In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed new laws requiring every condominium of 150 or more units to have an independent website or web portal that provides condo owners copies of certain specified official records of the condominium by July 1, 2018.
At first blush, creating a website and uploading official records to it may seem like a simple requirement, but in practice, there are liabilities and risks that could lead to penalties and lawsuits.
For instance, the details of the official records requirements can be tricky because of the open-ended, broad language. The requirement to make available summaries of bids for materials, equipment, or services does not explain what would constitute a summary, or at what point the summaries must be posted (presumably it would only be after all bids are received and one is chosen at a meeting). With regards to uploading official records, associations should err on the side of being more inclusive and exhaustive. Attorneys at Haber Slade who specialize in condo law can help the association navigate the requirements and follow the law with an abundance of caution.
Additionally, associations cannot overlook the importance of having the necessary protections when getting their websites developed by third-party vendors or their property management company. Contracts must stipulate specifics such as, among other things, who owns the data, who owns the domain, ongoing requirements for uploading of records and their accessibility, and indemnification provisions that protect the association (as opposed to solely the vendor). Associations will need to establish internal policies that provide a directive that vendors and management companies have to follow. Haber Slade attorneys can review and prepare contracts and resolutions that can protect the association and ensure that it abides by the statutory requirements.
Lastly, should the association fail to comply with the website requirements, there are ramifications that could be costly and detrimental to the operations of the association. The law provides for a statutory cause of action for injunctions to force associations to comply with the website requirements and provides for damages for noncompliance. Complaints to the Division of Florida Condominiums could also lead to penalties.
Given these ramifications and the complicated practical considerations of developing the website and posting digital copies of official condo documents, condo associations need to not only take seriously the law’s July 1st enforcement date, but also consult experienced attorneys such as Haber Slade to take the necessary steps for having a compliant website and favorable contract rights in relation to said website.
About the Author
Jonathan S. Goldstein is a partner at Haber Slade. His practice areas include Condominium and Homeowners Association (HOA) law, commercial litigation, and construction litigation. He has represented community associations in all facets of general representation and collections, including but not limited to, turnover and construction related disputes, covenant enforcement, amendment drafting, meeting attendance, arbitration before the Division of Florida Condominiums, and corporate governance.