What Restrictions does Florida Law Place on Association Powers?
Unless expressly limited by statute or by the governing documents, board members have the general authority to act for the HOA without a member vote regarding matters within the association’s powers, as granted by the governing documents or by statute. Fla. Stat. §720.303(1). Florida law affords substantial deference to an association’s declaration and articles of incorporation in interpreting association powers.
The Homeowners’ Association Act (HAA) expressly prevents associations from taking certain actions, such as restricting display of flags. Other actions - such as amendment of an association’s declaration, suspension of member rights, or institution of legal proceedings regarding matters in which the amount in controversy exceeds $100,000 - require affirmative approval by a majority or super-majority of members. All association actions and governing documents must comply with any applicable federal laws, including the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. And, an association’s governing documents may further restrict the powers which the board may exercise.
The statutory fiduciary duty of board members and officers requires that they act in good faith, in the best interests of the association and its members, and exercise ordinary prudence in carrying out their powers. Fla. Stat. §720.3033(1). Board members are also answerable to homeowners through statutory recall procedures and elections at annual member meetings in accordance with voting procedures set forth in the declaration. Fla. Stat. §720.303(10).
Although Florida’s HAA does not specifically restrict an association’s ability to publicize member information, property management companies acting as “debt collectors” are generally prohibited from publicizing member information relating to assessments by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. Sensitive identifying information relating to members may be protected by other state and federal laws protecting confidential information. Confidential member information is expressly excluded from the records available for member review. Fla. Stat. §720.303(5)(c)(5).