As most of the followers of this blog know, Florida's legislature is currently in session in Tallahassee.
The bill that may be of most interest to community association managers, homeowners, and those of us that provide legal assistance and advice to ROCs--House Bill 319--has been making its way through the various legislative committees.
The latest version of this bill--as of the close of business on Monday, February 27--has two very interesting "tweaks" that will impact cooperatives:
First, there is now an amendment to Florida Statute Section 719.108 that will extend the "safe harbor" provisions found in the condominium association and mandatory homeowners' association laws to cooperative associations. These "safe harbor" provisions will limit the liability of a first mortgagee or its successors or assignees who acquire title to a cooperative unit by either foreclosure or by deed (or assignment?) in lieu of foreclosure for the unpaid assessments that became due before the mortgagee's acquisition of title to the lesser of:
- the unit's unpaid common expenses and regular periodic or special assessments which accrued or came due during the 12 months immediately preceding the acquisition of title and for which payment in full has not been received by the association, or
- one percent of the original mortgage debt.
There's been a good deal of controversy and discussion about whether this "safe harbor" prevents an association from trying to recover from the mortgagee other costs and expenses, such as amounts charged the association by law firms or other companies trying to collect the unpaid amounts from the delinquent unit owner. Cooperative associations have, for the most part, not been involved in this battle as no "safe harbor" provisions existed in the statutes governing cooperatives.
A very curious revision in the most recent version of 319 is the removal of the requirement that newly elected or appointed members of the board of directors of cooperative associations either:
- sign a document certifying that they have read the association's governing documents and will faithfully abide by those documents and his or her fiduciary responsibilities to the association in serving on the board or
- attend and successfully complete a board member certification course that has been approved by Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
This requirement was incorporated into Chapter 718, which governs condominium associations, several years ago and was in the first version of HB 319 that I reviewed a few months ago. I'm not sure exactly why this latest version of House Bill 319 no longer contains this requirement.
In any event, there's much more to HB 319, and I'll continue to post entries on its progress.