Condominium Associations

Some condominium association records now must be permanently maintained

Prior to a strange amendment to Section 718.111(12), Florida Statutes in House Bill 841 was approved and became effective July 1, 2018 last year, most association records had to be kept for at least seven (7) years. An exception was made for “ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies, and all other papers and electronic records relating to voting by unit owners” which only have to be kept for one (1) year. This exception makes sense because after a year you will have another annual meeting and possible another annual election.

For some reason though the sponsors of House Bill 841 thought it important to require condominium associations to now keep certain records “permanently” or forever.

The records to be kept forever are now: 1) Developer turned over documents including plans, permits and warranties; 2) Copies of the recorded Declaration and Bylaws and all recorded amendments thereto; 3) A “certified copy” of the Articles of Incorporation and all amendments thereto; 4) A copy of the current rules of the Association; and 5) A “book or books” that contain the minutes of all board and member meetings minutes.

Not sure why the copy of the Articles of Incorporation must be “certified”. Also, not sure why the minutes must be put into a book or books. Lots of associations just keep their minutes on their computer now and don’t print them out and put them in a book. Well, if you have been doing that, I guess you better go print out all of your associations minutes over the years and find a book to put them in.

If this book or books must now be “permanently maintained” forever, maybe the minutes should be printed on special paper that last forever. Might have to be some type of papyrus paper scroll to last close to forever.

These are the kinds of laws that are written by legislatures who are not closely reading what they are writing. Although they may have good intentions, the result of what they pass is probably not really what they intended.

Developer warranties and permits have or will expire probably within 10 years. Collier County maintains all officially recorded documents concerning real property in the County on its computers pretty much forever and they can be easily obtained on the County website at any time. This would include the Declarations of Condominium Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws and the Division of Corporations with the State of Florida keeps copies of all the Articles of Incorporations and amendments thereto of all Corporations in Florida. Everybody got copies of the house rules at closings. Copies of the minutes are also probably in lots of people’s computers as attachments to e-mails. What is anyone going to do with minutes that are over 7 years old anyway? Any statute of limitations concerning anything that happened in those meetings have probably long expired.

So be sure to comply all these readily available documents and put them in some form that will have them last forever. Maybe you can have them laser copied onto silicon disks or silicon “books”. For safe keeping maybe you can arrange to put the silicon books on a rocket to the moon where they can be safely and “permanently maintained” forever.

Rob Samouce is a principal attorney in the Naples law firm of Samouce & Gal, P.A. He is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development and concentrates his practice representing condominium, cooperative and homeowners associations in all their legal needs including the procedural governance of their associations, covenant enforcement, assessment collections, contract negotiations and contract litigation, real estate transactions, general business law, construction defect litigation and other general civil litigation matters. This column is not based on specific legal advice to anyone and is based on principles subject to change from time to time.