Sunday, April 13, 2014

Community Association Living - Notice Requirements for Board Meetings and Member Meetings

Very rarely is a statute clear enough to avoid debate by lawyers taking different positions. Even if the law seems to be clear, it will still generate lots of questions with lawyers taking different positions.  The notice requirements in Fla. Stat. 720.303(2)(c) are a good example.

This statute provides the Bylaws will determine the notice requirements and if they do not then the following apply....  The statute then goes on to state BOD meetings are to be posted 48 hours in advance of the meeting in a conspicuous place in the community.  Exceptions to this are meetings to "levy" assessments or to change rules governing parcel use, which require fourteen (14) days notice to the members by U.S. mail to their home address.

The confusion comes in because the statute reads:

"An assessment may not be levied at a board meeting unless the notice of the meeting includes a statement that assessments will be considered and the nature of the assessments. Written notice of any meeting at which special assessments will be considered or at which amendments to rules regarding parcel use will be considered must be mailed, delivered, or electronically transmitted to the members and parcel owners and posted conspicuously on the property or broadcast on closed-circuit cable television not less than 14 days before the meeting."

Breaking this down, you can see the confusion.  First, what is the meaning of "an assessment may not be levied.."  It is unbelievable how much you can debate if an increase to an existing assessment is levying an assessment.  My opinion is each year when you set the rate of assessments you are "levying" an assessment. The next issue is the second sentence states the fourteen (14) day written notice is required for "special assessments" and ignores regular assessments.

Leave it to the lawyers to muck it up, right?  Just use common sense!  Play it safe and use the fourteen (14) day notice.  If your Bylaws have a longer period (many have fifteen days), then use that.  Out of precaution, don't use less even if the Bylaws permit it.  Industry practice has been to use the fourteen (14) day notice as a guideline.  When in doubt, be conservative!

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