Becker & Poliakoff

2019 Florida Legislative Session – CALL Alert for April 18, 2019

2019 Florida Legislative Session – CALL Alert for April 18, 2019

Becker Shareholder Donna DiMaggio BergerI am delighted to report that the fraudulent ESA bill, HB 721, is moving along nicely and just passed its last House Committee (Judiciary) Tuesday with a unanimous vote of 17 Yeas. Previous Committee votes: Civil Justice – 14 yeas, 0 Nays // Children, Families & Seniors – 15 Yeas, 0 Nays.

Also on Tuesday, Representative Killebrew filed the following amendments to the original bill which were both adopted:

  1. Includes an exception to having to grant an accommodation for an ESA that poses a direct threat to the safety or health of others or poses a threat of physical damage to property which cannot be reduced or eliminated by another accommodation (ie: the “ESA” Pit bull that growls at everyone in the community);
  2. Allows for ESA certification by healthcare practitioners similarly licensed in another state.

The companion bill (SB 1128) unanimously passed all three Committees (Agriculture – 5 Yeas; Innovation/Industry/Tech – 10 Yeas; Rules – 15 Yeas) and was placed on the Senate calendar on 4/12.

Please continue to contact your legislators and let them know how useful this bill will be in terms of reducing the number of blatantly fraudulent requests that your association must spend limited resources on to evaluate. Naturally, if this bill passes, your association should work with your Becker attorney to revisit the policies and applications you currently use to evaluate ESA requests.

Grieco ELSS Retrofit Bill (HB 647) – This bill is set for consideration before the Commerce Committee on April 18th. Donald’s retrofit bill is also in Commerce but has NOT been placed on the agenda for consideration.

Pizzo (SB 610) – This Bill which included criminal penalties for failed document inspections appears to be dead. It is currently in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice and was discussed during the EDR Criminal Justice Impact Conference on 4/8 but no votes were taken on the bill.

SB 824 the Airbnb bill was temporarily postponed by Innovation/Industry/Technology on 4/10. This bill is not primed to pass this year but it will be back. Once again, if your community has not yet passed any restrictions pertaining to short-term rental activity, now is the time to do it as Airbnb and similar companies are investing a lot of time and money to protect their business model and that business model often conflicts with your community’s desired residential vision.

HB 551 (S. McClain – R. Dist. 23) is a bill we have not previously discussed but one which we have been tracking to determine its potential usefulness for our community association members. This bill relates to the classification of public nuisances and the process for enjoining a property that has been declared a public nuisance. This bill essentially broadens the definition of a “public nuisance” (823.05, Fla. Stat.) to include a place where certain criminal activities continue to occur within a 6-month period. The new definition provides that a place that has been used on more than two occasions within a six-month period as a site for certain violations (namely, “dealing in stolen property,” “ assault and battery,” “ burglary,” “theft,” or “robbery by snatching”) is declared a public nuisance and can be abated or enjoined pursuant to Sections 60.05 and 60.06, F.S.

The bill also provides that if the property is being rented, the property cannot be enjoined as long as the person committing the nuisance is not the owner AND the owner makes efforts to rehabilitate the property within 30 days after the property has been declared a nuisance.

It can be difficult for many associations to obtain an injunction against the problem tenant/occupant when they are relying on a generic nuisance provision in their documents and they don’t have the cooperation of the owner/landlord. If this bill becomes law, it may have some utility for associations that have to deal with problem (“criminally-inclined”) tenants/occupants where the owner has failed (or doesn’t care) to address the nuisance behavior.

Thank you for all your input, support and involvement in this year’s Legislative Session. As we have in the past, Becker will be producing a summary of all the laws that pass which can impact your community operationally and/or financially, and will also be teaching Legal Update classes throughout the year.

We have a great CALL team here at Becker that helps monitor dozens of bills each Session, keeps our Bill Tracker updated, schedules our meetings and calls with Bill Sponsors and contributes significantly to these alerts.  It has been our pleasure to guide you through Florida’s legislative process again this year.