QUESTION: We live in a very small community that has a homeowners' association. We don't even have a management company because we are so small. A friend who lives in a larger HOA told me that their management company made sure that they were registered with the state because of some new law. Do we have to start paying something?
ANSWER: There are some requirements for HOAs that are based on size but this new requirement pertains to all HOAs in Florida. Florida Statutes defines an HOA as "a Florida corporation responsible for the operation of a community or a mobile home subdivision in which the voting membership is a mandatory condition of parcel ownership, and which is authorized to impose assessments that, if unpaid, pay becomes a lien on the parcel."
Condominiums have been regulated by the state for a very long time. These regulations are funded by a $4 fee that is collected for each unit (called a "door") in each association. The division provides educational programs, guidelines and other services for condominium association.
House Bill 7119 that became law effective July 1, 2013, requires all homeowners' association must register with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes no later than Nov. 23, 2013. They must provide their legal name, federal employer identification number, mailing address, physical address, total number of parcels and the total amount of revenues and expenses as reflected in the association's budget.
The purpose of this new requirement is not clear. It may be that the state is just trying to determine how many HOAs there are now and what sizes they are. This new reporting obligation may be a first step in creating the same processes that the state uses for condominiums, including handling complaints and arbitrations, but there is no requirement to pay a "door" fee to fund such a system at this time. In fact, the new reporting requirement will expire on July 1, 2016, unless the legislature re-enacts it. If next year's session includes additional requirements for HOAs that seem similar to what has been in place for condominium associations for a long time, we will suspect where this is headed.
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.