Answers To Your HOA And Condominium Questions

At Pilka & Associates, P.A., we believe in educating clients. As part of that mission, we have answered some of the most commonly asked questions our clients have about HOA and condominium law.

What Items Are Considered Official Records Of The Association?

Some or all of the following may be official records:

  • Plans, permits and warranties provided by the developer
  • Recorded declaration and each amendment
  • Recorded bylaws
  • Certified copy of the articles of incorporation
  • The current rules of the association
  • Minutes of all meetings for the past seven years
  • Current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses
  • Current insurance policies
  • Current copy of any management agreements
  • Leases or other contracts
  • Bills of sale
  • Accounting records
  • Records of all receipts and expenditures
  • Current statement of account for each unit
  • All financial reporting statements
  • All contracts for work to be performed
  • Ballots, sign-in sheets and voting proxies over the past year
  • All rental records
  • Current question and answer sheet
  • All other records relating to the operation of the association

How Does An Association Amend Its Bylaws?

The method used to amend the bylaws should be located within the bylaws of the association. It should also be consistent with the provisions of Chapter 718 or 719, Florida Statutes. If the bylaws fail to provide a method of amendment, the bylaws may still be amended if at least two-thirds of voting members approve of it. The full text of the bylaws to be amended must be included with new words underlined and words to be deleted stricken through with hyphens.

When Do Amendments Become Effective?

Amendments to condominium bylaws become effective when they are recorded in the public records of the county where the declaration of condominium is recorded.

Can Unit Owners Prevent The Board From Hiring A Management Company?

The bylaws specify the powers and duties of officers and board members. However, if a condominium board of directors chooses to employ a manager, it shall only employ a licensed community association manager where licensure is required by Florida law.

Can An Association Self-Manage, Or Must They Hire A Manager?

Many associations choose to contract with an outside individual or managing entity. However, they are not required to do so. The association may be self-managed if it so chooses. If an association decides to hire a manager to assist the board of directors, the manager may be required to be licensed as a Community Association Manager (CAM).

Can An Association Pay A Board Member?

Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws of the association, the members of the board shall serve without compensation. However, if compensated, a board member may require licensure as a CAM.

Does An Association Have To Pay For And Insure Officers And Directors?

A unit-owner-controlled association may obtain liability insurance for its officers and directors. Additionally, the association must obtain and maintain adequate insurance or fidelity bonding of all persons who control or disburse funds of the association, as well as the president, secretary and treasurer of the association. This insurance is a common expense of the association.

How Does A Condominium Become A 55+ Community?

A property must meet certain requirements of the Federal Fair Housing Act to be designated as an adult community. The Florida Commission on Human Relations administers the Federal Fair Housing Act in Florida.

Is Mediation For Any Dispute Still Available?

No. The legislature recently amended the law which effectively ended the mandatory HOA mediation program administered by the Florida Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes. This has been replaced with a private mediation program. The new law, which took effect on July 1, 2007, now provides that parties to homeowners' disputes may use private mediators to assist them in resolving their issues.

When Is Arbitration Required?

Arbitration through the Division program is required for all recall and elections disputes, prior to filing a lawsuit.

Why Are Various Associations Governed So Differently?

In the state of Florida, both homeowners associations and condominium associations are authorized by Florida law, but are not governed by those statutes. Each homeowners association and condominium association is a separate private legal contract between an owner and the association. By buying a home, a lot or a unit in a community, you become a party to a legally binding contract — membership in a unique association with owners, governed by its own rules, restrictions and obligations.

Why Do I Have To Pay Dues And Follow The Rules Of The Association After Buying A House?

When you signed the purchase contract for home, lot or unit within an association, you became a member of the association. This is true even if you did not sign your association and governing documents. You may have legal responsibilities, including paying association membership fees and special assessments.

If you do not understand your legal rights and responsibilities, contact our attorneys as soon as possible.

Does The Association Have Legal Responsibilities Toward The Homeowners?

Your association may be obligated to maintain the exterior of your property or provide security, trash collection or other services. The association may be obligated to support common property, amenities and staff with homeowners' fees.

In addition to the obligations and duties placed upon the association under the association's governing documents, the association also has responsibilities as set forth more fully under Florida statutes. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your association's responsibilities and obligations to you as a homeowner or condominium owner, please contact our lawyers.

Can I Record My Association Meetings?

Yes. Statutes allow recording of open meetings. However, your board may require that the taping be announced to those present and that the taping equipment be placed in the center of the room for the best sound recordings.

Can My Association Remove Privileges, Such As The Community Pool?

Yes. An owner's rights may be suspended, including rights to use the common elements, as well as their right to vote. However, such rights may not be suspended unless the homeowner first receives at least 14-day notice and an opportunity for a hearing before a committee of at least three members. In addition, the rights of a member to vote may not be suspended unless a homeowner's payments are delinquent for more than 90 days.

Should My Association Invest Reserve Funds In The Stock Market?

No. Both a homeowners association and a condominium association are nonprofit organizations, and its funds are to be preserved. Directors should act as fiduciaries, preserving and managing funds by considering investments in the best interest of the association.

Prudent investments include savings accounts, money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) to the extent fully insured by federal government, and certain bonds and notes of the state and the U.S. government such as treasury notes, bills and bonds. The association board should adopt, publish and follow an investment policy, and it should err on the side of full disclosure.

What's The Best Way To Improve My Association?

You can change your association politically, by changing the members of the board, or judicially through the courts — an extremely expensive process.

The best way to improve your association is to get involved, read your governing documents thoroughly and attend meetings of the association. Volunteer to serve on a committee of the board of directors, and encourage other residents to do the same. Listen to and respect all points of view, build relationships and consensus with others in your community, and make fair decisions.

It takes time, but the best communities are always run by people who care about their neighbors and are willing to work for the greater good.

For answers to all of your questions, contact us online or by calling our Brandon office at 813-502-1097 or our Lakeland office at 863-263-9321.