2018 Legislative Changes to the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act

On March 23, 2018, Governor Rick Scott signed into law the 2018 legislative changes to the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act.  These changes become law on July 1, 2018.  This blog post provides a detailed summary of these statutory amendments affecting Florida’s homeowners’ associations:

Official Records:

  • Excludes from the official records the documents maintained on the personal computers of officers, directors and committee members.

Payment of Assessments:

  • Any restrictive endorsement or purported attempts at accord and satisfaction made by an owner in submitting a partial payment for amounts owed do not impact the application of payments received by the association. In other words, the HOA can process the partial payment and the owner is still responsible for the remaining balance owed regardless of any restrictive endorsement made by the owner.

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. Stated another way, if a unit owner does not receive the association notice because of a spam filter, that is the unit owner’s fault.
  • Board members can communicate via email, but not vote via email.
  • A member can now consent to electronic notices delivered via facsimile in addition to email.

Election:

  • If an election is not required because there are more vacancies than candidates, and nominations from the floor are not required, then write-in candidates are not permitted in the HOA election, and the candidates running for the board will become board members whether or not a quorum is attained at the election meeting.

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.
  • Any notice must be mailed or delivered to the address of the parcel as identified in the property appraiser’s website for the county in which the parcel is located or electronically transmitted to an owner who has consented, in writing, to receive notice by electronic transmission.

Amendments to the Governing Documents:

  • The new law clarifies the procedure by which amendments to the governing documents are made. A proposal to amend the governing documents must contain the full text of the provision to be amended.  The proposed deleted language will be designated with a strike through, and the proposed added language will be underlined. If the amendment is so extensive that this may confuse the reader, then the new language must be preceded by the disclaimer “substantial rewording.  See governing documents for current text.”
  • An immaterial error or omission in the amendment process will not invalidate an otherwise properly adopted amendment.
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