This week we continue our review of the legislative changes concerning community associations. In our last column, we were reviewing the changes to Chapter 720, Florida Statutes in HB 919, the Homeowners’ Association Bill of Rights. In this column, we will finish our review of HB 919 and review HB 437 concerning the display of flags in community associations.
The final change to Chapter 720, Florida Statutes, in HB 919, concerns voting activities.
Section 720.3065, Florida Statutes, was created by HB 919 and addresses fraudulent voting activities relating to association elections. The Statute states that it is a first-degree misdemeanor to engage in fraudulent voting activity related to association elections, and such activity includes:
- Willfully and falsely swearing or affirming an oath or affirmation or procuring another’s false oath concerning voting activities;
- Perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate fraud in casting or attempting to cast a vote;
- Preventing another member from voting by fraudulently changing or attempting to change their ballot or related materials;
- Menacing, threatening or bribing or any other corrupt attempt to influence a member’s vote;
- Giving or promising directly or indirectly to give anything of value to another member with the intention of buying their vote or influencing how that member casts their vote. I note that this provision does not apply to food served at an election rally or other meeting or an item of nominal value used as an election advertisement or campaign message designed to be worn by a member; and
- Using or threatening to use directly or indirectly force, violence or intimation or any other course or tactic to intimidate, induce or compel a member to vote or refrain from voting in an election or particular ballot measure.
HB 437, which has been signed in law by the Governor, and took effect on July 1, 2023, deals with the display of flags within community associations.
- Section 718.113 of the Florida Condominium Act was amended to add “Patriot Day” to the list of dates that a unit owner may display a portable, removal flag, and a unit owner is entitled to display flags that represent the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force and Coast Guard, regardless of any other restrictions in the condominium documents.
- Section 720.304 of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act has been revised to state that regardless of any restriction in the governing documents, an owner may display up to two of the listed flags which include the United States flag, the official flag of the State of Florida, a flag that represents the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force or Coast Guard, the POW MIA flag and a newly-added “First Responder Flag.”
- The First Responder Flag is not an official flag but is defined as a flag that may incorporate the design of any other flag permitted under this paragraph to form a “combined flag.” For the purposes of the statute, the term “First Responder Flag” means a flag that recognizes and honors the service of the following: law enforcement officers, fire fighters, paramedics or emergency medical technicians, correctional officers, 911 public safety telecommunicators, advanced practice registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or registered nurses, persons participating in state-wide urban search and rescue, federal law enforcement officers.
- Section 720.3045 of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act is a newly created section that deals with the installation, display and storage of items and states that regardless of any provisions of the governing documents, the association may not restrict an owner or their tenants from installing, displaying or storing any items on a parcel which are not visible from the parcel’s frontage or adjacent parcel. This includes artificial turf, boats, flags and recreational vehicles.
- Section 720.3075 of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act deals with prohibited causes in association documents and has been revised to expressly state that the governing documents may not preclude the display of the flags permitted by the Act.
Next week, we will continue the review of additional changes to the statutes affecting community associations that were adopted in the most recent legislative session.