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The Florida Senate unanimously approved a bill that would impose sweeping changes to condominium violations.   The bill is now headed to Governor, and would become law on July 1.

CS/CS/HB 1237  imposes criminal punishments on violations that include forgery of a ballot, theft of association funds,  or the destruction of or the refusal to allow inspection of an official record.

Below are the additions to the existing condominium statute:

SELF DEALING:  Except for a timeshare condominium, a board member, manager, or  management company may not purchase a unit at a foreclosure sale  resulting from the association’s foreclosure of its lien for  unpaid assessments or take title by deed in lieu of foreclosure.

ATTORNEY: An association may not hire an attorney who represents  the management company of the association.

DEBIT CARDS.— (a) An association and its officers, directors, employees, and agents may not use a debit card issued in the name of the association, or billed directly to the association, for the payment of any association expense. (b) Use of a debit card issued in the name of the association, or billed directly to the association, for any  expense that is not a lawful obligation of the association may be prosecuted as credit card fraud pursuant to s. 817.61. 572 Section 2. To implement the website requirement in section 1 of this act, the Department of Business and Professional  Regulation is directed to include within the next condominium association annual fee statement required by s. 718.501(2)(a),  Florida Statutes, a notice informing condominium associations of 150 or more units of the requirement to create a website for association documents that is operational on or before July 1, 2018. 580 Section 3.

SERVICE PROVIDERS; CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.—An  association, which is not a timeshare condominium association, may not employ or contract with any service provider that is  owned or operated by a board member or with any person who has a financial relationship with a board member or officer, or a  relative within the third degree of consanguinity by blood or marriage of a board member or officer. This paragraph does not  apply to a service provider in which a board member or officer, or a relative within the third degree of consanguinity by blood  or marriage of a board member or officer, owns less than 1 percent of the equity shares.

A party contracting to provide maintenance or  management services to an association managing a residential  condominium after transfer of control of the association, as provided in s. 718.301, which is not a timeshare condominium association, or an officer or board member of such party, may not purchase a unit at a foreclosure sale resulting from the  association’s foreclosure of association lien for unpaid  assessments or take a deed in lieu of foreclosure. If 50 percent  or more of the units in the condominium are owned by a party  contracting to provide maintenance or management services to an association managing a residential condominium after transfer of  control of the association, as provided in s. 718.301, which is  not a timeshare condominium association, or by an officer or board member of such party, the contract with the party providing maintenance or management services may be cancelled by a majority vote of the unit owners other than the contracting party or an officer or board member of such party.  Section 6. Section 718.3027, Florida Statutes, is created  to read:  718.3027 Conflicts of interest.— (1) Directors and officers of a board of an association that is not a timeshare condominium association, and the relatives of such directors and officers, must disclose to the board any activity that may reasonably be construed to be a conflict of interest. A rebuttable presumption of a conflict of  interest exists if any of the following occurs without prior notice, as required in subsection (4): (a) A director or an officer, or a relative of a director or an officer, enters into a contract for goods or services with the association. (b) A director or an officer, or a relative of a director  or an officer, holds an interest in a corporation, limited liability corporation, partnership, limited liability partnership, or other business entity that conducts business  with the association or proposes to enter into a contract or other transaction with the association. (2) If a director or an officer, or a relative of a director or an officer, proposes to engage in an activity that  is a conflict of interest, as described in subsection (1), the proposed activity must be listed on, and all contracts and transactional documents related to the proposed activity must be attached to, the meeting agenda. If the board votes against the proposed activity, the director or officer, or the relative of the director or officer, must notify the board in writing of his or her intention not to pursue the proposed activity or to  withdraw from office. If the board finds that an officer or a director has violated this subsection, the officer or director shall be deemed removed from office. The vacancy shall be filled according to general law. (3) A director or an officer, or a relative of a director or an officer, who is a party to, or has an interest in, an activity that is a possible conflict of interest, as described in subsection (1), may attend the meeting at which the activity is considered by the board and is authorized to make a presentation to the board regarding the activity. After the presentation, the director or officer, or the relative of the director or officer, must leave the meeting during the discussion of, and the vote on, the activity. A director or an  officer who is a party to, or has an interest in, the activity must recuse himself or herself from the vote. (4) A contract entered into between a director or an officer, or a relative of a director or an officer, and the association, which is not a timeshare condominium association, that has not been properly disclosed as a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest as required by s. 718.111(12)(g) is voidable and terminates upon the filing of a  written notice terminating the contract with the board of directors which contains the consent of at least 20 percent of the voting interests of the association.  (5) As used in this section, the term “relative” means a relative within the third degree of consanguinity by blood or marriage.

RECEIVER:   A receiver may not exercise voting rights of any unit  owner whose unit is placed in receivership for the benefit of  the association pursuant to this chapter

TERM LIMITS:  A board  member may not serve more than four consecutive 2-year terms, unless approved by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the total voting interests of the association or unless there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the vacancies on the board at the time of the vacancy

FINANCIAL REPORTING:  An association shall provide  an annual report to the department containing the names of all of the financial institutions with which it maintains accounts,  and a copy of such report may be obtained from the department 1253 upon written request of any association member.

ASSOCIATION WEBSITE:  By July 1, 2018, an association with 150 or more  units which does not manage timeshare units shall post digital copies of the documents specified in subparagraph 2. on its  website.  The association’s website must be:  (I) An independent website or web portal wholly owned and  operated by the association; or  (II) A website or web portal operated by a third-party  provider with whom the association owns, leases, rents,  otherwise obtains the right to operate a web page,  or collection of subpages or web portals dedicated to  the association’s activities and on which required notices,  records, and documents may be posted by the association.  b. The association’s website must be accessible through  the Internet and must contain a subpage, web portal, or other protected electronic location that is inaccessible to the  general public and accessible only to unit owners and employees  of the association.  c. Upon a unit owner’s written request, the association  must provide the unit owner with a username and password and  access to the protected sections of the association’s website  that contain any notices, records, or documents that must be  electronically provided. . A current copy of the following documents must be 391 posted in digital format on the association’s website:  a. The recorded declaration of condominium of each  condominium operated by the association and each amendment to  each declaration.  b. The recorded bylaws of the association and each  amendment to the bylaws.  c. The articles of incorporation of the association, or  other documents creating the association, and each amendment  thereto. The copy posted pursuant to this sub-subparagraph must  be a copy of the articles of incorporation filed with Department of State.  d. The rules of the association.  e. Any management agreement, lease, or other contract to  which the association is a party or under which the association  or the unit owners have an obligation or responsibility.  Summaries of bids for materials, equipment, or services must be  maintained on the website for 1 year.  f. The annual budget required by s. 718.112(2)(f) and any  proposed budget to be considered at the annual meeting.  g. The financial report required by subsection (13) and 411 any proposed financial report to be considered at a meeting.  h. The certification of each director required by s.  718.112(2)(d)4.b.  i. All contracts or transactions between the association  and any director, officer, corporation, firm, or association  that is not an affiliated condominium association or any other  entity in which an association director is also a director or  officer and financially interested.  j. Any contract or document regarding a conflict of  interest or possible conflict of interest as provided in ss.  468.436(2) and 718.3026(3).  k. The notice of any unit owner meeting and the agenda for  the meeting, as required by s. 718.112(2)(d)3., no later than 14  days before the meeting. The notice must be posted in plain view  on the front page of the website, or on a separate subpage of the website labeled “Notices” which is conspicuously visible and  linked from the front page. The association must also post on  its website any document to be considered and voted on by the  owners during the meeting or any document listed on the agenda  at least 7 days before the meeting at which the document or the  information within the document will be considered.  l. Notice of any board meeting, the agenda, and any other  document required for the meeting as required by s. 718.112(2)(c), which must be posted no later than the date  required for notice pursuant to s. 718.112(2)(c).  2. The association shall ensure that the information and  records described in paragraph (c), which are not permitted to  be accessible to unit owners, are not posted on the  association’s website. If protected information or information restricted from being accessible to unit owners is included in  documents that are required to be posted on the association’s  website, the association shall ensure the information is redacted before posting the documents online.

FAILURE TO DELIVER REPORT:   A unit owner may provide written notice to the division of the association’s failure to mail or hand deliver  him or her a copy of the most recent financial report within 5 business days after he or she submitted a written request to the association for a copy of such report. If the determines that the association failed to mail or hand deliver a  copy of the most recent financial report to the unit owner, the division shall provide written notice to the association that the association must mail or hand deliver a copy of the most recent financial report to the unit owner and the division within 5 business days after it receives such notice from the division. An association that fails to comply with the division’s request may not waive the financial reporting requirement provided in paragraph (d). A financial report received by the division pursuant to this paragraph shall be maintained, and the division shall provide a copy of such report  to an association member upon his or her request.

A renter of a unit has  a right to inspect and copy the association’s bylaws and rules.

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