2023 Legislative Updates: Part I

August 22, 2023

The following is a summary of the recent legislative updates coming effective in 2023. This article is for general use only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about how this may impact your community association, we strongly encourage you to contact your management or legal professional partners for guidance.

House Bill 919

Effective October 1, 2023, House Bill 919, also referred to as the Homeowners Association Bill of Rights, introduces several significant changes that impact homeowners' associations (HOAs) in Florida. This bill aims to enhance transparency, accountability, and fairness within HOAs. Below is a detailed breakdown of the key provisions and implications of House Bill 919:

  • Notice of Board Meetings (Section 720.303(2)(c)1., Florida Statutes): The bill mandates that board meeting notices must now specify all agenda items, except in cases of emergencies. This ensures that homeowners have comprehensive information about the topics to be discussed during board meetings, allowing for better-informed participation.
  • Maintenance of Official Records (Section 720.303(4)(g), Florida Statutes):
    • Designated Mailing Addresses: HOAs are required to maintain a record of the designated mailing addresses of their members. If a member's mailing address differs from their property address, the designated mailing address prevails for receiving all notices from the association.
    • Email Addresses and Facsimile Numbers: The bill also obligates HOAs to maintain members' email addresses and facsimile numbers designated for electronic transmission of notices. A member's email address for notice purposes is the one provided in writing, unless a different email address is specified in writing for electronic notices.
    • Consent and Revocation: Members can provide written consent for electronic transmission of notices, and they have the right to revoke consent at any time. In case of revocation, the association must remove the provided email address and facsimile number from its records.
  • Handling of Deposits (Section 720.303(8)(d), Florida Statutes):
    • Separate Handling of Deposits: If an HOA collects deposits from members for purposes like covering construction-related expenses, these funds must be kept separate and cannot be mixed with other association funds.
    • Return of Deposits: Upon completion of the relevant project or purpose for which the deposit was collected, the association must return the deposit to the member within 30 days of receiving notice of project completion.
    • Accounting for Deposited Funds: If a member requests an accounting of their deposited funds, the association must provide the accounting within seven days of receiving the request.
  • Prohibition on "Kickbacks" (Section 720.3033(3), Florida Statutes):
    • No Acceptance of Value Without Consideration: Officers, directors, managers, and their immediate families are prohibited from soliciting, accepting, or offering anything of value without providing something of value in return.
    • Exceptions: Acceptance of food with a value of less than $25 for consumption at a business meeting or receipt of goods/services related to trade fairs/education programs is allowed.
    • Penalties: Violation of this prohibition can result in monetary damages as specified in Section 617.0834, Florida Statutes. Offending individuals must be promptly removed from their positions by the board.
  • Grounds for Immediate Removal of a Director or Officer (Section 720.3033(4)(a), Florida Statutes): Directors or officers charged with specific crimes, including forgery, theft, embezzlement, destruction of records, or obstruction of justice, must be removed from their positions.
  • Required Conflict of Interest Disclosures (Section 720.3033(6)(a) and (6)(b), Florida Statutes):
    • Developer-Appointed Directors/Officers: Developer-appointed directors/officers must annually disclose their relationship with the developer and any other potential conflicts of interest.
    • All Directors/Officers: All directors and officers, including those appointed by the developer, must disclose potential conflicts of interest at least 14 days before voting on relevant issues or contracts.
  • Fines (Section 720.305, Florida Statutes):
    • Imposing Fines: HOAs can levy reasonable fines for violations of rules, bylaws, or declarations.
    • Notification and Hearing: Before imposing a fine, the HOA must notify the member of the violation at least 14 days before the hearing committee meeting. Notice of the hearing must be sent to parcel owner at his or her designated mailing or email address in the association’s official records. Notice must include description of the alleged violation and required corrective action.
    • Attendance: The violating owner may attend the hearing by telephone or other electronic means.
    • Independent Committee Decision: The independent committee's actions must be approved by a majority vote.
  • Fraudulent Voting Activities, Association Elections, and Penalties (Section 720.3065, Florida Statutes):
    • Introduction of New Section: A new section has been added to address fraudulent voting activities in association elections.
    • Misdemeanor Offenses/ Penalties: Acts such as false swearing, perpetrating fraud, altering ballots, using intimidation, offering bribes, and other forms of coercion are classified as misdemeanor offenses. Fraudulent voting activities can lead to a misdemeanor of the first degree and are subject to legal penalties.

"This bill aims to enhance transparency, accountability, and fairness within homeowners associations."

House Bill 437

House Bill 437's passage into law on July 1, 2023, allows homeowners to exercise autonomy over the installation, display, and storage of items while promoting the respectful display of flags. Through its provisions, House Bill 437 seeks to establish a harmonious balance between homeowners' association regulations and the invaluable rights that homeowners hold dear.

  • Installation, Display, and Storage of Items: The crux of House Bill 437 lies in its explicit dismantling of associations' authority to restrict homeowners or tenants from installing, displaying, or storing certain items on their parcels, as long as these items remain invisible from the parcel's frontage or an adjacent parcel. This broadens the scope of personal expression on homeowners' properties, even in the face of existing covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or association requirements. The bill enumerates a range of examples that fall under this protection, such as artificial turf, boats, flags, and recreational vehicles. This measure seeks to empower homeowners with the autonomy to decide what items they deem appropriate for their parcels, within the bounds of visibility considerations.
  • Flags and Expression: House Bill 437 recognizes the significance of personal expression and the display of flags as an essential form of individual and collective identity. Notably, Section 720.3045 of the Florida Statutes grants homeowners the right to display up to two flags in a respectful manner, even if such displays contradict the covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the homeowners' association. This measure encompasses a selection of flags that resonate with the homeowner's affiliations and affiliations with noble causes. Homeowners can proudly display flags such as the United States flag, the official flag of the State of Florida, flags representing different branches of the U.S. military, POW-MIA flags, and flags honoring first responders. Moreover, these flags may be displayed on freestanding flag poles, offering homeowners the freedom to express their allegiance and support.
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