Becker & Poliakoff

“Association ‘Sunshine Laws’ Questioned” – News-Press

“Association ‘Sunshine Laws’ Questioned” – News-Press

Q: I was recently elected to the board of my condominium association. I thought we had to follow Florida’s sunshine laws, but our long-time president said this is not true. She claims we can meet whenever we want as long as no votes are taken, or assessments are not going to be made. Is this correct? (F.S., via e-mail)

A: Technically, yes, but as a practical matter, no. Chapter 286 of the Florida Statutes is called the Florida Government in the Sunshine Law. It does not apply to associations. However, Florida’s housing statutes have their own “sunshine laws.” These statutes are Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes for condominiums, Chapter 719 for cooperatives, and Chapter 720 for homeowners’ associations.

These laws define a meeting as “any gathering of a quorum for the purpose of conducting association business.” A “gathering” is a majority of the board members together in person or remotely (audio and/or video) or any combination of remote/in-person presence. “Conducting business” is engaging in actions or discussions in furtherance of the purposes of the association. A vote does not need to be taken for “business” to be “conducted.”

All board meetings are open to all owners to attend in person, with certain exceptions. There is no owner right to attend by video link or audio call-in, although the board may permit it. The two exceptions to the open meeting requirements are meetings of the board with legal counsel regarding pending or proposed litigation, and meetings of the board regarding “personnel” (employee) matters.

Notice of all board meetings must be posted in a conspicuous place on the condominium, cooperative, or community property, as designated by board rule, 48 hours before the meeting, except in the event of an emergency.

Certain board meetings require 14 days actual notice to owners, plus 14 days posted notice. Special assessment meetings and meetings to adopt rules regulating the use of units/parcels are subject to the 14-day notice requirement.

An agenda for the meeting must be included with the posted notice. For condominiums and cooperatives, the board may not take up any item not on the agenda unless a majority of the board plus one determines that the matter is an emergency, and the action must be ratified at the board’s next meeting and the item must be on the agenda.

Owners have the right to speak at board meetings to all designated agenda items. The board is permitted to adopt rules regarding owner statements at board meetings. Most rules require the owners to sign up to speak at the beginning of the meeting or allow the chair to call on people who raise their hands. Usually, each owner is given a set time to speak (3 minutes is standard), and then the board closes the floor to owner’s comments and discusses and votes on the subject agenda item.

Owners have the right to video or audio record board meetings. Again, the board may adopt rules setting forth the required procedures for recording.

Except for meetings where 14 days’ actual notice is required, there is no requirement to give owners personal notice of board meetings, such as e-mails, nor digital notice, such as posting on a website. An exception to this rule is that there is a website requirement for any condominium association that governs a condominium of 150 or more units. In those situations, website posting is required.

Chance or informal encounters of a majority of the board are a “meeting” if association business is discussed. A majority of the board may be together and not conduct business, such as playing golf or attending an education seminar together.

The application of these rules to committees is a bit complicated. For condominiums and cooperatives, the same “sunshine laws” apply to any committee empowered to take final action on behalf of the association or make recommendations regarding the budget. Other committees do not need to comply if exempted by the bylaws, otherwise they must comply. For homeowners’ associations, committees empowered to approve architectural requests or expend association funds are required to follow these requirements. Other committees are not unless required by the governing documents.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to Past editions may be viewed at