Charging the Way: New Law Opens the Door for Electric Charging Stations in Condominiums

A recent amendment to Chapter 718, Florida’s Condominium Act, facilitates a unit owner’s ability to install and use an electric-vehicle charging station within their condominium. Section 718.113(8), Florida Statutes, which took effect on July 1, 2018, created a new provision stating that a declaration of a condominium or the board of administration of a condominium may not prohibit a unit owner from installing an electric vehicle charging station within the boundaries of the unit owner’s limited common element parking area, under certain circumstances. A unit owner’s “right” to install a charging stating is not, however, without limits. An association may require that the unit owner comply with all safety requirements, applicable building codes or recognized safety standards for the protection of the association property and its members. An association may also require the unit owner to engage the services of a licensed and registered electrical contractor or an engineer that is familiar with the installation and requirements of an electric vehicle charging station. An owner wishing to install an electric vehicle charging station may also be required to comply with any reasonable architectural standards adopted by the association that govern the dimensions, placement or appearance of the electric vehicle charging station. However, such standards cannot substantially increase the cost of installation.

The new law also provides for additional safeguards for the association. For example, installation of an electric vehicle charging station may not cause irreparable damage to the condominium property. The electricity for the electric vehicle charging station must be separately metered and paid for by the unit owner making the installation. Cost of installation, operation, maintenance and repair of the electric vehicle charging station, including hazard and liability insurance, is the unit owner’s responsibility. Additionally, an association may require the unit owner to reimburse the association for the actual cost of any increased insurance premium attributable to the electric vehicle charging station. The law also shields condominium associations from construction liens resulting from the installation of electric vehicle charging stations by unit owners.

The new law does not, however, say anything about what happens if the association voluntarily opts to install “common” electric vehicle charging stations. In other words, if a condominium association opts to install these “common” electric vehicle charging stations (after complying with the necessary legal requirements) it does not mean that unit owners no longer have the right to install their own charging stations. The new law also does not address who is responsible for any costs associated with upgrading the condominium’s electrical system if an upgrade is necessary to handle the increased electrical usage.

Originally posted on floridacondohoalawblog.com and written by Jennifer Horan

Those Pesky Little White Balls

Living in a golf course community is the ultimate dream for many. However, a golf course address can equate to some rather nightmarish liability issues for many community associations. Those issues often stem from misdirected golf swings or “errant” shots.

There is no statutory law that governs golf ball liability. However, the Supreme Court of Florida has established that the driver of a golf ball is charged with the duty to exercise “ordinary care” for the safety of persons reasonably within the range of danger. Similarly, several other Florida courts have concluded that an operator of a golf course is not required to maintain the course in such conditions that no accident could possibly happen.

Nonetheless, according to such court rulings, the owner or operator of a golf course does have a legal duty to maintain the course in a reasonably safe condition, commensurate with the facts and circumstances that an ordinarily prudent person would generally exercise. Moreover, if a person knows of the existence of the course before moving into a golf course community, he or she is presumed to have “assumed the risk.” As such, generally speaking, that person cannot hold anyone liable for any damage or physical injury which may result from an errant golf ball.

The question of whether a community association can be held liable for errant shot damage or physical injury is dependent on several factors. If approached from a safety perspective, it is well-settled that a community association is charged with a duty of protection from foreseeable common element danger. Such duty arises because an association is usually held to a landlord’s standard of care regarding the common elements in its control. Additionally, the duty to protect against flying golf balls can also be compared to an association’s duty to protect its residents and invitees from foreseeable criminal acts.

Based on all of this, community associations are not automatically insulated from liability regarding errant golf balls. The potential for significant liability does exist. As such, an association’s governing documents and marketing materials should clearly provide that the association cannot be held liable for any damage or injury caused by golf balls hit from a community, or adjacent course. The disclaimer should also be included on the face of an association’s website and in periodic newsletters as well.

Finally, if an association is aware of errant golf balls flying into the community, it should also display signs to warn of the issue, given that the “open and obvious nature” of such a hazard may not always suffice to discharge an association of its duty to warn its membership and invitees of foreseeable potential harm. But, warnings do not necessarily discharge an association from maintaining its property in a reasonably safe condition. Thus, even if an association places warning signs regarding errant golf balls, it still has a duty to try to alleviate any known problems, in an effort to keep its premises safe.

Originally posted on floridacondohoalawblog.com and written by Astrid Guardado, ESQ

Some States are Protecting First Amendment Rights, Will the Sunshine State Follow Suite?

In 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 5-1 that a condominium owner could place election signs on his front door and side window of his townhome over the objections of his association.

Wasim Khan, an oncologist who was a Democratic candidate for the Morris County Board of Freeholders, fought the Mazdabrook Commons HOA when they began fining him $25.00 a day for each day his election signs remained. That wasn’t the first time that Khan tangled with his association; they had previously fined him for his rose bush vines growing too high.

Khan was ecstatic over the Court’s ruling, saying “We won for the rights of a million fellow New Jerseyans and countless more across the U.S.”

Well, maybe not so fast here in Florida. Our State’s Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue of whether a private residential community’s governing documents can restrict signs without running afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protections which prohibit government from abridging the freedom of speech. Generally speaking, there would have to be some “tie in” between a private residential community and state action in order to have the First Amendment apply. Some people think that the fact that Florida condominiums are regulated by the State is sufficient to create that necessary state action but that theory has not yet been tested in our highest court.

In a Florida decision that arose from a Naples neighborhood, a homeowners association sued an owner who refused to remove a “For Sale” sign, which violated the restrictive covenants, from their front yard. The trial judge ruled in favor of the homeowner, finding the association’s rule to be an abridgment of free speech. Upon appeal, the appeals court sided with the association, finding that the association was not an arm of government, that there was therefore no “state action, and enforcement of the no-sign-in-the-yard rule did not violate free speech rights.  See Quail Creek Homeowners’ Association vs. Hunter.  Since the Quail Creek case involved what is called “commercial speech”, which is afforded less protection than pure “political speech”, it is perhaps debatable whether the same result would have happened if the test case was a political yard sign.

Meanwhile, the State of California has also taken steps to safeguard the rights of those living in common interest ownership communities to express themselves via signage. A 2011 law sponsored by Senator Christine Kehoe even went so far as to ensure that tenants in these communities could display political signs. There were some limitations on this right including the requirement that such signs be no larger than 6 square feet and that the signs not be installed more than 90 days prior to the election or vote and must be removed no later than 15 days after such election or vote. Moreover, the signage must relate to a specific election, referendum, recall or issue before a public body and not just contain a general political sentiment.

A ride through my own HOA last weekend revealed one brave soul who had installed a small sign for a local candidate near his mailbox. Our community’s covenants ban all signs except the statutorily-permitted security signs. Sure enough, the latest issue of our HOA Newsletter contains a bolded section reminding us all that signs are not permitted including political signs.

What are your thoughts about private covenants and political signs given the upcoming midterm elections in November? Do such restrictions save us all from visual clutter and our neighbors’ questionable political choices or do they abridge our freedom of speech? Will Florida follow the examples set by other states or are we still a long way off from that happening?

10 Fun Ways to Engage Your Residents

Building great relationships with your residents will lead to lease renewals, positive online reviews, referrals, and less angry phone calls. There are plenty of fun, cost-effective ways you can show your residents you care about them and their experience at your property. Here are our top 10 ideas to boost resident engagement without breaking the bank.

1. Complimentary Gift Wrapping Station

Have an unused corner of your lobby area? Create a handy little gift wrapping station that your residents will swoon over! It is a great opportunity to check in and connect with your residents while they are wrapping gifts. Also, because you’ll need to stock it with different wrapping paper and ribbons depending on the time of year, it will nicely complement your holiday lobby decor. This unique and thoughtful, low-cost amenity will set your property apart from the rest! The Home Depot has a helpful blog with tips and suggestions for creating your own gift wrapping station.

2. Community Garden

Community gardens tend to attract higher-income residents, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists, so depending on the demographics of your community, a garden may be the perfect addition to your property. First, consult a professional landscaper to develop an accessible layout. Also, consider adding a compost bin to offset waste and enrich the soil naturally. Once your garden is up and running, host a “green thumb” contest, and post a picture of the winning plant, fruit, or vegetable on the community bulletin board, newsletter, and facebook page. Read this awesome MultifamilyBiz article for more info on starting your own community garden.

3. Trivia Night

Trivia nights are becoming increasingly popular at bars, restaurants, and now, multifamily communities! Find a location on your property that will fit a few tables and chairs (maybe your lobby, or lawn area) and grab some beers, sodas, pretzels, M&Ms, notepads, and pencils. Enlist your wittiest staff member as the emcee for the night and find your trivia questions online, from a board game, or a book. Here are a few sites with a bunch of fun questions you can use:

Free trivia questions and answers.

More free trivia questions and answers.

Trivia questions you can buy.

Don’t forget to announce your Trivia Night on your community board, newsletter, social media, and email blasts. Your residents will love testing their knowledge, getting to know their neighbors, and most importantly YOU for organizing a thoughtful and enjoyable event.

4. Ice Cream Social

This idea is so sweet and simple, but there are certainly ways to spice it up! Everyone loves ice cream, but you can kick it up a notch by bringing in a local gelato cart vendor, or setting up a banana split bar. Maybe consider moving away from the idea of ice cream completely, and host a build-your-own s’mores bar (especially if your property has a fire pit) with unique ingredients to add like Nutella, peanut butter, oreos, or chocolate chip cookies (to use instead of graham crackers). As with any event you organize, don’t forget to announce it on every community platform available so you get the most bang for your buck. Sweet treats are the best opportunity to connect with your residents, and show them some love.

5. Interior Design Consultations

Not everyone is Martha Stewart, some residents may need a little help in the creativity department. Encourage them to make their space feel like home by offering interior design consultations. Decorist is a popular startup that offers custom designs for $299 per room with no hidden costs. Laurel & Wolf and Havenly are similar platforms that offer room design services starting as low as $79 per space. Hiring an interior design service would be a great draw for new residents, or a sweet way to reward loyal ones who sign longer lease agreements.

6. Scavenger Hunt

There’s no better way to bring out your residents’ “inner-child” than a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. You can purchase a bunch of ping pong balls or plastic rings, or rubber duckies like Camden Living did and hide them all over your property. When your residents find them, they can turn them into the office to claim a prize. This gives you the chance to chat with them, and maybe hand out some branded gear. Some argue the best scavenger hunts involve riddles! If you go this route, each riddle they find leads them to another riddle until they finally reach a prize (hidden mimosa bar maybe?). Feel free to use the following riddles, and/or come up with your own!

 

Your managers work to get lots of things done

Applications and leases and all kinds of fun

They sometimes will sit at their desk in their chair

Low and behold, your next clue is there

Treasure hunt clue answer: Under your office chair

 

I’m stuck with articles, ads, and info

Lots of things that people want you to know

Papers and invites just hanging around

Somewhere up there the next clue can be found

Treasure hunt clue answer: Notice board

 

Fire me up and I’ll get nice and hot

During fun summer nights I’m a coveted spot

Wipe me down when you’re done and don’t be a slob

But enjoy your burgers and corn on the cob

Treasure hunt clue answer: BBQ

 

7. Doggie/Kitty Photo Contest

If your property is pet friendly, let your residents show off their fur babies and compete for a prize. You can create categories like, funniest pet photo, sleepiest pet photo, happiest pet photo, etc. Just have your residents post their entries on social media using your hashtag, and then re-post the winning photos on your social platforms. People are bound to connect with like-minded pet parents in your community and plan playdates. When your residents know and love their neighbors, the number of complaints will decrease and number of lease renewals will increase.

8. Hashtag Contest

If your community doesn’t allow pets, you can still run a successful UGC (user-generated content) hashtag contest. Do you have a current hashtag for your management company or property? Build brand awareness, and increase resident engagement by running a few social media contests throughout the year. Maybe during the holidays, ask your residents to post a picture of the wreath on their door using your hashtag, and the most creative wreath photo wins. Or if your property has a defining sign, gate, or water feature, encourage your residents to post fun pictures posing with that feature (and be sure to use your hashtag!). After your contest is over and prizes have been distributed to all of your winners, don’t forget to share and re-post. This will make your residents feel special and involved in the community; it also gives you great content for your social platforms.

9. Car Wash Service

Hire a local or mobile car wash company like Spiffy to come to your property and get your residents’ cars spic and span in the parking garage or parking lot if you have one. Set up a waiting area with beer and snacks for residents to enjoy and mingle with each other while their cars are detailed.

10. Leadership Lectures

If you have solid relationships with your residents, and know what they do for a living, ask if they would be interested in sharing their expertise with the rest of the community. Host a monthly or bi-annual lecture in your rec center, or common area. Do you have a CPA at your property? Ask them to share tips and best practices during tax season. Maybe there is a nurse or doctor would be willing to answer general health questions, and share new medical practices. They may be willing to speak for free, or incentivise them with a gift card, $100 off next month’s rent, etc.

Take a look at your budget, analyze your community demographics, and conclude what the most successful resident engagement event will be for your property. What will be a hit with your residents? Please let us know if you have any other tips for resident engagement, or if you attempted any of our suggestions, we want to hear how they turned out.

 

Originally posted on www.paylease.com written by Victoria Rees

Who is Responsible for Electrical Wiring and Plumbing Repairs?

Disputes over maintenance, repair and replacement responsibilities are common in community associations and a well drafted declaration or amendment to the declaration can help prevent disputes over who (owner or association) is responsible for a specific item of maintenance.

Regarding how to interpret your existing condominium documents, the unit boundaries will be defined within the declaration and sometimes within the site plan. Any item/component including electrical wires and plumbing located within the unit boundaries is the unit owner’s responsibility to maintain, repair and replace (unless the declaration states otherwise). In contrast, any item/component located outside the unit boundaries is a common element (or a limited common element) and the association is responsible to maintain, repair and replace the common elements unless a given item is identified in the declaration as a limited common element (benefiting the subject owner) and also identified as being the maintenance, repair and replacement responsibility of the unit owner.

Originally posted on floridacondohoalawblog.com and written by David G Muller

HOA Governing Documents Explained

Q: I recently purchased a home in a development that is under a homeowners’ association. When I purchased, I received “the documents” for our community. I am confused how these documents relate to each other and what the different documents are supposed to mean. Can you clarify the differences between the documents for me? I was also wondering how the “rules” are created. Is this something that homeowners are consulted on? (G.M., via e-mail)

A: According to Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, the “governing documents” of the community include the declaration of covenants, the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, and the rules and regulations.

The declaration is much like your “constitution” and sets forth the basic covenants and restrictions for the community. For example, covenants include the obligations to pay assessments and be a member of the association arising from the declaration. The requirement that your lot can only be used as a single family home, or can only be rented for certain minimum periods arise from the declaration are examples of restrictions.

The articles of incorporation, called the “corporate charter” in many states, establishes the association’s existence and basic structure and governance. It may address important powers, such as the association’s authority to borrow money.

The bylaws (which I often refer to as “the corporate housekeeping rules”) govern the operation and administration of the association. Bylaws will typically address the composition of the board, how meetings are called, and numerous other corporate procedures.

The rules and regulations usually supplement the restrictions in the declaration, and typically address matters of everyday policy, such as parking or use of the community’s recreational facilities.

In addition to “do and don’t” rules, most HOA’s also have what I refer to as “administrative rules”. For example, the Homeowners’ Association Act grants the board authority to adopt certain rules governing the frequency, duration, and other manner of member statements during board meetings. An official records inspection rule is another example of an “administrative rule”.

The various governing documents are each subject to their own amendatory procedure. Typically, declaration amendments require the highest level of owner vote, whereas rules are most often amended and created by the board of directors. Rules must be reasonable and cannot conflict with the rights provided for in the other governing documents. Amendments to all governing documents must be recorded in the public records to be valid.

The bylaws usually establish the board’s rulemaking authority, and may include limitations on this authority, such as a board only having the ability to create rules governing use and operation of the common areas.

The law does not contain any requirement for owners to approve rules, which are most often adopted by the board, assuming adequate rulemaking authority have been granted to the board. However, owners have the ability to attend board meetings where they can voice their opinions and raise any concerns regarding any items the board plans to vote on, including rules and regulations.

Q: My neighbor wants to erect a flagpole in his yard. I am concerned that it will block my property’s view. Is there anything that can be done about this? (S.S., via e-mail)

A: Probably not much.

Section 720.304 of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act provides that homeowners may erect freestanding flagpoles of no more than twenty feet in height on any portion of their property, regardless of provisions in the governing documents to the contrary. However, the flagpole cannot be built on an easement, and must not obstruct sightlines at intersections.

The law also lists certain flags that may be displayed from the flagpole, again regardless of contrary provisions of the governing documents, including a United States flag, an official flag of the State of Florida, or of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, or POW-MIA.

The law does state, however that flagpoles and corresponding flags are subject to all building codes, setback requirements, and all other applicable governmental restrictions. If your community’s covenants pre-date the enactment of these laws, there is an argument that they cannot be applied retroactively. However, that is far from settled on this topic.

Originally posted on floridacondohoalawblog.com and written by Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. 

Easements by Necessity – Goldman v. Lustig

In the recent case Goldman v. Lustig, Case No. 4D16-1933 (Fla. 4th DCA January 24, 2018), at issue was whether Unit Owners had the right to use and access a dock located behind an adjacent townhouse owner’s waterfront property.

The Unit Owners’ complaint sought a declaration of their rights to use the dock, as well as a permanent injunction to prohibit the adjacent property owner from preventing their use of the dock. The complaint also alleged that the adjacent property owner severed his riparian rights (simply defined as the method of allocating water among those who possess land along its path) to a portion of the dock when he entered into a quitclaim assignment with the Association. The adjacent property owner filed a countered seeking a declaratory judgment that would affirm his rights to the dock, and a permanent injunction to stop the Unit Owners from both using any portion of the dock and accessing the dock through his property. The Court found that the assignment was valid, as both the Unit Owners and the adjacent property owner executed the assignment, and riparian interests may only be severed by an express bilateral agreement (a reciprocal arrangement between parties which promises to do something in exchange for what the other is doing).

However, the central issue in the decision was whether the Unit Owners had a right to access the dock through the adjacent property owner’s land by way of an easement by necessity. In Florida, an easement by necessity is granted when there is no other accessible right-of-way to your own land except by crossing over someone else’s land.

While the Court held that the Unit Owners were entitled to use a portion of the dock, it explained that they were not entitled to an easement by necessity in order to access the dock, as they failed to demonstrate an absolute need for such easement. Although accessing the dock by land required the Unit Owners to cross the adjacent property owner’s land, the Court reasoned that they were not entitled to an easement by necessity, as they could also access the dock by water.

The Court provided that because the Unit Owners live on waterfront property, they could find an alternate way to access the dock. For instance, the Unit Owners could build their own access pier, which the Court considered to be a “reasonable and practicable way of egress or ingress.” The Court stressed that factors such as cost or inconvenience are not determinative for purposes of obtaining an easement by necessity.

Originally posted on floridacondohoalawblog.com and written by Esther Zuccaro

New Law Requires Recording of Homeowners’ Association Rule Amendments

Q:        I am a director in a homeowners’ association. I understand that there have been recent changes to the laws regarding document amendments. Do these changes in the law require that all changes to the rules and regulations made by the board of directors be recorded? (W.L. via e-mail)

A:        Yes. The recent changes to the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act require that amendments to rules and regulations made on or after July 1, 2018 be recorded in the public records.

The new amendment to Section 720.306(1)(e) of the statute states that an amendment to any of the “governing documents” is effective when recorded in the public records of the county in which the community is located. The statute was amended a couple of years ago to define “governing documents” to include rules and regulations.

I am not sure of the need for this change as perceived by our Legislature. It seems quite burdensome to me. By comparison, the Florida Condominium Act does not require and has never required rule amendments to be recorded to be legally valid.

Q:        Can you explain the differences in financial reporting requirements for condominiums? I am a director on a condominium board and we were wondering whether we could prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures instead of an audited financial statement. (J.T. via e-mail)

A:        Section 718.111(13) of the Florida Condominium Act requires that year-end financial statements be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The required form of financial statement will depend on the amount of the association’s total annual revenues.

Associations with total annual revenues of less than $150,000 must prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures. Compiled financial statements are required for associations with total annual revenues of at least $150,000 but less than $300,000. Reviewed financial statements are required for associations with total annual revenues of at least $300,000 but less than $500,000. Audited financial statements are required for associations with total annual revenues of $500,000 or higher.

For the association to prepare a lesser report than required by statute, the law requires a majority of the voting interests present at a properly called meeting of the association to specifically approve what type of report can be given instead. The approval and meeting must occur before the end of the association’s fiscal year and the financial reporting method is only effective for the fiscal year in which the vote was taken.

There are similar requirements in the homeowners’ association context.

Q:        I read your recent article regarding insurance and repair after casualty damage, such as a hurricane. Do you have support for the statement that air conditioning units are the association’s responsibility? Is there a difference for other air conditioning equipment such as air handlers? (K.H. via e-mail)

A:        Section 718.111(11)(f)1. of the Florida Condominium Act requires the association to insure “all portions of the condominium property as originally installed or replacements of like kind and quality, in accordance with the original plans and specifications.” Subparagraph 3 of that part of the statute then goes on to exclude certain items from the associations insurance coverage responsibility, including electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, and built-in cabinetry, among other items. These items are often called the “exclusions” to the association’s insuring responsibility.

Air conditioning equipment was added to the list of exclusions in the statute in 2003. However, such equipment (which would include compressors/condensers and interior air handling units) was then removed from the exclusion list when the statute was rewritten in 2008, so it is now part of the association’s responsibility for insurance and repair after casualty.

It is important to note that this is different than maintenance responsibility. Most declarations of condominium place maintenance responsibility on the owners. While the association cannot “opt out” of the statutorily-required insurance obligation, it can (by majority vote of the members) opt out of post-casualty repair cost allocations, which is typically most relevant when deductibles come into play.

Originally posted on floridacondohoalawblog.com and written by Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. 

Owner’s Don’t Have Right to Call in to Board Meetings

Q:        My condominium association is mostly composed of seasonal owners and every member of the board leaves town for the summer. At the last board meeting, the board announced that it intends to post notice of upcoming board meetings over the summer on the condominium property but that all of the board members will be attending the meeting by conference call. While we have a speakerphone in our meeting room, the owners are being told they cannot call into the conference call but have to attend the meeting in the office. Aren’t seasonal owners also entitled to call into the board meeting, as well?  (F.W. via e-mail)

A:        No. The Florida Condominium Act requires that board meetings be properly noticed. Other than certain specific board meetings, such as board meetings to levy assessments or adopt rules regarding unit use, the notice must only be posted at least 48 hours before the meeting on the condominium property. Further, owners are entitled to attend meetings and may speak at the meeting as to all designated agenda items.

The statute contemplates that the meetings will take place at a specific location and that notice of that meeting need only be posted on the condominium property.  The statute provides that board members may participate in a meeting via telephone, video conferencing or similar real-time electronic or video communication, and such participation counts towards the quorum. Board members participating by remove means may vote as if they were physically present in the room. The Condominium Act does not mention unit owners attending board meetings through remote means.

While the board can allow board members to participate or remote means, there is no legal requirement to do so. I am aware of a few associations which allow owners to call into board meetings, but it is certainly not the norm.

Q:        As a member of a homeowners’ association, do I have a right to review the association’s contract with its manager? I am curious to know the terms. (D.L. via e-mail)

A:        Yes. You are legally entitled to inspect the management agreement, if you make a written request to inspect the association’s official records.

Included on the list of official records that homeowners’ associations are required to maintain under the “a current copy of all contracts to which the association is a party, including, without limitation, any management agreement, lease, or other contract under which the association has any obligation or responsibility.”

While the statute provides that certain “personnel records” of association or management company employees are not subject to owner inspection, such as disciplinary and health records, this prohibition does not include written employment agreements between the association and its management company. Further, agreements between the association and its employees are also not included within “personnel records.”

The Florida Condominium Act contains similar provisions relating to official records.

Q:        Does the upcoming change to the Florida Cooperative Act mentioned in your previous article about keeping minutes apply to future minutes only, or all minutes? (H.A. via e-mail)

A:        You are referring to the amendment to Section 719.104(2)(a)4. of the Florida Cooperative Act. The current law requires cooperative associations to maintain minutes for a period of seven years. The law effective July 1, 2018 will require minutes to be retained perpetually.

In my opinion, if the association has destroyed minutes that are over seven years old, it is not a violation of the current law (though in my opinion, it is generally not a good idea). However, as of July 1, you will be obligated to retain all minutes the association has in its possession, even if over seven years old, and will be obligated going forward to maintain all minutes as part of the official records, regardless of age.

Written by Joe Adams and originally posted to the FL Condo HOA Law Blog

Why is a Plat so Important?

As an owner of residential property in Florida, you are aware that your community is probably subject to a unique set of “governing documents.” Typically these will include a Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions, Association Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and various Rules and Regulations.

Less well known is the statutory process of “platting,” which is required whenever a developer wishes to subdivide a large piece of property into smaller parcels and tracts. These smaller areas become the residential lots, streets and parks of a new residential sub-division.

Creation of statutory subdivision plats is governing by Florida Statute 177 Part 1. The statute contains specific requirements for both drafting and filing a plat. Basically a plat is a map of the subdivision of lands, which is supposed to be an exact representation of both the subdivision and other information required by the statute and any local ordinances. The next time you have an issue with boundaries in your community, the extent or purpose of an easement, or whether a portion of property is within your property, check your plat in addition to other governing documents, it has a wealth of information.

Every plat of a subdivision must be accompanied by a survey of all the boundaries of the platted lands. The survey must be performed under the supervision of a professional surveyor. Each plat must be accompanied by a title opinion of a Florida attorney, abstractor or title company which shows that all the owners of the property are executing the plat, and that all mortgages on the property have been satisfied.

The statute lists 29 specific requirements for each plat, including the size of the plat and the color ink that must be used. In working with your community plat (which is recorded in the Public Records of the County in which your community is located) the following requirements can be particularly useful:

  • A prominent “north arrow” must be drawn on every page to allow you to orient the map.
  • Sufficient data must be shown on the plat to describe the boundaries of every residential lot, block, street, easement, park and all other areas shown on the subdivision plat.
  • Properties which adjoin the subdivision must be identified by subdivision title, plat book and page. If adjoining land is unplatted, that must also be designated.
  • Both the location and width of all easements must be shown either on the plat or in the notes or legend on the plat. The specific intended use of each easement must also be clearly stated.
  • If there is an interior parcel within the community that is not part of the plat, it must be clearly labeled; “Not A Part Of This Plat”. Without such a label, all property within the boundaries of the platted subdivision are included.

If your community decides to have another survey of any portion of the property, it is important to remember that the original surveyor who prepares a subdivision plat is presumed to have been correct. For this reason, the new survey will only locate the original monuments, points and lines of the original survey. If for any reason there is a discrepancy between what the subdivision plat shows and what the original survey indicates, the monuments placed on the ground as part of the original survey have precedence.

Originally posted on floridacondohoalawblog.com and written by Harry W. Carls ESQ