Q: My homeowners’ association is preparing to have the members vote on four different amendments to the governing documents. However, the association is proposing putting the four amendments to the owners in one vote, take it or leave it. It was my understanding that the association was required to put each amendment to a separate vote but I could not find that provision in the statute. Can they do this? (C.B., via e-mail)
A: Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, known as the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, does not require that amendments to the governing documents of a homeowners’ association be voted on individually.
Section 720.306 of the Act contains certain requirements for amendments to the governing documents. For example, the statute provides that amendments to the governing documents must be recorded in the public records of the county where the association is located. Within 30 days of recording an amendment to the governing documents, the association must provide copies of the recorded amendment to the members or, if copies of the proposed amendments were previously provided to the members before the vote, notice to the members that the amendment was adopted and recorded and provide the recording information for the amendment and state that copies of the amendments are available at no charge to the members upon a written request to the association.
The statute also requires that amendments to documents be presented using the “strike-through” or “black-lining” procedure, where proposals to amend the documents are presented with words to be added underlined, and words to be deleted stricken through. The blacklining process need not be followed if the amendments are so substantial that using that method would hinder, rather than assist, in understanding the proposed amendments. In these cases, a “substantial rewording” format may be presented, certain statutorily required language must be used.
However, there is no requirement in the statute that amendments be voted on individually. The decision on how to present the amendments would typically be within the discretion of the board of directors. Often, amendments regarding related issues may be presented together to prevent conflicts in the documents if one amendment were to pass and another were to fail.
Of course, the association runs the risk of owners voting against the entire package of amendments if, for example, an owner agreed with three of them but disagreed with one and was therefore inclined to vote against the entire amendment package.
Q: Are the number of dogs per household regulated by Lee County? I see no numbers mentioned in our homeowners’ association documents, but some of my neighbors seem to think there is a County regulation. If a conflict existed between our documents and County regulations, which would prevail? (J.M., via e-mail)
A: The Lee County Animal Control Ordinance (Ordinance No. 14-22) makes it unlawful for anyone to keep animals in a number that is dangerous to the public generally, so there is in general no hard and fast rule. However, the Lee County Development Code may restrict animals in a particular residential community to a “reasonable number,” which would be keyed to the specific zoning of district of your community. For example, some planned unit development zoning districts in Lee County permit no more than three dogs, three cats, or a combination thereof not exceeding three animals.
Members of your association are governed by both the homeowners’ association governing documents and local ordinance and applicable laws and ordinances. To the extent of a conflict, general rule is that the more restrictive regulation will control.