(1) MANDATORY PROVISIONS.—The bylaws or other cooperative documents shall provide for the following, and if they do not, they shall be deemed to include the following: (a) Administration.—
1. The form of administration of the association shall be described, indicating the titles of the officers and board of administration and specifying the powers, duties, manner of selection and removal, and compensation, if any, of officers and board members. In the absence of such a provision, the board of administration shall be composed of five members, except in the case of cooperatives having five or fewer units, in which case in not-for-profit corporations, the board shall consist of not fewer than three members. In the absence of provisions to the contrary, the board of administration shall have a president, a secretary, and a treasurer, who shall perform the duties of those offices customarily performed by officers of corporations. Unless prohibited in the bylaws, the board of administration may appoint other officers and grant them those duties it deems appropriate. Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, the officers shall serve without compensation and at the pleasure of the board. Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, the members of the board shall serve without compensation.
2. A person who has been suspended or removed by the division under this chapter, or who is delinquent in the payment of any monetary obligation due to the association, is not eligible to be a candidate for board membership and may not be listed on the ballot. A director or officer charged by information or indictment with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving the association’s funds or property is suspended from office. The board shall fill the vacancy according to general law until the end of the period of the suspension or the end of the director’s term of office, whichever occurs first. However, if the charges are resolved without a finding of guilt or without acceptance of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the director or officer shall be reinstated for any remainder of his or her term of office. A member who has such criminal charges pending may not be appointed or elected to a position as a director or officer. A person who has been convicted of any felony in this state or in any United States District Court, or who has been convicted of any offense in another jurisdiction which would be considered a felony if committed in this state, is not eligible for board membership unless such felon’s civil rights have been restored for at least 5 years as of the date such person seeks election to the board. The validity of an action by the board is not affected if it is later determined that a board member is ineligible for board membership due to having been convicted of a felony.
3. When a unit owner files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board of administration, the board shall respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry. The board’s response shall either give a substantive response to the inquirer, notify the inquirer that a legal opinion has been requested, or notify the inquirer that advice has been requested from the division. If the board requests advice from the division, the board shall, within 10 days of its receipt of the advice, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquirer. If a legal opinion is requested, the board shall, within 60 days after the receipt of the inquiry, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquirer. The failure to provide a substantive response to the inquirer as provided herein precludes the board from recovering attorney’s fees and costs in any subsequent litigation, administrative proceeding, or arbitration arising out of the inquiry. The association may, through its board of administration, adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding the frequency and manner of responding to the unit owners’ inquiries, one of which may be that the association is obligated to respond to only one written inquiry per unit in any given 30-day period. In such case, any additional inquiry or inquiries must be responded to in the subsequent 30-day period, or periods, as applicable.
(b) Quorum; voting requirements; proxies.—
1. Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, the percentage of voting interests required to constitute a quorum at a meeting of the members shall be a majority of voting interests, and decisions shall be made by owners of a majority of the voting interests. Unless otherwise provided in this chapter, or in the articles of incorporation, bylaws, or other cooperative documents, and except as provided in subparagraph (d)1., decisions shall be made by owners of a majority of the voting interests represented at a meeting at which a quorum is present.
2. Except as specifically otherwise provided herein, after January 1, 1992, unit owners may not vote by general proxy, but may vote by limited proxies substantially conforming to a limited proxy form adopted by the division. Limited proxies and general proxies may be used to establish a quorum. Limited proxies shall be used for votes taken to waive or reduce reserves in accordance with subparagraph (j)2., for votes taken to waive the financial reporting requirements of s. 719.104(4)(b), for votes taken to amend the articles of incorporation or bylaws pursuant to this section, and for any other matter for which this chapter requires or permits a vote of the unit owners. Except as provided in paragraph (d), after January 1, 1992, no proxy, limited or general, shall be used in the election of board members. General proxies may be used for other matters for which limited proxies are not required, and may also be used in voting for nonsubstantive changes to items for which a limited proxy is required and given. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, unit owners may vote in person at unit owner meetings. Nothing contained herein shall limit the use of general proxies or require the use of limited proxies or require the use of limited proxies for any agenda item or election at any meeting of a timeshare cooperative.
3. Any proxy given shall be effective only for the specific meeting for which originally given and any lawfully adjourned meetings thereof. In no event shall any proxy be valid for a period longer than 90 days after the date of the first meeting for which it was given. Every proxy shall be revocable at any time at the pleasure of the unit owner executing it.
4. A member of the board of administration or a committee may submit in writing his or her agreement or disagreement with any action taken at a meeting that the member did not attend. This agreement or disagreement may not be used as a vote for or against the action taken and may not be used for the purposes of creating a quorum.
5. When some or all of the board or committee members meet by telephone conference, those board or committee members attending by telephone conference may be counted toward obtaining a quorum and may vote by telephone. A telephone speaker shall be utilized so that the conversation of those board or committee members attending by telephone may be heard by the board or committee members attending in person, as well as by unit owners present at a meeting.
(c) Board of administration meetings.—Meetings of the board of administration at which a quorum of the members is present shall be open to all unit owners. Any unit owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the board of administration. The right to attend such meetings includes the right to speak at such meetings with reference to all designated agenda items. The division shall adopt reasonable rules governing the tape recording and videotaping of the meeting. The association may adopt reasonable written rules governing the frequency, duration, and manner of unit owner statements. Adequate notice of all meetings shall be posted in a conspicuous place upon the cooperative property at least 48 continuous hours preceding the meeting, except in an emergency. Any item not included on the notice may be taken up on an emergency basis by at least a majority plus one of the members of the board. Such emergency action shall be noticed and ratified at the next regular meeting of the board. However, written notice of any meeting at which nonemergency special assessments, or at which amendment to rules regarding unit use, will be considered shall be mailed, delivered, or electronically transmitted to the unit owners and posted conspicuously on the cooperative property not less than 14 days before the meeting. Evidence of compliance with this 14-day notice shall be made by an affidavit executed by the person providing the notice and filed among the official records of the association. Upon notice to the unit owners, the board shall by duly adopted rule designate a specific location on the cooperative property upon which all notices of board meetings shall be posted. In lieu of or in addition to the physical posting of notice of any meeting of the board of administration on the cooperative property, the association may, by reasonable rule, adopt a procedure for conspicuously posting and repeatedly broadcasting the notice and the agenda on a closed-circuit cable television system serving the cooperative association. However, if broadcast notice is used in lieu of a notice posted physically on the cooperative property, the notice and agenda must be broadcast at least four times every broadcast hour of each day that a posted notice is otherwise required under this section. When broadcast notice is provided, the notice and agenda must be broadcast in a manner and for a sufficient continuous length of time so as to allow an average reader to observe the notice and read and comprehend the entire content of the notice and the agenda. Notice of any meeting in which regular assessments against unit owners are to be considered for any reason shall specifically contain a statement that assessments will be considered and the nature of any such assessments. Meetings of a committee to take final action on behalf of the board or to make recommendations to the board regarding the association budget are subject to the provisions of this paragraph. Meetings of a committee that does not take final action on behalf of the board or make recommendations to the board regarding the association budget are subject to the provisions of this section, unless those meetings are exempted from this section by the bylaws of the association. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the requirement that board meetings and committee meetings be open to the unit owners does not apply to board or committee meetings held for the purpose of discussing personnel matters or meetings between the board or a committee and the association’s attorney, with respect to proposed or pending litigation, if the meeting is held for the purpose of seeking or rendering legal advice.
(d) Shareholder meetings.—There shall be an annual meeting of the shareholders. All members of the board of administration shall be elected at the annual meeting unless the bylaws provide for staggered election terms or for their election at another meeting. Any unit owner desiring to be a candidate for board membership must comply with subparagraph 1. The bylaws must provide the method for calling meetings, including annual meetings. Written notice, which must incorporate an identification of agenda items, shall be given to each unit owner at least 14 days before the annual meeting and posted in a conspicuous place on the cooperative property at least 14 continuous days preceding the annual meeting. Upon notice to the unit owners, the board must by duly adopted rule designate a specific location on the cooperative property upon which all notice of unit owner meetings are posted. In lieu of or in addition to the physical posting of the meeting notice, the association may, by reasonable rule, adopt a procedure for conspicuously posting and repeatedly broadcasting the notice and the agenda on a closed-circuit cable television system serving the cooperative association. However, if broadcast notice is used in lieu of a posted notice, the notice and agenda must be broadcast at least four times every broadcast hour of each day that a posted notice is otherwise required under this section. If broadcast notice is provided, the notice and agenda must be broadcast in a manner and for a sufficient continuous length of time to allow an average reader to observe the notice and read and comprehend the entire content of the notice and the agenda. Unless a unit owner waives in writing the right to receive notice of the annual meeting, the notice of the annual meeting must be sent by mail, hand delivered, or electronically transmitted to each unit owner. An officer of the association must provide an affidavit or United States Postal Service certificate of mailing, to be included in the official records of the association, affirming that notices of the association meeting were mailed, hand delivered, or electronically transmitted, in accordance with this provision, to each unit owner at the address last furnished to the association. 1. The board of administration shall be elected by written ballot or voting machine. A proxy may not be used in electing the board of administration in general elections or elections to fill vacancies caused by recall, resignation, or otherwise unless otherwise provided in this chapter. a. At least 60 days before a scheduled election, the association shall mail, deliver, or transmit, whether by separate association mailing, delivery, or electronic transmission or included in another association mailing, delivery, or electronic transmission, including regularly published newsletters, to each unit owner entitled to vote, a first notice of the date of the election. Any unit owner or other eligible person desiring to be a candidate for the board of administration must give written notice to the association at least 40 days before a scheduled election. Together with the written notice and agenda as set forth in this section, the association shall mail, deliver, or electronically transmit a second notice of election to all unit owners entitled to vote, together with a ballot that lists all candidates. Upon request of a candidate, the association shall include an information sheet, no larger than 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, which must be furnished by the candidate at least 35 days before the election, to be included with the mailing, delivery, or electronic transmission of the ballot, with the costs of mailing, delivery, or transmission and copying to be borne by the association. The association is not liable for the contents of the information sheets provided by the candidates. In order to reduce costs, the association may print or duplicate the information sheets on both sides of the paper. The division shall by rule establish voting procedures consistent with this subparagraph, including rules establishing procedures for giving notice by electronic transmission and rules providing for the secrecy of ballots. Elections shall be decided by a plurality of those ballots cast. There is no quorum requirement. However, at least 20 percent of the eligible voters must cast a ballot in order to have a valid election. A unit owner may not permit any other person to vote his or her ballot, and any such ballots improperly cast are invalid. A unit owner who needs assistance in casting the ballot for the reasons stated in s. 101.051 may obtain assistance in casting the ballot. Any unit owner violating this provision may be fined by the association in accordance with s. 719.303. The regular election must occur on the date of the annual meeting. This subparagraph does not apply to timeshare cooperatives. Notwithstanding this subparagraph, an election and balloting are not required unless more candidates file a notice of intent to run or are nominated than vacancies exist on the board. Any challenge to the election process must be commenced within 60 days after the election results are announced.
b. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, each new director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s bylaws, articles of incorporation, proprietary lease, and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members. Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board, in lieu of this written certification, the newly elected or appointed director may submit a certificate of having satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by an education provider as approved by the division pursuant to the requirements established in chapter 718 within 1 year before or 90 days after the date of election or appointment. The educational certificate is valid and does not have to be resubmitted as long as the director serves on the board without interruption. A director who fails to timely file the written certification or educational certificate is suspended from service on the board until he or she complies with this sub-subparagraph. The board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension. The secretary of the association shall cause the association to retain a director’s written certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for 5 years after a director’s election or the duration of the director’s uninterrupted tenure, whichever is longer. Failure to have such written certification or educational certificate on file does not affect the validity of any board action.
2. Any approval by unit owners called for by this chapter, or the applicable cooperative documents, must be made at a duly noticed meeting of unit owners and is subject to this chapter or the applicable cooperative documents relating to unit owner decisionmaking, except that unit owners may take action by written agreement, without meetings, on matters for which action by written agreement without meetings is expressly allowed by the applicable cooperative documents or law which provides for the unit owner action.
3. Unit owners may waive notice of specific meetings if allowed by the applicable cooperative documents or law. Notice of meetings of the board of administration, shareholder meetings, except shareholder meetings called to recall board members under paragraph (f), and committee meetings may be given by electronic transmission to unit owners who consent to receive notice by electronic transmission.
4. Unit owners have the right to participate in meetings of unit owners with reference to all designated agenda items. However, the association may adopt reasonable rules governing the frequency, duration, and manner of unit owner participation.
5. Any unit owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the unit owners subject to reasonable rules adopted by the division.
6. Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, a vacancy occurring on the board before the expiration of a term may be filled by the affirmative vote of the majority of the remaining directors, even if the remaining directors constitute less than a quorum, or by the sole remaining director. In the alternative, a board may hold an election to fill the vacancy, in which case the election procedures must conform to the requirements of subparagraph 1. unless the association has opted out of the statutory election process, in which case the bylaws of the association control. Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, a board member appointed or elected under this subparagraph shall fill the vacancy for the unexpired term of the seat being filled. Filling vacancies created by recall is governed by paragraph (f) and rules adopted by the division.
Notwithstanding subparagraphs (b)2. and (d)1., an association may, by the affirmative vote of a majority of the total voting interests, provide for a different voting and election procedure in its bylaws, which vote may be by a proxy specifically delineating the different voting and election procedures. The different voting and election procedures may provide for elections to be conducted by limited or general proxy.
(e) Budget procedures.—
1. The board of administration shall mail, hand deliver, or electronically transmit to each unit owner at the address last furnished to the association, a meeting notice and copies of the proposed annual budget of common expenses to the unit owners not less than 14 days prior to the meeting at which the budget will be considered. Evidence of compliance with this 14-day notice must be made by an affidavit executed by an officer of the association or the manager or other person providing notice of the meeting and filed among the official records of the association. The meeting must be open to the unit owners.
2. If an adopted budget requires assessment against the unit owners in any fiscal or calendar year which exceeds 115 percent of the assessments for the preceding year, the board upon written application of 10 percent of the voting interests to the board, shall call a special meeting of the unit owners within 30 days, upon not less than 10 days’ written notice to each unit owner. At the special meeting, unit owners shall consider and enact a budget. Unless the bylaws require a larger vote, the adoption of the budget requires a vote of not less than a majority of all the voting interests.
3. The board of administration may, in any event, propose a budget to the unit owners at a meeting of members or by writing, and if the budget or proposed budget is approved by the unit owners at the meeting or by a majority of all voting interests in writing, the budget is adopted. If a meeting of the unit owners has been called and a quorum is not attained or a substitute budget is not adopted by the unit owners, the budget adopted by the board of directors goes into effect as scheduled.
4. In determining whether assessments exceed 115 percent of similar assessments for prior years, any authorized provisions for reasonable reserves for repair or replacement of cooperative property, anticipated expenses by the association which are not anticipated to be incurred on a regular or annual basis, or assessments for betterments to the cooperative property must be excluded from computation. However, as long as the developer is in control of the board of administration, the board may not impose an assessment for any year greater than 115 percent of the prior fiscal or calendar year’s assessment without approval of a majority of all voting interests.
(f) Recall of board members.—Subject to s. 719.301, any member of the board of administration may be recalled and removed from office with or without cause by the vote or agreement in writing by a majority of all the voting interests. A special meeting of the voting interests to recall any member of the board of administration may be called by 10 percent of the unit owners giving notice of the meeting as required for a meeting of unit owners, and the notice shall state the purpose of the meeting. Electronic transmission may not be used as a method of giving notice of a meeting called in whole or in part for this purpose.
1. If the recall is approved by a majority of all voting interests by a vote at a meeting, the recall shall be effective as provided in this paragraph. The board shall duly notice and hold a board meeting within 5 full business days after the adjournment of the unit owner meeting to recall one or more board members. At the meeting, the board shall either certify the recall, in which case such member or members shall be recalled effective immediately and shall turn over to the board within 5 full business days any and all records and property of the association in their possession, or shall proceed as set forth in subparagraph 3.
2. If the proposed recall is by an agreement in writing by a majority of all voting interests, the agreement in writing or a copy thereof shall be served on the association by certified mail or by personal service in the manner authorized by chapter 48 and the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The board of administration shall duly notice and hold a meeting of the board within 5 full business days after receipt of the agreement in writing. At the meeting, the board shall either certify the written agreement to recall members of the board, in which case such members shall be recalled effective immediately and shall turn over to the board, within 5 full business days, any and all records and property of the association in their possession, or proceed as described in subparagraph 3.
3. If the board determines not to certify the written agreement to recall members of the board, or does not certify the recall by a vote at a meeting, the board shall, within 5 full business days after the board meeting, file with the division a petition for binding arbitration pursuant to the procedures of s. 719.1255. For purposes of this paragraph, the unit owners who voted at the meeting or who executed the agreement in writing shall constitute one party under the petition for arbitration. If the arbitrator certifies the recall as to any member of the board, the recall shall be effective upon mailing of the final order of arbitration to the association. If the association fails to comply with the order of the arbitrator, the division may take action pursuant to s. 719.501. Any member so recalled shall deliver to the board any and all records and property of the association in the member’s possession within 5 full business days after the effective date of the recall.
4. If the board fails to duly notice and hold a board meeting within 5 full business days after service of an agreement in writing or within 5 full business days after the adjournment of the unit owner recall meeting, the recall shall be deemed effective and the board members so recalled shall immediately turn over to the board any and all records and property of the association.
5. If the board fails to duly notice and hold the required meeting or fails to file the required petition, the unit owner representative may file a petition pursuant to s. 719.1255 challenging the board’s failure to act. The petition must be filed within 60 days after the expiration of the applicable 5-full-business-day period. The review of a petition under this subparagraph is limited to the sufficiency of service on the board and the facial validity of the written agreement or ballots filed.
6. If a vacancy occurs on the board as a result of a recall and less than a majority of the board members are removed, the vacancy may be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary contained in this chapter. If vacancies occur on the board as a result of a recall and a majority or more of the board members are removed, the vacancies shall be filled in accordance with procedural rules to be adopted by the division, which rules need not be consistent with this chapter. The rules must provide procedures governing the conduct of the recall election as well as the operation of the association during the period after a recall but before the recall election.
7. A board member who has been recalled may file a petition pursuant to s. 719.1255 challenging the validity of the recall. The petition must be filed within 60 days after the recall is deemed certified. The association and the unit owner representative shall be named as the respondents.
8. The division may not accept for filing a recall petition, whether filed pursuant to subparagraph 1., subparagraph 2., subparagraph 5., or subparagraph 7. and regardless of whether the recall was certified, when there are 60 or fewer days until the scheduled reelection of the board member sought to be recalled or when 60 or fewer days have not elapsed since the election of the board member sought to be recalled.
(g) Common expenses.—The manner of collecting from the unit owners their shares of the common expenses shall be stated. Assessments shall be made against unit owners not less frequently than quarterly, in an amount no less than is required to provide funds in advance for payment of all of the anticipated current operating expense and for all of the unpaid operating expense previously incurred. Nothing in this paragraph shall preclude the right of an association to accelerate assessments of an owner delinquent in payment of common expenses in actions taken pursuant to s. 719.104(4).
(h) Amendment of bylaws.—The method by which the bylaws may be amended consistent with the provisions of this chapter shall be stated. If the bylaws fail to provide a method of amendment, the bylaws may be amended if the amendment is approved by owners of not less than two-thirds of the voting interests. No bylaw shall be revised or amended by reference to its title or number only. Proposals to amend existing bylaws shall contain the full text of the bylaws to be amended; new words shall be inserted in the text underlined, and words to be deleted shall be lined through with hyphens. However, if the proposed change is so extensive that this procedure would hinder, rather than assist, the understanding of the proposed amendment, it is not necessary to use underlining and hyphens as indicators of words added or deleted, but, instead, a notation must be inserted immediately preceding the proposed amendment in substantially the following language: “Substantial rewording of bylaw. See bylaw for present text.” Nonmaterial errors or omissions in the bylaw process shall not invalidate an otherwise properly promulgated amendment.
(i) Transfer fees.—No charge may be made by the association or any body thereof in connection with the sale, mortgage, lease, sublease, or other transfer of a unit unless the association is required to approve such transfer and a fee for such approval is provided for in the cooperative documents. Any such fee may be preset, but in no event shall it exceed $100 per applicant other than husband/wife or parent/dependent child, which are considered one applicant. However, if the lease or sublease is a renewal of a lease or sublease with the same lessee or sublessee, no charge shall be made. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prohibit an association from requiring as a condition to permitting the letting or renting of a unit, when the association has such authority in the documents, the depositing into an escrow account maintained by the association a security deposit in an amount not to exceed the equivalent of 1 month’s rent. The security deposit shall protect against damages to the common areas or cooperative property. Within 15 days after a tenant vacates the premises, the association shall refund the full security deposit or give written notice to the tenant of any claim made against the security. Disputes under this paragraph shall be handled in the same fashion as disputes concerning security deposits under s. 83.49. (j) Annual budget.— 1. The proposed annual budget of common expenses shall be detailed and shall show the amounts budgeted by accounts and expense classifications, including, if applicable, but not limited to, those expenses listed in s. 719.504(20). 2. In addition to annual operating expenses, the budget shall include reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance. These accounts shall include, but not be limited to, roof replacement, building painting, and pavement resurfacing, regardless of the amount of deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost, and for any other items for which the deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost exceeds $10,000. The amount to be reserved shall be computed by means of a formula which is based upon estimated remaining useful life and estimated replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of each reserve item. The association may adjust replacement reserve assessments annually to take into account any changes in estimates or extension of the useful life of a reserve item caused by deferred maintenance. This paragraph shall not apply to any budget in which the members of an association have, at a duly called meeting of the association, determined for a fiscal year to provide no reserves or reserves less adequate than required by this subsection. However, prior to turnover of control of an association by a developer to unit owners other than a developer pursuant to s. 719.301, the developer may vote to waive the reserves or reduce the funding of reserves for the first 2 years of the operation of the association after which time reserves may only be waived or reduced upon the vote of a majority of all nondeveloper voting interests voting in person or by limited proxy at a duly called meeting of the association. If a meeting of the unit owners has been called to determine to provide no reserves, or reserves less adequate than required, and such result is not attained or a quorum is not attained, the reserves as included in the budget shall go into effect. 3. Reserve funds and any interest accruing thereon shall remain in the reserve account or accounts, and shall be used only for authorized reserve expenditures unless their use for other purposes is approved in advance by a vote of the majority of the voting interests, voting in person or by limited proxy at a duly called meeting of the association. Prior to turnover of control of an association by a developer to unit owners other than the developer under s. 719.301, the developer may not vote to use reserves for purposes other than that for which they were intended without the approval of a majority of all nondeveloper voting interests, voting in person or by limited proxy at a duly called meeting of the association.
(k) Insurance or fidelity bonds.—The association shall obtain and maintain adequate insurance or fidelity bonding of all persons who control or disburse funds of the association. The insurance policy or fidelity bond must cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or its management agent at any one time. As used in this paragraph, the term “persons who control or disburse funds of the association” includes, but is not limited to, those individuals authorized to sign checks, and the president, secretary, and treasurer of the association. The association shall bear the cost of bonding and insurance.
(l) Arbitration.—There shall be a provision for mandatory nonbinding arbitration of internal disputes arising from the operation of the cooperative in accordance with s. 719.1255.