Florida Senate - 2018 SB 1366 By Senator Rader 29-00974-18 20181366__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to bullying and harassment in 3 community associations; providing a short title; 4 providing applicability; providing definitions; 5 providing association requirements relating to the 6 prohibition of bullying and harassment; providing 7 civil penalties; providing immunity to certain persons 8 from certain causes of action for damages; providing 9 legislative intent; providing an effective date. 10 11 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 12 13 Section 1. (1) This section may be cited as the “Stand Up 14 for Seniors Act.” 15 (2) This section applies only to condominium and 16 homeowners’ associations intended and operated for occupancy by 17 persons 55 years of age or older which meet the following 18 requirements: 19 (a) At least 80 percent of the occupied units or parcels 20 are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older. 21 (b) The condominium or homeowners’ association publishes 22 and adheres to policies and procedures that demonstrate the 23 intent required under this paragraph. If the association meets 24 the requirements of paragraphs (a) and (c) and the recorded 25 governing documents provide for an adult, senior, or retirement 26 housing facility or community and the governing documents lack 27 an amendatory procedure, prohibit amendments, or restrict 28 amendments until a specified future date, then that housing 29 facility or community shall be deemed housing for older persons 30 intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age 31 or older. If those documents further provide a prohibition 32 against residents 16 years of age or younger, that provision 33 must be construed, for purposes of the Fair Housing Act, to only 34 apply to residents 18 years of age or younger, in order to 35 conform with federal law requirements. Governing documents that 36 can be amended at a future date must be amended and properly 37 recorded within 1 year after that date to reflect the 38 requirements for consideration as housing for older persons, if 39 that housing facility or community intends to continue as 40 housing for older persons. 41 (c) The association complies with rules promulgated by the 42 Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban 43 Development pursuant to 24 C.F.R. part 100 for verification of 44 occupancy, which rules provide for verification by reliable 45 surveys and affidavits and include examples of the types of 46 policies and procedures relevant to a determination of 47 compliance with the requirements of paragraph (b). Such surveys 48 and affidavits are admissible in administrative and judicial 49 proceedings for the purposes of such verification. 50 (3) For purposes of this section: 51 (a) “Bullying” means intimidation or harassment that causes 52 a reasonable person to fear for his or her physical safety or 53 property and may consist of physical actions including gestures, 54 cyberbullying, oral, electronic, or written communication, or 55 any threat of retaliation for reporting of such acts. The term 56 includes reporting an act of bullying or harassment that is not 57 made in good faith and is retaliatory in nature. 58 (b) “Cyberbullying” means bullying through the use of 59 technology or any electronic communication, which includes, but 60 is not limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, 61 images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted 62 in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic system, 63 photoelectronic system, or photooptical system, including, but 64 not limited to, electronic mail, Internet communications, 65 instant messages, or facsimile communications. Cyberbullying 66 includes the creation of a webpage or weblog in which the 67 creator assumes the identity of another person, or the knowing 68 impersonation of another person as the author of posted content 69 or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the 70 conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying. 71 Cyberbullying also includes the distribution by electronic means 72 of a communication to more than one person or the posting of 73 material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or 74 more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the 75 conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying. 76 (c) “Harassment” means any racist, threatening, insulting, 77 or dehumanizing gesture, use of data or computer software, or 78 written, verbal, or physical conduct that has the effect of 79 substantially interfering with or disrupting a member’s 80 opportunities, peaceful enjoyment of his or her home or the 81 association common areas, or association benefits. The term 82 includes reporting an act of bullying or harassment that is not 83 made in good faith and is retaliatory in nature. 84 (4) Associations must adopt, and review at least every 3 85 years, a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment. The policy 86 must ensure association members do not subject others to fear or 87 intimidation. The policy must afford all members the same 88 protections. The association policy must contain the following: 89 (a) A statement prohibiting bullying and harassment. 90 (b) Definitions of bullying and harassment that conform to 91 the definitions in this section. 92 (c) A description of the type of behavior expected from 93 each association member. 94 (d) A requirement that the association investigate any 95 reported act of bullying or harassment. 96 (e) The penalties, under paragraph (h), for a person who 97 commits an act of bullying or harassment or who has wrongfully 98 and intentionally accused another of an act of bullying or 99 harassment. 100 (f) A procedure for receiving reports of an alleged act of 101 bullying or harassment, including provisions that permit a 102 person to anonymously report such an act. A disciplinary action 103 may not be based solely on an anonymous report. 104 (g)1. A procedure for the prompt investigation of a report 105 of bullying or harassment and the persons responsible for the 106 investigation. The investigation of a reported act of bullying 107 or harassment is deemed to be a housing-related activity and 108 must be initiated with a report of such an act. Incidents that 109 require a reasonable investigation when reported to appropriate 110 association authorities must include alleged incidents of 111 bullying or harassment. 112 2. A process to investigate whether a reported act of 113 bullying or harassment is within the scope of the association 114 and a process for referral of acts not within such scope to the 115 appropriate jurisdiction. 116 (h) After the association completes its investigation, it 117 shall submit its findings to the local ombudsman who shall, upon 118 a finding of a violation or a finding that a member has 119 wrongfully and intentionally accused another of an act of 120 bullying or harassment: 121 1. Provide a written warning to the member upon a finding 122 of a first offense. 123 2. Require the member to complete an anger management 124 treatment program upon a finding of a second offense. 125 3. Impose a $100 fine upon a finding of a third or 126 subsequent offense. 127 (5) An association member or companion of that member who 128 promptly reports in good faith an act of bullying or harassment 129 to the appropriate housing official designated in the 130 association’s grievance committee or board of directors, and who 131 makes this report in compliance with the procedures set forth in 132 the policy, is immune from a cause of action for damages arising 133 out of the reporting itself or any failure to remedy the 134 reported incident. 135 (6) This section is not intended to abridge the rights 136 protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the 137 United States. 138 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.