New Florida Law Requires Condo Boards to Get Educated

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Board members must read state laws and all governing documents, or instead, take state-approved courses.

Walter Rosenbaum will be among the first Florida condominium board members to comply with a new law that steers volunteer directors toward enrolling in a state-approved course on state condo law – an effort that for him means going back to school.

Rosenbaum, who will take a state-approved course for certification to serve on a condo board this week, is leading the way for other board members of condo associations. As of July 1, newly-elected or appointed directors must complete an educational course certified by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation or sign a statement that they have read Florida Statute 718 and all of their community’s governing documents.

The law only covers condo board members, not those serving on homeowners boards.

“Once I got interested in serving on my condo board, I thought to myself ‘You can’t have too much information,’ ” said Rosenbaum, who joined his board more than two years ago. He now serves as secretary for the Quadomain Condominium Association, which runs a community of two 27-story buildings comprised of 403 condo units.

New seminars may begin popping up across the state to help those who wish to become certified, said Alexis Antonacci Lambert, a spokeswoman for the DBPR.

South Florida Attorney Eric Glazer, is among the first seminar hosts to be approved by the DBPR to certify new community board directors. “Over the years, the Legislature received many complaints from unit owners around the state about the lack of available condominium education and the inability of their boards of directors to comply with Florida Statute 718,” Glazer said. “In response, [lawmakers] thought best to impose a requirement of all board members to become certified, and one way is by attending an educational seminar.”

Glazer’s first free, 2.5-hour seminar will be held on Thursday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. It will focus on board member responsibilities under Florida law regarding such topics as budgets and reserves, financial reporting, condominium operations, records maintenance, access to records, dispute resolution and more.

That seminar has been closed off to new participants as about 150 board members and aspiring board members have already signed up, filling the capacity of the seminar room. The same is true of a second seminar scheduled for Nov. 18. But a third seminar is still open for seating and is scheduled to take place on Dec. 16, beginning at 7 p.m. Anyone who wishes to attend should visit http://www.condocrazeandhoas.com or call 954-983-1112.

To help drive condo community students into his seminar, Glazer is offering coffee and dessert, along with a raffle and $100 cash prize.

But the real deal is the education, Rosenbaum said.

“I am hoping to gain a lot from this seminar,” he said. “I want to learn something I don’t already know about state laws and look into what I should to stay current.”

Rosenbaum points out while serving on a condo board is technically volunteer work, it takes a lot of experience and know-how to do it right. A retired insurance agent, Rosenbaum believes his community board is fortunate to have other members who bring much to the table, including the treasurer, who is a retired public accountant, and a president, who “has had a significant administrative experience.”

But not every board is filled with such knowledgeable board members, which is why Florida lawmakers passed the new law. “The division-approved seminars will help provide those who serve with a working knowledge of state laws and their own community rules and regulations,” said Lambert of the DBPR.

The course may go a long way in helping minimize owner-condo board disputes as well.

“This law absolutely makes sense,” Rosenbaum added.

As a columnist who fields many questions from readers, I must agree. Often the answers are found in the Florida statues and the community documents.

Glazer, on the other hand believes the law has at least one flaw: He doesn’t believe that it makes sense for it to allow for an opt-out of the educational course. “You can become certified by merely signing an affidavit that you read Florida Statute 718 and all your governing documents,” he said. “The truth is, nobody knows if you did or you didn’t, and even if you did, it doesn’t mean you understand it. The law should mandate attendance at a seminar where the basics of [the law] can be learned and discussed.”

For more information:

Other state certification courses include half-day, Board Member Education Certification courses presented by CAM Academy throughout the state. The cost of the course is $35 per person. For information, go to http://www.camacadmey.org for a schedule of classes, all 941-356-4688 or send an e-mail to email@camacademy.org.

To learn more about condo law: By state law, every community is responsible for making sure each condo owner is provided a current copy of the documents. Anyone who misplaced such documents should contact their condo board and request a new copy. To read Florida statutes, you can visit a local public library and request a clerk to provide a copy of the volume containing specifically Florida Statute 718. To get started, in Broward County call 954-357-7444; in Palm Beach County, call 561-233-2600; In Orange County, call 407-835-7323.

Online: Visit http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/lsc/condominiums/BoardMemberEducation.html. To check out Florida Statue 718 online, visit http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0718/0718ContentsIndex.html.

Daniel Vasquez can be reached at CondoColumn@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4219 or 561-243-6686. His condo column runs Wednesdays in Your Money and at SunSentinel.com/condos. Check out Daniel’s Condos & HOAs blog for news, information and tips related to life in community associations at SunSentinel.com/condoblog. You can also read his consumer column Mondays in Your Money and at sunsentinel.com/vasquez.
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