Q: I found out my HOA fee went up almost 40 percent without any notice. I want to know why and if it went up for everyone. Can I request more information because I didn’t receive anything? (M.P., via e-mail)
A: Board budget meetings in a homeowners’ association require posted notice, which must state that the annual budget will be considered, at least 48 hours in advance. Florida law governing homeowners’ associations does not require the proposed budget to be sent to the owners in advance of the budget meeting or be included with the posted meeting notice. However, within 10 days of adopting the budget, the board must send the approved budget to all owners or send notice to all owners that the approved budget is available free of charge upon written request.
The budget process for homeowners’ associations is the opposite from a condominium association where the proposed budget must be sent out to the unit owners before it is adopted and not after.
The association’s financial records are part of the “official records” of the association. Every owner has the right to request to inspect those records, and copy them if desired, by giving written notice to the association which is compliance with its records inspection policy, if it has one. The association must produce the records within 10 working days.
Q: I read in one of your past articles that the laws related to associations require US flags to be displayed in a “respectful” manner. What does that mean? (K.D., via e-mail)
A: This is addressed in the federal “Freedom to Display the American Flag Act.” Sections 5 through 9 address the display and use of flag by civilians. For example, Section 8, titled “Respect for Flag,” provides that the flag should never touch anything beneath it (such as the ground, floor, or water) and should not be fastened or displayed in such a manner so as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged.
Q: Someone in my association parks his or her vehicle in a designated disabled parking spot, but without displaying the official hang tag. He or she has just taped a photocopy of the front of a disability parking hang tag inside the vehicle’s windshield. Is this permissible? (J.B., via e-mail)
A: No. Section 316.1955(1) of the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Act provides that a disabled parking permit/placard issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles must be displayed, and the vehicle must be transporting the person to whom the displayed permit/placard was issued. Both sides of the disabled parking permit/placard include the expiration date and the driver’s license number or the state identification card number for the person with a disability to whom the disabled parking permit/placard is issued and who is being transported in the vehicle.
The law also requires that the permit/placard be placed so as to be visible from the front and rear of the vehicle. A photocopy of the front side is not the original permit/placard issued under statute, and the backside of the permit/placard must also be visible from the rear of the vehicle.
Where a person parks in a disabled parking spot in violation of statute, he or she can be cited for a noncriminal traffic infraction under the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Act and may be fined $100.00, or the fine amount designated by county ordinance, plus court costs for illegally parking in a disabled parking space. A person who fraudulently obtains or unlawfully displays a disabled parking permit/placard that belongs to another person, or who uses an unauthorized replica of same, may also be guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor under statute. If convicted, penalties may include up to 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.
Joseph E. Adams is a Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law, and an Office Managing Shareholder with Becker & Poliakoff. Please send your community association legal questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Past editions of the Q&A may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.