Welcome back Condo and HOA boards! The season starts with some wonderful autumn weather after a very hot summer. To get you prepared for the upcoming season and your board meetings, here is a quick overview about the most important law changes and Citizens Insurance requirements:
In the 2011 Legislative Session in Tallahassee, several issues concerning HOAs, Condo Associations and Coops were clarified with HB1195, the so called “Glitch” bill. Among the changes were many measures which will help associations to collect fees:
Collection of Rents from Tenants
Past and future fees due to the association can now be collected from the tenant. The association has to notify the tenant in writing explaining the obligation to pay the rent to the association. Important to know is, that the law provides immunity for the tenant of any claim from the landlord in regard to rent paid to the association as long as the unit owner is delinquent. This provision applies to condo, coop and HOA.
Suspension of Use of the Common Elements
If a unit owner is delinquent the use of the common elements can be suspended. This decision can be made during a normal board meeting; it does not require a formal hearing. However, suspension of use for violation still requires a hearing before a committee. This provision applies to condo, coop and HOA.
Owners my consent in writing to have their contact information disclosed. The association is not liable for the inadvertent disclosure of information, if the information is included in an official record of the association. This passage applies to condo and HOA.
Fire Alarm Exemption
Here it was clarified that buildings with less than four stories and exterior corridors can opt out of the manual fire alarm installation. This law change applies to condo and coop.
Liability to a superior lien holder (Master Association)
An association or its successor or assignee, that acquires title to a unit through foreclosure is not liable for any unpaid assessments, late fees and such in favor of any other association which holds a superior lien (for example the master association). This provision applies to condos and HOA.
Bulk Television and Internet Services
A resident of any parcel, whether a tenant or parcel owner may not be denied access to available franchised, licensed, or certificated cable or video service providers if the resident pays the provider directly. HOAs can enter into bulk purchase agreements for Internet and television services, but they cannot deny an individual resident to chose his own provider. This provision already applies for condos and was now also established for HOAs.
Eligibility to serve as director on the HOA board
Homeowners, who are delinquent on HOA fees for more than 90 days may not serve on the board. The same is true, if the person is a convicted felon.
HOA member can now address the Board at Meetings
HOA members are now allowed to address the board at meetings on items which are on the agenda. This revises the previous requirements to have a signed petition to speak.
One year prior to the election or 90 days after the election elected directors can take a state approved course to become certified. The certification is valid for the entire time serving on the board. This provision applies to condos.
A candidate for a condo association board needs to be eligible to serve before the election, meaning the candidate can only appear on the ballot if he/she is eligible.
For the complete HB 1195 text, please go to http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=h1195z.JDC.DOCX&DocumentType=Analysis&BillNumber=1195&Session=2011
Besides the changes in Tallahassee, Citizens Insurance issued several agents communications, which will change several provisions:
Effective May 2011, buildings with sprinkler systems are only eligible for sprinkler credits, if the sprinkler system is ISO approved. ISO stands for Insurance Service Office, a company specialized on risk ratings of buildings. See my blog about ISO classifications.
The reason for this new rule is Sprinkler Leakage Exclusion. Therefore, if your sprinkler system is not ISO approved, Citizen will add the Sprinkler Leakage Exclusion endorsement to the policy.
But to avoid this endorsement, here is what you can do:
- Have a sprinkler maintenance with an approved company in place
- Have an annual sprinkler inspection report
- Order an ISO Automatic Sprinkler Grading Report
Have a statement prepared by a Florida Certified Fire Protection System Contractor or Fire Marshall that includes all of the information outlined below:
- No maintenance problems exist that could lead to sprinkler leakage exposure
- The system is operational, serviced, maintained, and able to function as intended or designed, in the event of a fire
- The installation has evidence of flushing and hydrostatic tests of both the underground and overhead piping, in accordance with NFPA Standard 13
- A full-flow main drain test has been witnessed within the last 48 months
- Dry-pipe installations have evidence of a satisfactory dry-pipe test within the last 48 months
- Fire-pump installations have evidence and results of a fire-pump test conducted within the last 48 months
Also effective May 2011 the definition of a single-building was clarified:
The new single-building definition reads as follows:
- As one building when they communicate through unprotected openings
- Separated when separated by space
- Separately, if divided by an 8-inch masonry or 6-inch reinforced concrete part wall without openings, provided that, if a roof is combustible or metal, the party wall pierces the roof. In addition, if the exterior walls are not masonry, the party wall must pierce the non-masonry wall.
Effective October 1, 2011 sinkhole inspection will be required requesting a sinkhole loss coverage, if the following applies:
- The property is located in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, or Pinellas counties
- A yes response is given on any of the application’s sinkhole-related questions
The sinkhole inspection requirement change applies to the following policy types and does not impact catastrophic ground cover collapse coverage, which is included in the base policy:
- Homeowners (HO3)
- Dwelling (DP-1 and DP-3 with building coverage)
Once the request to add sinkhole coverage is received, Citizens will order the inspection from a Citizens-approved company. The cost will be split evenly by the applicant and Citizens.
For more detailed information go to https://www.citizensfla.com/agent/ac_techbulletins.cfm?type=atb&show=pdf&year=2011&link=/shared/ATB/ATB005-11/ATB005-11.pdf and click on Updated Sinkhole Inspection Requirements.
It is expected that Citizens rates will increase up to 10% in the coming year in general and an average of 39% for sinkhole coverage.
Though the coverage is optional, the company automatically adds sinkhole coverage to policies except in Pasco and Hernando counties. Citizens has 84,908 homeowners’ policies in South Florida with sinkhole coverage, largely because it costs very little, about $3 to $20. With the increase, the average sinkhole premium cost in mainland South Florida would be $40 to $100. The provision is intended to help Citizens collect enough premiums to pay costs associated with sinkhole claims. The insurer collected $32 million in sinkhole premiums from homeowners’ policies in 2010 and expects to pay out $245 million in claims expenses.
By the way: State law caps Citizens increases at 10%, but that does not mean that policies could increase much more if Citizens increases the buildings rebuilding cost. Therefore, it is more important than ever to get a correct and up to date insurance appraisal.
Thanks for following my blog, please contact me with questions and concerns at any time.