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percentage for approval of changes to the governing documents. The Ombudsman may not engage the services of industry partisans with a vested interest in the administration of deed-restricted communities or in the mandatory homeowners’ association to implement its powers, who have practiced in this field within the past three years.

Legislative findings are established that homeowners’ associations and their members will benefit from alternative dispute resolution regarding disputes relating to the turnover from developer control and that ss. 720.301 – 720.407, F.S., are not intended to impair existing contract rights as long as they are accepted by two-thirds of the homeowners’ association members.

Section 53. Several amendments to s. 720.303, F.S., are provided as follows:

  • A homeowners’ association must be incorporated in Florida, and it cannot operate or administer more than one community. Officers and directors may not take any action inconsistent with the declaration of covenants. After turnover of association control from the developer, the association may take action in the name of all members, but is limited to commencing legal action regarding amounts in controversy in excess of $50,000, unless approved by a majority of the members of the association;

  • In civil or criminal actions the association is precluded from using the defense that its actions although incompatible with the covenants, have been uniformly applied;

  • The association cannot restrict a member’s freedom of association and may not limit the number of guests a member may have within a 24-hour period;

  • The officers and directors may be personally liable for damages to a member if their actions demonstrate a pattern of behavior intended to harass a member of the association;

  • Any action by the officers and directors that limits the use of any portion of a member’s property that is incompatible with the covenants entitles the member to compensation for the fair market value of that portion of the member’s property;

  • In any association with more than 50, but fewer than 75 parcels, for the purpose of setback limits, any parcel of one acre or less is deemed to have one front for the purposes of determining the required front setback, if any;

  • The agenda for an upcoming board meeting must be posted along with the notice of the meeting, the use of secret ballots for election of officers at a board meeting is prohibited, the percentage required for a unit owner petition to include an item on the board meeting agenda is lowered from 20 percent to 10 percent, and the board is required to address all items on the agenda. Detailed agendas for board meetings, with specific items must be published and made available to all members at least seven days prior to the meeting;

  • The association is required to maintain copies of recorded plats, and if such documents are not available, the association must obtain them or forfeit the right to assess any fees to maintain the common areas of property. Contracts to maintain property that is not owned by and deeded to the association are not allowed;

  • Interpretations of governing documents, as provided by any attorney are part of the association records as long as they are not part of a pending lawsuit, and architectural requests and approvals or denials must be perpetually maintained;

  • Official records must be maintained in the county in which the governing documents are recorded, the association must allow for the members to bring their own copying devices, the rules governing access to records can no longer address the frequency or manner of inspection,






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