Florida House Bill 919: What Is This About?

Florida House Bill 919 is an act that relates to the operations of homeowners associations. Through its passing, HOAs throughout Florida must abide by new standards and procedures. It's important for HOAs within the state to review the bill and ensure they're compliant.

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Florida House Bill 919 is an act that relates to the operations of homeowners associations. Through its passing, HOAs throughout Florida must abide by new standards and procedures. It’s important for HOAs within the state to review the bill and ensure they’re compliant.

 

What Is the Florida House Bill 919?

Whenever a new act passes, everyone begins questioning what it is all about. So, what is HB919 Florida? What is it about, and how did it come to fruition? Moreover, how does it change Florida’s state laws governing HOAs?

Florida House Bill 919 was filed in February 2023. On June 12, 2023, Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law. It is dubbed the “Homeowners’ Associations Bill of Rights” and amends Florida Statutes Chapter 720. The changes will take effect starting October 1, 2023.

HB919 contains several new laws. Many provisions relate to HOA accountability and transparency. Florida HB919 will help improve that by adding provisions governing kickbacks, conflicts of interest, and deceitful voting. It also allows HOAs to remove officers under specific conditions.

 

The Motivation Behind the Bill

The issue in Hammocks HOA inspired Florida HB919. An investigation of the HOA revealed a corruption scheme that started in 2017. By November 2020, the investigation found five people behind a massive fraud case that stole over one million dollars from the HOA members. A few board members were under investigation.

 

The Bill’s New Provisions: Explained

What are the provisions contained within HB 919 in Florida? Here are the meaningful ways Florida House Bill 919 will impact the Florida Statutes Chapter 720. Homeowners associations in Florida should take them into account while conducting operations.

 

1. Meeting Notices

The new bill requires board members to specify all meeting agenda items in the meeting notices they send to homeowners.

 

2. Member Information

The bill provides that a member’s designated notice mailing address is also the property address unless the member gives an update in writing. Likewise, it provides that the designated email address is given on the consent to accept electronic notice unless updated in writing.

Moreover, the HOA must remove member emails and facsimile numbers given for electronic notice if the member revokes their consent.

 

3. Fund Comingling

If the HOA obtains funds from a homeowner for an individual purpose, the bill requires the HOA to separate what was given from the HOA’s other funds. This allows the homeowners to demand an accounting from the HOA after the fund’s purpose is complete. The association must give the accounting to the member within 7 days after receiving the request.

In addition, the bill allows the homeowners to obtain any unused funds from what was given. They must do so within 30 days after the completion of the fund’s objective.

 

4. Kickbacks

Through Florida House Bill 919, there will be penalties for any kickbacks from HOA members. This means those with a personal interest in a vendor contract and who acquire money or property may be held criminally liable. They will be subject to monetary penalties under Florida Statutes Section 617.0834.

 

5. Board Member Accountability

The bill allows the HOA to immediately remove any director or disqualify members from running for a position in any HOA elections while under investigation for multiple crimes. These include the following charges:

  • Ballot envelope or voting certificate forgery.
  • Theft or embezzlement of HOA funds or property.
  • Destroying or refusing to allow inspection or copying of HOA official records accessible to parcel owners within the law’s required time periods, to further any crime and if the action constitutes tampering with physical evidence.
  • Obstruction of justice.

While the criminal proceedings are not settled, the person charged cannot access the HOA’s official records except if a court order grants it. Moreover, if the developer chose the director, they must reveal their relationship with the developer every calendar year.

They must also disclose other activities that may reasonably be considered a conflict of interest. This disclosure must be done at least 14 days before voting on issues or signing contracts related to the conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists in several circumstances, including:

  • If an officer, director, or their relative signs a contract with the association.
  • An officer, director, or their relative has an interest in an entity that offers to or is currently doing business with the association.

 

6. Sanctions

The notices of a sanctions committee hearing given to members must include the following:

  • The date and place of the hearing.
  • An explanation of the alleged violation.
  • The specific action necessary to rectify the violation.

Moreover, the owner has the right to attend the sanctions committee meeting electronically or by telephone. The sanctions committee must also give written notice to the owner and occupant, invitee, or licensee (if any) of the findings involving the violation. They must include applicable fines approved or rejected and how to correct the violation, if applicable.

 

7. Fraudulent Voting

The following activities are considered fraudulent voting acts and are first-degree misdemeanors:

  • Falsely or willfully swearing to or confirming an oath or getting another individual to do so related to voting activities.
  • Attempting to or perpetrating fraud connected to votes cast or attempted to be cast.
  • Hindering a member from voting as planned by attempting to or fraudulently changing the voting certificate, vote, ballot envelope, or ballot.
  • Bribing, threatening, menacing, or using other corruption to deceive, influence, or deter a member during voting.
  • Promising or providing something of value to members in exchange for a vote.
  • Threatening to or using force, intimidation, violence, or other coercion or intimidation tactics to influence a vote.

 

Promoting Fairness and Accountability

The new Florida House Bill 919 is for promoting fairness and exercising accountability. It prevents homeowners associations from abusing their power and forces them to make more reasonable decisions. These new laws can help HOAs stay transparent and foster a more peaceful community.

It’s hard to transition and create new protocols whenever a new law is passed. That’s where a trustworthy and reputable HOA management company can come in. It also helps to find a reliable HOA attorney to guide you through the process. Look for one today through our online directory!

 

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