The Florida Legislature will consider a variety of bills regulating HOAs
As lawmakers begin their 60-day session on Jan. 9, at least a dozen bills have been filed in response to complaints about homeowners' associations.
Florida lawmakers will consider more than a dozen bills in 2024 that would increase transparency and accountability of homeowners’ associations across the state.
In advance of the 60-day legislative session that begins Jan. 9, lawmakers say the bills are in response to complaints about HOAs.
“We did receive a lot of those,” said Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Osceola, who has filed two bills on the subject.
One of her bills (HB 431) would prohibit an HOA from imposing more than a $100 fine for any single violation; fines that may be levied for each day of a continuing violation could not exceed $500 unless it is specifically written into the HOA’s governing documents.
“Currently, the fines that one can receive are up to $1,000 per violation,” Arrington said. “Folks on a fixed income, especially like our seniors, were receiving notices for pressure washing or vines growing up on their fence or their building, and receiving fines up to $1,000 for that, which is which is obviously hard for them.”
“Folks that are on fixed income, some folks that retired there ... and didn't know about homeowners associations and have a whole list of rules and regulations that that they didn't even knew existed.”Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Osceola
Arrington says homeowners’ associations should not be run like a business, “where some are trying to profit,” she said. “I don't believe that that's the purpose or what they were intended for.”
Her other bill (HB 59) would require an HOA to provide copies of the association’s rules and covenants to every member before Oct. 1, 2024, and every new member thereafter. It would also authorize an HOA to post a complete copy of the rules and covenants on the home page of its website and require an association to provide notices to its members by email or letter.
Arrington said people in her district moved into neighborhoods not knowing they would be dealing with an HOA. “Folks that are on fixed income, some folks that retired there ... and didn't know about homeowners associations and have a whole list of rules and regulations that that they didn't even knew existed.”
Arrington says she and other lawmakers were encouraged after a bill dubbed the “Homeowners’ Associations Bill of Rights,” filed by Rep. Juan Carlos Porros of Miami-Dade County, passed last year.
“That big piece of legislation last year, I think, was a really big deal,” Arrington said. “And so, obviously, a lot of folks like myself are trying to strike while the iron is hot.”
At a town hall meeting in October, Porros said alleged abuses by HOA boards prompted him to take action. “We're seeing harassment of homeowners,” Porras said. “We're seeing selective enforcement of bylaws and covenants. And really there's no form of accountability.”
Last year's legislation sought to beef up the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s ability to investigate suspected wrongdoing at HOAs and condo associations. However, the funding for increased enforcement was stripped from the bill.
This year, Porras says, he'll try again to add the funding. “I can tell constituents that that more is coming.”
But as of Dec. 15, The only bill he has filed involving HOAs is one that would require the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation to create a searchable database of information egarding each homeowners' association in the state.
Legislators have until Jan. 9, the first day of the 60-day session, to file a bill.
Other bills that have been filed dealing with HOA and condo associations include:
- HB 293: Hurricane Protections for Homeowners' Associations. Filed by Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Brevard. This bill would require associations to adopt hurricane protection specifications, including the color and style of hurricane protection products; would prohibit associations from denying application to install certain hurricane protection, including metal roofs, permanent fixed storm shutters, roll-down track storm shutters, impact-resistant windows and doors, polycarbonate panels, reinforced garage doors, and erosion controls. (A companion bill (SB 600) was filed by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R- Citrus)
- HB 173: Not-for-Profit Corporations that Operate Residential Homeowners' Associations. Filed by Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Duval. This bill would require not-for-profit HOAs to donate or use at least 15 percent of the association's annual income to benefit the community in the county in which the community served by the association is located. It would also require an HOA to maintain, and make available upon request, documentation and records detailing how such funds were used or where such funds were donated.
- SB 426: Community Associations. Filed by Rep. Alina Garcia, R-Miami-Dade. This bill will create the Condominium Fraud Investigation Pilot Program within the Department of Legal Affairs in the Office of the Attorney General, funded from the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes Trust Fund; creating the Office of the Homeowners’ Association Ombudsman within the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (An identical companion bill (SB 600) has been filed by Sen. Shevrin Jones, D- Miami-Dade).
- HB 595: Homeowners' Associations Database. Filed by Rep Juan Carlos Porros, R-Miami-Dade. This bill requires the state to establish a searchable database which contains specified information regarding each homeowners' association in state; requires homeowners' association to notify department of any changes to information listed in database (A companion bill (SB 942) has been filed by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Monroe).
- HB 627: Disclosure Requirements for Prospective Purchasers. Filed by Rep. James Buchanan, R-Sarasota. This bill would require prospective purchasers of a parcel subject to association membership to be provided with certain documents, in addition to disclosure summary, before executing a contract; authorizes prospective purchasers to cancel their contract within specified time frame; specifies that three-day cancellation period does not include Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays.
- HB 979: Estoppel Certificates. Filed by Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, R-Lee. This bill would prohibit community associations from charging fees to prepare and deliver estoppel certificates. An estoppel certificate confirms the current status of a lease term for a third party. In practice, a lender or bank requires an estoppel letter or certificate from the homeowners association prior to closing on a property within the HOA.
-Jim DeLa is a reporter for the Community News Collaborative. Reach him at email@example.com