WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Many homeowners are fed up with how their homeowners association, or HOA, is run.
New state laws are aimed to stop HOA dictatorships, and the rules are similar to ones already in place for condos.
Homeowners are allowed to look at HOA records. They're kept within 45 miles or the same county as the HOA.
The cost to get copies is dropping 50% to 25 cents a record.
But, the cost to run the HOA is increasing.
By mid November, all homeowners associations are required to register with the Department of Business and Professional Registration.
That will be an expense, and it's not the only one.
Attorney Michael Posner said, "A lot of associations are opposed to this. It adds a greater cost and greater burden on homeowners. For example, insurance is a requirement with condos and it's not with HOAs. Now we have a requirement for the first time for directors and officers. Fidelity insurance. That's another expense to homeowners. The good thing is a lot of people think the state should regulate and they are going to get what they want. That's where we are heading."
Posner said these new rules are similar to ones that already exist for condos and he expects more rules will follow to bring homeowners associations under as much regulation as a condo.
Posner gave us a summary of the new HOA legislation.
- All HOAs must register by November 22, 2013 to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Registration begins online on October 1, 2013. The Association's legal name, federal employer identification number, mailing and physical addresses, the total number of parcels, and the total amount of revenues and expenses from the Association's annual budget is information that will be included online.
- Records must be maintained for 7 years, within 45 miles of the community, or within the same county; and allowing that they be recorded electronically. Copy costs are reduced to 0.25 per page and personnel costs for requests that exceed ½ hour or more than 25 pages are $20 per hour.
- New board members must certify that they have read the governing documents and must uphold them to the best of their ability within 90 days of election or appointment.
- Associations must obtain a Fidelity Bond/Crime and Fidelity Insurance, but there is no minimum coverage amount. It can also be waived by a majority vote at an annual or special meeting of the members.
- In order for a contract to be approved with board members, a 2/3rds vote must exist and it must be found fair and reasonable. Once approved, the board must disclose the contract at the next member meeting and any member can make a motion to cancel. If it is canceled by a majority vote, the contract is void.
- Officers, directors, and property managers are prevented from receiving any goods or services without payment except for meals, not to exceed $25, as part of a business meeting or items at trade fairs or education programs. If this is violated, it can mean immediate expulsion from their respective position.
- If any director or officer is charged with a theft of Association funds, he/she must be immediately removed from office. If the charges are later dropped against this person or if they are acquitted, they must be reinstated to office.