The Florida Sunshine Law, also known as the Government-in-the-Sunshine law, aims to inform the public in a clear manner about the requirements and exemptions to the state’s open government laws. Every year, the Attorney General’s office publishes a manual that is available free of charge to residents to help them understand these laws. Generally speaking, the Sunshine Law supports the right of the public to have access to government meetings and records. In rare instances, homeowners associations may be required to follow parts of the Sunshine Law, as well.
Homeowners Association Requirements
According to the Florida Sunshine Law, homeowners associations are not generally held accountable in the same way government entities are. The Attorney General’s office offers assistance in interpreting the law, which is Section 286.011 of the Florida Statutes.
The Sunshine Law dictates that meetings or discussions between two or more members of a public board on a matter which will likely come before the board for action must be open to the public. Though the Sunshine Law applies to meetings of public boards and commissions, a homeowners association is a private entity. If the HOA had been given authority to perform a government function of some kind, then it would need to follow the rules of the Sunshine Law. Otherwise, it generally does not.
State of Florida Condo Laws
Though a homeowners association is usually exempt from the Sunshine Law, these groups must comply with certain regulations. According to Section 617.303(2) of the Florida Statutes, any meeting of an HOA’s board of directors must be open to all members of the group. This is true except in instances in which attorneys are present and outside attendance would violate attorney-client privilege.
For the purposes of this law, whenever a quorum of the board gathers to conduct association business, it is considered a meeting of the board of directors. If a meeting like this is to occur, notice must be given to the members. When there are more than 100 members, the board is permitted to post notice in an association’s bylaws rather than distributing this notice.
The Florida Statutes also require an association like an HOA to prepare an annual budget. Every member of the organization must be provided with a copy of the budget, including all outlined estimated revenues and expenses. If the board does not provide such a copy, it must issue a written notice stating that such a copy can be obtained if a member so desires.
All other documents relevant to the organization, including meeting minutes, must be maintained such that any member can be granted access at any time. If a member attempts to view HOA documents and is refused or the files are not available, that member is eligible to collect damages.