On June 26, 2017, Florida's Governor Rick Scott approved HB 1237, which amended Florida Statutes, Chapter 718. ––– Don't Risk Being Fined, You Had Until January 1, 2019, to Comply. Here is your Florida Condo Association Website Compliance Checklist
Are you familiar with Florida’s legal requirement that Condo Associations have websites? If not, your lack of knowledge could get you into BIG TROUBLE!
Read on and learn about:
- The ins and outs of Florida Statutes, Chapter 718
- Updates and proposed updates to the statute
- How your Association can get into trouble according to the Florida Association Regulation
- How much these fines will cost your Association
- How YKMD can get your Association compliant in 3 easy steps
On June 26, 2017, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott approved HB 1237, which amended Florida Statutes, Chapter 718. This statute explicitly requires condo associations with 150+ units to have a website and make official records digitally available on their website.
UPDATES to the law Since June 26, 2017
April 20, 2018:
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott approved SB 841, which makes additional changes to the website requirements added to Florida Statutes, Chapter 718, in 2017. Specifically, SB 841 extended the deadline from July 1, 2018, to January 1, 2019.
You can download a copy of SB 841 in its entirety from the Florida Senate website here.
March 1, 2020:
HB 623, HB 1317, SB 1154, and SB 1752 are all bills proposed to modify Florida Statutes Chapter 718. Some of the proposed amendments include lowering the minimum number of units governed under the website requirement from 150 to 25. Additionally, these proposed amendments would require mobile-friendly websites and likewise require documents to be available to mobile users.
So, Why Should You Even Care?
HINT, HINT…It all boils down to the fines!!!
All the potential penalties that the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares & Mobile Homes could levy against an Association for violating this statute is listed in Florida’s Administrative Code 61B-21.003(7).
There are three (3) categories of fines that could be levied: Minor, Major Category 1, and Major Category 2.
These fines cover a wide range of statutory violations, including those related to Board, Budget, Elections, Records, Reporting, etc.
Minor Violations have a penalty range of $1 – $5 Per Unit ($2,500 Max) and include:
- Failure of amendment to declaration or bylaws to contain full text showing underlined or language, etc.
- Failure to maintain corporate status
- Failure to provide notice of the annual meeting not less than 14 days prior to the meeting
- Failure to maintain a copy of recorded bylaws and amendments
Major Category #1 Violations have a penalty range of $6 – $10 Per Unit ($5,000 Max) and include:
- Failure to include reserve schedule in the proposed budget
- Failure to provide year-end financial statements timely
- Failure to maintain minutes of meetings
Major Category #2 Violations have a penalty range of $12 – $20 Per Unit ($5,000 Max) and include:
- Failure to maintain sufficient accounting records
- Failure to provide the annual financial report
Even considering all of the amendments to the statute, YKMD websites go beyond the technical requirements of Florida Statute 718 and its amendments to ensure that you are not fined under Florida’s Administrative Code 61B-21.003(7). YKMD provides websites to Florida condo associations and HOAs. We welcome any new associations that could benefit from our first-rate services. Our websites designs are 100% responsive and fully functional, whether you are using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. You can rest assured knowing that YKMD can effortlessly manage the content requirements of your association’s website, according to Florida law.
Board members and CAM professionals are understandably hesitant about publishing and using community association websites, social media, and other digital tools. Managing and overseeing your online presence as a community association can be a headache and rather stressful. Putting aside the fact that it creates a lot of extra work for overextended volunteers, your online presence can get your community association into legal trouble if not executed properly.
However, if your community association is located in the state of Florida, you have no choice but to ensure that your website is legally compliant, or else you risk hefty fines from the State of Florida, and who wants that? NOBODY!!
Below, we will discuss everything you need to know about the new changes to condo statute 718.111, which was effective as of Jan 1, 2019, so that your community association is fully compliant. Please note that the information provided below reflects the applicable amendments to the law.
I Am Not in Florida, Does This Even Matter?
While you may not be legally required to have a website, you should definitely be familiar with this law.
In general, only a few states across the U.S. have regulated community associations as much as Florida. Having more associations than nearly all the other U.S. states put together, Florida is typically the blueprint for laws that other states follow. So, if these laws are not in your state currently, they might be there sometime soon.
We're Technically A Small Condo Association. Do We Still Need a Website Under Florida Law?
Currently, Florida’s law mandates that condo associations over 150 units comply with the law, and timeshare communities are likewise exempt. Therefore, if you’re in a timeshare community or your condo association is under 150 units, feel free to stick to the archaic way of doing things for now. However, keep in mind that the threshold of units governed under this law could be lowered at any time. As such, it wouldn’t hurt to implement a website that is compliant with the law before you are required to do so. YKMD can help with that.
This Law Only Applies to Condos, Correct? So, My HOA Isn't Required to Have a Website?
Hold up, wait a minute! Don’t erroneously think that your association doesn’t need a website because this law applies solely to condo associations.
While it is true that 718.111 applies to condos, there was another law (SB398) passed simultaneously in the same legislative session (involving condos, HOAs, and Co-ops) that may apply.
While the law does not explicitly state that HOAs and Co-Ops must have a website, the law says that “Each association shall designate on its website…” which implies that each association should have a website.
Moreover, while there are different laws governing Condos and HOAs in Florida, if your association comprises of mixed-use, townhomes, PUDs, and master association, you may fall into a “grey area” of the law.
As such, erring on the side of caution, HOAs and Co-ops should go ahead and comply with the law, in our opinion, even if you don’t think you qualify as a Condo association. At the absolute bare minimum, you should have a page with the required estoppel information and designee.
But We Have a Facebook Group for Our Community, That's Enough, Right?
Your Facebook group, community section on Zillow, realtor’s website is cool to have, but it’s not, in the eyes of the law, compliant. Additionally, your owner-run independent website is not compliant either.
According to Florida law, the association’s website must be
a. The association’s website must be:
I. An independent website or web portal solely owned and operated by the association; or
II. A website or web portal operated by a third-party provider with whom the association owns, leases, rents, or otherwise obtains the right to operate a web page, subpage, web portal, or collection of subpages or web portals dedicated to the association’s activities and on which required notices, records, and documents may be posted by the association.
This means that the condo association must run, manage, and operate the website.
Our Condo Association Used a Free Website Service to Create a Webpage for Our Community. Is that Good Enough?
A free website is excellent, but to comply with Florida law, the website must have a private, password-controlled section on it that only owners can access.
Specifically, the Condominium Act (Section 718.111(12)(g)1. b.) requires that the condo’s official records uploaded to the website be accessible through a password-protected section of the condo association’s site.
“The association’s website must be accessible through the Internet and must contain a subpage, web portal, or other protected electronic location that is inaccessible to the general public and accessible only to unit owners and employees of the association.”
With that being said, if your free website has a private section that you can control, then it may be compliant, according to Florida law.
Tip: we advise against using a single login shared by all of your owners. That is because you would need to change the password every time a unit is sold to prevent past owners from gaining access to your system. Changing the password every time a unit is sold is a huge headache. Ideally, you should use a service that synchronizes resales and logins to immediately update the site and passwords.
This means that the condo association must run, manage, and operate the website.
Ok, We Have to Create a Website. What Needs to Be Included?
Below is a summary of what must be included on your website.
- Governing Documents Must Be Accessible to Owners. All of your governing documents (articles of incorporation, declaration, bylaws, CC&Rs, etc.) must be posted to your website digitally. This includes each amendment made to these documents.
- Executory Contracts. A detailed list of any and all executory contracts/documents(i.e., a contract that has yet to be fully performed or completely executed).
- Summary of open bids. According to the law, “A list of all executory contracts or documents to which the association is a party or under which the association or the unit owners have an obligation or responsibility and, after bidding for the related materials, equipment, or services has closed, a list of bids received by the association within the past year. Summaries of bids for materials, equipment, or services which exceed $500must be maintained on the website for 1 year. In lieu of summaries, complete copies of the bids may be posted.”
- Current and pending budgets. 718.112(2)(f) requires that the annual budget and any proposed budget be considered at the annual meeting to be posted to the website.
- Annual financial reports. Within 90 days of the fiscal year’s conclusion, the community association must report the condo community’s fiscal state to the unit owners. This report should also include all the financial statements (i.e., expense statements and monthly income) for the most recent calendar period.
- Information on the association’s board of directors, including each member’s certification document. This requirement includes any contracts between the board of directors and the association and any declarations noting any conflict of interest.
- Supporting Documents. At a minimum of 7 days before the meeting, any supporting documents that will be considered by or voted on by unit owner at any meetings or at the annual general meeting.
- Board meeting Notice. At a minimum of 48 hours before the meeting, the Agenda and supporting items pending votes should be posted. Please note that the Boards should and are expected to redact or withhold any confidential information or information otherwise not intended to be accessible to all unit owners.)
For all unit owners’ meetings, including the annual general meeting, notices must be posted on the association’s website at least 14 days before the meeting. This info should either be linked from the home page or listed on the homepage under a separate section titled “Notices.”
Condo Association’s estoppel designee. “Each association shall designate on its website a person or entity with a street or e-mail address for receipt of a request for an estoppel certificate issued pursuant to this section. The estoppel certificate must be provided by hand delivery, regular mail, or e-mail to the requestor on the date of issuance of the estoppel certificate.”
Please note that this was amended according to SB 398 and now applies to Statutes 718 (condos), 719 (co-ops), and 720 (homeowners associations).
What is the Easiest Way to Be in Compliance with Florida's Condo Law?
If you are a condo association that is looking for an easy way to implement Florida’s law? Look no further than the YKMD!
YKMD provides websites to Florida condos, co-ops, and HOAs. Our products are always fully compliant with the old and amended sections of Florida’s Condominium Act. Our professionals do all the work for you to make sure your new community website is fully compliant with Florida’s Condominium Act.
How we comply with the law…
In comparative language to the Act…
The association purchases YKMD’s product, a website, and a portal intended to provide information on an association’s dealings and serve notices, records, and documents required under Florida law. The YKMD product is accessible through the Internet and contains subpages that the general public cannot access. These subpages are only accessible to unit owners and employees of the condo association
Each user on the website creates their own login and password from the home page of the website. An individual appointed by the association’s directors’ controls access to password-protected areas is subject to approval and/or audit by the Primary Administrator,
We Consistently Exceed Technological Requirements
YKMD products and services consistently exceed the technical requirements set by the State of Florida. Notably, all of our products include as a standard, SSL encryption, separate passwords for each user that are only known by that user, as well as separate password-restricted content areas for both renters and realtors while at the same time protecting owner’s private data.
We Focus on Keeping You Compliant with Florida Law
Every Florida YKMD customer receives a copy of our Florida Content Requirements Guide. This guide is easy to read check-list and planner to help the condo association organize their content required under Florida’s law. Additionally, our handy guide includes additional requirements found outside the excerpt of the Act that applies to all associations in Florida governed under other chapters of 718, 719, and 720 of the law, regardless of its size.
Can you believe that there are still condo associations in Florida who still are not compliant with the law? If your condo association is still not compliant, be aware that your association is violating Florida LAW. You are foolishly risking being fined by the state of Florida. Also, remember that owners can report if their own association is non-compliant > CLICK HERE. (Can you say Awkward?)