By Bob Murrell
Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A.
Today, we will review two bills that were signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on June 13, with both effective on July 1. The first of these bills, House Bill 7037, has limited impact on Community associations, but because of the potential impact on community association managers (CAMs), it may have an impact on the operations of community associations.
H.B. 7037 attempts to clarify the duties and responsibilities of CAMs by expanding the definition of community association management and the professional practice standards in Sections 468.431 and 468.334, Florida Statutes.
Section 468.431 grants or clarifies, depending upon which side of the fence you are on, the right of the CAM to perform certain tasks. In addition to the powers and duties already supplied to the CAM, this amendment provides that the CAM may also do the following: determine the number of days required for statutory notices; determine amounts due to the association; collect amounts due to the association before the filing of a civil action; calculate the votes required for a quorum or to approve a proposition or amendment; complete forms related to the management of a community association that have been created by statute or by a state agency; draft meeting notices and agendas; calculate and prepare certificates of assessment and estoppel certificates; respond to requests for certificates of assessment and estoppel certificates; negotiate monetary or performance terms of a contract subject to approval by an association; draft pre-arbitration demands; coordinate or perform maintenance for real or personal property; and other related routine services involved in the operation of a community association, in compliance with the association’s governing documents and the requirements of law, as necessary, to perform such practices.
Some of the above-mentioned practices were already being performed by CAMs. Many of them have been considered the unauthorized practice of law. The unauthorized practice of law is determined by the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court is already considering some of these issues before it, to determine which, if any, is the unauthorized practice of law. It is hoped that this really will not change the operations of associations in any real way, but will help to clarify for the CAM, as well as for the association, what authority the CAM has to perform these duties.
Another important addition is found in Section 468.4334(2)(a) and (2)(b), which provides that the association may indemnify the CAM from liability under Section (2)(a) but that indemnification is limited by the requirements of Section (2)(b).
H.B. 7037 then addresses issues in the Condominium Act, the Cooperative Act and the Homeowners’ Association Act. Section 718.116 is amended to provide for a release of lien form that can be filled out by the CAM, pursuant to Section 468.431, at least until the determination of the Florida Supreme Court’s unauthorized practice of law inquiry is completed.
Section 718.116(6)(b) was amended to provide a form for the first 30-day letter that the association would send out. This form can now be filled out by the CAM. This was being done by some associations and by some CAMs but not by all.
Section 718.121(4) was amended to provide a form for the second notice to the owner regarding past due assessments. This form is prepared at the time of the preparation of the claim of lien. Although this can now be filled out by the CAM, it would still be wise for an attorney to draft this letter since it will accompany the lien, which the Florida Supreme Court has already determined must be prepared by an attorney.
We will next look at the changes to the Cooperative Act and the Homeowners’ Association Act.