Florida’s Governor has signed into law Senate Bill 807 which contains very important changes to the laws governing resident owned communities. I’ll discuss many of those in future entries to this blog but since we’re now into hurricane season, I thought I’d first highlight the creation of Florida Statute Sections 719.128 and 720.316, both of which are entitled "Association emergency powers".
These new sections allow the boards of directors in cooperative associations and mandatory homeowners associations to exercise certain powers and take certain actions in response to damage caused by an event for which a "state of emergency"is declared under Florida law in the area where the community is located, unless specifically prohibited by the association’s governing documents.
These powers and actions include the following:
- Conducting, canceling, or rescheduling board or membership meetings after notice of the meetings and board decisions is provided in "as practicable a manner as possible," which may be by numerous methods, including "any other means the board deems appropriate under the circumstances."
- Designating assistant officers who are not directors
- Relocating the association’s principal office or designating an alternative principal office
- Entering into agreements with counties or municipalities to assist with debris removal
- Implementing a disaster plan which may include turning on or shutting off electricity, water, sewer, or security systems and air conditioners for association buildings
There are other important emergency powers that I’ll discuss in my next entry.
I want to close with a few additional points:
- These new sections extend to boards of directors in cooperatives and mandatory homeowners associations similar powers that were granted to condominium association boards several years ago.
- The powers must be exercised so as to be consistent with Florida Statute 617.0830.
- Included in the emergency powers for the board of directors of a cooperative association is the power to require the evacuation of the cooperative property in the event of a mandatory evacuation order in the area where the community is located. If a unit owner or other occupant of a cooperative fails to evacuate the cooperative property after the board has required that evacuation, the association is immune from liability for injury to persons or property arising from such failure. In other words, a unit owner or occupant remains in the home at his or her own risk—not the cooperative association’s.
These two new statutes become effective July 1, 2014 and I’ll discuss some additional powers and limitations in my next blog entry.