserved.
The firm can be reached at 407-660-1040.