By Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. / Published January 2018
By July 1, 2018, a Florida condominium association with 150 or more units which does not manage timeshare units must have either an independent website or web portal wholly owned and operated by the association, or a website or web portal operated by a third-party provider.
Creating an in-house website may prove to be too daunting for all but the biggest and most technologically sophisticated communities, which means most Florida associations will contract with a third-party provider for their website.
Many management companies provide their association clients with a web page or website to facilitate owner payments and distribution of association information. These websites can be quite useful. However, under this new law, an association could be thrown into violation status if a change in management or a payment dispute with their management company results in their web portal being shut down, even for just a short period of time. Most management company agreements specify that the association web page or website provided belongs to the management company and not to the association. As such, your board may wish to establish its own independent website (even in addition to the one provided by your management company) to prevent any interruption in service and, thus, violation of the statute. Another alternative is to negotiate ownership of the association website in your agreement with your management company.
If your Florida condominium association consists of 150 or more units, you now must start evaluating your options for compliance. If you have a website provided by your management company, you must review your agreement to confirm whether or not that website is owned by your association or by the management company. What does your agreement provide in terms of transition of your website content in the event you or the management company terminates your agreement? If your association currently has its own website independent of your management company, do you have a content management system (CMS) for that website, or do you rely on a website designer to upload your content? If the answer is the latter, you must review that protocol with your webmaster as association documentation must be uploaded in a timely fashion to your website in order to comply with the new law.
If your condominium association has 150 or more units and you do not have any website at this time, you have a lot of work to do in the coming months. The starting point is to organize your association documents into a digital format for ease of uploading to your future website.
The association must post the following documents on its website:
The association must ensure that privileged information and privileged records are not posted on the association’s website. If protected information or information restricted from being accessible to unit owners is included in documents that are otherwise required to be posted on the association’s website, the association must be sure to redact the privileged content before posting the documents online.
The association’s website must be accessible through the internet and must contain a password-protected section that is inaccessible to the general public and accessible only to unit owners and employees of the association. Upon a unit owner’s written request, the association must provide the unit owner with a username and password and access to the protected sections of the association’s website that contain any notices, records, or documents that must be electronically provided.
In a highly functioning community, a website is just another technological tool along with online voting and electronic transmission of meeting notices which can make a board’s job easier and the members’ experience more positive.
Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.
Becker & Poliakoff
Donna DiMaggio Berger is a Shareholder at the community association law firm of Becker & Poliakoff and has represented all types of shared ownership communities throughout Florida. Berger is a member of the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), a prestigious national organization which acknowledges community association attorneys who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the evolution or practice of community association law and who have committed themselves to high standards of professional and ethical conduct in the practice of community association law. Berger can be reached at (954) 364-6031 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.