The 2024 Florida legislative session: How will new laws impact your community association?
On January 9, 2024, state legislators will assemble for Florida’s annual legislative session, aiming to tackle a number of issues, including those impacting Florida’s condominium and community associations. The 60-day session will address reforms to Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), enhancements to the ‘My Safe Florida Home’ program, property insurance, and more.
As part of our service-first philosophy, FirstService Residential advocates for community associations before policymakers and regulators, keeping board members and communities we serve updated on legislative matters related to managing their associations.
Please note that we anticipate updating this article with information on all relevant bills following their filing. These bills will address reforms to insurance, HOAs, condos, and the DBPR and are expected to have a significant impact on community management practices.
Read on to preview what you can expect from the 2024 legislative session.
The DBPR licenses and regulates over 1.6 million professionals and businesses in the state, including condos. State legislators are expected to introduce a bill that expands the DBPR’s authority, giving the agency more power to respond to issues raised by residents of homeowners associations (HOAs) and condo associations. These issues include, but aren’t limited to, fraudulent election claims, embezzlement, and theft. The Homeowners Association Bill of Rights, House Bill (HB) 919, introduced earlier this year, enhanced the DBPR's capacity to probe alleged misconduct within HOAs and condo associations. However, even though the bill passed, it was stripped of increased enforcement, rendering it ineffective. The DBPR has more than 100 employees and has handled nearly all complaints received, but it can only investigate within its legally vested powers outlined by the statutes. The proposed legislation is in response to grievances about the agency's failure to address residents' repeated complaints and requests for help to rectify a multitude of condo-related issues.
The new legislation would also address how the DBPR responds to condo owners’ requests for association records. Under the Florida Condominium Act, associations must have their official records open to inspection by unit owners or their authorized representatives within 10 working days after receiving a written request. Providing these records is vital to ensuring that associations are transparent and accountable. However, many condo residents maintain that official requests sent to association boards remain unanswered. If passed, Senate Bill (SB) 426 would give owners easier access to records and give the DBPR more power to curb impropriety, creating criminal penalties for boards that repeatedly refuse to turn over requested documents to homeowners. It would also create an ombudsman’s office for HOAs (one already exists for condos), where an attorney appointed by the governor could assist in resolving issues between residents and boards.
My Safe Florida Home
The ‘My Safe Florida Home’ program aims to assist eligible homeowners with free wind mitigation home inspections and up to $10,000 in matching grants for fortifying their homes against the effects of hurricanes. Condo owners, however, are not eligible for these incentives under current rules and guidelines. The new legislation would include both individual condos and condo associations, providing credits to owners who harden their homes against major storms.
Despite soaring property insurance premiums, the upcoming session is not likely to address every factor contributing to them. However, some insurance-related issues will be covered. A bipartisan pair of legislators have proposed House Bill (HB) 655, a Windstorm Pilot Program, to offer condo associations new insurance coverage options through Citizens Property Insurance. The proposed measures aim to alter the insurance model, transitioning from covering condo roof replacement costs to their actual cash value, accounting for depreciation. Such a shift in valuation could result in reduced insurance premiums and enhance resale values, particularly for older condos.
Proposed legislation also includes granting Citizens insurance eligibility to associations with more than 50% rental occupancy and increasing the assessment coverage available on a condo owner’s H06 policy from $2,000 to $5,000. This could prove beneficial if an insurance claim-related assessment is placed on a condo owner's unit.
Hurricane Projections for Homeowners Associations
Senate Bill (SB) 600 outlines rules for protecting homes from hurricanes, requiring an association's board or committee to create protection guidelines that comply with building codes. If passed, boards won't be allowed to refuse resident requests to install or improve hurricane protection that meets these guidelines. The exterior appearance of these protections might also be regulated.
Senate Bill (SB) 280 is newly proposed legislation designed to equip local governments with essential tools to address misconduct in the vacation rental industry uniformly across the state. If passed, the legislation would allow local governments to suspend registrations for violating ordinances and revoke or not renew chronic offenders’ registrations. The state would also oversee advertising platforms, enhancing consumer protections and tourist transparency.
An estoppel certificate (or simply "estoppel") is a legal document in real estate transactions involving HOAs or condos. It outlines any financial obligations, dues, or pending legal actions between a seller and the association to ensure the seller provides accurate information about their financial status and any outstanding dues, assessments or debts related to the property before a sale or transfer. This document is required in Florida before closing as it protects the buyer by confirming the property's financial standing before completing the transaction. HOAs or condo associations usually charge a fee to cover the administrative costs of preparing and delivering the estoppel certificate. Senate Bill (SB) 278 is new legislation preventing associations from charging estoppel fees. Those opposed to this legislation argue that the cost would be passed on to the association. Thus, all owners would have to pay instead of just the owner requesting the estoppel information.
Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook and watch for episodes of This Week in the Florida Legislature for regular updates.
The following is a list of bills that may be heard by the legislature this year.
HB 0059 Provision of Homeowners' Association Rules and Covenants
HB 0173 Not-for-profit Corporations that Operate Residential Homeowners' Associations
HB 0267 Residential Building Permits
HB 0293 Hurricane Protections for Homeowners' Associations
HB 0329 Financial Assistance for Homeowners
HB 0481 Building Construction Regulations and System Warranties
HB 0565 Coverage by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation
HB 0595 Homeowners' Associations Database
HB 0625 Property Insurance Coverage
HB 0627 Disclosure Requirements for Prospective Purchasers
HB 0655 Condominium Windstorm Pilot Program
SB 0050 Provision of Homeowners’ Association Rules and Covenants
SB 0102 Property Insurance
SB 0278 Estoppel Certificates
SB 0280 Vacation Rentals
SB 0426 Community Associations
SB 0600 Hurricane Protections for Homeowners’ Associations
SB 0604 Citizens Property Insurance Corporation