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Navigating the 2023 Florida Legislative Landscape: Comprehensive Insights into New Laws Affecting Community Associations

Introduction:

The conclusion of Florida’s 2023 legislative session on May 5 marked a milestone in the state’s governance, particularly for community associations. The 60-day deliberation encompassed critical issues such as building safety, property security, insurance, homeowners’ rights, and specialty contractor regulations. In this in-depth analysis, we will break down the intricate details of the new laws enacted and their implications on condominiums (condos) and homeowners’ associations (HOAs).

New Florida Condo Laws: Elevating Building Safety Standards

Senate Bill (SB) 154 stands out as a landmark legislation addressing the intricacies of milestone inspections and structural integrity reserve requirements outlined in Senate Bill (SB) 4D. This comprehensive bill introduces several modifications:

  • Empowering the Florida Building Commission: SB 154 grants the Florida Building Commission the authority to develop the inspection program in the Florida Building Code.
  • Refining Milestone Requirements: The bill limits milestone requirements to residential communities and mixed-use buildings, emphasizing the importance of milestone inspections every 25 years for buildings within 3 miles of the coast.
  • Design Professional Teams: SB 154 allows teams of design professionals to conduct milestone inspections under the supervision of an engineer or architect, promoting a collaborative approach to building safety.
  • Exemptions and Extensions: Coastal buildings are exempt from milestone inspections every 25 years. Additionally, buildings reaching 30 years of age between July 1, 2022, and December 31, 2024, receive an extra year for inspections. The deadline can be extended with reasonable cause.
  • Insurance Premium Exemptions: Insurance premiums are excluded from the 115% threshold calculation for budget increases. Moreover, certain policies providing coverage for condo unit owners are exempt from the Citizens Flood Insurance requirement.
  • Enhanced Sales Disclosures: The bill introduces additional condo sales disclosures and extends the termination period if required reports are not submitted.
  • Board Responsibilities: Boards are mandated to perform maintenance identified in turnover inspection reports or subsequent maintenance protocols.

Additionally, Senate Bill (SB) 360 addresses causes of action for improvements to real property related to construction defects, with a focus on changing the statute of repose.

New Florida Condo Laws: Prioritizing Property Safety and Security

House Bill (HB) 837 brings about a sweeping transformation in Florida’s litigation landscape. Effective immediately, this law exempts community associations from liability if a third party commits a crime on their property. Key provisions include:

  • Security Measures: Associations are required to implement various security measures, including security cameras, well-lit parking areas, deadbolts on every unit door, and locked gates at pool areas.
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED): By January 1, 2025, associations must undergo a CPTED study performed by a law enforcement agency or a certified practitioner.
  • Employee Training: Associations must provide safety and crime prevention training for employees by the same date, fostering a safer living environment.

HB 437 safeguards property owners’ rights to display and store items outside their neighbors’ sight, striking a balance between individual freedom and association governance.

New Florida Condo Laws: Strategic Considerations for Property Insurance

House Bill (HB) 799 mirrors provisions in SB 154, exempting condo property owners from mandatory additional flood insurance. This response to legislation passed during the December special session aims to provide relief to condo owners with Citizens insurance.

New Florida HOA Laws: Upholding Homeowners’ Rights

The Homeowners’ Associations Bill of Rights (HB 919) exclusively impacts HOAs, introducing revisions related to official records, fines and suspensions, attorney fees and costs, liens, and criminal penalties for officers, directors, or managers.

New Florida Condo Laws: Changes for Specialty Contractors

House Bill (HB) 1383 introduces changes to occupational licensing requirements, setting an expiration date for local government licensing and prohibiting new licensing requirements for specialty contractors bidding on public works projects.

Conclusion:

The intricate web of legislative changes introduced in the 2023 Florida legislative session reflects a concerted effort to enhance safety, security, and governance within community associations. As these laws take effect, it is imperative for board members, residents, and management companies to seek guidance from legal counsel and adapt to the evolving regulatory landscape. Florida’s shared living spaces are poised for a future marked by transparency, resilience, and a commitment to the well-being of their communities.