FCAP Community—January 2021

FCAP Community

Published January 2021

     Florida Community Association Professionals’ (FCAP) training is offered on two levels. Level one consists of courses meeting Florida’s continuing education requirements for CAMs, and level two is the Florida Advanced CAM Studies (FACS) course. For further information about the more than 38 online continuing education classes available or to pursue the Certified Florida Community Association Manager (CFCAM) designation, please visit www.fcapgroup.com/membership/education-training/.

Marcy L. Kravitz

Florida-friendly landscaping policies, part I
Marcy L. Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM

     Boards of directors and landscaping committees may need to consider adopting Florida-Friendly Landscaping policies. Management and the board should evaluate and assess the current policies and determine if it is time to revise them. Residents should always seek approval from their HOA or property management team utilizing an ARB application process (Architectural Review Board) before removing or replacing landscape material. The form may need to also be revised to reflect the new policies. Assisting homeowners in improving the community’s individual homes’ aesthetic appeal improves property values. 

  • Always check with your local municipality for city ordinances and requirements prior to making any changes.
  • Check with your professional landscaping company contractor or landscaping architect to establish reasonable guidelines.
  • Establish an approval process for residents.
  • Indicate when approval is needed for residential sites, such as when the home transfers to a new owner; the current homeowner proposes new landscaping, renovations, or upgrades to the exterior of the home, such as additions, patios, or extensions; or if upon an inspection, the landscaping has died and the useful life of the plant material has expired and is in need of replacement.

     All specifications for the measurement, quality, and installation of landscaping shall be in accordance with Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL). Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) means using low-maintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices, which can be reviewed at https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/FYN_Plant_Selection_Guide_2015.pdf.

     The property owner/agent shall provide written certification that the trees and shrubs meet these standards.

  • All grass areas shall be sodded with clean sod reasonably free of weeds, noxious pests, and diseases.
  • When grass areas are to be seeded, sprigged, or plugged, specifications must be submitted.
  • Ensure groups of plants have similar needs (soil, light, water, fertilizer, etc.)
  • Specify alternative ground covers for shady areas, hard-to-maintain narrow areas, and eroding areas. Review use of annuals and perennials—assure they can be maintained with minimal attention. Include provisions on whether to allow fruit trees, including types and maintenance.
  • Follow right plant, right place concepts (allow sod and plant replacement options when existing vegetation has to be replaced continually). Remove invasive exotic plants.

     The association’s governing documents and/or rules and regulations may state the following: “No artificial vegetation. No artificial grass, plants, or other artificial vegetation shall be placed or maintained upon the exterior.” Include clauses that do not allow artificial turf, if this is the case, or consider allowing it and amend the documents. As always, when adopting new policies and procedures, they should be reviewed and approved by the association’s legal counsel. 


Betsy Barbieux

Because You Asked
By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

     I have a situation that I have never run across before. At one of the condominium associations I manage, there was to be an annual meeting in May. However, we put it off until September because of COVID-19. 
     There were multiple volunteers for the board, so an election was required. All the ballots are sealed and are with me to be opened at the meeting. During this time, one of the candidates died. If he has the majority of votes for one of the board positions, what do we do? Do we choose the next person who got the next most popular votes, or do we install the board, and the board chooses a fifth board member? 
– Deb

     Well, I do have to admit this is the first question like this I have ever been asked. I have looked through the Florida Administrative Code that has more details about elections and counting the votes and do not find anything that addresses this issue specifically. 
     Other than contacting Mary Frances Katona at the Bureau of Compliance, Division of Condominiums, or your attorney, for whatever it is worth, my thought would be the board could quickly hold a special meeting to declare its procedure for handling this situation, vote on it, have it documented in the minutes, and then follow that procedure. 
     I do not think you can go wrong either way by choosing the next person who has the most votes or not filling that seat and allowing the board to appoint. By having the board vote on it and documenting its decision in the minutes, I believe you have covered yourself.
– Betsy

     My question is, in a condominium association does the position of chairman of the board have to be an elected position, or can someone be appointed by the condominium board? With or without voting rights? 
– Mark

     The chairman of the board of directors is always the president in our community associations. There would be no reason for it to be someone else unless the chair/president turns the meeting over to the manager. In which case, the manager has no voting privilege.
     The president is the president of the corporation so he or she will also chair the owners’ annual meeting. 
     Florida law requires that all board members in a board meeting vote and have their vote recorded, so our presidents do vote and debate and may make motions. The board president/chair is a fully participating member of the board. 
     Boards of directors should be following Robert’s Rules of Order for Small Boards Procedures, which has very relaxed procedures and allows for pre-motion discussion and blends nicely with our statutory open meeting laws. You cannot use typical corporate business parliamentary procedure for community association boards because we have to awkwardly blend in the requirements of the Florida Statutes, which includes owners’ comments. 
     You will want to access my free article titled “A Layman’s Look at Fiduciary Duty” at https://www.fcapgroup.com/flcaj/flcaj-articles/a-laymans-look-at-fiduciary-duty/. 
     I probably offer more coaching and training on meeting procedures than anything else. It is so awkward, complicated, and contrary to regular corporate business meetings. It drives most people insane, but it is the very thing that will get most boards in trouble with the DBPR and potentially fined.
     Please consider me a resource and never hesitate to ask a question, especially questions about meeting procedures!
– Betsy

     Is there a website where I can view annual legislative changes to Florida Statute 718? If so, please advise where I can find this information.
– Jay

     Starting in January, you can sign up for the Senate Bill tracker and the House bill tracker and be notified of legislation that is making its way through committees related to Chapter 718. 



     I also keep a lookout on the DBPR Hot Topics website for legislation that has been adopted.


     Several of the law firms specializing in community associations have blogs and websites that keep you apprised of pending litigation. 

     Florida CAM Schools also offers the required CAM Legal Update Course every year for managers via a self-study or classroom experience. As a board member or concerned owner, you may certainly order that same material or attend an in-person class!
– Betsy