TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 2, 2017 – Florida lawmakers passed a bill this week that imposes criminal penalties for some condo board violations.

To become law, the bill, CS/CS/HB 1237, still needs Gov. Scott's signature. If signed, it becomes effective on July 1, 2017.

"This is very important for Miami-Dade because it's something that condo owners have been waiting for for nearly a decade," Sen. René García, a co-sponsor of the bill, told The Miami Herald. "But the reforms will help all Florida residents with similar problems. Sen. José Javier Rodríguez co-sponsored the bill in the Senate, and Rep. José Félix Díaz sponsored a version in the House.

A media investigation last year by the El Nuevo Herald and Univision 23 led to the bill. In the report, "Condo Nightmares," news reporters found cases of electoral fraud, misappropriation of funds and rigged bids.

In February, a Miami-Dade grand jury recommended changes to Florida's Chapter 718 that oversees condo boards, as well as the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

CS/CS/HB 1237 covers a number of condo oversight rules, but high-profile ones include:

  • If a condo association has more than 150 units, it must publish its financial reports on a password-protected web page.
  • If owners are denied documents and if fraud is proven, the people responsible for the fraud could face felony charges after July 2018.
  • Condo board directors are limited to eight years unless they get a super-majority of votes in later elections.
  • Directors can't receive payments from the condo association, nor can they hire relatives.

Source: Miami Herald, Brenda Medina, May 2, 2017

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