Most Floridians know that our real "hurricane season" begins around the time that thoughts turn to football and our students returning to school.   This year is no different as we have been following the progress of Tropical Storm Erika.

Earlier today, Florida’s governor declared a state of emergency.  While the path and intensity of Erika remains very uncertain, this is a very good opportunity for a few reminders:

  • Florida statutes grant certain emergency powers to the board of directors of condominium, cooperative, and mandatory homeowners associations in response to damage caused by an event for which a state of emergency is declared.  Managers and board members should review both the appropriate statute and the association’s governing documents for guidance in the event that any emergency actions need to be taken.
  • Residents with pets should have already determined what shelters in their area will accept pets as many shelters will not do so.
  • Finally, as I have written before, if and when a mandatory evacuation order is entered for your locale, residents and their guests should leave the community.   Unless the community’s clubhouse is a certified hurricane shelter, no one should be using the clubhouse to "ride out" the storm.

The National Hurricane Center is currently posting full updates on Erika every six hours and interim updates approximately three hours after a full update.  If and when Erika approaches Florida’s coastline, these updates will probably occur more frequently.

Now is the time to make preparations and to be alert and aware.   Stay safe!

 Florida’s lawmakers "tweaked" the provisions relating to ROC "fining committees" during the recent legislative session in Tallahassee.  In summary, condominium associations, cooperative associations, and mandatory homeowners’ associations now follow a similar process:

  • The revisions now clarify that it is the "board of administration" (which most ROC’s refer to as the Board of Directors) that imposes the fine or suspension
  • However, the fine or suspension levied by the Board may not be imposed unless the Board first provides at least 14 days’ written notice and an opportunity for a hearing to the unit or parcel owner (and, if applicable, the occupant, licensee or invitee of the unit or parcel)
  • This hearing must be held before a "fining committee"  of unit owners (or association members in mandatory HOA’s).  The legislative revisions to the cooperative laws added a provision that prohibits board members and persons residing in the home of a board member from serving on this fining committee.  This restriction has existed for "fining committees" in condominium associations for a number of years.  The restrictions on persons who can comprise the fining committee in a mandatory homeowners’ association are somewhat more expansive.
  • Finally, there is a new statement in the provisions governing fining committees in all three types of associations that the role of the fining committee "is limited to determining whether to confirm or reject the fine or suspension levied by the board".

I’m posting a link to HB 791 for those of my blog followers who wish to review these changes and well as others that I will be discussing in future entries.  

All of these revisions become effective in just a few weeks–on July 1, 2015.

I hope all of you are enjoying the "off season" whether you are up North or remaining in the Sunshine State for the summer.

 

 

I spent last Thursday and Friday in Fort Lauderdale attending the Thirty-Fifth Institute on Condominium and Cluster Developments presented by the University of Miami School of Law.  I’ll be posting future blog entries about several of the topics covered at the Institute but wanted to draw your attention to two items that I think you’ll find interesting:

  • Last week, I received an email from the Community Associations Institute that introduced me to a new term– "HOA Syndrome" and a web site advertising a seminar in a suburb of  Las Vegas (no surprise there!) on how residents can recover monetary damages for the injuries inflicted upon them by community association boards.  You’ll also find on that website a link to a paper by a Professor Gary Solomon that refers to this "HOA Syndrome" as "A Two-Tailed Psychiatric Disorder".  Let’s just say that I was less than impressed with that paper but I’ll look forward to your comments after you’ve taken a look at what Professor Solomon has to say and the HOA Syndrome site.
  • One of my colleagues, Ira Leesfield,wrote an article that appeared in the October 18th edition of the Miami Herald.   There are some very important issues raised in this article and I highly recommend that every ROC manager and board member strongly consider Mr. Leesfield’s suggestion that community associations adopt and implement written policies that prohibit employees using cell phones or other mobile devices for work-related purposes while driving.

The first annual Dowd Whittaker Community Association Festival was lots of fun and a great success and I look forward to speaking at that event next year.  It was very nice to see all of the familiar faces and I hope the board members and managers of the ROCs we work with enjoyed the Festival as much as I did.   Thanks to everyone who attended and participated!

We’re finalizing the dates and locations of our first set of this season’s seminars and I hope to have that information on the blog by the week’s end.