Legislative Session Update – What You Need to Know

Various bills that could dramatically affect Florida associations are presently under consideration during the current legislative session. The list below highlights some of the proposed legislative changes. This list is not exhaustive of all pending bills or provisions impacting associations.

Governance and Record Keeping

Senate Bill 1362 would clarify that only terms beginning in 2018 would count towards recently enacted term limits for condominium directors. It would incorporate mobile device applications as a substitute for mandatory websites, makes various changes to record keeping and administrative requirements, and updates electric vehicle provisions, among other changes. The law would also remove a prohibition on the ability of condominiums to hire service providers owned by officers, directors, or their relatives. This prohibition arguably conflicted with recently enacted requirements relating to director and officer conflicts of interest. This bill would also update homeowners’ association record keeping, meeting notice and pre-suit dispute resolution requirements. Senate Bill 610 will also lower the number of units triggering a mandatory website requirement from 150 to 25, phasing this in by a specified date. Notably, an amendment was filed to this bill that would have overhauled condominium dispute resolution by replacing mandatory non-binding arbitration with a pre-suit mediation program similar to that presently in place for homeowners’ association disputes. However, this amendment was subsequently replaced and the present version would preserve the current arbitration requirements. House Bill 1075 would address many of the same issues.

Criminal Penalty Revisions and Foreclosure Purchase Prohibition

If enacted, SB 610 will change recently enacted provisions relating to criminal penalties for association-related malfeasance. SB 1110 would prohibit the purchase of condominium units at foreclosure sales by entities owned by a board member, manager, or management company.

Housing Discrimination

House Bill 721 (SB 1128) would make various changes relating to housing (and public) accommodations sought for “emotional support animals.” Specifically, among other changes, the law would modify requirements for notifications from medical providers documenting the basis for such accommodation, require that the medical provider be providing care to the individual and establish criminal penalties for falsifying documentation of an emotional support animal. House Bill 565 would alter procedural requirements and eliminate administrative conditions relating to the filing of civil actions arising from discrimination. The law also removes housing discrimination from the scope of state civil causes of action for violations of the Florida Civil Rights Act.

Biometrics and Short Term Rentals

Senate Bill 824 (which is presently stalled) would further preempt and curtail the regulation of short term vacation rentals by local governments. In contrast, SB 812 confirms local governments can regulate short term rentals and creates additional penalties for unregistered listings. House Bill 1153 restricts the use of biometrics and collection of biometric data. Biometrics present a potential solution for short term rental enforcement issues. Senate Bill 1196 also would impact requirements for vacation rentals.

Retrofitting and Building Conditions

Several bills affect life safety system and building condition retrofitting requirements in various ways. These include SB 1152HB 647 and SB 908.

Construction Defects   

Two bills (presently postponed) would replace the present “notice of claim” pre-suit dispute resolution process with a mandatory non-binding arbitration requirement.

HOA Recalls

One controversial bill (HB 155) that hasn’t progressed throughout the session would only permit owners residing in an HOA to vote to recall a director.

To navigate new laws and stay updated on legislative changes in condo law, associations should consult with an experienced condominium and homeowners’ association attorney.