2018 Legislature’s Amendments to Homeowners’ Association (“HOA”) Statutes – Chapter 720

May 31, 2018 - Blog by

On March 23, 2018, Governor Rick Scott approved HB 841/SB 1274 which makes subtle changes to the Homeowners’ Association Act, including Sections 720.303, 720.305, 720.306, and 720.3085.[1]  The amendments are effective July 1, 2018, unless otherwise addressed in the amendment.  This initial article addresses the revisions to Sections 720.303 and 720.306.

home owners association

Notice of Board Meetings

With a few exceptions, members of an association have the statutory right to attend all meetings of the board of directors.  See §720.303(2)(a), Fla. Stat. (2017).  The statute also provides the same right to attend the meetings of any “committee or other similar body when a final decision will be made regarding the expenditure of association funds and to meetings of any board or committee vested with the power to approve or disapprove architectural decisions with respect to a specific parcel of residential property owned by a member of the community.”  §720.303(2)(a), Fla. Stat. (2017).  Prior to this year’s amendments, the type of notice of the meeting(s) had to be addressed in the bylaws of the association and be otherwise compliant with the relevant notice provisions in Chapter 720.  In the absence of notice provisions in the bylaws, the statute provided the association with the notice criteria to be followed.

As amended, Section 720.303(2)(c) now requires the statutory notice criteria to be included in the bylaws.  Generally, the statute requires notice of a board meeting by:  posting of all board meetings in a conspicuous place in the community no less than 48 hours in advance of a meeting; or alternatively, notice by mail or delivery to each member at least seven days before the meeting unless in an emergency.  Additional notice criteria may apply depending on the subject of the anticipated board action at the upcoming meeting.

This section’s amendment also addresses e-mail and electronic transmission.  Notice by electronic transmission is authorized, however, the owner receiving the notice must have consented in writing to receive electronic notices.  The amendment also clarifies that board members may communicate with each other by “e-mail”, however, board members may not cast a vote by e-mail on any matters before the board.

Amendments to HOA’s Governing Documents

The amendments to Section 720.306 require any proposed amendments to the HOA’s “governing documents” [2] to be presented to members in a traditional method that transactional attorneys are very comfortable with, namely strikethrough and underline format.  Any additions must be underlined and deletions stricken in this manner to assist in the members’ understanding of the amendments prior to voting.  The new provision also provides an easier method if the proposed amendments are so extensive that this scrivener’s method actually hinders the understanding of the proposed amendments.  The revised statute further clarifies that:  amendments by a vote of the members of the association take effect when recorded in the public records in the county in which the community is located; any immaterial errors or omissions in the amendment process do not invalidate an otherwise properly adopted amendment; and member meetings under this section must be delivered/mailed to the parcel owners’ address as reflected on the relevant county property appraiser’s website or by electronic transmission if the particular owner has consented in writing to receive electronic notice.

Election of Directors

The amendments to Section 720.306 also address the election of directors of the association by members at the annual meeting or as otherwise required in the governing documents.  If an election is not required to fill vacancies (because there are fewer candidates than vacancies or an equal number of candidates as vacancies) and nominations are not required at the meeting, the amendment prohibits write-in candidates and such qualified candidates must commence service on the board even in the absence of a quorum.

The Legislative changes this year regarding associations may have an impact on your association depending on the content of its governing documents.  Should you wish to discuss the amendments as to your particular association, please contact one of our real estate attorneys at McDonald, Fleming, Moorhead for a consultation.

[1] Amended by the same legislation are Chapters 718 and 719, regulating condominium associations and community associations.  These amendments are outside the scope of this article series and will not be addressed.  If you have any questions regarding the amendments, please contact our real estate attorneys at MFM for a consultation.

[2] Governing documents are defined as the recorded declaration of covenants and amendments, supplements and exhibits, the articles of incorporation and bylaws including any amendments and any rules and regulations duly adopted by the association.  See §720.301(8), Fla. Stat. (2017).

This is not intended to be legal advice for any specific situation and the reader should consult their attorney regarding their situation.