Newsletters

FALL 2001

WELCOME ABOARD

While the firm practices in several areas of the law, such as commercial litigation in both the state and federal courts, bankruptcy and personal injury, the majority of the practice is devoted to the representation of condominium associations. This issue, the firm is proud to announce the following clients to our growing list of association clientele: 9400 Condominium in Bay Harbor Islands, Sunshores Condominium in North Miami Beach, Towers of Oceanview East in Hallandale, Park Beach Condominium in Miami Beach and Quasar Twin Homes HOA in Hialeah. If we don't say it enough, we can assure you that we appreciate the business and the confidence placed in the firm.

WE'RE ON THE WEB

Check out our exciting and informative new website at: www.condo-laws.com where you can get copies of the firm's prior newsletters, send the staff or its attorneys e-mail, view a biography of the firm's attorneys, obtain a current list of condominium clients, get copies of published articles by the firm's attorneys, and more.

PROHIBITING CHILDREN

Many older declarations of condominium contain provisions which prevent children under the age of eighteen from living in the condominium. Both the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Florida Fair Housing Act have made such provisions unenforceable, as these provisions constitute discrimination based on familial status. However, the law allows the community to discriminate against children if the community is considered "Housing for Older Persons." This simply means the community must be either a fifty-five and over community or a sixty-two and over community. If a community does not fall under these two exemptions and prevents a family with children from purchasing a unit or otherwise taking occupancy, the association can be sued for injunctive relief and monetary damages under the Acts.

PATRIOTISM IN CONDOMINIUMS

Florida Statute 718.113 gives every unit owner the unconditional right to display one portable removable United States Flag in a respectful way regardless of any declaration rules or requirements dealing with flags or decorations. Interestingly enough, there is presently no such law granting owners in Homeowners' Associations the same right.

YEAR-END-CHECKLIST

Now is the time to ensure that the Association is ready to proceed with their annual elections. Many condominium by-laws require the annual meeting and election to occur in the first three months of the year. Unfortunately, we find that many condominium associations easily forget this requirement. However, unless the Association has voted to opt-out of the required statutory method, the Board must give notice of the election at least 60 days in advance. Unit owners who want to run for the Board must give notice of their intention to run at least 40 days prior to the election, and the Board must then send out a second notice of election and the ballots with the candidates names listed in alphabetical order. Unit owners cannot vote by proxy for Board members. The actual election is not necessary if there are fewer candidates then there are vacancies on the Board.

CONDO QUICK QUIZ

Question: Can a Director who fails to attend a Board meeting vote by proxy on an issue that comes up at the Board meeting?

Answer: No. Pursuant to Florida Statute 718.11, directors can't vote by proxy.

OBTAINING INSURANCE

Florida condominium associations are required by law to obtain and maintain adequate insurance or fidelity bonding of all persons who control or disburse funds of the association. The insurance policy or fidelity bond must cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or its management agent at any one time. The term "persons who control or disburse funds of the association" includes, but is not limited to, those individuals authorized to sign checks and the president, secretary, and treasurer of the association. The association shall bear the cost of bonding.

QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS

When a unit owner files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board, the board must respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days. The board must either give a substantive response to the inquirer, notify the inquirer that a legal opinion has been requested, or notify the inquirer that advice has been requested from the division. If the board requests advice from the division, the board shall, within 10 days of its receipt of the advice, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquirer. If a legal opinion is requested, the board must, within 60 days after the receipt of the inquiry, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquiry.