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Homeowners associations must follow state law

January 17, 2014
By SYLVIA HELDRETH - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

QUESTION: I live in a community that has a homeowners association. A friend of mine is on the board and I told him that there are some new Florida statutes for HOA boards, including one that requires that the association report some information to the state. He believes that the state can't tell a homeowners association what to do. Is he right?

ANSWER: Florida is a state that pays close attention to the management of the thousands of communities that have condominium and homeowners associations. Statutes that apply to these associations have been focused more on the condominiums than homeowners associations until the recent legislative session.

The members of the board of directors of a homeowners association must follow the law. Florida Statute 720.303(1), for example, specifically states that, "The officers and directors of the association have a fiduciary duty to the members. As such, the officers and directors must keep the interest of the association above their personal interest, and they must discharge their duties in good faith, with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and in a manner they reasonably believe to be in the best interest of the association.

The homeowners association acts through its board of directors. This means that they must abide by Florida statute including the recent 720.303(13) that states a HOA must "report to the Division by November 22, 2013, the name of the association, the FEIN number, the mailing and physical address, the number of parcels, and the total amount of revenues and expenses from the annual budget of the association." The reporting requirement shall be a continuing obligation on each association until the required information is reported to the division.

The statute also requires that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to establish a registration system through an Internet website by no later than Oct. 1, 2013, that will allow the reporting to take place through the website. The reporting requirement will expire on July 1, 2016, unless reenacted by the Legislature.

The responsibilities of serving on a board should not be taken lightly. If you are concerned about how the board operates, consider seeking the advice of an attorney who works with community association.

Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a certified specialist in real estate law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar St., in Cape Coral.

This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.



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