Over-55 communities must use federal law
Q: We live in an over-55 adult condominium community. Our documents limit residents to those over 16. Did the federal law for these communities change the age to 18, and if so, which governs? Thank you.
A: The primary reason for Congress to create the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995, HR 660, was to allow an exemption from age discrimination laws for such communities. It modifies the Fair Housing Act to allow age limits for those communities that comply with the adult community laws. It says that the community can limit residents under the age of 18. If your documents say 16, federal laws would take priority and your lower age for a resident would be 18. One of the requirements is that the board must take a census every two years that requires one person 55 or older in each home to register and show proof of age. In Florida, the board must register with the state Commission On Human Relations (fchr.state.fl.us) every two years. If the board does not follow the federal and state laws, it cannot limit any resident because of age.
Owner has a right to copies of records
Q: An owner delivered a letter addressed "To Whom It May Be Concerned" requesting copies of the condominium's records. The letter was very detailed and involved much of the association's files. I do not think the intent of FS 718 is to provide this type of information that covers each individual owner. Can you please advise on this request?
A: It appears from the detailed letter you sent me, and which I reviewed, that she has copied the section directly from FS 718.111(12) Official Records. Yes, you must provide the information — but you can charge a per page copy cost for the information. Before you start to copy the records, call and ask if she would prefer to inspect the records. If she wants copies, make sure that she knows the cost. If she wants to inspect the records, schedule a time. Normally allow an hour for each sitting depending on the quantity of records. Such inspections would be at the convenience of the board but to accommodate the owner. Do not let the records be removed from the office. They must be retained in the office and copied there.
No budget line item for party expenses
Q: What are the rules governing expenses for condominium associations in Florida. By this, I mean can an association pay for an end-of-season party or any planned get-together functions from the operating expenses of the association?
A: For condominiums you have several sections in FS 718. Also, the state has administrative codes that define budgets. When you think of budgets you must also include the financial reports and this document in the financial picture. These documents define the items to be included in a budget and no place does it refer to entertainment expenses. One of the best sources is a study guide published by the state. The name is "Budgets & Reserve Schedules, A Self-Study Training Manual for Beginners." The document is free but you must contact the Division of Condominiums at (850) 488-1122 to request a copy. Although HOAs are not part of the same budget requirements, it is suggested that they follow the same rules and guidelines. One thing that is often forgotten is that all associations must comply with "Good Accounting Procedures." The short answer is that socials, functions, and cookies and coffee should not be in the budget. Pay for these items yourselves.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.