Q: At a recent event I attended, someone mentioned a new rule that prohibits sheds on a single-family property in a HOA. I could not find any reference for that in your 2023 legislative reviews. It seems someone may have misunderstood or misinterpreted one of changes made. Can you please shed some light on this? (G.C., via e-mail)
A: I am aware of no such legislation being adopted in 2023. Effective October 1, 2023, a new Section 720.3045, Florida Statutes, will be added to the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act.
That law says regardless of any restriction, a HOA may not restrict parcel owners from installing, displaying, or storing items on the parcel which are not visible from the parcel’s frontage or an adjacent parcel. Artificial turf, boats, flags, and recreational vehicles are mentioned as specific examples in the statute.
Whether this law can or will be applied retroactively to existing associations is a rather complicated legal issue as to which you will probably hear different points of view from knowledgeable experts. That question would ultimately only be decided if the issue made its way to an appeals court, and a written interpretation was rendered.
Q: When a condominium association is considering either renewing or entering into a new contract for services to be provided to the association, is this a decision that unit owners have the right to vote on, or is this a decision that the board of directors makes on their own? (V.A., via e-mail)
A: Generally speaking, decisions concerning contracts for the association, including entering into a contract, renewing a contract, or terminating a contract, are decisions within the authority of the board of directors. Typically, the condominium documents, usually the articles of incorporation or the bylaws, will discuss the authority of the board of directors to act on behalf of the association, including the authority to enter into contracts for the association. The documents may impose limitations on the extent of the association’s authority to enter certain types of contracts, and to the extent any unit owner vote is required to authorize such contract, it would need to be contained in the documents.
Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Condominium Act, does not contain an express requirement that the unit owners vote to approve any specific contracts. However, Section 718.3026 of that statute discusses when the association is required to get competitive bids for certain contracts that have an aggregate cost of a more than 5 percent of the total annual budget of the association. Certain contracts are not subject to bidding, including contracts for the association’s attorney, accountant, architect, community association manager, engineering, or landscape architect services.
Additionally, certain contracts may be terminated by a unit owner vote after they are entered into, including contracts for bulk telecommunication services that may be terminated by a vote of the members at the first membership meeting after its execution. However, before an association proceeds to attempt to terminate a contract through a unit owner vote, it would need to review that issue with its legal services provider.
For homeowners’ associations, the law is generally the same. There are also competitive requirements in Section 720.3055 of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, but the threshold is 10 percent of budget, as opposed to the 5 percent standard for condominiums.