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Condominium and Homeowner Board Member Certification
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Condominium and Homeowner Board Member Certification

September 27, 2013 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Condominium and homeowner associations are common when living in Florida.  All associations are creatures of the Florida Statutes.  They are corporations with a governing body typically called a Board of Directors who are elected by the unit owners.  Sitting on the association Board gives decision making authority over other members of the community.  Sometimes these Board members abuse their power for their own self-benefit or interest.  Sometimes they just don’t know any better.  The state of Florida has legislated to change how association Boards conduct educate Board members.

In 2010, the legislature passed Section 718.112(2)(d)4.b., Florida Statutes which requires condominium association board members to certify to the secretary of the association that he/she has read the condominium governing documents.  Alternatively, the Board member may attend an approved educational course regarding condominium governance.  The condominium statute states in total that:

Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, each newly elected or appointed director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members. In lieu of this written certification, within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, the newly elected or appointed director may submit a certificate of having satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved condominium education provider within 1 year before or 90 days after the date of election or appointment. The written certification or educational certificate is valid and does not have to be resubmitted as long as the director serves on the board without interruption. A director who fails to timely file the written certification or educational certificate is suspended from service on the board until he or she complies with this sub-subparagraph. The board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension. The secretary shall cause the association to retain a director’s written certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for 5 years after a director’s election or the duration of the director’s uninterrupted tenure, whichever is longer. Failure to have such written certification or educational certificate on file does not affect the validity of any board action.

            This year, Chapter 720, Florida Statutes, which governs homeowners associations has been amended to mirror the Condominium Act.  The certification or seminar requirement is now applicable to homeowners associations. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, each homeowner association Board member must now certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the governing documents and will uphold them to the best of his or her ability. The Board member must also certify that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility. In lieu of written certification, newly elected or appointed Board members may submit proof of attendance at an educational course, through a provider who has been approved by the DBPR.  The educational courses typically 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.

The certification or proof of attendance becomes a record of the association and may be subject to inspection by the unit owners.  Given the fiduciary responsibilities of board members, we suggest that all board members attend the educational seminars offer by the providers.  Simply signing the certification that you have read the governing documents is a start, but very much subject to the unscrupulous board member who signs the certificate after simply sanning the documents, or who choose not to read the governing documents at all.  Board members who know the rules and regulations can go a long way in improving the quality of life in Florida condominiums and homeowner associations.

For more information regarding the condominium certification and approved educational courses you can contact the Division of Condominium, Timeshares and Mobiles Homes.

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