Board members and property managers of condominium communities need to be aware that the state of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued revisions to rules pertaining to violations and penalties, 61B-21, Condominium Resolution Guidelines for Unit Owner Controlled Associations, which went into effect Dec. 5, 2018.
The disciplinary guidelines detail minor violations and penalty guidelines within Chapter 718, F.S. If a violation is deemed minor, the division will send a notice of noncompliance to the association. A community association’s failure to timely comply with the notice of noncompliance may result in sanctions, including civil monetary damages and enforcement. For the violations not deemed minor by the division, there is no longer a notice/warning requirement and, if found guilty of the violation, the association may be fined pursuant to the new standards in the rule, see Rulemaking Authority 120.695, 718.501(1)(d)6., (f) FS. Law Implemented 718.501(1)(d)6. FS. History–New 6-4-98, Amended 10-23-18.
These disciplinary guidelines were enacted to inform affected parties about the range of penalties which may be imposed for violations, pursuant to subsection 61B-21.003 detailing penalty guidelines in the following categories: Accounting records, assessing, board, budgets, commingle, common expenses, conflict of interest, converter reserves, debit card, elections, estoppel certificate, final order, fiduciary duty, investigation, property, records, reporting, reserves, special assessment and website.
It is important for community associations and the governing boards to understand the consequences and potential monetary ramifications they will face if they do not abide by these new guidelines. Ignoring or not fully compiling with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s rules, as well as Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, in a timely manner can have a detrimental effect on an association’s financial standing.
If an association fails to comply with a notice of noncompliance, a civil penalty will be imposed between $5 and $10, per unit, for each minor violation. The penalty will be assessed beginning with the middle of the specified range and adjusted either up or down based upon any aggravating or accepted mitigating circumstances. The minimum total penalty to be assessed shall be calculated according to these guidelines or $500, whichever amount is greater. In no event shall a penalty for a minor violation exceed $2,500, the statutory maximum for a single minor violation. For all other violations (those not deemed to be minor), the penalty imposed is between $10 to $30 per unit for each violation and the statutory maximum is $5,000. For both types of violations, multiple counts of the violated provision or a combination of the listed violations are added together to determine an overall total penalty.
Alessandra Stivelman, shareholder and partner at Eisinger Brown Lewis Frankel & Chaiet, is AV rated and focuses her practice on community association and real estate law. She can be reached at 954-894-8000 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.