Section 720.303, Florida Statutes 2009
720.303 Association powers and duties; meetings of board; official records; budgets; financial reporting; association funds; recalls.--
(1) POWERS AND DUTIES.--An association which operates a community as defined in s. 720.301, must be operated by an association that is a Florida corporation. After October 1, 1995, the association must be incorporated and the initial governing documents must be recorded in the official records of the county in which the community is located. An association may operate more than one community. The officers and directors of an association have a fiduciary relationship to the members who are served by the association. The powers and duties of an association include those set forth in this chapter and, except as expressly limited or restricted in this chapter, those set forth in the governing documents. After control of the association is obtained by members other than the developer, the association may institute, maintain, settle, or appeal actions or hearings in its name on behalf of all members concerning matters of common interest to the members, including, but not limited to, the common areas; roof or structural components of a building, or other improvements for which the association is responsible; mechanical, electrical, or plumbing elements serving an improvement or building for which the association is responsible; representations of the developer pertaining to any existing or proposed commonly used facility; and protesting ad valorem taxes on commonly used facilities. The association may defend actions in eminent domain or bring inverse condemnation actions. Before commencing litigation against any party in the name of the association involving amounts in controversy in excess of $100,000, the association must obtain the affirmative approval of a majority of the voting interests at a meeting of the membership at which a quorum has been attained. This subsection does not limit any statutory or common-law right of any individual member or class of members to bring any action without participation by the association. A member does not have authority
to act for the association by virtue of being a member. An association may have more than one class of members and may issue membership certificates. An association of 15 or fewer parcel owners may enforce only the requirements of those deed restrictions established prior to the purchase of each parcel upon an affected parcel owner or owners.
(2) BOARD MEETINGS.--
(a) A meeting of the board of directors of an association occurs whenever a quorum of the board gathers to conduct association business. All meetings of the board must be open to all members except for meetings between the board and its attorney with respect to proposed or pending litigation where the contents of the discussion would otherwise be governed by the attorney-client privilege. The provisions of this subsection shall also apply to the meetings of any committee or other similar body when a final decision will be made regarding the expenditure of association funds and to meetings of any body vested with the power to approve or disapprove architectural decisions with respect to a specific parcel of residential property owned by a member of the community.
(b) Members have the right to attend all meetings of the board and to speak on any matter placed on the agenda by petition of the voting interests for at least 3 minutes. The association may adopt written reasonable rules expanding the right of members to speak and governing the frequency, duration, and other manner of member statements, which rules must be consistent with this paragraph and may include a sign-up sheet for members wishing to speak. Notwithstanding any other law, the requirement that board meetings and committee meetings be open to the members is inapplicable to meetings between the board or a committee and the association's attorney, with respect to meetings of the board held for the purpose of discussing personnel matters.
(c) The bylaws shall provide for giving notice to parcel owners and members of all board meetings and, if they do not do so, shall be deemed to provide the following:
1. Notices of all board meetings must be posted in a conspicuous place in the community at least 48 hours in advance of a meeting, except in an emergency. In the alternative, if notice is not posted in a conspicuous place in the community, notice of each board meeting must be mailed or delivered to each member at least 7 days before the meeting, except in an emergency. Notwithstanding this general notice requirement, for communities with more than 100 members, the bylaws may provide for a reasonable alternative to posting or mailing of notice for each board meeting, including publication of notice, provision of a schedule of board meetings, or the conspicuous posting and repeated broadcasting of the notice on a closed-circuit cable television system serving the homeowners' association. However, if broadcast notice is used in lieu of a notice posted physically in the community, the notice must be broadcast at least four times every broadcast hour of each day that a posted notice is otherwise required. When broadcast notice is provided, the notice and agenda must be broadcast in a manner and for a sufficient continuous length of time so as to allow an average reader to observe the notice and read and comprehend the entire content of the notice and the agenda. The bylaws or amended bylaws may provide for giving notice by electronic transmission in a manner authorized by law for meetings of the board of directors, committee meetings requiring notice under this section, and annual and special meetings of the members; however, a member must consent in writing to receiving notice by electronic transmission.
2. An assessment may not be levied at a board meeting unless the notice of the meeting includes a statement that assessments will be considered and the nature of the assessments. Written notice of any meeting at which special assessments will be considered or at which amendments to rules regarding parcel use will be considered must be mailed, delivered, or electronically transmitted to the members and parcel owners and posted conspicuously on the property or broadcast on closed-circuit cable television not less than 14 days before the meeting.
3. Directors may not vote by proxy or by secret ballot at board meetings, except that secret ballots may be used in the election of officers. This subsection also applies to the meetings of any committee or other similar body, when a final decision will be made regarding the expenditure of association funds, and to any body vested with the power to approve or disapprove architectural decisions with respect to a specific parcel of residential property owned by a member of the community.
(d) If 20 percent of the total voting interests petition the board to address an item of business, the board shall at its next regular board meeting or at a special meeting of the board, but not later than 60 days after the receipt of the petition, take the petitioned item up on an agenda. The board shall give all members notice of the meeting at which the petitioned item shall be addressed in accordance with the 14-day notice requirement pursuant to subparagraph (c)2. Each member shall have the right to speak for at least 3 minutes on each matter placed on the agenda by petition, provided that the member signs the sign-up sheet, if one is provided, or submits a written request to speak prior to the meeting. Other than addressing the petitioned item at the meeting, the board is not obligated to take any other action requested by the petition.
(3) MINUTES.--Minutes of all meetings of the members of an association and of the board of directors of an association must be maintained in written form or in another form that can be converted into written form within a reasonable time. A vote or abstention from voting on each matter voted upon for each director present at a board meeting must be recorded in the minutes.
(4) OFFICIAL RECORDS.--The association shall maintain each of the following items, when applicable, which constitute the official records of the association:
(a) Copies of any plans, specifications, permits, and warranties related to improvements constructed on the common areas or other property that the association is obligated to maintain, repair, or replace.
(b) A copy of the bylaws of the association and of each amendment to the bylaws.
(c) A copy of the articles of incorporation of the association and of each amendment thereto.
(d) A copy of the declaration of covenants and a copy of each amendment thereto.
(e) A copy of the current rules of the homeowners' association.
(f) The minutes of all meetings of the board of directors and of the members, which minutes must be retained for at least 7 years.
(g) A current roster of all members and their mailing addresses and parcel identifications. The association shall also maintain the electronic mailing addresses and the numbers designated by members for receiving notice sent by electronic transmission of those members consenting to receive notice by electronic transmission. The electronic mailing addresses and numbers provided by unit owners to receive notice by electronic transmission shall be removed from association records when consent to receive notice by electronic transmission is revoked. However, the association is not liable for an erroneous disclosure of the electronic mail address or the number for receiving electronic transmission of notices.
(h) All of the association's insurance policies or a copy thereof, which policies must be retained for at least 7 years.
(i) A current copy of all contracts to which the association is a party, including, without limitation, any management agreement, lease, or other contract under which the association has any obligation or responsibility. Bids received by the association for work to be performed must also be considered official records and must be kept for a period of 1 year.
(j) The financial and accounting records of the association, kept according to good accounting practices. All financial and accounting records must be maintained for a period of at least 7 years. The financial and accounting records must include:
1. Accurate, itemized, and detailed records of all receipts and expenditures.
2. A current account and a periodic statement of the account for each member, designating the name and current address of each member who is obligated to pay assessments, the due date and amount of each assessment or other charge against the member, the date and amount of each payment on the account, and the balance due.
3. All tax returns, financial statements, and financial reports of the association.
4. Any other records that identify, measure, record, or communicate financial information.
(k) A copy of the disclosure summary described in s. 720.401(1).
(l) All other written records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association.
(5) INSPECTION AND COPYING OF RECORDS.--The official records shall be maintained within the state and must be open to inspection and available for photocopying by members or their authorized agents at reasonable times and places within 10 business days after receipt of a written request for access. This subsection may be complied with by having a copy of the official records available for inspection or copying in the community. If the association has a photocopy machine available where the records are maintained, it must provide parcel owners with copies on request during the inspection if the entire request is limited to no more than 25 pages.
(a) The failure of an association to provide access to the records within 10 business days after receipt of a written request creates a rebuttable presumption that the association willfully failed to comply with this subsection.
(b) A member who is denied access to official records is entitled to the actual damages or minimum damages for the association's willful failure to comply with this subsection. The minimum damages are to be $50 per calendar day up to 10 days, the calculation to begin on the 11th business day after receipt of the written request.
(c) The association may adopt reasonable written rules governing the frequency, time, location, notice, records to be inspected, and manner of inspections, but may not impose a requirement that a parcel owner demonstrate any proper purpose for the inspection, state any reason for the inspection, or limit a parcel owner's right to inspect records to less than one 8-hour business day per month. The association may impose fees to cover the costs of providing copies of the official records, including, without limitation, the costs of copying. The association may charge up to 50 cents per page for copies made on the association's photocopier. If the association does not have a photocopy machine available where the records are kept, or if the records requested to be copied exceed 25 pages in length, the association may have copies made by an outside vendor and may charge the actual cost of copying. The association shall maintain an adequate number of copies of the recorded governing documents, to ensure their availability to members and prospective members. Notwithstanding the provisions of this paragraph, the following records shall not be accessible to members or parcel owners:
1. Any record protected by the lawyer-client privilege as described in s. 90.502 and any record protected by the work-product privilege, including, but not limited to, any record prepared by an association attorney or prepared at the attorney's express direction which reflects a mental impression, conclusion, litigation strategy, or legal theory of the attorney or the association and was prepared exclusively for civil or criminal litigation or for adversarial administrative proceedings or which was prepared in anticipation of imminent civil or criminal litigation or imminent adversarial administrative proceedings until the conclusion of the litigation or adversarial administrative proceedings.
2. Information obtained by an association in connection with the approval of the lease, sale, or other transfer of a parcel.
3. Disciplinary, health, insurance, and personnel records of the association's employees.
4. Medical records of parcel owners or community residents.
(d) The association or its authorized agent is not required to provide a prospective purchaser or lienholder with information about the residential subdivision or the association other than information or documents required by this chapter to be made available or disclosed. The association or its authorized agent may charge a reasonable fee to the prospective purchaser or lienholder or the current parcel owner or member for providing good faith responses to requests for information by or on behalf of a prospective purchaser or lienholder, other than that required by law, if the fee does not exceed $150 plus the reasonable cost of photocopying and any attorney's fees incurred by the association in connection with the response.
(a) The association shall prepare an annual budget that sets out the annual operating expenses. The budget must reflect the estimated revenues and expenses for that year and the estimated surplus or deficit as of the end of the current year. The budget must set out separately all fees or charges paid for by the association for recreational amenities, whether owned by the association, the developer, or another person. The association shall provide each member with a copy of the annual budget or a written notice that a copy of the budget is available upon request at no charge to the member. The copy must be provided to the member within the time limits set forth in subsection (5).
(b) In addition to annual operating expenses, the budget may include reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance for which the association is responsible to the extent that the governing documents do not limit increases in assessments, including reserves. If the budget of the association includes reserve accounts, such reserves shall be determined, maintained, and waived in the manner provided in this subsection. Once an association provides for reserve accounts in the budget, the association shall thereafter determine, maintain, and waive reserves in compliance with this subsection.
(c) If the budget of the association does not provide for reserve accounts governed by this subsection and the association is responsible for the repair and maintenance of capital improvements that may result in a special assessment if reserves are not provided, each financial report for the preceding fiscal year required by subsection (7) shall contain the following statement in conspicuous type: THE BUDGET OF THE ASSOCIATION DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR RESERVE ACCOUNTS FOR CAPITAL EXPENDITURES AND DEFERRED MAINTENANCE THAT MAY RESULT IN SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS. OWNERS MAY ELECT TO PROVIDE FOR RESERVE ACCOUNTS PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 720.303(6), FLORIDA STATUTES, UPON THE APPROVAL OF NOT LESS THAN A MAJORITY OF THE TOTAL VOTING INTERESTS OF THE ASSOCIATION.
(d) An association shall be deemed to have provided for reserve accounts when reserve accounts have been initially established by the developer or when the membership of the association affirmatively elects to provide for reserves. If reserve accounts are not initially provided for by the developer, the membership of the association may elect to do so upon the affirmative approval of not less than a majority of the total voting interests of the association. Such approval may be attained by vote of the members at a duly called meeting of the membership or upon a written consent executed by not less than a majority of the total voting interests in the community. The approval action of the membership shall state that reserve accounts shall be provided for in the budget and designate the components for which the reserve accounts are to be established. Upon approval by the membership, the board of directors shall provide for the required reserve accounts for inclusion in the budget in the next fiscal year following the approval and in each year thereafter. Once established as provided in this subsection, the reserve accounts shall be funded or maintained or shall have their funding waived in the manner provided in paragraph (f).
(e) The amount to be reserved in any account established shall be computed by means of a formula that is based upon estimated remaining useful life and estimated replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of each reserve item. The association may adjust replacement reserve assessments annually to take into account any changes in estimates of cost or useful life of a reserve item.
(f) Once a reserve account or reserve accounts are established, the membership of the association, upon a majority vote at a meeting at which a quorum is present, may provide for no reserves or less reserves than required by this section. If a meeting of the unit owners has been called to determine whether to waive or reduce the funding of reserves and no such result is achieved or a quorum is not present, the reserves as included in the budget shall go into effect. After the turnover, the developer may vote its voting interest to waive or reduce the funding of reserves. Any vote taken pursuant to this subsection to waive or reduce reserves shall be applicable only to one budget year.
(g) Funding formulas for reserves authorized by this section shall be based on either a separate analysis of each of the required assets or a pooled analysis of two or more of the required assets.
1. If the association maintains separate reserve accounts for each of the required assets, the amount of the contribution to each reserve account shall be the sum of the following two calculations:
a. The total amount necessary, if any, to bring a negative component balance to zero.
b. The total estimated deferred maintenance expense or estimated replacement cost of the reserve component less the estimated balance of the reserve component as of the beginning of the period for which the budget will be in effect. The remainder, if greater than zero, shall be divided by the estimated remaining useful life of the component.
The formula may be adjusted each year for changes in estimates and deferred maintenance performed during the year and may include factors such as inflation and earnings on invested funds.
2. If the association maintains a pooled account of two or more of the required reserve assets, the amount of the contribution to the pooled reserve account as disclosed on the proposed budget shall not be less than that required to ensure that the balance on hand at the beginning of the period for which the budget will go into effect plus the projected annual cash inflows over the remaining estimated useful life of all of the assets that make up the reserve pool are equal to or greater than the projected annual cash outflows over the remaining estimated useful lives of all of the assets that make up the reserve pool, based on the current reserve analysis. The projected annual cash inflows may include estimated earnings from investment of principal. The reserve funding formula shall not include any type of balloon payments.
(h) Reserve funds and any interest accruing thereon shall remain in the reserve account or accounts and shall be used only for authorized reserve expenditures unless their use for other purposes is approved in advance by a majority vote at a meeting at which a quorum is present. Prior to turnover of control of an association by a developer to parcel owners, the developer-controlled association shall not vote to use reserves for purposes other than those for which they were intended without the approval of a majority of all nondeveloper voting interests voting in person or by limited proxy at a duly called meeting of the association.
(7) FINANCIAL REPORTING.--Within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year, or annually on the date provided in the bylaws, the association shall prepare and complete, or contract with a third party for the preparation and completion of, a financial report for the preceding fiscal year. Within 21 days after the final financial report is completed by the association or received from the third party, but not later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year or other date as provided in the bylaws, the association shall, within the time limits set forth in subsection (5), provide each member with a copy of the annual financial report or a written notice that a copy of the financial report is available upon request at no charge to the member. Financial reports shall be prepared as follows:
(a) An association that meets the criteria of this paragraph shall prepare or cause to be prepared a complete set of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles as adopted by the Board of Accountancy. The financial statements shall be based upon the association's total annual revenues, as follows:
1. An association with total annual revenues of $100,000 or more, but less than $200,000, shall prepare compiled financial statements.
2. An association with total annual revenues of at least $200,000, but less than $400,000, shall prepare reviewed financial statements.
3. An association with total annual revenues of $400,000 or more shall prepare audited financial statements.
(b)1. An association with total annual revenues of less than $100,000 shall prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures.
2. An association in a community of fewer than 50 parcels, regardless of the association's annual revenues, may prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures in lieu of financial statements required by paragraph (a) unless the governing documents provide otherwise.
3. A report of cash receipts and disbursement must disclose the amount of receipts by accounts and receipt classifications and the amount of expenses by accounts and expense classifications, including, but not limited to, the following, as applicable: costs for security, professional, and management fees and expenses; taxes; costs for recreation facilities; expenses for refuse collection and utility services; expenses for lawn care; costs for building maintenance and repair; insurance costs; administration and salary expenses; and reserves if maintained by the association.
(c) If 20 percent of the parcel owners petition the board for a level of financial reporting higher than that required by this section, the association shall duly notice and hold a meeting of members within 30 days of receipt of the petition for the purpose of voting on raising the level of reporting for that fiscal year. Upon approval of a majority of the total voting interests of the parcel owners, the association shall prepare or cause to be prepared, shall amend the budget or adopt a special assessment to pay for the financial report regardless of any provision to the contrary in the governing documents, and shall provide within 90 days of the meeting or the end of the fiscal year, whichever occurs later:
1. Compiled, reviewed, or audited financial statements, if the association is otherwise required to prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures;
2. Reviewed or audited financial statements, if the association is otherwise required to prepare compiled financial statements; or
3. Audited financial statements if the association is otherwise required to prepare reviewed financial statements.
(d) If approved by a majority of the voting interests present at a properly called meeting of the association, an association may prepare or cause to be prepared:
1. A report of cash receipts and expenditures in lieu of a compiled, reviewed, or audited financial statement;
2. A report of cash receipts and expenditures or a compiled financial statement in lieu of a reviewed or audited financial statement; or
3. A report of cash receipts and expenditures, a compiled financial statement, or a reviewed financial statement in lieu of an audited financial statement.
(8) ASSOCIATION FUNDS; COMMINGLING.--
(a) All association funds held by a developer shall be maintained separately in the association's name. Reserve and operating funds of the association shall not be commingled prior to turnover except the association may jointly invest reserve funds; however, such jointly invested funds must be accounted for separately.
(b) No developer in control of a homeowners' association shall commingle any association funds with his or her funds or with the funds of any other homeowners' association or community association.
(c) Association funds may not be used by a developer to defend a civil or criminal action, administrative proceeding, or arbitration proceeding that has been filed against the developer or directors appointed to the association board by the developer, even when the subject of the action or proceeding concerns the operation of the developer-controlled association.
(9) APPLICABILITY.--Sections 617.1601-617.1604 do not apply to a homeowners' association in which the members have the inspection and copying rights set forth in this section.
(10) RECALL OF DIRECTORS.--
(a)1. Regardless of any provision to the contrary contained in the governing documents, subject to the provisions of s. 720.307 regarding transition of association control, any member of the board of directors may be recalled and removed from office with or without cause by a majority of the total voting interests.
2. When the governing documents, including the declaration, articles of incorporation, or bylaws, provide that only a specific class of members is entitled to elect a board director or directors, only that class of members may vote to recall those board directors so elected.
(b)1. Board directors may be recalled by an agreement in writing or by written ballot without a membership meeting. The agreement in writing or the written ballots, or a copy thereof, shall be served on the association by certified mail or by personal service in the manner authorized by chapter 48 and the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
2. The board shall duly notice and hold a meeting of the board within 5 full business days after receipt of the agreement in writing or written ballots. At the meeting, the board shall either certify the written ballots or written agreement to recall a director or directors of the board, in which case such director or directors shall be recalled effective immediately and shall turn over to the board within 5 full business days any and all records and property of the association in their possession, or proceed as described in paragraph (d).
3. When it is determined by the department pursuant to binding arbitration proceedings that an initial recall effort was defective, written recall agreements or written ballots used in the first recall effort and not found to be defective may be reused in one subsequent recall effort. However, in no event is a written agreement or written ballot valid for more than 120 days after it has been signed by the member.
4. Any rescission or revocation of a member's written recall ballot or agreement must be in writing and, in order to be effective, must be delivered to the association before the association is served with the written recall agreements or ballots.
5. The agreement in writing or ballot shall list at least as many possible replacement directors as there are directors subject to the recall, when at least a majority of the board is sought to be recalled; the person executing the recall instrument may vote for as many replacement candidates as there are directors subject to the recall.
(c)1. If the declaration, articles of incorporation, or bylaws specifically provide, the members may also recall and remove a board director or directors by a vote taken at a meeting. If so provided in the governing documents, a special meeting of the members to recall a director or directors of the board of administration may be called by 10 percent of the voting interests giving notice of the meeting as required for a meeting of members, and the notice shall state the purpose of the meeting. Electronic transmission may not be used as a method of giving notice of a meeting called in whole or in part for this purpose.
2. The board shall duly notice and hold a board meeting within 5 full business days after the adjournment of the member meeting to recall one or more directors. At the meeting, the board shall certify the recall, in which case such member or members shall be recalled effective immediately and shall turn over to the board within 5 full business days any and all records and property of the association in their possession, or shall proceed as set forth in subparagraph (d).
(d) If the board determines not to certify the written agreement or written ballots to recall a director or directors of the board or does not certify the recall by a vote at a meeting, the board shall, within 5 full business days after the meeting, file with the department a petition for binding arbitration pursuant to the applicable procedures in ss. 718.112(2)(j) and 718.1255 and the rules adopted thereunder. For the purposes of this section, the members who voted at the meeting or who executed the agreement in writing shall constitute one party under the petition for arbitration. If the arbitrator certifies the recall as to any director or directors of the board, the recall will be effective upon mailing of the final order of arbitration to the association. The director or directors so recalled shall deliver to the board any and all records of the association in their possession within 5 full business days after the effective date of the recall.
(e) If a vacancy occurs on the board as a result of a recall and less than a majority of the board directors are removed, the vacancy may be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in this subsection or in the association documents. If vacancies occur on the board as a result of a recall and a majority or more of the board directors are removed, the vacancies shall be filled by members voting in favor of the recall; if removal is at a meeting, any vacancies shall be filled by the members at the meeting. If the recall occurred by agreement in writing or by written ballot, members may vote for replacement directors in the same instrument in accordance with procedural rules adopted by the division, which rules need not be consistent with this subsection.
(f) If the board fails to duly notice and hold a board meeting within 5 full business days after service of an agreement in writing or within 5 full business days after the adjournment of the member recall meeting, the recall shall be deemed effective and the board directors so recalled shall immediately turn over to the board all records and property of the association.
(g) If a director who is removed fails to relinquish his or her office or turn over records as required under this section, the circuit court in the county where the association maintains its principal office may, upon the petition of the association, summarily order the director to relinquish his or her office and turn over all association records upon application of the association.
(h) The minutes of the board meeting at which the board decides whether to certify the recall are an official association record. The minutes must record the date and time of the meeting, the decision of the board, and the vote count taken on each board member subject to the recall. In addition, when the board decides not to certify the recall, as to each vote rejected, the minutes must identify the parcel number and the specific reason for each such rejection.
(i) When the recall of more than one board director is sought, the written agreement, ballot, or vote at a meeting shall provide for a separate vote for each board director sought to be recalled.
(11) WINDSTORM INSURANCE.--Windstorm insurance coverage for a group of no fewer than three communities created and operating under chapter 718, chapter 719, this chapter, or chapter 721 may be obtained and maintained for the communities if the insurance coverage is sufficient to cover an amount equal to the probable maximum loss for the communities for a 250-year windstorm event. Such probable maximum loss must be determined through the use of a competent model that has been accepted by the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology. Such insurance coverage is deemed adequate windstorm coverage for purposes of this chapter.
History.--s. 35, ch. 92-49; s. 54, ch. 95-274; s. 1, ch. 97-311; s. 1, ch. 98-261; s. 46, ch. 2000-258; s. 12, ch. 2003-14; s. 3, ch. 2003-79; ss. 2, 18, ch. 2004-345; s. 15, ch. 2004-353; s. 135, ch. 2005-2; s. 16, ch. 2007-80; ss. 9, 10, ch. 2007-173.
Note.--Former s. 617.303.