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Here's some important Florida, Palm Beach County and Jupiter information for our Homeowners.


Florida State-of-Emergency Extended

Florida's State-of-Emergency was initially declared on March 9th, 2020 by Executive Order #20-52. It was extended on May 8th, 2020 for another 60 days by Executive Order #20-114 and again on July 7th for another 60 days by Executive Order #20-166.

A Phase #1 step-by-step plan for Florida recovery was issued on April 29th by Executive Order #20-112, and a Phase #2 step-by-step plan for Florida recovery was issued on June 3rd by Executive Order #20-139. 


Beaches & Other Openings

The following Palm Beach County CORVID-19 restrictions are lifted on Monday, May 18:

  • Beaches: Public and private beaches are open to both residents and nonresidents. People should limit gatherings to no more than 10 people and keep at lease 6 feet apart from one another.
  • Restaurants: Restaurants can expand indoor seating to 50% capacity, from the previous 25%. Outdoor seating is allowed, with 6 feet of space between tables.
  • Retail Stores: Retailers can double the number of customers they can serve from 25% to 50%. Gardens Mall to reopen Friday morning.
  • Gyms: Gyms and fitness centers can reopen at 50% capacity.
  • Museums/Libraries: May reopen at 50% capacity, but whether they do is up to local government. Lake Park Library to resume curbside service.
  • Parks: Most County parks and natural areas are open except for community centers.
  • Sports: Golfing in county owned facilities, private and municipal courses are open but with restrictions recommended, such as more time between rounds to space out players. Community pools and other recreational facilities at condos and HOAs are open, but with conditions including capacity, seating, sanitation and on-site monitoring. Tennis courts and racquet sports facilities are open, but with the recommended restrictions.
  • Boating: boat ramps and marinas across Palm Beach County are open. But the county has guidelines against anchoring at sandbars and tying vessels together.
  • Hair Salon/Barbershops: Barbershops and hair and nail salons are open, but with recommendations, such as capacity restrictions and facemasks.
  • Food Stores: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks and convenience stores are open.
  • Health: Hospitals, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, pharmacies, and urgent care centers are open. Physical therapists, mental health professionals, labs, blood banks, and home health agencies are open. Elective surgeries are allowed.

 The following Palm Beach County CORVID-19 restrictions remain in effect:

  • Movie Theaters: Movie theaters, playhouses and bars will remain closed. Drive in movie theaters can operate.
  • Theme Parks: Theme parks will remain closed. Operators must submit plans to the state, outlining steps they will take to protect their staff and the public, and set proposed reopening dates.


Special Assessments

According to Florida Statute 718.111(4), “The association has the power to make and collect assessments and to lease, maintain, repair, and replace the common elements or association property.”

Special assessments provide a means for the Association’s Board of Directors to obtain, from its members, money for unplanned, unexpected and unbudgeted expenses. Although normally used for covering capital replacement costs (i.e., for reserve items), special assessments can also be used for replenishing unfunded operating expenses. However, they should not be used for covering regular routine expenses that exceed budgeted values. (These are taken into consideration in preparing the next year’s budget.)

Unplanned capital expense occurs when the Reserve Schedule’s estimated “years-of life” is too high or “capital replacement costs” are too low to cover actual expenditures. Examples include 1) replacing lines and pumps that supply irrigation water, 2) replacing or substantially repairing a damaged lake bridge, or 3) major rebuild of swimming pool restrooms/pumphouse.

Unplanned operating expense occurs when a budgeted line-item is substantially exceeded due to unforeseen circumstances. Examples include 1) unplanned major litigation, 2) major vendor repricing of equipment and/or services, 3) midyear increases in insurance costs, or 4) breakdown of equipment requiring significant repair work.

Special assessments must be approved by a majority of the Association’s Board of Directors at a Board Meeting requiring 14-days advance notice, posted on Association property in the places designated for the posting of such notices. In addition, Florida statute 718.112(21)(c)1. requires that “Notice of any meeting in which regular or special assessments against unit owners are to be considered must specifically state that assessments will be considered and provide the estimated cost and description of the purposes for such assessments.”

Statute 718.116(10) says that “The specific purpose or purposes of any special assessment shall be set forth in a written notice of such assessment sent or delivered to each unit owner. The funds collected pursuant to a special assessment shall be used only for the specific purpose or purposes set forth in such notice.” The special assessment notice must list, describe and estimate the cost of each item included in the special assessment. The sum of the included items must equal the total amount of the special assessment. Then, the special assessment amount is divided by the number of units within the association to determine each unit’s/member’s share. Special assessment amounts cannot vary by condominium unit within an individual association.

According to paragraph 9.10 of the Association’s Bylaws, “Assessments for Common Expenses for emergencies that cannot be paid from the annual Assessments for Common Expenses shall be due only after ten (10) days’ notice given to the Unit Owners concerned and shall be paid in such manner as the Board of Directors of the Association may require in the notice of such Assessments.”  This provides the Board wide latitude in the timing and approach to collecting special assessments. They can be due with short notice, broken into multiple installments, and subject to late fees and interest.  Late fee maximums are $25.00 (if under $1,000), otherwise $50.00. Interest is 15% per annum starting with the due date. Finally, the special assessment letter should specify whether a grace-period is granted.

According to Statute 718.116(10) “Upon completion of such specific purpose or purposes (of the special assessment), any excess funds will be considered common surplus, and may, at the discretion of the board, either be returned to the unit owners or applied as a credit toward future assessments.” Monies received from the special assessment must be tracked against actual expenditures for each included item to determine whether there are excess funds, and if the excess funds will be returned or applied toward future assessments.


Florida's New Texting & Driving Law

Texting and driving was already illegal in Florida, but the new law makes texting (including messaging, emailing and other forms of typing on a mobile device) a primary violation, rather than a secondary violation. That means police can stop you solely on suspicion of texting while driving. Next, it more broadly bans any use of a handheld cell phone while operating a motor vehicle in a designated school crossing or school zone or a road work zone.

Hands-free uses remain legal.

The penalties for these noncriminal traffic violations remain the same:

  • First Violation – $30 base fine plus court costs and fees.

  • Second Violation – A second violation within five years is considered a moving violation carrying a $60 base fine plus court costs and fees.

  • Drivers caught texting will also be dinged 3 points against their licenses.

Texting while driving became a primary offense on July 1, 2019.  The ban on handheld use in school and work zones can be enforced starting October 1, 2019 with an education period of warnings until January 1, 2020, when fines can be imposed.

Texting at a stoplight or while a vehicle is stationary is not an offense. Police and emergency personnel are exempted as are those receiving navigation, vehicle operation or safety information (traffic, weather, etc.).


Defense of Foreclosure

When the taxing authority or mortgage holder forecloses on a condominium unit, the condominium association, as an interested party, receives notice. They then engage the services of their attorney to defend them in the foreclosure action. The expense associated with a Defense of Foreclosure cannot be charged to the negligent unit owner if that owner has paid all of their assessments on time, unless this is provided for in the association's documents. This is a flaw in the Florida condominium statutes that needs to be addressed.
 
Following is the text from my complaint, filed on 4/27/16 with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes:

The Jupiter Bay Condominium Association is a multi-condominium association comprised of eight individual associations, 14 buildings, and 359 units. In August 2011 a mortgage servicer filed a mortgage foreclosure action against one of our Association members. Our Association was advised of the foreclosure and, as an interested party in the mortgage foreclosure, engaged the services of an attorney to defend our interests. Our attorney advised us that it was the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to engage the services of an attorney in Defense of Foreclosure and that this was not optional.

Over the past 4 ½ years there have been dozens of court filings associated with this mortgage foreclosure, months of bank negotiations, extensive correspondence among attorneys, and several sell auctions scheduled and rescheduled. This April the condominium owners, who defaulted on their mortgage, negotiated a revised payment plan with their mortgage holder.

Our Association accumulated $10,000 (36.4 hours @ $275/hour) in Attorney fees over the course of the 4 ½ year period. These fees were charged to the condominium owners who were negligent in meeting their mortgage payments and responsible for the Association’s expense. The condominium owners, who felt they were wronged by the Association, filed a Summary Judgment against the Association to 1) get to the case dismissed, 2) remove the Association’s attorney fees from their account, and 3) obtain reimbursement for their own attorney fees. The court ordered mediation as an attempt to resolve the dispute.

The mediation settlement cost the Association $10,750 as payment for the defendant’s attorney. We were unable to get reimbursed for any Association fees. Therefore, this negligent action by a member of our Association cost us over $20,000 in total, and it necessitated a special assessment for other members. This was because the Florida Statutes do not give an Association the right to assess the negligent owner for attorney fees associated with our Defense of Foreclosure. This is a serious flaw in Florida Statute 718 that must be remedied immediately.

I recognize that this is somewhat unorthodox to be writing a complaint against Florida’s condominium associations’ governing body; however, I’m not sure what recourse is available. The interest of the Association and its members must be protected in bank and tax lien foreclosures against its members.


WPB Tops Nation in Vacation Rental Growth

In its July 31st edition, the Palm Beach Post reported that West Palm Beach tops the nation in vacation rental growth, according to the popular travel website Hipmunk.  

An analysis from the travel website found vacation rental bookings in West Palm Beach skyrocketed by 852 percent from summer 2014 to summer 2015. Rounding out the top five cities for the biggest vacation rental growth are: New York with 488 percent; Greenville, N.C., with 410 percent; Pittsburgh with 356 percent; and Dallas with 279 percent.

Vacation rentals have grown in popularity as more travelers look for alternatives to hotels. From summer 2014 to summer 2015, the share of overall vacation rental bookings on Hipmunk increased 78 percent, the analysis said.


Condominium Association Management

Many condominium owners take for granted a smooth-running association.  They either have limited interaction with the management office or only correspond with work orders or complaints.
 
With its 14 buildings, 8 associations, 359 units, 60+ acres, 9 staff members and nearly 100 vendors, Jupiter Bay is a complex multicondominium association requiring specialized management skills for its day-to-day operation.
 
An Association Management page was added to this website to describe some of the tools, systems, and procedures used by the management office at Jupiter Bay.


Ryan Poliakoff Says "Employee Salaries Can be Revealed"

The Condominium Act was amended a few years ago to specify that, among the documents that are not inspect-able by unit owners are “personnel records of association or management company employees, including, but not limited to, disciplinary, payroll, health and insurance records.” This was done in an effort to protect personal employee information. But the statutes also state that the term “personnel records” does not include written employment agreements with an association employee or management company, or budgetary or financial records that indicate the compensation paid to an association employee.

 

So it is not the salary, itself, that is protected. If that salary can be found in an employment agreement, or if it is a line item in the budget, or if it is within the association ledger, or the check register (or if the association maintains copies of canceled checks), you can make a written request to inspect those records and find out the salaries. Also, you have a right under the Condo Act to send a written inquiry to the board of directors, by certified mail, and the board must respond to that inquiry within 30 days (or a longer time frame if they seek the advice of the Division of Condominiums, or legal counsel).

 

Mr.  Poliakoff goes on to say that "I have never dealt with the issue directly, but I think an argument can be made that, given that the salary, itself, does not appear to be protected information, the board would have to answer a written inquiry regarding these salaries. Perhaps this is a loophole in the law or perhaps the division would find, if pressed, that the Legislature did in fact intend for employee salaries to be private, except in the limited instance when the salary is referenced in another, otherwise inspectable record."


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PBC Commissioners Vote to Require Masks in Public

A Palm Beach County proposal to allow more businesses to reopen is on hold because of the huge spike in cases during June. The County has recorded more than 3,600 coronavirus cases over the two weeks ending June 23rd, one third-of the 11,180 cases recorded since the pandemic began here in mid-March.

Since April, the County recommended that people wear masks but had not required it.  However, with the recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases, County Commissioners voted on Tuesday, June 23rd to make the wearing of face masks in public mandatory.  The Commissioner’s goal is to see how this works first before going deeper into the economy reopening.

Palm Beach County’s order will mimic those of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, who issued a countywide face mask mandate in April.  The two South Florida counties had made medical and religious exemptions, as well as not requiring mask wearing for children under 2 or in situations where people are doing activities where masks cannot be safely worn, like swimming or exercising.

The order likely will be made official on Wednesday, June 24th. While there is no expiration date, any county commissioner will have the opportunity to bring the order back up for a vote to rescind it. Anyone violating the order will be met first with education. Enforcement could result in civil penalties up to $500.


Wear Facial Cover Order

On April 11th, 2020, Palm Beach County issued Emergency Order #4, effective 12:01 am on April 13th, 2020. This order, effective through the exiting State of Local Emergency, reads as follows:
  •  All persons working in, patronizing, or otherwise physically present in grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, construction sites, public transit vehicles, vehicles for hire, and locations where social distancing measures are not possible should wear facial coverings as defined by the CDC.

  • All other persons physically present in any public place in Palm Beach County are strongly urged to wear facial coverings as defined by the CDC.

  • A facial covering includes any covering which snugly covers the nose and mouth, whether store bought or homemade mask, or clothing covering, including but not limited to, a scarf, bandanna, handkerchief or other similar cloth covering and which is secured in place.

Click on the following link to view the Emergency Order:

PBC Order #4


Unit Alteration Approvals

Alterations performed within a condominium unit are subject to certain restrictions and controls. Depending upon the type of alteration, both the worker and the work performed may be subject to local, county and state regulations and building codes as well as regulations imposed by the condominium association.

These regulations and controls are important in protecting the condominium unit owner, his/her neighbors and the association. Controls ensure that the unit owner deals with a licensed contractor, when required, who performs work according to code. They also help protect a unit’s neighbors from water, fire or other damage caused by poor workmanship or negligence. The association, who owns the building as well as the unit’s walls, floor and common areas used for the delivery of utilities (electric, water, cable and sewerage) is also protected.  In addition, controls ensure conformance to the association’s rules regarding color, style, sound mitigation, and quality/performance.

Since the unit owner is solely responsible for the space within the walls of his/her unit and since they have considerable investment in their “home”, it’s important that they have flexibility in choosing who performs the alterations to their unit and the nature of the work performed. This imposes certain limitations on how much control the association should have and how onerous their approval process/requirements are. In general terms a simpler approval form and process encourages owner understanding and universal acceptance/conformity.

The number and types of alterations that can be made to a condominium unit are limited, allowing for the ability to create a list of all possible changes and to classify those changes as: A) Alterations requiring both a Town permit & association approval, B) Alterations requiring association approval but no Town permit, C) Owner Renovations Not Requiring Permits or Board Approval, and D) Prohibited alterations. Please reference the “Alterations” page of this website for this list and a simplified Condo Unit Alteration Notification & Approval Form. 


Older Air Conditioners May Need to be Replaced

According to a September 17, 2019 article in the Palm Beach Post, Freon, needed by air conditioners installed before 2010, may not be available after January 1, 2020. Freon is the Dupont/Chemours Company brand for the refrigerant R-22. Since it will no longer be manufactured in the US or imported after year-end, Freon supplies will be limited and will eventually run out. This means that air conditions that require additional Freon may need to be replaced with new units that use the newer R-410A refrigerant.

Replacement includes both the compressor outside the unit and the air handler inside the unit.  Although retrofitting a current air conditioner to use R-410A is an option, it may be more cost-effective to replace a current air conditioner with a newer, more energy-efficient unit. Another factor to consider in the purchase of a new unit is that the new refrigerant is less efficient than Freon and may require upgrading to a larger unit. For example a 2-ton unit may need to be upgraded to a 2.5 ton unit to obtain equivalent cooling capacity.


Town of Jupiter & Harbourside Resolve Violations

The Town of Jupiter announced in July 2019 that it reached an agreement with Harbourside Place to resolve current and future event violations related to some of the company’s approval terms.  Harbourside admitted to 20 violations of the Town Code and will pay a fine and costs related to these.

The agreement includes the following:

  • Harbourside will pay a fine of $35,200 and fees of $5,568.68 to the Town to cover legal and staff time spent on the various violation cases.

  • The Town will allow events including car shows, yoga classes and green markets to resume at Harbourside.

  • The Town will permit up to 12 Class A and up to 4 Class B special events per year at Harbourside, providing proper paperwork is submitted (permits, etc.). The events may include amplified events such as concerts.

The Town will also allow yoga, farmers markets, and classic car shows to resume pending payment of the fines.


Top Beaches in Palm Beach County

According to a January 15th, 2016 article in the Palm Beach Post, we have the top 4 Palm Beach County beaches at our doorstep or a short drive away.  They are: 

1. Coral Cove: This tiny Tequesta beach, which is the northernmost in Palm Beach County, attracts snorkelers to its rocky shore. Bonus: You can walk to the sublime Blowing Rocks Nature Conservancy from there.  Location: 1600 S. Beach Road, Tequesta, 561-624-0065, free parking

2. Carlin Park: What are you looking for in a beach experience? You’ll likely find it in Jupiter’s megapark, the largest county-maintained beach park, which comes with a side of soft, clean sand.  Location: 400 S. State Road A1A, Jupiter, 561-629-8775, free parking

3. Juno Beach Park: The Juno Beach Pier is the crown jewel of this stretch of coastline, and it costs only a buck to stroll its 990-foot length.  Location: 14775 U.S. 1, Juno Beach, 561-624-0065, free parking

4. John D. MacArthur State Park: The county’s only state park, MacArthur is a must-visit attraction for nature lovers in this neck of the mangrove forest. A walk across a 1/3-mile boardwalk leads to an undeveloped, and typically unpopulated, beach.  Location: 10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive, North Palm Beach, 561-624-6952, $5 per vehicle ($4 for single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle)


Renters Have 30 Days to Vacate Foreclosed Condo

TALLAHASSEE — Among the 17 bills signed by Gov. Rick Scott on June 2, 2015 was HB 779, which protects renters in foreclosed homes from swift evictions. Under the bill, unanimously approved in both chambers, tenants renting a foreclosed home that is sold to a new owner must be given at least 30 days to vacate the residence.


Gov. Scott Signs New Service Animals Bill into Law

The service animals bill (HB 71) makes it a second-degree felony to misrepresent a pet as a service animal or harass disabled service-animal owners about their disability and need for the service animal.


Rental of a Homesteaded Property

The restrictions on renting your homesteaded property are strict and confusing.

According to FL Statute 196.061 and the Palm Beach County Tax Appraiser's Website, "You may rent your homesteaded property for 30 days or less per calendar year and maintain a homestead exemption.  Rental for more than 30 days for two consecutive years or for more than six months constitutes abandonment of a homestead exemption.

Exempt property rented after January 1 of any year does not affect the homestead exemption for that particular year. If the property is rented on January 1 of the following year or the terms of the lease are six months or more the exemption will be denied.

Property owners are required to notify the Property Appraiser’s Office when their property no longer qualifies for exemption. Failure to do so could result in a Homestead Tax Lien with substantial penalty and interest."


 What Happens with Surplus Funds?

Association budgets are simply projections of expenses for the next year.  It's rare that estimated income and expenses closely align (within 5-10%) with actual receipts and expenditures.  Consequently, each year the Association must deal with budget deficits and surpluses.

Budget deficits are usually accommodated with line-item increases in the new budget.  Please view the Financial page of this website for a description of how surpluses are handled.


Right of Owners to Assemble

Florida Statute 718.123 grants the right of owners to peaceably assemble on condominium property.

See the Communications Page of this website to read the text of this Statute.


Understanding and Clarifying Association Leadership Roles

There tends to be confusion and misunderstanding regarding Director and Officer positions within the condominium association, sometimes among the Directors themselves.  The Florida statutes and Jupiter Bay's condominium documents clarify these positions and how they interrelate.  Textbooks and industry organizations provide further insight, particularly in defining Officer responsibilities.

Please reference the new Director/Officer Roles page of this website for detailed information regarding these positions. 


"Condo Consultants" Clarify Board Meeting Notice Requirement

In their April 6th, 2014 Palm Beach Post column, Gary A. Pollakoff and Ryan Pollakoff (The Condo Consultants) provided further clarification regarding Board Meeting notices.  They said that "the Condo Act states that adequate notice of board meetings must be posted 48 hours in advance of the meeting.  There is no stated exception.  Separately, the act states that meetings where personnel issues are discussed may be closed to owners.  But, it does not additionally say that such meetings do not need to be noticed, and so, reading between the lines (as one must often do when interpreting statutes), all board meetings must be noticed, whether or not they are open to owners.  This includes legal meetings and personnel meetings.

Remember, notice of board meetings is intended to benefit the individual board members, as well as the owners."

 

Click here to download article


Board Member Email Communications

Email communication continues to play a greater role in the Association's business.  We now have email addresses for a large percentage of our homeowners.  The management office, homeowners, Board members and our vendors are using email communications to replace many if not most of the traditional "snail mail" types of correspondence.  The Property Manager and Board of Directors conduct much of the day-to-day association business via email.  This leads to some interesting questions, several of which Florida statutes are beginning to address.  Please reference the Communication page of this website for an update on Board Member Email Communications.


Association's Annual Budget

Each fall annual budget preparation activities get underway.  The process, which culminates in owner notification and Board approval, needs to complete before start of the new budget year so that coupon books can be printed and mailed.

A page was added to this website which explains the annual budget preparation process.  This is being provided for those owners who are members of the Budget Committee and for other owners who are interested in understanding how the budget is developed and how their quarterly assessments are calculated.