Florida Senate - 2024                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SB 426
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              
                   Comm: RS            .                                
                  02/05/2024           .                                

       The Committee on Regulated Industries (Garcia) recommended the
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete lines 72 - 335
    4  and insert:
    5         16.0151 Condominium and Homeowners’ Association Economic
    6  Crime, Fraud, and Corruption Investigation Pilot Program.—
    7         (1) The Condominium and Homeowners’ Association Economic
    8  Crime, Fraud, and Corruption Investigation Pilot Program is
    9  created within the Department of Legal Affairs, Office of the
   10  Attorney General. The purpose of the pilot program is to
   11  investigate condominium and homeowners’ association-related
   12  economic crime, fraud, and corruption in this state. The
   13  department may contract with a private entity that employs
   14  retired law enforcement officers who have subject matter
   15  expertise in financial fraud to achieve the purpose of the pilot
   16  program. If the department does not contract with a private
   17  entity, the department must hire a suitable number of financial
   18  investigators, investigators with previous law enforcement
   19  experience, and clerical employees to staff the pilot program.
   20         (2) A person may submit a condominium or homeowners’
   21  association-related complaint to the Office of the Condominium
   22  Ombudsman or the Office of the Homeowners’ Association
   23  Ombudsman, respectively. The ombudsman shall review all
   24  complaints submitted to the office and determine which
   25  complaints to forward to the department for additional analysis
   26  and investigation under the pilot program. If a complaint
   27  submitted to the pilot program does not contain allegations of
   28  economic crimes, fraud, or corruption, the task force must
   29  forward the complaint to the Division of Florida Condominiums,
   30  Timeshares, and Mobile Homes and the Office of the Homeowners’
   31  Association Ombudsman, which shall investigate claims made
   32  pursuant to ss. 718.501 and 720.319, respectively.
   33         (3) The department has the power to issue subpoenas and
   34  conduct audits for investigations in furtherance of the pilot
   35  program, and may administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and
   36  compel production of books, papers, or other records relevant to
   37  such investigations. If, after reviewing a complaint filed under
   38  the pilot program, the department finds sufficient evidence for
   39  criminal prosecution, it must refer the case to the appropriate
   40  state attorney for prosecution.
   41         (4) The department shall fund the pilot program from the
   42  Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
   43  Trust Fund as specifically appropriated annually in the General
   44  Appropriations Act.
   45         (5) The pilot program’s primary office shall be located in
   46  Miami-Dade County.
   47         (6) This section is repealed October 2, 2029, unless
   48  reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the
   49  Legislature.
   50         Section 2. Paragraph (w) is added to subsection (1) of
   51  section 215.22, Florida Statutes, to read:
   52         215.22 Certain income and certain trust funds exempt.—
   53         (1) The following income of a revenue nature or the
   54  following trust funds shall be exempt from the appropriation
   55  required by s. 215.20(1):
   56         (w) The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and
   57  Mobile Homes Trust Fund.
   58         Section 3. Paragraph (h) of subsection (11) of section
   59  718.111, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   60         718.111 The association.—
   61         (11) INSURANCE.—In order to protect the safety, health, and
   62  welfare of the people of the State of Florida and to ensure
   63  consistency in the provision of insurance coverage to
   64  condominiums and their unit owners, this subsection applies to
   65  every residential condominium in the state, regardless of the
   66  date of its declaration of condominium. It is the intent of the
   67  Legislature to encourage lower or stable insurance premiums for
   68  associations described in this subsection.
   69         (h) The association shall maintain insurance or fidelity
   70  bonding of all persons who control or disburse funds of the
   71  association. The insurance policy or fidelity bond must cover
   72  the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association
   73  or its management agent at any one time. The division shall
   74  monitor compliance with this paragraph and may issue fines and
   75  penalties established by the division for failure of an
   76  association to maintain the required insurance policy or
   77  fidelity bond. As used in this paragraph, the term “persons who
   78  control or disburse funds of the association” includes, but is
   79  not limited to, those individuals authorized to sign checks on
   80  behalf of the association, and the president, secretary, and
   81  treasurer of the association. The association shall bear the
   82  cost of any such bonding.
   83         Section 4. Section 718.13, Florida Statutes, is created to
   84  read:
   85         718.13 Database for condominium association information.—
   86         (1) By July 1, 2026, the division shall establish a
   87  searchable cloud-based database that contains information
   88  regarding each condominium association operating within this
   89  state. The database must allow a user to search the name by
   90  which a condominium property is identified to find the
   91  association that governs such property. At a minimum, the
   92  database must include all of the following information for each
   93  association:
   94         (a) The names, e-mail addresses, and other contact
   95  information of officers and directors of the association.
   96         (b) An indication that the association is self-managed, or,
   97  if not self-managed, the contact information for any person
   98  licensed under part VIII of chapter 468 and responsible for
   99  management of the association.
  100         (c) A copy of the association’s governing documents,
  101  including, but not limited to, declarations, bylaws, and rules
  102  and any amendments thereto.
  103         (d) A copy of the association’s adopted annual budget, in a
  104  file format that is compatible with the database, which includes
  105  the amount and purpose of any monthly assessments and current or
  106  pending special assessments levied by the association.
  107         (e) A copy of any studies regarding funds in reserve
  108  accounts held by the association or any reports regarding the
  109  physical inspection of properties maintained by the association,
  110  including any structural integrity reserve studies conducted
  111  under s. 718.112(2)(g) of such properties.
  112         (2) An association must notify the division of any changes
  113  to the information related to the association which is included
  114  in the database within 30 days after such changes occur.
  115         (3) Expenses associated with the creation and
  116  administration of the database must be funded in part by
  117  proceeds from the annual fee paid by associations pursuant to s.
  118  718.501(2)(a).
  119         Section 5. Subsection (1) of section 718.501, Florida
  120  Statutes, is amended to read:
  121         718.501 Authority, responsibility, and duties of Division
  122  of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.—
  123         (1) The division may enforce and ensure compliance with
  124  this chapter and rules relating to the development,
  125  construction, sale, lease, ownership, operation, and management
  126  of residential condominium units and complaints related to the
  127  procedural completion of milestone inspections under s. 553.899.
  128  In performing its duties, the division has complete jurisdiction
  129  to investigate complaints and enforce compliance with respect to
  130  associations that are still under developer control or the
  131  control of a bulk assignee or bulk buyer pursuant to part VII of
  132  this chapter and complaints against developers, bulk assignees,
  133  or bulk buyers involving improper turnover or failure to
  134  turnover, pursuant to s. 718.301. However, after turnover has
  135  occurred, the division has jurisdiction to investigate
  136  complaints related only to financial issues, elections, and the
  137  maintenance of and unit owner access to association records
  138  under s. 718.111(12), and the procedural completion of
  139  structural integrity reserve studies under s. 718.112(2)(g). If
  140  the division receives a complaint about an association which
  141  alleges economic crimes, fraud, or corruption, the division must
  142  forward the complaint to the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman
  143  or the Office of the Homeowners’ Association Ombudsman pursuant
  144  to s. 16.0151.
  145         (a)1. The division may make necessary public or private
  146  investigations within or outside this state to determine whether
  147  any person has violated this chapter or any rule or order
  148  hereunder, to aid in the enforcement of this chapter, or to aid
  149  in the adoption of rules or forms.
  150         2. The division may submit any official written report,
  151  worksheet, or other related paper, or a duly certified copy
  152  thereof, compiled, prepared, drafted, or otherwise made by and
  153  duly authenticated by a financial examiner or analyst to be
  154  admitted as competent evidence in any hearing in which the
  155  financial examiner or analyst is available for cross-examination
  156  and attests under oath that such documents were prepared as a
  157  result of an examination or inspection conducted pursuant to
  158  this chapter.
  159         (b) The division may require or permit any person to file a
  160  statement in writing, under oath or otherwise, as the division
  161  determines, as to the facts and circumstances concerning a
  162  matter to be investigated.
  163         (c) For the purpose of any investigation under this
  164  chapter, the division director or any officer or employee
  165  designated by the division director may administer oaths or
  166  affirmations, subpoena witnesses and compel their attendance,
  167  take evidence, and require the production of any matter which is
  168  relevant to the investigation, including the existence,
  169  description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any
  170  books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and
  171  location of persons having knowledge of relevant facts or any
  172  other matter reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of
  173  material evidence. Upon the failure by a person to obey a
  174  subpoena or to answer questions propounded by the investigating
  175  officer and upon reasonable notice to all affected persons, the
  176  division may apply to the circuit court for an order compelling
  177  compliance.
  178         (d) Notwithstanding any remedies available to unit owners
  179  and associations, if the division has reasonable cause to
  180  believe that a violation of any provision of this chapter or
  181  related rule has occurred, the division may institute
  182  enforcement proceedings in its own name against any developer,
  183  bulk assignee, bulk buyer, association, officer, or member of
  184  the board of administration, or its assignees or agents, as
  185  follows:
  186         1. The division may permit a person whose conduct or
  187  actions may be under investigation to waive formal proceedings
  188  and enter into a consent proceeding whereby orders, rules, or
  189  letters of censure or warning, whether formal or informal, may
  190  be entered against the person.
  191         2. The division may issue an order requiring the developer,
  192  bulk assignee, bulk buyer, association, developer-designated
  193  officer, or developer-designated member of the board of
  194  administration, developer-designated assignees or agents, bulk
  195  assignee-designated assignees or agents, bulk buyer-designated
  196  assignees or agents, community association manager, or community
  197  association management firm to cease and desist from the
  198  unlawful practice and take such affirmative action as in the
  199  judgment of the division carry out the purposes of this chapter.
  200  If the division finds that a developer, bulk assignee, bulk
  201  buyer, association, officer, or member of the board of
  202  administration, or its assignees or agents, is violating or is
  203  about to violate any provision of this chapter, any rule adopted
  204  or order issued by the division, or any written agreement
  205  entered into with the division, and presents an immediate danger
  206  to the public requiring an immediate final order, it may issue
  207  an emergency cease and desist order reciting with particularity
  208  the facts underlying such findings. The emergency cease and
  209  desist order is effective for 90 days. If the division begins
  210  nonemergency cease and desist proceedings, the emergency cease
  211  and desist order remains effective until the conclusion of the
  212  proceedings under ss. 120.569 and 120.57.
  213         3. If a developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer fails to
  214  pay any restitution determined by the division to be owed, plus
  215  any accrued interest at the highest rate permitted by law,
  216  within 30 days after expiration of any appellate time period of
  217  a final order requiring payment of restitution or the conclusion
  218  of any appeal thereof, whichever is later, the division must
  219  bring an action in circuit or county court on behalf of any
  220  association, class of unit owners, lessees, or purchasers for
  221  restitution, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, or any other
  222  available remedy. The division may also temporarily revoke its
  223  acceptance of the filing for the developer to which the
  224  restitution relates until payment of restitution is made.
  225         4. The division may petition the court for appointment of a
  226  receiver or conservator. If appointed, the receiver or
  227  conservator may take action to implement the court order to
  228  ensure the performance of the order and to remedy any breach
  229  thereof. In addition to all other means provided by law for the
  230  enforcement of an injunction or temporary restraining order, the
  231  circuit court may impound or sequester the property of a party
  232  defendant, including books, papers, documents, and related
  233  records, and allow the examination and use of the property by
  234  the division and a court-appointed receiver or conservator.
  235         5. The division may apply to the circuit court for an order
  236  of restitution whereby the defendant in an action brought under
  237  subparagraph 4. is ordered to make restitution of those sums
  238  shown by the division to have been obtained by the defendant in
  239  violation of this chapter. At the option of the court, such
  240  restitution is payable to the conservator or receiver appointed
  241  under subparagraph 4. or directly to the persons whose funds or
  242  assets were obtained in violation of this chapter.
  243         6. The division may impose a civil penalty against a
  244  developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer, or association, or its
  245  assignee or agent, for any violation of this chapter or related
  246  rule. The division may impose a civil penalty individually
  247  against an officer or board member who willfully and knowingly
  248  violates this chapter, an adopted rule, or a final order of the
  249  division; may order the removal of such individual as an officer
  250  or from the board of administration or as an officer of the
  251  association; and may prohibit such individual from serving as an
  252  officer or on the board of a community association for a period
  253  of time. The term “willfully and knowingly” means that the
  254  division informed the officer or board member that his or her
  255  action or intended action violates this chapter, a rule adopted
  256  under this chapter, or a final order of the division and that
  257  the officer or board member refused to comply with the
  258  requirements of this chapter, a rule adopted under this chapter,
  259  or a final order of the division. The division, before
  260  initiating formal agency action under chapter 120, must afford
  261  the officer or board member an opportunity to voluntarily
  262  comply, and an officer or board member who complies within 10
  263  days is not subject to a civil penalty. A penalty may be imposed
  264  on the basis of each day of continuing violation, but the
  265  penalty for any offense may not exceed $5,000. The division
  266  shall adopt, by rule, penalty guidelines applicable to possible
  267  violations or to categories of violations of this chapter or
  268  rules adopted by the division. The guidelines must specify a
  269  meaningful range of civil penalties for each such violation of
  270  the statute and rules and must be based upon the harm caused by
  271  the violation, upon the repetition of the violation, and upon
  272  such other factors deemed relevant by the division. For example,
  273  the division may consider whether the violations were committed
  274  by a developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer, or owner
  275  controlled association, the size of the association, and other
  276  factors. The guidelines must designate the possible mitigating
  277  or aggravating circumstances that justify a departure from the
  278  range of penalties provided by the rules. It is the legislative
  279  intent that minor violations be distinguished from those which
  280  endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the condominium
  281  residents or other persons and that such guidelines provide
  282  reasonable and meaningful notice to the public of likely
  283  penalties that may be imposed for proscribed conduct. This
  284  subsection does not limit the ability of the division to
  285  informally dispose of administrative actions or complaints by
  286  stipulation, agreed settlement, or consent order. All amounts
  287  collected shall be deposited with the Chief Financial Officer to
  288  the credit of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares,
  289  and Mobile Homes Trust Fund. If a developer, bulk assignee, or
  290  bulk buyer fails to pay the civil penalty and the amount deemed
  291  to be owed to the association, the division shall issue an order
  292  directing that such developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer
  293  cease and desist from further operation until such time as the
  294  civil penalty is paid or may pursue enforcement of the penalty
  295  in a court of competent jurisdiction. If an association fails to
  296  pay the civil penalty, the division shall pursue enforcement in
  297  a court of competent jurisdiction, and the order imposing the
  298  civil penalty or the cease and desist order is not effective
  299  until 20 days after the date of such order. Any action commenced
  300  by the division shall be brought in the county in which the
  301  division has its executive offices or in the county where the
  302  violation occurred.
  303         7. If a unit owner presents the division with proof that
  304  the unit owner has requested access to official records in
  305  writing by certified mail, and that after 10 days the unit owner
  306  again made the same request for access to official records in
  307  writing by certified mail, and that more than 10 days has
  308  elapsed since the second request and the association has still
  309  failed or refused to provide access to official records as
  310  required by this chapter, the division shall issue a subpoena
  311  requiring production of the requested records where the records
  312  are kept pursuant to s. 718.112.
  313         8. In addition to subparagraph 6., the division may seek
  314  the imposition of a civil penalty through the circuit court for
  315  any violation for which the division may issue a notice to show
  316  cause under paragraph (r). The civil penalty shall be at least
  317  $500 but no more than $5,000 for each violation. The court may
  318  also award to the prevailing party court costs and reasonable
  319  attorney fees and, if the division prevails, may also award
  320  reasonable costs of investigation.
  321         (e) The division may prepare and disseminate a prospectus
  322  and other information to assist prospective owners, purchasers,
  323  lessees, and developers of residential condominiums in assessing
  324  the rights, privileges, and duties pertaining thereto.
  325         (f) The division may adopt rules to administer and enforce
  326  this chapter.
  327         (g) The division shall establish procedures for providing
  328  notice to an association and the developer, bulk assignee, or
  329  bulk buyer during the period in which the developer, bulk
  330  assignee, or bulk buyer controls the association if the division
  331  is considering the issuance of a declaratory statement with
  332  respect to the declaration of condominium or any related
  333  document governing such condominium community.
  334         (h) The division shall furnish each association that pays
  335  the fees required by paragraph (2)(a) a copy of this chapter, as
  336  amended, and the rules adopted thereto on an annual basis.
  337         (i) The division shall annually provide each association
  338  with a summary of declaratory statements and formal legal
  339  opinions relating to the operations of condominiums which were
  340  rendered by the division during the previous year.
  341         (j) The division shall provide training and educational
  342  programs for condominium association board members and unit
  343  owners. The training may, in the division’s discretion, include
  344  web-based electronic media and live training and seminars in
  345  various locations throughout the state. The division may review
  346  and approve education and training programs for board members
  347  and unit owners offered by providers and shall maintain a
  348  current list of approved programs and providers and make such
  349  list available to board members and unit owners in a reasonable
  350  and cost-effective manner.
  351         (k) The division shall maintain a toll-free telephone
  352  number accessible to condominium unit owners.
  353         (l) The division shall develop a program to certify both
  354  volunteer and paid mediators to provide mediation of condominium
  355  disputes. The division shall provide, upon request, a list of
  356  such mediators to any association, unit owner, or other
  357  participant in alternative dispute resolution proceedings under
  358  s. 718.1255 requesting a copy of the list. The division shall
  359  include on the list of volunteer mediators only the names of
  360  persons who have received at least 20 hours of training in
  361  mediation techniques or who have mediated at least 20 disputes.
  362  In order to become initially certified by the division, paid
  363  mediators must be certified by the Supreme Court to mediate
  364  court cases in county or circuit courts. However, the division
  365  may adopt, by rule, additional factors for the certification of
  366  paid mediators, which must be related to experience, education,
  367  or background. Any person initially certified as a paid mediator
  368  by the division must, in order to continue to be certified,
  369  comply with the factors or requirements adopted by rule.
  370         (m) If a complaint is made, the division must conduct its
  371  inquiry with due regard for the interests of the affected
  372  parties. Within 30 days after receipt of a complaint, the
  373  division shall acknowledge the complaint in writing and notify
  374  the complainant whether the complaint is within the jurisdiction
  375  of the division and whether additional information is needed by
  376  the division from the complainant. The division shall conduct
  377  its investigation and, within 90 days after receipt of the
  378  original complaint or of timely requested additional
  379  information, take action upon the complaint. However, the
  380  failure to complete the investigation within 90 days does not
  381  prevent the division from continuing the investigation,
  382  accepting or considering evidence obtained or received after 90
  383  days, or taking administrative action if reasonable cause exists
  384  to believe that a violation of this chapter or a rule has
  385  occurred. If an investigation is not completed within the time
  386  limits established in this paragraph, the division shall, on a
  387  monthly basis, notify the complainant in writing of the status
  388  of the investigation. When reporting its action to the
  389  complainant, the division shall inform the complainant of any
  390  right to a hearing under ss. 120.569 and 120.57. The division
  391  may adopt rules regarding the submission of a complaint against
  392  an association.
  393         (n) Condominium association directors, officers, and
  394  employees; condominium developers; bulk assignees, bulk buyers,
  395  and community association managers; and community association
  396  management firms have an ongoing duty to reasonably cooperate
  397  with the division in any investigation under this section. The
  398  division shall refer to local law enforcement authorities any
  399  person whom the division believes has altered, destroyed,
  400  concealed, or removed any record, document, or thing required to
  401  be kept or maintained by this chapter with the purpose to impair
  402  its verity or availability in the department’s investigation.
  403         (o) The division may:
  404         1. Contract with agencies in this state or other
  405  jurisdictions to perform investigative functions; or
  406         2. Accept grants-in-aid from any source.
  407         (p) The division shall cooperate with similar agencies in
  408  other jurisdictions to establish uniform filing procedures and
  409  forms, public offering statements, advertising standards, and
  410  rules and common administrative practices.
  411         (q) The division shall consider notice to a developer, bulk
  412  assignee, or bulk buyer to be complete when it is delivered to
  413  the address of the developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer
  414  currently on file with the division.
  415         (r) In addition to its enforcement authority, the division
  416  may issue a notice to show cause, which must provide for a
  417  hearing, upon written request, in accordance with chapter 120.
  418         (s) The division shall submit to the Governor, the
  419  President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of
  420  Representatives, and the chairs of the legislative
  421  appropriations committees an annual report that includes, but
  422  need not be limited to, the number of training programs provided
  423  for condominium association board members and unit owners, the
  424  number of complaints received by type, the number and percent of
  425  complaints acknowledged in writing within 30 days and the number
  426  and percent of investigations acted upon within 90 days in
  427  accordance with paragraph (m), and the number of investigations
  428  exceeding the 90-day requirement. The annual report must also
  429  include an evaluation of the division’s core business processes
  430  and make recommendations for improvements, including statutory
  431  changes. The report shall be submitted by September 30 following
  432  the end of the fiscal year.
  433         Section 6. Subsection (10) of section 718.5012, Florida
  434  Statutes, is amended, and subsections (11), (12), and (13) are
  435  added to that section, to read:
  436         718.5012 Ombudsman; powers and duties.—The ombudsman shall
  437  have the powers that are necessary to carry out the duties of
  438  his or her office, including the following specific powers:
  439         (10) To appoint an election monitor to attend the annual
  440  meeting of the unit owners and conduct the election of directors
  441  if 15 percent of the total voting interests in a condominium
  442  association, or six owners, whichever is greater, make such a
  443  petition to the ombudsman Fifteen percent of the total voting
  444  interests in a condominium association, or six unit owners,
  445  whichever is greater, may petition the ombudsman to appoint an
  446  election monitor to attend the annual meeting of the unit owners
  447  and conduct the election of directors. The ombudsman shall
  448  appoint a division employee, a person or persons specializing in
  449  condominium election monitoring, or an attorney licensed to
  450  practice in this state as the election monitor. All costs
  451  associated with the election monitoring process shall be paid by
  452  the association. The division shall adopt a rule establishing
  453  procedures for the appointment of election monitors and the
  454  scope and extent of the monitor’s role in the election process.
  455         (11)To void an election if the ombudsman determines that a
  456  violation of this chapter has occurred relating to condominium
  457  elections.
  458         (12)To petition the court to appoint a receiver if the
  459  appointment of a receiver is in the best interests of the
  460  association or owners.
  461         (13)To issue subpoenas and conduct audits for
  462  investigations for the purposes of the Condominium and
  463  Homeowners’ Association Economic Crime, Fraud, and Corruption
  464  Investigation Pilot Program established under s. 16.0151.
  465         Section 7. Subsection (2) of section 718.509, Florida
  466  Statutes, is amended to read:
  467         718.509 Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and
  468  Mobile Homes Trust Fund.—
  469         (2) All moneys collected by the division from fees, fines,
  470  or penalties or from costs awarded to the division by a court or
  471  administrative final order must shall be paid into the Division
  472  of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes Trust
  473  Fund. The Legislature shall appropriate funds from this trust
  474  fund sufficient to administer carry out the provisions of this
  475  chapter and the provisions of law with respect to each category
  476  of business covered by the trust fund. The division shall
  477  maintain separate revenue accounts in the trust fund for each of
  478  the businesses regulated by the division. The division shall
  479  provide for the proportionate allocation among the accounts of
  480  expenses incurred by the division in the performance of its
  481  duties with respect to each of these businesses. As part of its
  482  normal budgetary process, the division shall prepare an annual
  483  report of revenue and allocated expenses related to the
  484  operation of each of these businesses, which may be used to
  485  determine fees charged by the division. This subsection shall
  486  operate pursuant to the provisions of s. 215.20.
  487         Section 8. Section 720.319, Florida Statutes, is created to
  488  read:
  489         720.319 Office of the Homeowners’ Association Ombudsman.—
  491         (a) There is created the Office of the Homeowners’
  492  Association Ombudsman to be located, for administrative
  493  purposes, within the Department of Business and Professional
  494  Regulation. The functions of the office shall be funded by the
  495  General Appropriations Act.
  496         (b) The Governor shall appoint the ombudsman. The ombudsman
  497  must be an attorney admitted to practice before the Florida
  498  Supreme Court and shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
  499  The ombudsman, an officer, or a full-time employee of the office
  500  may not actively engage in any other business or profession that
  501  directly or indirectly relates to or conflicts with his or her
  502  work in the office; serve as the representative or an executive,
  503  officer, or employee of any political party, executive
  504  committee, or other governing body of a political party; receive
  505  remuneration for activities on behalf of any candidate for
  506  public office; or engage in soliciting votes or other activities
  507  on behalf of a candidate for public office. The ombudsman, an
  508  officer, or a full-time employee of the office may not become a
  509  candidate for election to public office unless he or she first
  510  resigns from his or her office or employment.
  511         (c) The ombudsman shall maintain his or her principal
  512  office at a location convenient to the department, which will
  513  enable the ombudsman to expeditiously carry out the duties and
  514  functions of his or her office. The ombudsman may establish
  515  branch offices elsewhere in this state upon the concurrence of
  516  the Governor.
  517         (2) POWERS AND DUTIES.—The ombudsman has the powers
  518  necessary to carry out the duties of his or her office,
  519  including, but not limited to:
  520         (a)Having access to and use of all files and records of
  521  the division.
  522         (b) Employing professional and clerical staff as necessary
  523  for the efficient operation of the office.
  524         (c) Preparing and issuing reports and recommendations to
  525  the Governor, the department, the President of the Senate, and
  526  the Speaker of the House of Representatives on any matter or
  527  subject within the jurisdiction of this chapter.
  528         (d) Acting as a liaison between the department, parcel
  529  owners, boards of directors, board members, community
  530  association managers, and other affected parties. The ombudsman
  531  shall develop policies and procedures to assist parcel owners,
  532  boards of directors, board members, community association
  533  managers, and other affected parties in understanding their
  534  rights and responsibilities as set forth in this chapter and in
  535  the governing documents of their respective associations. The
  536  ombudsman shall coordinate and assist in the preparation and
  537  adoption of educational and reference materials and shall
  538  endeavor to coordinate with private or volunteer providers of
  539  such services so that the availability of such resources is made
  540  known to the largest possible audience.
  541         (e) Monitoring and reviewing procedures and disputes
  542  concerning association elections or meetings, including, but not
  543  limited to, recommending that the division pursue enforcement
  544  action in any manner if there is reasonable cause to believe
  545  that election misconduct has occurred, as well as reviewing
  546  secret ballots cast at a vote of the association.
  547         (f)Making recommendations to the division for changes in
  548  rules and procedures for the filing, investigation, and
  549  resolution of complaints filed by parcel owners, associations,
  550  or managers.
  551         (g) Providing resources to assist members of boards of
  552  directors and officers of associations to carry out their powers
  553  and duties consistent with this chapter and the governing
  554  documents of their respective associations.
  555         (h) Encouraging and facilitating voluntary meetings between
  556  parcel owners, boards of directors, board members, community
  557  association managers, and other affected parties when the
  558  meetings may assist in resolving a dispute within a homeowners’
  559  association before a person submits a dispute for a formal or
  560  administrative remedy. The ombudsman shall act as a neutral
  561  resource for the rights and responsibilities of parcel owners,
  562  associations, and board members.
  563         (i) Assisting with the resolution of disputes between
  564  parcel owners and the association, or between parcel owners, if
  565  applicable.
  566         (j) Appointing an election monitor.
  567         (k) Issuing subpoenas and conducting audits for
  568  investigations for the purposes of the Condominium and
  569  Homeowners’ Association Economic Crime, Fraud, and Corruption
  570  Investigation Pilot Program established under s. 16.0151.
  572  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
  573  And the title is amended as follows:
  574         Delete lines 3 - 40
  575  and insert:
  576         16.0151, F.S.; creating the Condominium and
  577         Homeowners’ Association Economic Crime, Fraud, and
  578         Corruption Investigation Pilot Program within the
  579         Department of Legal Affairs in the Office of the
  580         Attorney General; providing the purpose of the pilot
  581         program; authorizing the department to contract with a
  582         private entity to achieve the program’s purpose;
  583         requiring the department to hire specified personnel
  584         under certain circumstances; authorizing the
  585         submission of complaints to the Office of the
  586         Condominium Ombudsman or the Office of the Homeowners’
  587         Association Ombudsman; requiring the ombudsman to
  588         review such complaints and take specified actions;
  589         providing powers of and requirements for the
  590         department relating to the pilot program; requiring
  591         that the pilot program be funded from the Division of
  592         Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
  593         Trust Fund; requiring that the pilot program’s primary
  594         office be located in Miami-Dade County; providing for
  595         future repeal of the pilot program unless it is
  596         reviewed and saved from repeal by the Legislature;
  597         amending s. 215.22, F.S.; exempting the Division of
  598         Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
  599         Trust Fund from contributing to the General Revenue
  600         Fund; amending s. 718.111, F.S.; requiring the
  601         division to monitor condominium associations’
  602         compliance with requirements relating to maintenance
  603         of certain insurance or fidelity bonding of certain
  604         persons; authorizing the division to issue fines and
  605         penalties for noncompliance; creating s. 718.13, F.S.;
  606         requiring the division to establish a searchable
  607         cloud-based database by a specified date which
  608         contains specified information regarding each
  609         condominium association in this state; requiring a
  610         condominium association to notify the division of any
  611         changes to the information related to the association
  612         which is listed in the database; requiring that the
  613         creation and administration of the database be funded
  614         in part by specified proceeds; amending s. 718.501,
  615         F.S.; requiring the division to forward complaints
  616         received alleging fraud or corruption to the Office of
  617         the Condominium Ombudsman or the Office of the
  618         Homeowners’ Association Ombudsman; amending s.
  619         718.5012, F.S.;