Florida Senate - 2024                              CS for SB 426
       By the Committee on Regulated Industries; and Senators Garcia
       and Jones
       580-02896-24                                           2024426c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to community associations; creating s.
    3         16.0151, F.S.; creating the Condominium and
    4         Homeowners’ Association Economic Crime, Fraud, and
    5         Corruption Investigation Pilot Program within the
    6         Department of Legal Affairs in the Office of the
    7         Attorney General; providing the purpose of the pilot
    8         program; defining the term “corruption”; authorizing
    9         the department to contract with a private entity to
   10         achieve the program’s purpose; requiring the
   11         department to hire specified personnel under certain
   12         circumstances; authorizing the submission of
   13         complaints to the Office of the Condominium and
   14         Homeowners’ Ombudsman; requiring the ombudsman to
   15         review such complaints and take specified actions;
   16         providing powers of and requirements for the
   17         department relating to the pilot program; requiring
   18         that the pilot program be funded from the Division of
   19         Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
   20         Trust Fund; requiring that the pilot program’s primary
   21         office be located in Miami-Dade County; providing for
   22         future repeal of the pilot program unless it is
   23         reviewed and saved from repeal by the Legislature;
   24         amending s. 215.22, F.S.; exempting the Division of
   25         Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
   26         Trust Fund from contributing to the General Revenue
   27         Fund; amending s. 718.111, F.S.; requiring the
   28         division to monitor condominium associations’
   29         compliance with requirements relating to maintenance
   30         of certain insurance or fidelity bonding of certain
   31         persons; authorizing the division to issue fines and
   32         penalties for noncompliance; creating s. 718.13, F.S.;
   33         requiring the division to establish a searchable
   34         cloud-based database by a specified date which
   35         contains specified information regarding each
   36         condominium association in this state; requiring the
   37         division to establish rules and procedures for
   38         associations to report such information; requiring a
   39         condominium association to notify the division of any
   40         changes to the information related to the association
   41         which is listed in the database; requiring that the
   42         creation and administration of the database be funded
   43         in part by specified proceeds; amending s. 718.501,
   44         F.S.; requiring the division to forward complaints
   45         received alleging fraud or corruption to the Office of
   46         the Condominium and Homeowners’ Ombudsman; amending s.
   47         718.5011, F.S.; renaming the Office of the Condominium
   48         Ombudsman as the Office of the Condominium and
   49         Homeowners’ Ombudsman; amending s. 718.5012, F.S.;
   50         revising the powers of the ombudsman; amending s.
   51         718.509, F.S.; conforming a provision to changes made
   52         by the act; making technical changes; providing an
   53         effective date.
   55  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   57         Section 1. Section 16.0151, Florida Statutes, is created to
   58  read:
   59         16.0151 Condominium and Homeowners’ Association Economic
   60  Crime, Fraud, and Corruption Investigation Pilot Program.—
   61         (1) The Condominium and Homeowners’ Association Economic
   62  Crime, Fraud, and Corruption Investigation Pilot Program is
   63  created within the Department of Legal Affairs, Office of the
   64  Attorney General. The purpose of the pilot program is to
   65  investigate condominium and homeowners’ association-related
   66  economic crime, fraud, and corruption in this state. For the
   67  purposes of this section, the term “corruption” means the act of
   68  an official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully
   69  uses his or her position to procure some benefit for himself or
   70  herself or for another person, contrary to the duty and rights
   71  of others. The department may contract with a private entity
   72  that employs retired law enforcement officers who have subject
   73  matter expertise in financial fraud to achieve the purpose of
   74  the pilot program. If the department does not contract with a
   75  private entity, the department must hire a suitable number of
   76  financial investigators, investigators with previous law
   77  enforcement experience, and clerical employees to staff the
   78  pilot program.
   79         (2) A person may submit a condominium or homeowners’
   80  association-related complaint to the Office of the Condominium
   81  and Homeowners’ Ombudsman. The ombudsman shall review all
   82  complaints submitted to the office and determine which
   83  complaints to forward to the department for additional analysis
   84  and investigation under the pilot program. If a complaint
   85  submitted to the pilot program does not contain allegations of
   86  economic crimes, fraud, or corruption, the task force must
   87  forward the complaint to the Division of Florida Condominiums,
   88  Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, which shall investigate claims
   89  made pursuant to s. 718.501.
   90         (3) The department has the power to issue subpoenas and
   91  conduct audits for investigations in furtherance of the pilot
   92  program, and may administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and
   93  compel production of books, papers, or other records relevant to
   94  such investigations. If, after reviewing a complaint filed under
   95  the pilot program, the department finds sufficient evidence for
   96  criminal prosecution, it must refer the case to the appropriate
   97  state attorney for prosecution.
   98         (4) The department shall fund the pilot program from the
   99  Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
  100  Trust Fund as specifically appropriated annually in the General
  101  Appropriations Act.
  102         (5) The pilot program’s primary office shall be located in
  103  Miami-Dade County.
  104         (6) This section is repealed October 2, 2029, unless
  105  reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the
  106  Legislature.
  107         Section 2. Paragraph (w) is added to subsection (1) of
  108  section 215.22, Florida Statutes, to read:
  109         215.22 Certain income and certain trust funds exempt.—
  110         (1) The following income of a revenue nature or the
  111  following trust funds shall be exempt from the appropriation
  112  required by s. 215.20(1):
  113         (w) The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and
  114  Mobile Homes Trust Fund.
  115         Section 3. Paragraph (h) of subsection (11) of section
  116  718.111, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  117         718.111 The association.—
  118         (11) INSURANCE.—In order to protect the safety, health, and
  119  welfare of the people of the State of Florida and to ensure
  120  consistency in the provision of insurance coverage to
  121  condominiums and their unit owners, this subsection applies to
  122  every residential condominium in the state, regardless of the
  123  date of its declaration of condominium. It is the intent of the
  124  Legislature to encourage lower or stable insurance premiums for
  125  associations described in this subsection.
  126         (h) The association shall maintain insurance or fidelity
  127  bonding of all persons who control or disburse funds of the
  128  association. The insurance policy or fidelity bond must cover
  129  the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association
  130  or its management agent at any one time. The division shall
  131  monitor compliance with this paragraph and may issue fines and
  132  penalties established by the division for failure of an
  133  association to maintain the required insurance policy or
  134  fidelity bond. As used in this paragraph, the term “persons who
  135  control or disburse funds of the association” includes, but is
  136  not limited to, those individuals authorized to sign checks on
  137  behalf of the association, and the president, secretary, and
  138  treasurer of the association. The association shall bear the
  139  cost of any such bonding.
  140         Section 4. Section 718.13, Florida Statutes, is created to
  141  read:
  142         718.13 Database for condominium association information.—
  143         (1) By July 1, 2026, the division shall establish a
  144  searchable cloud-based database that contains information
  145  regarding each condominium association operating within this
  146  state. The division shall establish rules and procedures for how
  147  an association is to provide such information. The database must
  148  allow a user to search the name by which a condominium property
  149  is identified to find the association that governs such
  150  property. At a minimum, the database must include all of the
  151  following information for each association:
  152         (a) The names, e-mail addresses, and other contact
  153  information of officers and directors of the association.
  154         (b) An indication that the association is self-managed, or,
  155  if not self-managed, the contact information for any person
  156  licensed under part VIII of chapter 468 and responsible for
  157  management of the association.
  158         (c) A copy of the association’s governing documents,
  159  including, but not limited to, declarations, bylaws, and rules
  160  and any amendments thereto.
  161         (d) A copy of the association’s adopted annual budget, in a
  162  file format that is compatible with the database, which includes
  163  the amount and purpose of any monthly assessments and current or
  164  pending special assessments levied by the association.
  165         (e) A copy of any studies regarding funds in reserve
  166  accounts held by the association or any reports regarding the
  167  physical inspection of properties maintained by the association,
  168  including any structural integrity reserve studies conducted
  169  under s. 718.112(2)(g) of such properties.
  170         (2) An association must notify the division of any changes
  171  to the information related to the association which is included
  172  in the database within 30 days after such changes occur.
  173         (3) Expenses associated with the creation and
  174  administration of the database must be funded in part by
  175  proceeds from the annual fee paid by associations pursuant to s.
  176  718.501(2)(a).
  177         Section 5. Subsection (1) of section 718.501, Florida
  178  Statutes, is amended to read:
  179         718.501 Authority, responsibility, and duties of Division
  180  of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes.—
  181         (1) The division may enforce and ensure compliance with
  182  this chapter and rules relating to the development,
  183  construction, sale, lease, ownership, operation, and management
  184  of residential condominium units and complaints related to the
  185  procedural completion of milestone inspections under s. 553.899.
  186  In performing its duties, the division has complete jurisdiction
  187  to investigate complaints and enforce compliance with respect to
  188  associations that are still under developer control or the
  189  control of a bulk assignee or bulk buyer pursuant to part VII of
  190  this chapter and complaints against developers, bulk assignees,
  191  or bulk buyers involving improper turnover or failure to
  192  turnover, pursuant to s. 718.301. However, after turnover has
  193  occurred, the division has jurisdiction to investigate
  194  complaints related only to financial issues, elections, and the
  195  maintenance of and unit owner access to association records
  196  under s. 718.111(12), and the procedural completion of
  197  structural integrity reserve studies under s. 718.112(2)(g). If
  198  the division receives a complaint about an association which
  199  alleges economic crimes, fraud, or corruption, the division must
  200  forward the complaint to the Office of the Condominium and
  201  Homeowners’ Ombudsman, pursuant to s. 16.0151.
  202         (a)1. The division may make necessary public or private
  203  investigations within or outside this state to determine whether
  204  any person has violated this chapter or any rule or order
  205  hereunder, to aid in the enforcement of this chapter, or to aid
  206  in the adoption of rules or forms.
  207         2. The division may submit any official written report,
  208  worksheet, or other related paper, or a duly certified copy
  209  thereof, compiled, prepared, drafted, or otherwise made by and
  210  duly authenticated by a financial examiner or analyst to be
  211  admitted as competent evidence in any hearing in which the
  212  financial examiner or analyst is available for cross-examination
  213  and attests under oath that such documents were prepared as a
  214  result of an examination or inspection conducted pursuant to
  215  this chapter.
  216         (b) The division may require or permit any person to file a
  217  statement in writing, under oath or otherwise, as the division
  218  determines, as to the facts and circumstances concerning a
  219  matter to be investigated.
  220         (c) For the purpose of any investigation under this
  221  chapter, the division director or any officer or employee
  222  designated by the division director may administer oaths or
  223  affirmations, subpoena witnesses and compel their attendance,
  224  take evidence, and require the production of any matter which is
  225  relevant to the investigation, including the existence,
  226  description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any
  227  books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and
  228  location of persons having knowledge of relevant facts or any
  229  other matter reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of
  230  material evidence. Upon the failure by a person to obey a
  231  subpoena or to answer questions propounded by the investigating
  232  officer and upon reasonable notice to all affected persons, the
  233  division may apply to the circuit court for an order compelling
  234  compliance.
  235         (d) Notwithstanding any remedies available to unit owners
  236  and associations, if the division has reasonable cause to
  237  believe that a violation of any provision of this chapter or
  238  related rule has occurred, the division may institute
  239  enforcement proceedings in its own name against any developer,
  240  bulk assignee, bulk buyer, association, officer, or member of
  241  the board of administration, or its assignees or agents, as
  242  follows:
  243         1. The division may permit a person whose conduct or
  244  actions may be under investigation to waive formal proceedings
  245  and enter into a consent proceeding whereby orders, rules, or
  246  letters of censure or warning, whether formal or informal, may
  247  be entered against the person.
  248         2. The division may issue an order requiring the developer,
  249  bulk assignee, bulk buyer, association, developer-designated
  250  officer, or developer-designated member of the board of
  251  administration, developer-designated assignees or agents, bulk
  252  assignee-designated assignees or agents, bulk buyer-designated
  253  assignees or agents, community association manager, or community
  254  association management firm to cease and desist from the
  255  unlawful practice and take such affirmative action as in the
  256  judgment of the division carry out the purposes of this chapter.
  257  If the division finds that a developer, bulk assignee, bulk
  258  buyer, association, officer, or member of the board of
  259  administration, or its assignees or agents, is violating or is
  260  about to violate any provision of this chapter, any rule adopted
  261  or order issued by the division, or any written agreement
  262  entered into with the division, and presents an immediate danger
  263  to the public requiring an immediate final order, it may issue
  264  an emergency cease and desist order reciting with particularity
  265  the facts underlying such findings. The emergency cease and
  266  desist order is effective for 90 days. If the division begins
  267  nonemergency cease and desist proceedings, the emergency cease
  268  and desist order remains effective until the conclusion of the
  269  proceedings under ss. 120.569 and 120.57.
  270         3. If a developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer fails to
  271  pay any restitution determined by the division to be owed, plus
  272  any accrued interest at the highest rate permitted by law,
  273  within 30 days after expiration of any appellate time period of
  274  a final order requiring payment of restitution or the conclusion
  275  of any appeal thereof, whichever is later, the division must
  276  bring an action in circuit or county court on behalf of any
  277  association, class of unit owners, lessees, or purchasers for
  278  restitution, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, or any other
  279  available remedy. The division may also temporarily revoke its
  280  acceptance of the filing for the developer to which the
  281  restitution relates until payment of restitution is made.
  282         4. The division may petition the court for appointment of a
  283  receiver or conservator. If appointed, the receiver or
  284  conservator may take action to implement the court order to
  285  ensure the performance of the order and to remedy any breach
  286  thereof. In addition to all other means provided by law for the
  287  enforcement of an injunction or temporary restraining order, the
  288  circuit court may impound or sequester the property of a party
  289  defendant, including books, papers, documents, and related
  290  records, and allow the examination and use of the property by
  291  the division and a court-appointed receiver or conservator.
  292         5. The division may apply to the circuit court for an order
  293  of restitution whereby the defendant in an action brought under
  294  subparagraph 4. is ordered to make restitution of those sums
  295  shown by the division to have been obtained by the defendant in
  296  violation of this chapter. At the option of the court, such
  297  restitution is payable to the conservator or receiver appointed
  298  under subparagraph 4. or directly to the persons whose funds or
  299  assets were obtained in violation of this chapter.
  300         6. The division may impose a civil penalty against a
  301  developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer, or association, or its
  302  assignee or agent, for any violation of this chapter or related
  303  rule. The division may impose a civil penalty individually
  304  against an officer or board member who willfully and knowingly
  305  violates this chapter, an adopted rule, or a final order of the
  306  division; may order the removal of such individual as an officer
  307  or from the board of administration or as an officer of the
  308  association; and may prohibit such individual from serving as an
  309  officer or on the board of a community association for a period
  310  of time. The term “willfully and knowingly” means that the
  311  division informed the officer or board member that his or her
  312  action or intended action violates this chapter, a rule adopted
  313  under this chapter, or a final order of the division and that
  314  the officer or board member refused to comply with the
  315  requirements of this chapter, a rule adopted under this chapter,
  316  or a final order of the division. The division, before
  317  initiating formal agency action under chapter 120, must afford
  318  the officer or board member an opportunity to voluntarily
  319  comply, and an officer or board member who complies within 10
  320  days is not subject to a civil penalty. A penalty may be imposed
  321  on the basis of each day of continuing violation, but the
  322  penalty for any offense may not exceed $5,000. The division
  323  shall adopt, by rule, penalty guidelines applicable to possible
  324  violations or to categories of violations of this chapter or
  325  rules adopted by the division. The guidelines must specify a
  326  meaningful range of civil penalties for each such violation of
  327  the statute and rules and must be based upon the harm caused by
  328  the violation, upon the repetition of the violation, and upon
  329  such other factors deemed relevant by the division. For example,
  330  the division may consider whether the violations were committed
  331  by a developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer, or owner
  332  controlled association, the size of the association, and other
  333  factors. The guidelines must designate the possible mitigating
  334  or aggravating circumstances that justify a departure from the
  335  range of penalties provided by the rules. It is the legislative
  336  intent that minor violations be distinguished from those which
  337  endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the condominium
  338  residents or other persons and that such guidelines provide
  339  reasonable and meaningful notice to the public of likely
  340  penalties that may be imposed for proscribed conduct. This
  341  subsection does not limit the ability of the division to
  342  informally dispose of administrative actions or complaints by
  343  stipulation, agreed settlement, or consent order. All amounts
  344  collected shall be deposited with the Chief Financial Officer to
  345  the credit of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares,
  346  and Mobile Homes Trust Fund. If a developer, bulk assignee, or
  347  bulk buyer fails to pay the civil penalty and the amount deemed
  348  to be owed to the association, the division shall issue an order
  349  directing that such developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer
  350  cease and desist from further operation until such time as the
  351  civil penalty is paid or may pursue enforcement of the penalty
  352  in a court of competent jurisdiction. If an association fails to
  353  pay the civil penalty, the division shall pursue enforcement in
  354  a court of competent jurisdiction, and the order imposing the
  355  civil penalty or the cease and desist order is not effective
  356  until 20 days after the date of such order. Any action commenced
  357  by the division shall be brought in the county in which the
  358  division has its executive offices or in the county where the
  359  violation occurred.
  360         7. If a unit owner presents the division with proof that
  361  the unit owner has requested access to official records in
  362  writing by certified mail, and that after 10 days the unit owner
  363  again made the same request for access to official records in
  364  writing by certified mail, and that more than 10 days has
  365  elapsed since the second request and the association has still
  366  failed or refused to provide access to official records as
  367  required by this chapter, the division shall issue a subpoena
  368  requiring production of the requested records where the records
  369  are kept pursuant to s. 718.112.
  370         8. In addition to subparagraph 6., the division may seek
  371  the imposition of a civil penalty through the circuit court for
  372  any violation for which the division may issue a notice to show
  373  cause under paragraph (r). The civil penalty shall be at least
  374  $500 but no more than $5,000 for each violation. The court may
  375  also award to the prevailing party court costs and reasonable
  376  attorney fees and, if the division prevails, may also award
  377  reasonable costs of investigation.
  378         (e) The division may prepare and disseminate a prospectus
  379  and other information to assist prospective owners, purchasers,
  380  lessees, and developers of residential condominiums in assessing
  381  the rights, privileges, and duties pertaining thereto.
  382         (f) The division may adopt rules to administer and enforce
  383  this chapter.
  384         (g) The division shall establish procedures for providing
  385  notice to an association and the developer, bulk assignee, or
  386  bulk buyer during the period in which the developer, bulk
  387  assignee, or bulk buyer controls the association if the division
  388  is considering the issuance of a declaratory statement with
  389  respect to the declaration of condominium or any related
  390  document governing such condominium community.
  391         (h) The division shall furnish each association that pays
  392  the fees required by paragraph (2)(a) a copy of this chapter, as
  393  amended, and the rules adopted thereto on an annual basis.
  394         (i) The division shall annually provide each association
  395  with a summary of declaratory statements and formal legal
  396  opinions relating to the operations of condominiums which were
  397  rendered by the division during the previous year.
  398         (j) The division shall provide training and educational
  399  programs for condominium association board members and unit
  400  owners. The training may, in the division’s discretion, include
  401  web-based electronic media and live training and seminars in
  402  various locations throughout the state. The division may review
  403  and approve education and training programs for board members
  404  and unit owners offered by providers and shall maintain a
  405  current list of approved programs and providers and make such
  406  list available to board members and unit owners in a reasonable
  407  and cost-effective manner.
  408         (k) The division shall maintain a toll-free telephone
  409  number accessible to condominium unit owners.
  410         (l) The division shall develop a program to certify both
  411  volunteer and paid mediators to provide mediation of condominium
  412  disputes. The division shall provide, upon request, a list of
  413  such mediators to any association, unit owner, or other
  414  participant in alternative dispute resolution proceedings under
  415  s. 718.1255 requesting a copy of the list. The division shall
  416  include on the list of volunteer mediators only the names of
  417  persons who have received at least 20 hours of training in
  418  mediation techniques or who have mediated at least 20 disputes.
  419  In order to become initially certified by the division, paid
  420  mediators must be certified by the Supreme Court to mediate
  421  court cases in county or circuit courts. However, the division
  422  may adopt, by rule, additional factors for the certification of
  423  paid mediators, which must be related to experience, education,
  424  or background. Any person initially certified as a paid mediator
  425  by the division must, in order to continue to be certified,
  426  comply with the factors or requirements adopted by rule.
  427         (m) If a complaint is made, the division must conduct its
  428  inquiry with due regard for the interests of the affected
  429  parties. Within 30 days after receipt of a complaint, the
  430  division shall acknowledge the complaint in writing and notify
  431  the complainant whether the complaint is within the jurisdiction
  432  of the division and whether additional information is needed by
  433  the division from the complainant. The division shall conduct
  434  its investigation and, within 90 days after receipt of the
  435  original complaint or of timely requested additional
  436  information, take action upon the complaint. However, the
  437  failure to complete the investigation within 90 days does not
  438  prevent the division from continuing the investigation,
  439  accepting or considering evidence obtained or received after 90
  440  days, or taking administrative action if reasonable cause exists
  441  to believe that a violation of this chapter or a rule has
  442  occurred. If an investigation is not completed within the time
  443  limits established in this paragraph, the division shall, on a
  444  monthly basis, notify the complainant in writing of the status
  445  of the investigation. When reporting its action to the
  446  complainant, the division shall inform the complainant of any
  447  right to a hearing under ss. 120.569 and 120.57. The division
  448  may adopt rules regarding the submission of a complaint against
  449  an association.
  450         (n) Condominium association directors, officers, and
  451  employees; condominium developers; bulk assignees, bulk buyers,
  452  and community association managers; and community association
  453  management firms have an ongoing duty to reasonably cooperate
  454  with the division in any investigation under this section. The
  455  division shall refer to local law enforcement authorities any
  456  person whom the division believes has altered, destroyed,
  457  concealed, or removed any record, document, or thing required to
  458  be kept or maintained by this chapter with the purpose to impair
  459  its verity or availability in the department’s investigation.
  460         (o) The division may:
  461         1. Contract with agencies in this state or other
  462  jurisdictions to perform investigative functions; or
  463         2. Accept grants-in-aid from any source.
  464         (p) The division shall cooperate with similar agencies in
  465  other jurisdictions to establish uniform filing procedures and
  466  forms, public offering statements, advertising standards, and
  467  rules and common administrative practices.
  468         (q) The division shall consider notice to a developer, bulk
  469  assignee, or bulk buyer to be complete when it is delivered to
  470  the address of the developer, bulk assignee, or bulk buyer
  471  currently on file with the division.
  472         (r) In addition to its enforcement authority, the division
  473  may issue a notice to show cause, which must provide for a
  474  hearing, upon written request, in accordance with chapter 120.
  475         (s) The division shall submit to the Governor, the
  476  President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of
  477  Representatives, and the chairs of the legislative
  478  appropriations committees an annual report that includes, but
  479  need not be limited to, the number of training programs provided
  480  for condominium association board members and unit owners, the
  481  number of complaints received by type, the number and percent of
  482  complaints acknowledged in writing within 30 days and the number
  483  and percent of investigations acted upon within 90 days in
  484  accordance with paragraph (m), and the number of investigations
  485  exceeding the 90-day requirement. The annual report must also
  486  include an evaluation of the division’s core business processes
  487  and make recommendations for improvements, including statutory
  488  changes. The report shall be submitted by September 30 following
  489  the end of the fiscal year.
  490         Section 6. Subsection (1) of section 718.5011, Florida
  491  Statutes, is amended to read:
  492         718.5011 Ombudsman; appointment; administration.—
  493         (1) There is created an Office of the Condominium and
  494  Homeowners’ Ombudsman, to be located for administrative purposes
  495  within the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and
  496  Mobile Homes. The functions of the office shall be funded by the
  497  Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes
  498  Trust Fund. The ombudsman shall be a bureau chief of the
  499  division, and the office shall be set within the division in the
  500  same manner as any other bureau is staffed and funded.
  501         Section 7. Subsections (3) through (10) of section
  502  718.5012, Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsections (11),
  503  (12), and (13) are added to that section, to read:
  504         718.5012 Ombudsman; powers and duties.—The ombudsman shall
  505  have the powers that are necessary to carry out the duties of
  506  his or her office for this chapter and chapter 720, including
  507  the following specific powers:
  508         (3) To prepare and issue reports and recommendations to the
  509  Governor, the department, the division, the Advisory Council on
  510  Condominiums, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of
  511  the House of Representatives on any matter or subject within the
  512  jurisdiction of the division. The ombudsman shall make
  513  recommendations he or she deems appropriate for legislation
  514  relative to division procedures, rules, jurisdiction, personnel,
  515  and functions.
  516         (4) To act as liaison between the division, unit owners,
  517  boards of directors, board members, community association
  518  managers, and other affected parties under this chapter and
  519  chapter 720. The ombudsman shall develop policies and procedures
  520  to assist homeowners, unit owners, boards of directors, board
  521  members, community association managers, and other affected
  522  parties to understand their rights and responsibilities as set
  523  forth in this chapter and the condominium documents governing
  524  their respective associations association. The ombudsman shall
  525  coordinate and assist in the preparation and adoption of
  526  educational and reference material, and shall endeavor to
  527  coordinate with private or volunteer providers of these
  528  services, so that the availability of these resources is made
  529  known to the largest possible audience.
  530         (5) To monitor and review procedures and disputes
  531  concerning condominium elections or meetings, including, but not
  532  limited to, recommending that the division pursue enforcement
  533  action in any manner where there is reasonable cause to believe
  534  that election misconduct has occurred and reviewing secret
  535  ballots cast at a vote of the association.
  536         (6) To make recommendations to the division for changes in
  537  rules and procedures for the filing, investigation, and
  538  resolution of complaints filed by homeowners, unit owners,
  539  associations, and managers.
  540         (7) To provide resources to assist members of boards of
  541  directors and officers of associations to carry out their powers
  542  and duties consistent with this chapter, chapter 720, division
  543  rules, and the condominium documents governing the association.
  544         (8) To encourage and facilitate voluntary meetings with and
  545  between homeowners, unit owners, boards of directors, board
  546  members, community association managers, and other affected
  547  parties when the meetings may assist in resolving a dispute
  548  within a community association before a person submits a dispute
  549  for a formal or administrative remedy. It is the intent of the
  550  Legislature that the ombudsman act as a neutral resource for
  551  both the rights and responsibilities of homeowners, unit owners,
  552  associations, and board members.
  553         (9) To assist with the resolution of disputes between
  554  homeowners, unit owners, and the association or between
  555  homeowners or unit owners when the dispute is not within the
  556  jurisdiction of the division to resolve.
  557         (10) To appoint an election monitor to attend the annual
  558  meeting of the homeowner or unit owners and conduct the election
  559  of directors if 15 percent of the total voting interests in an
  560  association, or six owners, whichever is greater, make such a
  561  petition to the ombudsman Fifteen percent of the total voting
  562  interests in a condominium association, or six unit owners,
  563  whichever is greater, may petition the ombudsman to appoint an
  564  election monitor to attend the annual meeting of the unit owners
  565  and conduct the election of directors. The ombudsman shall
  566  appoint a division employee, a person or persons specializing in
  567  homeowners’ association or condominium election monitoring, as
  568  applicable, or an attorney licensed to practice in this state as
  569  the election monitor. All costs associated with the election
  570  monitoring process shall be paid by the association. The
  571  division shall adopt a rule establishing procedures for the
  572  appointment of election monitors and the scope and extent of the
  573  monitor’s role in the election process.
  574         (11)To void an election if the ombudsman determines that a
  575  violation of this chapter or chapter 720 has occurred relating
  576  to elections.
  577         (12)To petition the court to appoint a receiver if the
  578  appointment of a receiver is in the best interests of the
  579  association or owners.
  580         (13)To issue subpoenas and conduct audits for
  581  investigations for the purposes of the Condominium and
  582  Homeowners’ Association Economic Crime, Fraud, and Corruption
  583  Investigation Pilot Program established under s. 16.0151.
  584         Section 8. Subsection (2) of section 718.509, Florida
  585  Statutes, is amended to read:
  586         718.509 Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and
  587  Mobile Homes Trust Fund.—
  588         (2) All moneys collected by the division from fees, fines,
  589  or penalties or from costs awarded to the division by a court or
  590  administrative final order must shall be paid into the Division
  591  of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes Trust
  592  Fund. The Legislature shall appropriate funds from this trust
  593  fund sufficient to administer carry out the provisions of this
  594  chapter and the provisions of law with respect to each category
  595  of business covered by the trust fund. The division shall
  596  maintain separate revenue accounts in the trust fund for each of
  597  the businesses regulated by the division. The division shall
  598  provide for the proportionate allocation among the accounts of
  599  expenses incurred by the division in the performance of its
  600  duties with respect to each of these businesses. As part of its
  601  normal budgetary process, the division shall prepare an annual
  602  report of revenue and allocated expenses related to the
  603  operation of each of these businesses, which may be used to
  604  determine fees charged by the division. This subsection shall
  605  operate pursuant to the provisions of s. 215.20.
  606         Section 9. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.