Websites and Educational Opportunities for ROCs

You’ll want to catch our next installment of "Community Matters" as Kevin Wells and I will be discussing therapy and companion pets and service animals with the manager of a large resident owned community in Sarasota County and a representative from Southeastern Guide Dogs.

"Community Matters" airs on WSRQ (1220 AM and 106.9 FM) on Saturday mornings from 11 to noon and online at www.sarasotatalkradio.com.   Podcasts of each of our shows are made available on Mondays after the show airs at the WSRQ site–just click on my photo and you’ll be able to listen to those podcasts.

If you have any questions about this topic or suggestions for future shows, please feel free to post a comment to my blog or email me at sgordon@lutzbobo.com.

I hope you enjoy this Saturday’s installment of "Community Matters".

On Friday, June 14, Florida’s Governor signed into law several bills affecting community associations, including House Bill 73.

One of the important provisions of House Bill 73 amends the statutes governing cooperative associations in Florida by requiring board members in co-ops to meet the same certification requirements as condominium association board members.

Florida Statute Section 719.106 will now require a newly elected or appointed board member in a cooperative association to do one of the following within 90 days of that election or appointment:

  1. Certify in writing to the association’s secretary that the board member has read the association’s bylaws, articles of incorporation, proprietary lease (or occupancy agreement), and current written policies, and that the board member will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability, and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members
  2. Submit a certificate that the board member has–within one year before or 90 days after his or her election or appointment–satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by an educational provider as approved by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Condominiums,Timeshares, and Mobile Homes under the requirements established in Florida’s statutes governing condominium associations

This educational certificate is valid and does not have to be resubmitted as long as the board member serves on the board without interruption.

The association’s secretary is required to retain both of the written certifications described above as part of the association’s official records for 5 years after a director’s election or the duration of the director’s uninterrupted tenure, whichever is longer.

The educational curriculum requires that at least four of these topics be covered in sufficient detail:

  • Budgets and reserves
  • Elections
  • Financial Reporting
  • Cooperative Operations
  • Records maintenance, including unit owner access to records
  • Dispute resolution
  • Bids and contracts

The effective date of HB 73 is July 1, 2013.  I’ve been working on an outline of curriculum (those of you that attended FLAROC’s Board Training event in Punta Gorda in March had a preview of that outline) and hope to provide it to the DBPR for approval–and for use in our resident owned community seminars–within the next week.

I’ll keep you posted on this and other important impacts of HB 73 in future blog entries.

As many followers of this blog may already know, House Bill 87 was signed by Florida’s Governor last Friday.  This bill provides community associations with some hope that the foreclosure process–which seems to take an eternity before it concludes–will be expedited and that an association can have a meaningful voice in the foreclosure action. 

I discussed House Bill 87 and several other bills affecting resident owned communities last weekend with lobbyist Travis Moore on our inaugural hour of  "Community Matters," which airs every Saturday from 11 a.m. until noon on Sarasota TalkRadio, WSRQ–1220 AM and 106.9 FM.

In addition to providing our listeners with an explanation of House Bill 87 and its effect on the foreclosure process, Travis summarized a number of other provisions, including the following:

  • Changes to the fees to be paid by communities to the State of Florida for submerged land leases
  • A requirement that mandatory homeowners associations be registered with the State
  • Updates to statutes governing a unit or parcel owner’s right to copy the association’s "official records" which will expressly allow for such copying to occur by use of an iPad, tablet,  iPhone or similar device.
  • Provisions clarifying what information about a unit owner or parcel owner an association can safely include in its membership directory
  • Amendments to the statutes governing cooperative associations that will provide those associations with the same protections in regards to personnel matters and personnel records as found in the statutes governing condominium and mandatory homeowners associations
  • An additional amendment to Chapter 719 of the Florida Statutes requiring newly elected or appointed board members of cooperative associations to meet the same certification or education standards as board members in condominium associations

If you’d like to hear last Saturday’s show–here’s the link to the podcasts for "Community Matters": sarasotatalkradio.com/community-matters/  .  Just click on "read more" and you’ll find the podcast.

We’ll be discussing hurricane preparedness for the next two weeks. I hope you’ll listen live or to our podcasts and I’ll look forward to your questions and your suggestions for future topics for "Community Matters".

I’m pleased to let my blog readers know that I’ll be one of the hosts of "Community Matters," a radio show that will focus on issues and topics affecting resident owned communities.

The show will be airing on WSRQ, Sarasota’s "TalkRadio," each Saturday morning from 11:00 to noon, at 1220 on the AM dial and 106.9 on the FM dial. 

Podcasts will also be available at www.sarasotatalkradio.com.

The first installment of "Community Matters" airs this Saturday, June 8th.  I’ll be speaking with Travis Moore, of Moore Relations, Inc. 

Mr, Moore is a lobbyist who has spent many years representing the interests of residents of community associations in Florida and we’ll be discussing several very important bills passed during the 2013 legislative session, including revisions to the laws affecting foreclosures, copying and producing association records, and membership directories as well as a new law concerning the registration of mandatory homeowners’ associations with the State.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to listen to the show live or by podcast and will look forward to your questions and suggestions for future installments of "Community Matters."

I just finished speaking with the manager of one of the resident owned communities in our area.

An email was received at the community’s email address, allegedly from the Federal Trade Commission.  The subject of the email was "NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT" and the email contained a very official looking document advising that a customer had complained "about your business and believes you have contravened the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)".

The document further stated that "Federal Trade Commission has initiated a formal investigation into this complaint" and asked the association to "consider the details of the enclosed letter"–which conveniently did not accompany the email.   Instead, the document advised the association that the letter (which contained the complaint) could be downloaded from a website listed in the document.

The document advised the association that it was "welcome to contact us regarding this matter" using a form that could be downloaded from another website address.

The document closed with the address of the FTC and its website and warned the association that "the FTC is required to post information about businesses who fail to respond to consumer complaints".

Our firm’s technology professional quickly determined that the email was yet another scam and located this link that describes the scam in detail.  

You’ll note that the Federal Trade Commission advises the recipients of this scam that they should not click on the links to the websites listed  in the email.

Managers and board members of resident owned communities should always be alert for these scams and use common sense–after all, it’s doubtful that, even in this day and age, any agency of the federal government would choose email to notify a business of a consumer complaint.

Our best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday weekend.

We’re now into the busiest part of the "season" for resident owned communities and I wanted to alert all of our blog readers living in west central and southwest Florida that two great events are scheduled for later this month:

  • FLAROC has asked me to participate in a Board Training Session for directors in resident owned manufactured housing cooperatives Thursday, March 21, at River Forest Village in Punta Gorda. Check-in starts at 8:30, the training will run until noon, and we’ll conclude with a question and answer session.  There will be light refreshments provided and there is no charge for this program.   While Florida Statutes still do not require directors in cooperative associations to attend board training, I’d certainly recommend that present or prospective board members take advantage of this free event.  Please contact Mary Danitz from Florida Shores Bank at mdanitz@floridashoresbank.com to rsvp as reservations are required.  Light refreshments will be provided and seating is limited.
  • The very next morning, Friday, March 22, you’ll be able to find me and several other representatives of our firm at the Manatee Convention Center in Palmetto.   We’ll have a booth at the CA Day Trade Show & Educational Expo sponsored by the West Florida Chapter of the Community Associations Institute.  I’ll be part of the "ask the lawyers" panel and will spend the rest of the day greeting ROC members that visit our booth.  This annual event is always fun and educational for everyone.

I hope to see you at River Forest Village on March 21 or the Manatee Convention Center on March 22!

The first month of 2013 has been very busy and February promises more of the same:

As mentioned in one of my recent blog entries, we’ll be presenting a seminar for board members of community associations on Friday morning, February 8th at Oakwood Manor in Sarasota.  If you’re interested in attending and haven’t already reserved your seat, please contact either Karen Midlam at kmidlam@lutzbobo.com or Kathy Sawdo at ksawdo@lutzbobo.com.

If you are a director or manager of a resident owned community in west central or southwest Florida, you will not want to miss the the 3rd Annual Community Association Festival.  This year’s event is scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th, at the Venice Community Center.     Registration starts at 8:30 in the morning, with the presentations to begin at 9 a.m.   Continental Breakfast and a great barbecue lunch will be provided free of charge before the program ends at 1:30 p.m.  Everyone is encouraged to wear "wacky tacky" Hawaiian attire.  You’ll have the opportunity to learn about insurance issues, get the perspective from the lender’s side of the table, gain some insight about reserve studies, and spend some time with an attorney who will focus on topics that affect the particular type of community in which you reside, whether that’s a condominium, cooperative, or subdivision. 

Again, there’s no admission fee for this fun and informative event–and it’s a great opportunity for managers and board members to network with their peers from neighboring communities.

If you’re interested in attending the Festival, please call 941-809-2031 or email deanna@sleuthpt.com to register.

On a more sobering note, I’ve been following the stories about the residents of Paradise Park, a manufactured housing community in New Jersey that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.   Let’s keep the displaced residents of Paradise Park and all of the others affected by that storm in our thoughts as we thank our lucky stars for escaping the 2012 hurricane system with little or no damage.

I hope to see you in February!

The last few weeks of 2012 were extremely busy and the beginning of 2013 promises more of the same.

Here is a list of the speaking engagements and seminars that we’ve scheduled for the next few weeks:

  • I’ll be speaking at the monthly meeting of EPROC this Friday morning, January 11 at Emerald Pointe in Zephyrhills.  That meeting starts at 9 a.m.
  • On Monday morning, January 21, we’ll be presenting one of our resident owned community seminars at Old Bridge Village in North Fort Myers for board members and managers of associations in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte Counties.
  • We’ll be offering the same seminar for board members and managers of associations in the Sarasota County area at Oakwood Manor on Friday, February 8.

Our ROC seminars start at 10 a.m. and end between noon and 12:30.  There’s no charge for the refreshments, information, and the opportunity to meet board members from other communities in your "neck of the woods."   Included in our seminar topics is a presentation called "What I learned in 2012" that promises to be both educational and very entertaining.  Of course, we’ll save time for our traditional "open forum" to discuss topics of immediate concern to the seminar attendees.   Please contact Karen Midlam at kmidlam@lutzbobo.com or Kathy Sawdo at ksawdo@lutzbobo.com to rsvp for the January 21 or February 8 seminars.

In my next entry, I’ll be posting information about a "must attend" event scheduled for February 20 at the Venice Community Center.

I hope your New Year is off to a great start!

 

 

Here’s yet another example of how the statutes governing condominium associations differ from those governing cooperative associations:

The members of a community association have just approved an amendment to the association’s bylaws.  Exactly when does the amendment to the bylaws become effective?

Florida Statute Section 718.112(1)(b) provides that no amendment to the bylaws of a condominium association is valid unless properly recorded in the public records of the county where the declaration of condominium is recorded.  

No similar provision exists in Chapter 719 of the Florida Statutes, which governs cooperative associations.  Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation correctly notes that the question of when an amendment to the bylaws of a cooperative association becomes effective is not addressed in Chapter 719.

However, F.S. Section 719.106(1)(h) requires that the bylaws of a cooperative association provide for the method for amendment "consistent with the provisions" of Chapter 719 and if the bylaws do not provide a method for amendment, this section contains the "default" method to be used.

Most of the bylaws of cooperative associations that I’ve either prepared or reviewed do provide for a method of amendment and also provide for an effective date, which is quite often the date that a copy of the amendment and a properly signed certificate which confirms that the bylaw amendment was adopted by the members at a membership meeting is recorded in the public records of the county where the community is located.   This process is consistent with Chapter 719 and gives both unit owners and title examiners certainty as to the effective date of the bylaw amendment.

Thanks to the members of Mid-Florida ROC for their questions, comments and hospitality during my presentation at their meeting earlier this week at Country Club Manor in Eustis.

Our next community association seminar is scheduled for Tuesday morning, December 5, at Paradise Bay Estates in Bradenton.  If your community is located in the area and you’d like to attend, please send an email to kmidlam@lutzbobo.com or ksawdo@lutzbobo.com.    As always, there’s no charge for the event and you”ll have the chance to network and have some refreshments. 

I’ll be posting the dates and locations of other upcoming seminars and presentations in my next blog entry.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and look forward to seeing you soon!

As all Floridians know, our hurricane season doesn’t really get under way until August and we’re currently watching a very large systemTropical Storm Isaac–slowly develop.  

At this point, it’s anyone’s guess whether and to what extent our communities will be impacted by this system.

ROC managers (and board members that remain in Florida during the "off season") should be familiar with the drill but nonetheless, here are a few reminders:

  • Pay attention to broadcast media and in particular the updates issued by the National Hurricane Center.   During these situations, rumors run rampant–particularly on the internet–but the NHC’s website is an invaluable asset when the tropics begin to churn.
  • As I have preached in past years, unless the clubhouse in your community is a Red Cross certified shelter, your residents should not be congregating in that clubhouse when threatened by a hurricane.  Do not allow your residents to use the clubhouse to as a shelter or have a "hurricane party" when tropical systems threaten.
  • A mandatory evacuation order means just that–and if you are in a community in which a mandatory evacuation order has been issued, your refusal to evacuate is a violation of Florida law.   Residents that choose to remain in their communities after being ordered to evacuate do so at their own peril–and they should realize that if they require assistance during or after the storm, emergency personnel may not be able to assist them.
  •  Now is the time for residents with pets to locate "pet friendly" shelters.  Don’t wait until the evacuation order is issued.
  • Make sure that any item on your property that could become a "missile" during a storm is brought inside.
  • Please let a relative or friend know where you are "riding out the storm" and let that friend or relative know how to contact the authorities if he or she is unable to locate you once the storm passes.
  • Be extremely careful when returning to your home after the storm.  Many injuries and deaths occur as a result of post-storm accidents.

One of the recent issues of the Florida Community Association Journal has some very good articles on preparing for and dealing with hurricanes and you can find other useful information at a number of other sites, such as the one for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Hopefully, Isaac will be more "bark" than "bite" and the rest of our hurricane season will be safe and uneventful.   Better to be prepared for the storm that doesn’t come our way than to be unprepared for the one that does!