Phone: 727-397-5571

Perspectives on Florida Law
When You Need Help
April, 2013

Free Elder Law Workshop with Dennis R. "Rep" DeLoach, III, Esq.

What: Free Elder Law Workshop
When: Thursday, May 30th at 3:00
Where: Our office

If you have any questions regarding elder law, aging or other concerns for you or your loved ones, please come to our elder law workshop. In it, we will be discussing:

  • Medicaid & Asset Protection
  • Medicare
  • Wills, Trusts & Probate
  • Living Wills and Healthcare Surrogates
  • Dealing with Caregiver Stress
  • Anything else you want to discuss

Our workshops are a pressure free way to get some great information, dispel some common myths and educate you on making the best decisions possible.

Please e-mail [email protected] to RSVP for this event.


Official Records of a Condominium Association - Part Two
By: Peter T. Hofstra, Esq.

In our last newsletter, we discussed what documents constitute official records of a condominium association. In this article, we shall discuss how the association is to maintain official records, a unit owner's right to inspect the official records, and which official records are not subject to inspection by unit owners.

The official records of a condominium association must be maintained within the State of Florida for at least seven (7) years. The official records of a condominium association must be made available to a unit owner within forty-five (45) miles of the condominium property or within the county in which the condominium is located. The official records must be made available within five (5) working days after the association's receipt of a written request from a unit owner. The condominium association can have a copy of the official records available for inspection or copying on the condominium property or the condominium association may offer the option of making the official records available to a unit owner electronically via the internet or by allowing the official records to be viewed in an electronic format on a computer screen and printed upon request.

The official records of the condominium association are to be open for inspection by a unit owner (or his authorized representative) at all reasonable times. The right to inspect the official records includes the right to make or obtain copies at the reasonable expense of the unit owner. However, the condominium association may adopt rules and regulations regarding the frequency, time, location, notice and manner of official records inspections and copying. If a condominium association fails to provide access to the official records within ten (10) business days after its receipt of a unit owner's written request, then the association is presumed to have willfully failed to comply with Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes. A unit owner who is denied access to the official records is entitled to his actual damages or minimum damages for the condominium association's willful failure to comply. Minimum damages are $50.00 per calendar day for up to ten (10) days, beginning on the eleventh (11th) business day after receipt of the unit owner's written request. The party prevailing in any lawsuit to enforce the inspection and/or copying of the official records is entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees.

The condominium association is required to maintain an adequate number of copies of the declaration of condominium, the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, the rules and regulations, (including any amendments to any of said documents), the questions and answer sheet, and the year-end financial information of the condominium association to insure their availability to unit owners. However, the condominium association may charge its actual costs for preparing and furnishing these documents to persons requesting same.

The following documents are not available to inspection and/or copying by a unit owner:

  1. Any record protected by the lawyer/client privilege;
  2. Any information obtained by the condominium association in connection with the approval of any lease, sale, or other transfer of a unit within a condominium;
  3. Personnel records of the condominium association or the employees of the condominium association's management company - personnel records do not, however, include written employment agreements with a condominium association employee or management company or budgetary or financial records that indicate the compensation paid to an employee of the condominium association;
  4. The medical records of the unit owners;
  5. The social security numbers, driver's license numbers, credit card numbers, email addresses, telephone numbers, facsimile numbers, emergency contact information, or addresses of a unit owner other than as is necessary to fulfill the condominium association's notice requirements;
  6. The electronic security measures used by the condominium association to safeguard data, including, but not limited to, passwords; and,
  7. The software and operating system used by the condominium association which allow the manipulation of data, even if the unit owner owns a copy of the same software used by the condominium association.

As you can see, almost all documents pertaining to the operation of a condominium are official records of the condominium association and are, in most cases, available for inspection and/or copying by a unit owner. The governing of a condominium is, for the most part, "in the sunshine".


Property Tax Deferment
Homestead Property Tax Deferral Act
By: Dennis R. DeLoach, Jr.

Under the Homestead Property Tax Deferral Act, any person who is entitled to claim homestead tax exemption under the applicable statute may elect to defer the payment of a portion of the combined total of the ad valorem taxes and any non-ad valorem assessments levied on that person's homestead. To obtain the deferral, one must file an annual application for tax deferral with the county tax collector on or before January 31 following the year in which the taxes and non-ad valorem assessments are assessed.

Upon approval of an application for homestead tax deferral, the combined total of ad valorem taxes and non-ad valorem assessments, which exceeds 5 percent of the applicant's household income for the prior calendar year if the applicant is younger than 65 years old, shall be deferred. The percent changes to 3 percent of the amount in excess of the applicant's household income for the prior calendar year if the applicant is 65 years old or older. Further, the combined total of ad valorem taxes and non-ad valorem assessments may be deferred in their entirety if the applicant's household income for the previous calendar year is less than $10,000; or is less than the designated amount for the additional homestead exemption under Section 196.075, Florida Statutes, and the applicant is 65 years old or older.

It is important to note that all deferrals pursuant to the Homestead Property Tax Deferral Act will constitute a lien on the applicant's homestead. Further, the Homestead Property Tax Deferral Act does not prevent the collection of personal property taxes that become a lien against tax-deferred homestead property, nor does it defer payment of special assessments to benefited property other than those specifically allowed to be deferred. It does not affect any provision of any mortgage or other instrument relating to property requiring a person to pay ad valorem taxes or non-ad valorem assessments. On the other hand, if a mortgagee elects to pay the taxes when the applicant qualifies for tax deferral, then such election does not give the mortgagee the right to foreclose.

Tax consequences:

The law firm of DeLoach + Hofstra, P.A., does not specialize in tax law and any individual seeking to employ the above tax deferment methods should seek independent counsel and advice pertaining to tax and estate ramifications.

 

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