2023 Florida Legislative Session: New Florida Condo Laws Impacting Community Associations
The Florida Legislature concluded its annual 60-day legislative session on Friday, May 5, 2023. This session covered many issues of importance to community associations, including building safety, property safety and security, property insurance and more. Below are the new Florida condo laws and HOA laws that passed this session.
New Florida Condo Laws: Building Safety Updates
Senate Bill (SB) 154 passed the Florida House and Senate. This bill addresses ambiguities in Senate Bill (SB) 4D’s milestone inspection and structural integrity reserve requirements and includes the following modifications:
• Gives the Florida Building Commission the authority to create the inspection program in the Florida Building Code.
• Limits milestone requirements to residential communities and mixed-use buildings.
• Allows teams of design professionals to conduct milestone inspections under the supervision of an engineer or architect.
• Exempts buildings within 3 miles of the coast from milestone inspections every 25 years. Instead, all buildings 3 stories and higher will be required to conduct inspections every 30 years, unless the local enforcement agency justifies an earlier inspection. It allows buildings that reach 30 years of age after July 1, 2022 but before December 31, 2024 an extra year to complete their milestone inspections and Structural Integrity Reserve Studies (SIRS). When a building has entered into a contract with an engineer or architect, local enforcement agencies can extend the deadline with reasonable cause.
• Excludes insurance premiums from the 115% threshold calculation for budget increases.
• Exempts policies that provide coverage under the condo unit owner from the Citizens Flood Insurance requirement based on property value.
• Requires additional condo sales disclosures and extends the termination period if the required reports are not submitted.
• Expands access to records.
• Requires that boards perform any maintenance identified in turnover inspection reports or
subsequent maintenance protocols.
Also included in the bill are the following provisions regarding SIRS:
• Any budget adopted on or after January 1, 2025, must use the SIRS to fund structural reserves. Reserves for non-structural items or for condos with one or two stories could still be waived by a majority vote (an increase from the current majority quorum requirement).
• Individuals who hold the Reserve Specialist (RS) or Professional Reserve Analyst (PRA) designation from the Community Association Institute are allowed to perform or verify the visual inspection portion of the SIRS and provide Turnover Inspection Reports. (This amendment removed the requirement for developers to conduct SIRS before turnover).
• Reserve contributions can be adjusted for inflation.
• Reserves must be maintained for items that are the association’s responsibility.
• Reserves are not required if the remaining useful life of an asset cannot be determined or exceeds 25 years.
• The words “floor” and “foundations” have been removed from the list of components addressed in a SIRS, and “structure,” “primary structural systems,” and “exterior doors” have been added.
Senate Bill (SB) 360 addresses causes of action for improvements to real property related to construction defects. FirstService is committed to working on changing the statute of repose – a statute that cuts off certain legal rights if they are not acted on by a specified deadline – from starting until after condos are turned over to associations. This is a top priority for the 2024 session.
Watch our legal experts discuss the 2023 Florida legislative session and the impact of new Florida condo laws and HOA laws on community associations.
New Florida Condo Laws: Property Safety and Security
House Bill (HB) 837 overhauls Florida’s litigation landscape. The law, already in effect, is expected to reduce frivolous liability claims against residential associations and other businesses throughout Florida. It is also likely to lower liability insurance rates. The legislation outlines that community associations are exempt from liability if a third party commits a crime on their property. This includes but is not limited to crime and safety training for employees and the following safeguards:
• Security cameras at points of entry and exit that keep video retrievable for 30 days
• Lighted parking available from dusk to dawn
• Lighting in common areas, porches, walkways, and laundry rooms from dusk to dawn
• Deadbolts measuring at least one inch on every door of every unit
• Locking devices on every window and sliding door not used for community purposes
• Locked gates at pool areas with fob or key access
• Peepholes or viewers on doors that do not have windows or window next to doors
• By January 1, 2025, associations must have a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) study performed by a law enforcement agency or a Florida Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Practitioner (FCP). CPTED studies should be no older than 3 years old, and the association must substantially comply with the assessment.
• Associations must also provide their employees with safety and crime prevention training by January 1, 2025. This training must familiarize employees with security principles, devices, measures and standards. After January 1, 2025, associations must train new employees within 60 days. The Florida Crime Prevention Training Institute of the Department of Legal Affairs will develop a proposed curriculum or best practices to implement the training.
“It is best for an association to speak with its attorney and its management company to determine how it may best position itself to take advantage of whatever benefit the new law may offer,” said to Anthony Kalliche, special counsel at FirstService Residential.
Consult your management company and legal counsel about how these changes will benefit your association.
House Bill (HB) 437 concerns property owners’ rights to display and store items outside their neighbors’ sight. Under this bill, homeowners’ associations cannot restrict parcel owners and tenants from installing, displaying, or storing items on parcels. It also allows homeowners to display a certain number of flags despite certain prohibitions in the homeowners’ association’s governing documents.
New Florida Condo Laws: Property Insurance
House Bill (HB) 799 contains the same language in SB 154, which exempts condo property owners from being required to obtain additional flood insurance. This is in response to legislation passed during the December special session requiring all condo owners with Citizens insurance to purchase a flood policy regardless of whether or not the association had a master flood policy or the height of their unit’s floor.
New Florida HOA Laws: Homeowners’ Rights
The Homeowners’ Associations Bill of Rights, House Bill (HB) 919, does not impact condos and only affects HOAs. This bill revises provisions relating to homeowners’ associations about official records, fines and suspensions, attorney fees and costs, and liens; prohibits certain funds from being commingled with association funds and requires specific accounting and remittance of funds; establishes criminal and civil penalties for actions by officers, directors, or managers of the association and requires disclosures; and implements criminal penalties for fraudulent voting activities.
New Florida Condo Laws: Specialty Contractors
House Bill (HB) 1383 changes specific requirements for occupational licenses. It revises the expiration date to July 1, 2024, for local government licensing for certain occupations, requiring the Construction Industry Licensing Board to establish voluntarily certified specialty contractor categories. It prohibits local governments from imposing new licensing requirements for specialty contractors. It also prohibits local governments from requiring approval to bid on public works projects.
As part of our promise of excellent, comprehensive service delivery, FirstService Residential will continue to advocate for associations before policymakers and regulators, and keep the board members we serve updated on new Florida condo laws and HOA laws that can affect their associations.