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Author: James O. Birr, III, Esq.

Independent Contractor or Employee: Know the Difference

October 5, 2016 Professional Services Industry Legal Blog

Business owners must determine the type of workers they will utilize to operate successfully. In some cases, owners think they are hiring independent contractors but, in reality, those workers may actually be employees. Failure to properly classify workers can result in fines, penalties, and payment of back taxes, so it is important that business owners understand the legal distinctions between an independent contractor and an employee.

Three Key Steps for Material Suppliers to Ensure Payment

September 6, 2016 Construction Industry Legal Blog

Florida Construction Lien law is designed to protect laborers and materialmen with the greatest protection that justice and equity afford. Tuttle/White Constructors, Inc. v. Hughes Supply, Inc. But just how should materialmen/ material suppliers (a “supplier”) go about protecting themselves under the Florida lien and bond law to better ensure payment? While the supplier certainly has payment rights under its contract for the materials, it is always better to have additional mechanisms to get paid. The focus of this post is to discuss ways in which a supplier can better protect its rights under the Florida Construction Lien Law (“Lien Law”).

Florida Contractors and the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act

July 29, 2016 Construction Industry Legal Blog

Contractors who perform excavation work in Florida must be aware of the requirements set forth in Chapter 556 of the Florida Statutes, known as the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act (“Act”). Failing to follow the procedures set forth in the Act can result in civil and criminal penalties, including monetary damages. This post focuses on some of the requirements of the Act related to excavation work that is not beneath the waters of the State of Florida.

Community Association Managers Beware: Unlicensed Practice of Law

June 28, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

Community Association Managers (CAMS) in Florida are vital to the survival of condominium associations and homeowners’ associations. Associations and their board members rely on CAMS to ensure the associations run smoothly. CAMS must be licensed through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and are governed by the Florida Statutes and the Florida Administrative Code. See Fla. Stat. 468.431-461.438 and Florida Administrative Code 61E14-2.001.

Landlord and Tenant: Duties to Maintain Property

May 23, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

Leases for residential real property are governed by Florida Statute Sections 83.40 through 83.682; leases for commercial real property are governed by Sections 83.001 through 83.251. In addition to these statutory requirements, landlords and tenants must understand their rights and obligations under their written lease agreement. The focus of this post is landlords’ and tenants’ rights and obligations, under residential and commercial leases, to maintain the leased property.

What Takes Priority? The Mortgage or The Lien?

April 12, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

For lenders, prior to taking a mortgage on property within a condominium or homeowners’ association community, it is important to review and understand the association’s governing documents (declaration, by-laws, and articles of incorporation) to determine the priority of an assessment lien and a mortgage. Just because a mortgage was recorded prior to the assessment lien, does not mean the lender’s mortgage will take priority over the association’s assessment lien. The language of the association’s governing documents is critical in determining the priority of these encumbrances.

Florida Condominium and Homeowner Associations: Know Your Governing Documents and Florida Law

February 24, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

Condominium associations and homeowner associations (HOA) are abundant in Florida. These types of associations are typically governed by declarations/covenants and restrictions, as well as bylaws and articles of incorporation (collectively referred to in this post as the governing documents). These associations are also governed by detailed provisions of the Florida Statutes. Chapter 718 (condominiums) and Chapter 720 (home owners associations).

Florida Homeowner Associations and Federal Income Tax Considerations

January 29, 2016 Community Association Industry Legal Blog

Homeowners’ associations in Florida are governed by Florida Statute Chapter 720. This chapter of the Florida Statutes is known as the Homeowners’ Association Act. Florida Statute Section 720.3015. The statutory definition of a Florida homeowners’ association (“HOA”) is “a Florida corporation responsible for the operation of a community or a mobile home subdivision in which the voting membership is made up of parcel owners or their agents, or a combination thereof, and in which membership is a mandatory condition of parcel ownership, and which is authorized to impose assessments that, if unpaid, may become a lien on the parcel.” Florida Statute Section 720.301(9). An HOA does not include a community development district or other similar special taxing district created pursuant to statute. Florida Statute Section 720.301(9).

Inverse Condemnation Claims in Florida

January 13, 2016 Real Estate Development, Sales and Leasing Industry Legal Blog

Real property rights in the United States and in Florida are constitutionally protected. In Florida, Article X of the Florida Constitution protects a “taking” of one’s private property without just or full compensation. When government action results in a “taking” of private property, such action results in eminent domain or inverse condemnation claims. The focus of this post is inverse condemnation claims.

Eminent Domain and Attorneys’ Fees: The Case for Excessive Litigation

December 10, 2015 Professional Services Industry Legal Blog, Real Estate Development, Sales and Leasing Industry Legal Blog

In Florida, recovery of attorneys’ fees in eminent domain and inverse condemnation proceedings is governed by Sections 73.091 and 73.092 of the Florida Statutes. Section 73.092 provides a mechanism for determining an award of attorney fees, based on the “benefits achieved for the client.” But, what if the state agency/condemning authority excessively litigated the case, such that the formulaic computation under that statute was unfair to the property owner? A recent Florida Supreme Court case addressed this issue. Joseph B. Doerr Trust v. Central Florida Expressway Authority.

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