Law Does Not Require Recording Rules

Violation Notices Part of Official Records

Q: Does a member of a homeowners’ association have the right to review a list of properties that have violated the HOA rules, such as landscape plants that are not permitted or exterior house paint colors not approved? (A.C., via e-mail)

A: If such a list exists, yes. However, the association is not legally obligated to prepare summaries or compilations of official records for owners.

Section 720.303(5) of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act requires that the official records of the association be made available to a parcel owner for inspection or photocopying within 45 miles of the community or within the county in which the association is located within 10 business days after receipt by the board or its designee of a written request.

After establishing a list of documents that are part of the official records, subsection (n) of the statute contains a “catch all” provision and includes “all other written records of the association related to the operation of the association” as part of the “official records.”

Therefore, you would have the right to inspect architectural approval requests, violation notices or demand letters that have been sent to owners and written communications from the owner, minutes of board meetings where the subject was addressed, and any other non-privileged record related to your area of interest. Privileged records would primarily involve legal opinions, which are not subject to inspection by owners.

Your association’s board may have adopted rules, policies, or procedures for the inspection of official records, which you would need to follow.

Q: Our homeowners’ association has issues with speeding and disregard for stop signs. We are currently exploring various ideas to enhance traffic safety, including the possibility of signing a traffic control agreement with the city. Could you explain how state traffic laws are applied and enforced within a private community? (B.B., via e-mail)

A: Section 316.006(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes provides that city and county police departments can enforce state traffic laws, including speed limits, on private roads owned or controlled by a private community if there is a written agreement with the community. The homeowners’ association can authorize such an agreement through a majority vote by its board of directors. This agreement would permit the enforcement of state traffic laws by the police but would not extend to the enforcement of the association’s rules.

Other statutes related to speed limits in Florida, specifically Sections 316.183 and 316.189 of the Florida Statutes, allow local law enforcement agencies to establish maximum speed limits following an investigation. Section 316.003(89)(b) of the Florida Statutes defines streets to include privately owned roads when there is a written agreement granting control over these areas. Section 316.189(1) permits setting a maximum speed of 20 or 25 miles per hour within a city, provided an investigation supports the need for such limits. Similarly, Section 316.183(2) sets a general maximum speed limit of 30 miles per hour within residential districts, but allows for the same reduction to 20 to 25 miles per hour under comparable conditions.

The same agreement that defines the jurisdiction over private roads may also authorize the installation of stop signs by the parties if it is determined that such signage would improve traffic safety. Enforcement of these signs is governed by Section 316.123, Florida Statutes.

If your association is interested in pursuing such an agreement, it should contact your local law enforcement agency to understand their program and consult legal counsel to review any proposed agreement with the agency.

Q: If an elderly couple set up a trust to own their condominium unit, can their adult children/beneficiaries serve on the board? (G.R., via e-mail)

A: Section 617.0802 of the Florida Corporation Not For Profit Act provides that if a trustee of a trust owns a unit, the grantor or beneficiary of that trust are eligible to serve on the board, provided the beneficiary occupies the unit.

So, the adult children/beneficiaries have no legal right to run for the board unless they reside in the unit. However, the association’s bylaws must also be reviewed to determine what qualifications they establish for board eligibility.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to jadams@beckerlawyers.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.

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