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.
   11  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.