2020-2021 Legislative Update Summary

Filed Under: Legal Update

Community meeting

It’s that time of year, new legislation affecting Community Associations became effective July 1, 2020 and our new legislative update course should be approved for continuing education credit in the near future.

Perhaps the most significant new legislation affecting Community Associations is SB 1084, which created a statutory definition of an “Emotional Support Animal” (“ESA”), and prohibits discrimination in housing provided to a person with a disability or a disability-related need for an emotional support animal.  Penalties are now included in connection with the provision of false or fraudulent information in connection with an “ESA request”.  Stay tuned for our 2020-2021 Legislative Update Course.

SB 140 – Fireworks – Prohibits the adoption of rules and regulations by a homeowners association which bans the use of fireworks on certain designated holidays including Fourth of July (Independence Day). The law does not supersede provisions in a Declaration, nor does it prohibit amendments to the Declaration which restrict fireworks on designated holidays. Note that the statute does not appear to apply to condominium associations.

SB 255 – State Reporting for 55+ Communities – Removes state reporting requirements applicable to 55+ communities but does not eliminate the need for compliance with federal reporting requirements.

SB 374 – MRTA and Discriminatory Restrictions – Amends Florida’s Marketable Record Title Act to prohibit preservation and extinguishes any discriminatory restrictions (those which restrict the ownership, occupancy, or use of any real property in this state by any natural person on the basis of a characteristic that has been held, or is held after the effective date of this act, by the United States Supreme Court or the Florida Supreme Court to be protected against discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution or under s. 2, Art. I of the State Constitution, including race, color, national origin, religion, gender, or physical disability) within the Association’s recorded governing documents. Also allows the Board to remove such restrictions by majority vote.

SB 476 – Law Enforcement Vehicles – Prohibits the enforcement of any covenant or rule to prohibit the parking of a law enforcement vehicle assigned to a law enforcement official where the owner would otherwise have the right to park. Does not supersede existing restrictions such as “no on street parking”.

SB 469 – Lease Requirements – Eliminates the need for a subscribing witness applicable to lease agreements.

HB 529 – Florida Guaranty Insurance Claims – Increases the amount of insurance available through the Florida Guaranty Insurance Fund from $100,000 to $200,000

SB 664 – Verification of Employment Eligibility – Requires all entities engaged in contracts with public entities and agencies to utilize the “E-Verify” system to electronically verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees.  Private employers must likewise verify eligibility by either utilizing the E-Verify system or requiring that all new employees (after January 1, 2021) complete an IRS Form I-9. 

SB 1084 – Emotional Support Animals (“ESA’s”) – Amends portions of the Florida Fair Housing Act, including addition of a new s.760.27, to create a statutory definition for “emotional support animal” and prohibits discrimination in housing against individuals with a disability-related need for an ESA. The definition focuses on therapeutic support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. The Association may not impose additional “charges” or costs associated with the accommodation. The statute does make the owner responsible for any and all damage done by their emotional support animals and also requires that healthcare practitioners have personal knowledge of the individual’s need for the animal. Providing false or other fraudulent information regarding the use of an emotional support animal is a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree.

HB 1339 – Affordable Housing and Mobile Home Parks – Makes numerous statutory changes to Chapters 163 and 166 to implement legislative changes encouraging affordable housing.  Likewise amends Chapter 420 to enable and encourage affordable housing loan applications as defined in the statute.  The Bill likewise includes extensive changes to Chapter 723 (Mobile Home Parks): a) requires additional disclosures and requirements for expansion of a mobile home park; b) imposes additional requirements upon lot rental increases; c) contains provisions for modification of the offering circular or prospectus; d) imposes additional requirements upon a mobile home park owner in connection with removal/eviction of tenants due to a change in use of the park; e) imposes new requirements for mobile home park association elections; f) imposes additional meeting notice requirements for Board of directors’ and committee meetings; g) creates additional requirements for official records maintenance and access similar to those found in Chapters 718 and 720; and h) creates additional alternative dispute resolution procedures, including submission of election disputes to the Division for Arbitration.

SB 1362 – “Tenants in Foreclosure” – Requires a 90-day notice to vacate to a tenant under a lease agreement which was in effect where title to the property is transferred through foreclosure.

As always, consult your Association’s counsel for questions on how the new legislation may affect issues in your Community