Legislative Update: Midway through the 2018 Legislative Session
The Florida Legislature has been in session for four weeks and there are five weeks left until it is scheduled to end. As usual, there are a handful of community association bills that are “moving” and the other bills are “stuck” in committee. For a full list of the bills that we are tracking, please see our CALL Bill Report. The CALL Bill Report includes a list of the bills that have been filed with the Florida Legislature that will directly impact community associations. The report includes the bill number, the bill sponsor, the title of the bill, a summary of the bill, and the last three actions taken on the bill.
The following is a summary of the bills that are moving:
HB 1061/SB 1432, Relating to Community Association Fire and Life Safety Systems, by Rep. Moraitis and Sen. Farmer: High-rise condominium and cooperative associations currently have the ability to opt out of fire sprinklers and over 700 condominium and cooperative associations have “opted-out”. Nevertheless, the State Fire Marshal has determined that high-rise buildings that have opted-out of sprinklers must install an engineered life safety system (ELSS). Further, many fire marshals are requiring fire sprinkler systems as part of an ELSS, but there is no uniformity throughout the State regarding what is required for an ELSS. HB 1061 and SB 1432 will give these high-rise buildings the opportunity to opt-out of an ELSS by a vote of two-thirds of the total voting interests in the condominium/cooperative. HB 1061 was approved in its first committee of reference, Careers & Competition Subcommittee, but the vote was very close (8-7). If you are one of the 700 associations that has opted out of sprinklers, it is time to start calling and emailing your representative and senator to urge them to support these important bills. Keep your comments short and sweet but a personal message/story about how much it will cost your association to install an ELSS and how the bills are important for your community goes a long way. If you know anyone in the legislature personally, please pick up the phone. We are entering the 5th week of session and time is of the essence. There are 116 Representatives and 38 Senators and the more we hit with our message, the better. Our opposition keeps quoting an old study that says it will only cost owners $800 to install an ELSS. We know that is not accurate, and we need your help to convey to them the correct information. You can find your elected officials here: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx
HB 841 and SB 1274, Relating to Community Associations, by Rep. Moraitis and Sen. Passidomo: Among other things, the bills will: (1) make the condominium “bulk buyer” law permanent; (2) require a vote of condominium unit owners to be taken before a material alteration or substantial addition to the common elements; (3) extend the date that condominiums must post a majority of its official records on a website to July 1, 2019 (the current deadline is July 1, 2018); (4) amend the existing condominium term limit language to provide that no board member may serve more than eight consecutive years, unless approved by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the voting interests voting in the election or unless there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the vacancies; (5) eliminate the current language in the Condominium Act that prohibits associations from hiring attorneys who also represent the management company of the association; and (6) require condominium recalls to be “facially valid.” HB 841 has been approved by its first two committees of reference, and is now headed to its last committee, Judiciary. SB 1274 has been approved by one committee and must still be heard by the Senate Community Affairs and Rules committees before it can be considered by the entire Senate.
SB 266/HB 617, Relating to Covenants and Restrictions, by Sen. Passidomo and Rep. Edwards: The bills primarily involve the Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA). The intent is to simplify the process for preserving covenants and restrictions of homeowners’ associations, and allow non-residential property owners’ associations to preserve covenants and restrictions. The bills will also allow non-mandatory homeowners’ associations to revitalize covenants and restrictions that have expired. SB 266 has one more committee (Rules) before it can be heard by the full Senate. HB 617 has been approved by all committees of reference and now heads to a vote on the floor of the House.
SB 1530, Relating to Condominium Associations, by Sen. Mayfield: Among other things, the bill removes the term limit provision in the Condominium Act and replaces it with language stating that board members may serve longer than 1 year if permitted by the Bylaws. It also clarifies the official records that must be posted on the condominium association’s website. This bill has not yet been heard by any committees, but it is expected that some or all of the bill will be “merged” with SB 1274.