Editor’s note: Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC, respond to questions about Florida community association law. The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.
Q: There are rumors going around about new laws concerning estoppels. Can you summarize the new requirements?
A: Effective July 1, there are a number of new laws affecting community associations. Most of the new legislation is aimed specifically at condominiums, but there are some new laws relevant to homeowners associations and co-ops as well. You can find a summary of the new laws on our website at www.gadclaw.com.
Specifically concerning estoppels, the statutes will now require that the Association provide the estoppel within 10 business days as opposed to 15 calendar days and now specifically provides that the clock begins to tick upon receipt of a written or electronic request. If the estoppel is not timely provided, the association forfeits any fee it can charge to prepare the estoppel. Additionally, the statute requires certain information be included on the estoppel, such as information related to parking spaces, assessments, and other relevant information.
The statute also provides a maximum fee schedule for estoppels. If the owner is current on assessments, the fee may not exceed $250. If the owner is delinquent, the association can charge up to an additional $150. The association can also charge a rush fee of $100 for 3 business day delivery.
The association should take three important steps to adapt to this new law. First, the association should ensure that the fee schedule for estoppels is contained either in a written management contract or by resolution of the board. The association should also adopt a resolution identifying the specific individuals who are authorized to receive estoppels and prepare estoppels. This information should be posted on the website, if any, so that the response deadline is only triggered when an authorized individual receives the request. Finally, the association should ensure that any form or template estoppel contains all of the information required by the new law. You should contact your legal counsel to answer any questions interpreting the new laws.
Q: Our community association has a large town center with some commercial tenants. All of the tenants are long term tenants and the association claims to have no written leases. Is this legal?
A: Not exactly. Florida law provides that long term agreements involving interests in real property must be in writing and also include certain formalities. For example, Florida Statutes section 689.01 provides that leases for a term of more than 1 year must also be witnessed by two subscribing witnesses by the landlord. I have seen many leases which do not include this requirement and could be subject to challenge. As part of the Board’s due diligence, the Directors and management should do some research to determine if there are any written leases, and if not, engage a licensed Florida attorney to prepare some simple leases that protect the association’s interest. Although the statutes do provide some default provisions to enforce commercial leases, you must first get over the issue of whether you have an enforceable lease in the first place.
Steven J. Adamczyk Esq., is a shareholder of the law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.