This legislative session was a busy one as far as condominiums and homeowners associations are concerned. This article will focus on new responsibilities impacting the board of directors for homeowners associations.
For new members on each and every HOA Board of Directors, including those directors who are re-elected or re-appointed, there is now a requirement that each individual provide a written certification to the Association stating that he or she has read the governing documents in full, will uphold the rules and discharge their duties faithfully. One would think that these are assumed responsibilities that naturally go along with the position, right? Well, for those who are disinclined to provide such a certification because they would like to obtain a more complete understanding of their role as a board member, or simply because they hate reading or certifying in writing that they will be good boys and girls there is an alternative! Instead of signing such a certification, the new board member is allowed to provide the Association with a certificate from a DBPR-approved provider of educational services reflecting that the individual has successfully completed a board member curriculum either 1 year before or within 90 days after their election or appointment. Either way, these certifications are additional paperwork that the Association must keep on file as an Association business record, which by the way, can now be obtained by Association members using new technology such as their smart phone, tablet, portable scanner, etc. (this ability to use electronic media applies to condominium associations as well).
Staying on the topic of board members and HOA elections, the Association is no longer mandated to accept nominations to the Board at the election meeting or to even have an election for that matter (if there are less candidates then open seats on the Board). However, to avail itself of these changes, the Association must have a procedure in its governing documents specifically allowing for advance nomination of candidates. If your Association’s governing documents do not have such a procedure, you may want to seek legal assistance from an attorney to amend the relevant provisions (see: shameless self-promotion).
Now that the board of directors is in place and each member is properly certified, what are some other legislative changes that they should know about? Well, one new requirement is that every HOA is now obligated to report to the DBPR some basic information on or before November 22, 2013. The required information includes the name of the Association, the FEIN tax id number, the mailing and physical address, the number of parcels, and the total amount of annual revenues and expenses from the annual budget. No big deal, just make sure to get it done!
Another important change is the requirement that all HOAs have a policy of insurance or a fidelity bond to cover misappropriated funds. The limits of the insurance policy or the amount of the bond must be equal to maximum amount of funds that will be in the hands of the Association or its management company at any given time and must cover anyone who can control or disburse Association funds. However, unlike condominiums, HOAs are allowed to waive this requirement annually if the majority of the members present at a meeting at which this requirement will be discussed vote in favor of waiver.
Finally, both HOAs and condominium associations now have the option of publishing a directory of all unit owners to the community. The directory includes names, parcel addresses and phone numbers. A unit owner may only avoid inclusion of their phone number by providing a written request to the Association that their number not be disclosed. Of course, it is advisable that the Association send out advance notice if it intends to create and distribute such a directory advising owners of the opt-out option with regard to phone numbers and giving ample time for owners to provide such. This is a certainly a scenario where the adage that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission should not be applied.
While there were certainly other changes applicable to both homeowners and condominium association in this year’s legislative session, those will be discussed in future articles, or you can feel free to contact me to discuss.