Vol. 8 No. 34 - May 14, 2008

REAL ESTATE


The new anti-Zen condominium law

A friend of mine recently e-mailed me that she was on her way to a spa in New York City for a facial which promised to be a Zen experience. Zen has an emphasis on mindful acceptance of the present moment, spontaneous action and letting go of self-conscious and judgmental thinking. There’s plenty of Zen happening on Anna Maria Island with beautiful sunsets, dolphins and aqua water you can see right through. But if you really want to have a Zen experience, move into a condominium association.

The state of Florida isn’t too interested in Zen but it is very interested in protecting homeowners who reside in condos and homeowner associations. The Florida House and Senate and have passed a bill, which was signed into law by Governor Crist on May 1, adding an additional layer of security for homeowners and more regulation of condominium and homeowner association boards. These are some of the points of the new legislation:

Management companies hired by condo associations would have to be licensed.

Co-owners of a unit would not be able to serve on the same board.

New directors to homeowner association boards would be required to read the association’s rules within 30 days of taking office.

The bill requires any condo association director charged with a felony theft or embezzlement to be removed from office until the charges are cleared.

It also requires condo associations to give 30 days notice before filing a lien against a unit owner.

Further, it allows unit owners to place an item on a board meeting agenda through a petition of 20 percent of owners.

And, finally, the legislation requires that meeting minutes and any other official records be made available within 45 miles of the condominium property.

Most of this seems pretty logical and include points that you would think were already Florida law, but when it comes to condos and homeowner associations nothing should be taken for granted. The spirit of the legislation is to hold boards and management companies accountable in areas that may have previously been considered ambiguous.

This new law comes on the heels of last year’s law which, in my opinion, actually took away resident rights. Last June the governor signed into law a bill stating that only 80 percent of condo owners in a condominium complex must consent to the sale of the property. This law overrides original condominium documents that might have been written at a higher sale percentage standard.

For example, if your condominium documents state that 100 percent of the owners need to approve a sale of the entire association, thus terminating the association, this law would override the documents and allow only an 80 percent majority, diminishing owner rights.

As I stated last year, there are a lot of older low rise buildings sitting on prime waterfront both on and off the Island in Manatee County. Now that the market appears to have bottomed out, developers may start looking at these properties to purchase at today’s lower values for future development, and last year’s legislation could make it easier for them.

If you want to read all 96 pages of the new law, you can find it on www.myfloridahouse.gov, CS/HB995-Community Associations. But trust me, reading this won’t be a Zen experience, rather one that reinforces judgmental thinking and throws mindful acceptance out the window.


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