2018 Legislative Changes to the Florida Cooperative Act

On March 23, 2018, Governor Rick Scott signed into law the 2018 legislative changes to the Florida Cooperative Act (Chapter 719, Florida Statutes).  These changes become law on July 1, 2018.  This blog post provides a detailed summary of these statutory amendments affecting Florida’s cooperative associations:

Official Records:

  • For several official records, the seven (7) year retention requirement has been removed, meaning these documents must be maintained in the association’s official records in perpetuity:
    • The plans, permits, warranties and other items provided by the developer;
    • Recorded copy of the declaration of condominium, bylaws, articles of incorporation and all amendments thereto;
    • The association’s rules and regulations;
    • The minutes of all the association’s meetings, including both member meetings and board meetings;
    • Accounting records.

All other records are to be maintained for only seven (7) years.

  • Cooperative associations must provide access to the official records, pursuant to an official records request, within ten (10) business days. (The previous law said the records must be provided within five (5) business days but penalties did not apply until the eleventh (11) business day.).
  • Electronic records related to electronic voting are part of the official records and must be maintained for one (1) year.

Board Members:

  • For cooperatives of more than ten (10) units, co-owners of a unit are precluded from both serving on the board, unless the persons own more than one unit.
  • Board members may communicate via email but cannot vote via email.
  • Any director or officer who is more than ninety (90) days delinquent in the payment of any monetary obligation to the association shall be deemed to have abandoned the office.

Meeting Notices:

  • There must be specific disclosure in the notice of any meeting where there will be consideration of regular or special assessments. The notice must provide a description of the purpose of the assessment and estimated cost;
  • Associations can now post notices of meetings on the association website. The association can email the website link for the notice to the members who have consented to receiving meeting notices via email.  Associations must still physically post meeting notices on the association property;
  • Unit owners who have consented to receive notices via email have the duty to remove spam filters on association emails. In other words, if a unit owner does not receive the association notice because of a spam filter, that is the unit owner’s fault.

Common Expenses:

  • Cooperative associations may now contract for communication services, information services and internet services for the entire property.

Term Limits:

  • The statute now states as follows: “Board members may serve terms longer than 1 year if permitted by the bylaws or articles of incorporation.  A board member may not serve more than 8 consecutive years, unless approved by an affirmative vote of unit owners representing two-thirds of all votes cast in the election or unless there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the vacancies on the board at the time of the vacancy.”  It appears that the DBPR will interpret this eight (8) year limit to commence when the statute was enacted (2018).

Fines:

  • The fining committee must be made of at least three (3) members who are appointed by the board. The fining committee members may not be officers, directors, or employees of the association, or be a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister of an officer, director or employee of the association;
  • The association may only impose a fine or suspension if the fining committee approves the fine or suspension by majority vote;
  • The association must provide written notice of any fine or suspension, by mail or hand delivery, to the unit owners (and tenant if applicable);
  • Any fine approved by the committee is due within five (5) days after the date of the committee meeting.
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