What are the Laws that Govern Florida Homeowners Associations, Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Non-Profit Corporations? In addition to laws specifically applicable to condominiums and HOA’s, Florida associations are impacted by several federal laws and other generally applicable state statutes - depending, in part, on how the association is structured. The federal and Florida statutes likely to affect Florida HOAs, condo associations, cooperatives, and non-profits include
Florida Homeowners’ Association Act (HAA), Fla. Stat. §720.001, et. seq.: the HAA, which governs formation, management, powers, and operation of HOAs, is Florida’s law specifically applying to not-for-profit organizations operating residential homeowners associations in Florida. Fla. Stat. §720.302(1). Florida’s HAA is a more detailed law providing a more comprehensive statutory framework than the HOA laws in most states. The Act that governs homeowners’ associations in Florida is divided into the following parts:
Chapter 20 - Homeowners' Association Act
Florida Condominium Act, Fla. Stat. §718.001, et. seq.: The Florida Condominium Act is similar to the Homeowners’ Association Act (HAA), except that it applies to condominium associations rather than homeowners’ associations. The principles relating to formation, management, powers, and operation, as set forth in the Condominium Act, are often very similar to the analogous principles of the HAA. The Condominium Act, though, sometimes includes more detailed protections and association obligations, such as a stricter mechanism for adopting budgets and the “cooling off period” allowing purchasers to cancel a sale within seven or three days, depending on whether a new or existing condo is purchased. The Act is broken down into the following parts:
Chapter 718 - Condominium Act
|I||General Provisions||718.101 - 718.128|
|II||Rights and obligations of developers||718.202 - 718.203|
|III||Rights and obligations of association||718.301 - 718.303|
|IV||Special types of condominiums||718.401 - 718.406|
|V||Regulation and disclosure prior to sale of residential condominiums||718.501 - 718.509|
|VI||Conversions to condominium||718.604 - 718.622|
|VII||Distressed condominium relief||718.701 - 718.71|
ADDITIONAL LAWS APPLICABLE TO FLORIDA ASSOCIATIONS
Florida Not for Profit Corporation Act, Fla. Stat. §617.01011, et. seq. Homeowners associations in Florida must be organized as non-profit corporations. Fla. Stat. §720.302(1). Nonprofit corporations in Florida are governed by the Florida Not for Profit Corporation Act with regard to corporate structure and procedure. Condo Associations may organize as either for-profit or not-for-profit corporations. Fla. Stat. §718.111(1)(a).
Florida Cooperative Act, Fla. Stat. §719.101, et. seq.: The Florida Cooperative Act recognizes and provides a legal framework relating to cooperative ownership of real estate in Florida. Though not as detailed as the HAA, the Cooperative Act provides for the creation of co-ops, limitations on co-op management, and right of owners. Florida co-ops can be organized as for-profit or not-for-profit corporations. Fla. Stat. §719.103(2).
Federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), 42 U.S.C. §3601, et. seq.: The FHA was enacted to prevent housing discrimination based on “protected classes,” including race, color, religion, sex, familial status, and national origin. Disability was added as a “protected class” by a later amendment. 42 U.S.C. §3604. Under the FHA, an association can incur legal liability for taking an adverse action affecting a person’s right to buy, rent, or enjoy the use of real estate based upon that individual’s membership in a protected class.
An adverse action can be express discrimination, such as exclusionary covenants preventing sales or leases to anyone within a protected class, or actions which might not include discrimination on the surface, but which result in a “disparate impact” on a protected group. Florida’s Fair Housing Law, Fla. Stat. §760.23, provides similar protections and is administered by the Florida Commission on Human Relations. More about the Fair Housing Act—>
Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. §1692, et seq.: The FDCPA regulates the conduct of “debt collectors” collecting debts owed by “consumers” to third parties. HOA fees are considered “debts” under the FDCPA, and homeowners are protected “consumers.” Ladick v. Van Gemert, 146 F. 3d 1205 (10th Cir.1998); Thies v. Law Offices of William A. Wyman, 969 F. Supp. 604 (S.D. Cal. 1997). An HOA collecting its own debts does not qualify as a “debt collector” and is therefore not regulated by the FDCPA.
However, a third party – such as a collection agency, law firm, or property management company – attempting to collect fees owed to an association may qualify as a “debt collector” under the FDCPA. Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act (CCPA), Fla. Stat. §559.55, et. seq., regulates debt collection at the state level and is very similar to the FDCPA, though sometimes providing greater protection to consumers. Florida’s CCPA is administered by the state’s Financial Services Commission. More about the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act—>
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3631: The ADA prohibits discrimination against disabled persons in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to government programs and services. An association with common elements accessible to the general public or that acts as an employer must ensure that its activities do not result in discrimination against disabled persons and must make “reasonable accommodations” necessary to allow individuals with disabilities access to facilities and/or employment. Read more about the Americans with Disabilities Act—>