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THE LEGAL TEAM

COMMITTED TO ASSOCIATION LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

News & Blog

Safety Tips for Families Using Communal Areas

Safety Tips for Families Using Communal Areas

Staying Safe in your Community

As residents in a community association, part of your responsibility is to help maintain the different communal areas also known as common areas. While your association dues/assessments will take care of most of the tasks associated with community upkeep, you still have to give a lot of attention to how you tend to such common areas as the pool, BBQ spot, and other shared spaces.

Summertime Is Serious

Your community is going to have very specific rules and regulations about the use of the different common areas. For example, the pool will have established hours, as well as very clear times when you are not allowed to use it because of safety issues. There may be no lifeguard available, or it may be undergoing maintenance or repair, and so on.

Obeying such restrictions is an obvious “must,” and yet there are other guidelines that you, your family, or guest might easily overlook. For instance, if you speak with anyone who is in charge of safety around the pool areas you will hear that children constantly run about on slick surfaces, everyone leaves bags and objects in walkways, and that many fail to close gates or monitor the youngest swimmers at all times.

As part of a community, take on the responsibility for ensuring safety whenever you are enjoying your communal spaces. Try to encourage others to practice more awareness of pool safety in general, and don’t worry if you get a reputation as a worrier because statistics prove that far too many avoidable tragedies and injuries occur in common areas like pools each year.

Grilling is Delicious and Dangerous

Of course, the pool is but one of the common areas in which summertime injuries can occur. Another spot where danger is present is the barbecue area. Many communities feature charcoal as well as gas grills for residents to use, and according to National Fire Protection Association statistics, there are more than eight thousand fires caused by summertime grilling every year.

Unfortunately, around half of the injuries caused by these fires are thermal burns – meaning that people are seriously injured to varying degrees because they are exposed to the open flames or the heat of the grills themselves.

To avoid risk of the worst injuries, the NFPA recommends that grills be located safe distances from buildings. Your community has probably already taken care of this issue, but if you believe that grills are too close to the communal area structures, present this to the board for review.

However, one thing that you can do is to make sure that children and pets are far from the grill. Their running about and attempts to snatch treats from the area can lead to serious injury. Additionally, you may want to determine if the communal grills are cleaned and maintained properly too. After all, fat buildup and clogged fuel lines are major contributors to gas or charcoal grill fires every year as well.

Finally, though it seems obvious, a grill must never be left unattended. Whether you have finished cooking and are allowing coals to die out or you have only just started it to allow it to heat up, you should never walk away and leave it without supervision.

Common Areas

In addition to pools and grilling areas, many common areas in HOAs and other communities feature lawns, playing fields, gardens, and playgrounds. During the summer months these can be home to stinging insects and creatures that might pose a threat to the safety of those nearby. Keeping a vigilant eye for such visitors is part of your responsibility as a resident. Though shared spaces are taken care of by dues and maintenance teams, they are common areas that benefit the most from safe and careful use by residents year round.

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Partner Jane Bolin is Selected to 2015 Florida Rising Stars List

florida rising stars listJane Bolin, Founding Member of leading Florida-based law firm PeytonBolin, has been named to the Florida Rising Stars List for 2015. Compiled by the Super Lawyers rating service, only two and one-half percent of the lawyers in each state are selected for this honorable distinction.

Jane F. Bolin, Managing Partner and CMO of top community association law firm PeytonBolin, has been selected for the Florida Rising Stars List of 2015. Each year, no more than two and one-half percent of attorneys in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.Jane Bolin Selected to 2015 Florida Rising Stars List

A Thomson Reuters business, Super Lawyers is a third-party rating service, which annually recognizes outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained an exceptional degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The resulting list provides a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

At PeytonBolin, PL, Real Estate & Association Attorneys, Jane Bolin’s practice is focused on association law and real property litigation. She received her B.A. in political science from Radford University, a master’s in sports management from the United States Sports Academy, and her juris doctorate from St. Thomas University School of Law. Jane is also extremely involved in the local community, active with the Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center, NSU’s H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business Entrepreneurship Council, and numerous other entrepreneurial and charitable organizations.

“I am so thrilled and humbled to be included among Florida’s Rising Stars List for 2015,” said Bolin. “I truly appreciate the honor and opportunity to represent PeytonBolin on this distinguished list of the most respected up-and-coming attorneys in the state.”

A full service real estate law firm focused on the practice of community association law, PeytonBolin is based in Fort Lauderdale with additional offices in Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa and West Palm Beach. The firm recently received the top distinction of a Platinum Level Readers’ Choice Award for legal services from the Florida Community Association Journal.

About PeytonBolin

PeytonBolin, PL is a Florida-based law firm headquartered in Fort Lauderdale with offices in Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa (by appointment only), and West Palm Beach (by appointment only). PeytonBolin is focused on the practice of Community Association Law, providing legal services to associations and individual owners. Partnering with condominium and homeowner associations throughout Florida, PeytonBolin, PL provides collections services, covenant enforcement, and guidance to boards to successfully manage their community affairs.

Representation for both associations and individuals encompasses the key areas of insurance, construction, contract disputes and debt collection. At PeytonBolin, we are committed to practicing law in a way that is refreshingly unique – always accessible and never pretentious. Obtaining our clients’ objectives in the most strategic, creative and economically efficient way possible is our highest priority. PeytonBolin, PL was named as the only Readers’ Choice 2014 platinum level law firm for Legal Services in Florida (its highest ranking) by the Florida Community Association Journal.

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The Updated Florida Statutes for Homeowner Associations

New Laws for Associations Effective July 1, 2015

What should HOA members should know?

The Florida statutes for Homeowner Associations were updated on July 1, 2015 and are New Laws for Associationsnow officially in effect. These updates may change the way you and your association do things, so it’s important to understand what changes have been made and how your community will be affected. Here are some important parts of the new laws for Homeowner Associations:

Condominiums and Insurance

Per Florida Statute 718.111, previously the association or unit owners would have been responsible for the reconstruction, repair or replacement of an insured loss as determined by the declaration or bylaws but now it is limited to only the maintenance provisions. It also eliminates uninsured losses in excess of property insurance coverage as a common expense of the condominium.

Bylaws

According to Florida Statute 718.112, the electronic transmission of notices of certain meetings of a condominium association irrespective of whether authorized by the association’s bylaws.

Termination of Condominium

Florida Statute 718.117 specifies that in the case of termination of the condominium, if 10% or more of the total voting interests reject the plan of termination, the plan may not proceed. If this happens, the time required to wait before a new plan of termination is proposed to 18 months.

To read more about changes in condiminium insurance policies, bylaws and termination policies, click here (https://s3 NULL.amazonaws NULL.com/s3 NULL.systematicrevenue NULL.com/MediaFiles/5a7f8f124f0f6408ab63c728e478af1e6a56954a380ec360814f0bc8dc37789e NULL.pdf) and here (https://s3 NULL.amazonaws NULL.com/s3 NULL.systematicrevenue NULL.com/MediaFiles/b737f4b0c516f8855d4dfb1adcc728243db687e132c57c10aaba8afa26809e1f NULL.pdf).

Electronic Voting

The new Florida Statute 718.128 allows for the association to conduct elections through an internet-based online voting system as long as the unit owner consents in writing and certain requirements are met. The association has to prove each unit owner with a method to authenticate the unit owner’s identity and a method to confirm, at least 14 days before the voting deadline, that the unit owner’s electronic device can successfully communicate with the online voting system. For the elections of the board, a method to transmit the electronic ballot that ensures the secrecy and integrity of each ballot.

For more information on changes in policies regarding electronic voting, click here (https://s3 NULL.amazonaws NULL.com/s3 NULL.systematicrevenue NULL.com/MediaFiles/f91e586b8c2e74515f62107a96dc7e7c53b6980780f0da59881596883b7b804c NULL.pdf).

Appointment of an Ad Litem

Florida Statute 49.31 defines the term “ad litem” to mean an attorney, administrator, or guardian ad litem and authorizes a court to appoint an ad litem for any party upon whom service of process by publication has been properly made and who has failed to file or serve any paper in the action within the time required by law. The statute also provides actions an ad litem must take upon discovery the party it represents is already being represented or is deceased. It prohibits a court from requiring an ad litem to post a bond or designate a resident agent and requires the court to discharge an ad litem once final judgment is entered or otherwise ordered by the court.

Remedy for Unlawful Detention by a Transient Occupant of Residential Property

In Florida Statute 82.045, the term “transient occupant” is defined as a person whose residency in a dwelling intended for residential use has occurred for a brief length of time, is not pursuant to a lease and whose occupancy was intended as transient in nature. There are factors to consider whether a person is a transient occupant. The statute also provides for removal by a law enforcement officer and provides a cause of action and limiting actions for wrongful removal, as well as a civil action.

Termination of rental agreement upon foreclosure

Florida Statutes 83.561 says that a purchaser taking title to a tenant-occupied residential property following a foreclosure sale takes title to the property, subject to the rights of the tenant. It also specifies the rights of the tenant and allows the tenant to remain in possession of the property for 30 days following receipt of written notice formatted in the matter provided and delivered under the established requirements. The purchaser is authorized to apply for a writ of possession if a tenant refuses to vacate the property. Additionally, the statute provides exceptions and states a purchaser does not assume the obligations of a landlord unless the purchaser assumes the rental agreement or enters into a new one.

To know more about changes in policies regarding the appointment of an ad litem, remedies for unlawful detention by a transient occupant of residential property, and the termination of rental agreement upon foreclosure, click here (https://s3 NULL.amazonaws NULL.com/s3 NULL.systematicrevenue NULL.com/MediaFiles/49f89ffcfeb2e0e6b375b46df0830a70709c1012a2bee117730f1a9a58884cdd NULL.pdf).

For more information on the updated Florida Statutes for Homeowner Associations, contact PeytonBolin today.

 

 

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PeytonBolin Partner Joseph Giannell Named to Florida Super Lawyers List for 2015

Florida Super Lawyers List for 2015Joseph S. Giannell, Esq., Board Certified Real Estate Attorney and Partner at leading Florida-based firm PeytonBolin, has been named to the prestigious 2015 Florida Super Lawyers list.

The patented third-party rating system combines peer evaluations with independent research and evaluates candidates on 12 indicators of professional achievement and recognition. This list serves as a credible and objective resource for fellow attorneys, as well as consumers searching for outstanding lawyers. Only five percent of the attorneys in each state are selected for the exclusive list.

Florida Super Lawyers ListAt PeytonBolin, PL, Real Estate & Association Attorneys, the focus of Joseph’s practice is association law, real property litigation, and residential and commercial real estate transactions. He also teaches in the Legal Studies and Criminal Justice programs at Florida National College, where he was recently inducted into the Alpha Phi Sigma Honors Society. Joseph is active in local bar organizations, a member of the National Italian American Bar Association, and his article “The Second Amendment Through the Eyes of the Impoverished” recently published in the SRBLSA Law Journal.

“To be named among the top attorneys in the entire state of Florida through the 2015 Super Lawyers list is such an amazing honor,” said Giannell. “I am proud to represent PeytonBolin with this distinction and hope that my inclusion on this prestigious list will help us reach even more clients in need of our creative, strategic and specialized services.”

Peyton Bolin is a Florida-based, full-service real estate law firm concentrated on the practice of community association law. The firm handles residential and commercial closings, and is uniquely positioned to assist buyers and sellers with properties governed by community associations.

About PeytonBolin

PeytonBolin, PL is a Florida-based law firm headquartered in Fort Lauderdale with offices in Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa (by appointment only), and West Palm Beach (by appointment only). PeytonBolin is focused on the practice of Community Association Law, providing legal services to associations and individual owners. Partnering with condominium and homeowner associations throughout Florida, PeytonBolin PL provides collections services, covenant enforcement, and guidance to boards to successfully manage their community affairs. Representation for both associations and individuals encompasses the key areas of insurance, construction, contract disputes and debt collection. At PeytonBolin, we are committed to practicing law in a way that is refreshingly unique – always accessible and never pretentious. Obtaining our clients’ objectives in the most strategic, creative and economically efficient way possible is our highest priority. PeytonBolin, PL was named as the only Readers’ Choice 2014 platinum level law firm for Legal Services in Florida (its highest ranking) by the Florida Community Association Journal.

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Why You Have Homeowner Association Dues

Community Association Dues

How to Help your Residents Accept Their HOA Dues

One of the elements that cause many people to dislike the idea of having a homeowner’s association is the fact that there are dues. However, the dues are necessary to ensure the community continues to thrive and that there is money to pay for all of the community’s needs. Without the dues, the complex could turn into chaos rather quickly. After all, the HOA dues pay for many of the cleaning and maintenance needs.

Each association is different, and so has different costs. However, there are some costs that tend to be common between all HOAs. Let’s look at some of the different costs that the HOA must cover.

City services
Insurance
Lawn care
Cleaning and maintenance
Pest control

City services include things such as sewage, trash removal, and water. Keep in mind that these elements are not always paid for with HOA dues. In some cases, they are separate bills and the homeowner will pay for them on their own.

Insurance for damage that occurs to the outside of the building, or for accidents that occur on the property is essential as well. The insurance protects the property. It is important to note that this insurance only covers the outside of the property. Owners will still need to have their own insurance for individual units and pieces of properties.

Lawn care must happen regularly to keep your community looking good. There needs to be a person, or a team in many cases that visit the property weekly to make sure the grass is cut, the bushes are trimmed, and everything looks great.

Maintenance and repairs to the exterior of the building help to keep it in shape and looking good. This can include:

Exterior painting
Painting of lines in parking lot
Pavement repairs
Maintenance of fitness center and pool

Pest control is another important issue. Many areas of the country have problems with different types of pests from rats to termites to ants. Having a company come out to provide inspection and service on a monthly basis helps to ensure that there are no unwanted pests making themselves at home on your property.

These are just some of the different items that the HOA may be responsible for paying. Without the dues, costs would have to come directly from the owners’ pockets. The HOA can often get better deals than an individual homeowner might be able to receive.

Be Transparent With the Residents

The reason that some tenants worry about paying the HOA fees is because they aren’t really sure where the money is going and what is happening with it. Therefore, it is important to be very clear about everything that happens with the money and to have a budget in place that accounts for the money. Let people know about any emergencies that occur that could require some of the money from the HOA dues.

Sometimes, you might need to raise the HOA rates, and this can cause more ire in the community. Again, transparency and making them understand the reason for the increase can go a long way in making the homeowners more accepting. Let them know the reason for the increase. For example, the price of the insurance may have increased. Perhaps the pest control company increased their rates. While it is always possible to look for other vendors, the prices might still be higher. This could necessitate a raise in the HOA dues to cover costs.

Once the residents realize all of the different things that the HOA needs to pay for, they will realize that the only way to pay for it is through their dues. If they understand why you have homeowner association dues and the services those dues allow the HOA to provide, association residents will be much more apt to support them.

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PeytonBolin Hurricane Preparation Guide

Download our Hurricane Preparation and Insurance Claims Process Guide.

PB Hurricane Prep & Insurance Claims Process June 2015

Is Living in a Community Association Right For You?

What should you consider before moving into a Community Association

You’ve decided you want to simplify your life and move into a condo on the beach but you’ve never lived in a home where you were part of an association and you are not sure it is for you?  Here are some simple guidelines to help you determine if association living makes sense.

First let’s define what community homeowner Is Living in a Community Association For You?associations, commonly referred to as Association, are about.  When you buy a condominium, townhouse or other type of property in a gated community or sub-division, you are required to join the association and pay monthly or annual fees for the upkeep of common areas and the building.  This includes maintaining the common areas of the building such as landscaping, elevators, swimming pools, clubhouses, parking garages, fitness rooms, sidewalks, security gates, roofing and the building exterior. Many of these types of common areas, such as pools and tennis courts, also exist in subdivisions of single family homes.

The goal of the association fees are to maintain the quality of life for the community’s residents and protect property values for all owners.

This is typically the part of Associations that most people support and then there are the rules.  In addition to maintaining common areas, Associations also set out certain rules that all residents must follow called covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). In a typical building, rules may include what color front door you may have, whether you are allowed to line dry your laundry outside, whether you can have a satellite dish, the size and type of pets permitted, and so on. In many ways, these rules are similar to the types of rules apartment dwellers must follow.  In a subdivision with individual homes, regulations may include what color you can paint your home, the exterior landscaping you can do, the types of vehicles you can park on the street or in your driveway (no RVs, for example), permissible type and height of fences, and restrictions on window coverings for windows facing the street.

If you want to do anything that differs from these rules, you will have to convince the Association to grant you a variance, which is probably unlikely. No matter where you live, you are likely to be subject to city ordinances and restrictions related to the use of your property. Associations add yet another layer of restrictions and because their members are more likely to know what you’re up to, the Association is more likely to enforce the rules. So, let’s take a look at some of the rules and regulations you need to know about before you decide to join one of these communities.

9 Key Things You Need To Know About Living in a Community Association:

While there are laws governing the behavior of Associations, they can still have a powerful impact on your rights as a homeowner. Before buying a property in a community that has an Association you should:

1.  Review the Association’s rules thoroughly

Make sure you get a copy of the rules before you consider purchasing a property.  The Association’s CC&Rs should be available online or you can ask your real estate agent for them.  Get familiar with what the rules are and what happens if you violate a rule.  If you feel they are too restrictive, look elsewhere.

2. Make sure the property you are interested in is not already out of compliance with Association rules

Buying into an existing problem can be a headache, so find out what the rules are and whether you would have to make changes to the home to comply.

3.  Assess environmental practices

Being environmentally friendly may be important to you so make sure your Association also places the same importance on green practices.  If not, you may want to reconsider whether it is the right place for you.

4. Consider your temperament

This is super important.  If you don’t like being told what to do, Association living may be challenging for you.  Weigh the pro’s and con’s and decide wisely.  Don’t buy and then get upset because the Association is doing what it says it is going to do.

5. Understand about fees

Find out if an increase is under discussion, when the last increase was, learn about the reserve fund, ask about any assessments planned and a history of past assessments.  Compare fees to comparable associations in the area.

6. Get a copy of past meeting minutes

This can be very telling about the culture of the association you may be moving into.  See what the issues are and how they are being handled.  If you find the discussion is around a lot of petty items, you may want to reconsider.  Also, find out if the building is professionally managed by an outside company.  If so, check out the management company as well before you make a decision.

7. Is the building under-managed?  

It’s important that a Association is paying attention to the property and managing everything expertly.  While you don’t necessarily want to live somewhere with a hyperactive Association, the opposite can be worse as it will adversely affect your property values and your quality of life while you are living there.

8. Find out what kind of catastrophe insurance the Association has on the building

Find out what kind of flood, wind and other catastrophe insurance the building has.

9. Consider the impact of Association fees on your short- and long-term finances

A condo with high Association fees might end up costing you as much as the house you don’t think you can afford.

Conclusion

You will be thankful for your Association when they prevent your neighbor from painting her house neon green, but not so much when they impose rules that you find too restrictive. Before you purchase a property subject to Association rules and fees, make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. Living in a Community Association can be perfect for you especially if you know what to expect before you move in.

About PeytonBolin, PL

Founded by partners Mauri Peyton and Jane Bolin, PeytonBolin, PL is a Florida-based law firm focused on the practice of community association law. Committed to providing resourceful, knowledgeable, and consistent representation for associations and individual owners, the entire staff operates as a team to provide the highest quality service. We bring our litigation experience and skills to each matter in a case-specific and cost-effective way. Although always prepared to litigate aggressively for our clients, we are practical problem solvers who seek solutions that avoid or minimize litigation.

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Community Association Code of Ethics to take it from Good to Great

Community Association Code of Ethics, PeytonBolin, Fort Lauderdale, FLEvery community association needs a clear, concise code of ethics. These codes help protect the community and provide guidelines for leaders and board members.

Community Association Institute (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.org/Pages/Default NULL.aspx)  put together Principles for Community Association Success. We’ve highlighted some key information from that resource guide in this article which is part 3 of a 3 part series. Part 1 covered Rights and Responsibilities of Homeowners which can be found here, and Part 2 covered the Rights and Responsibilities of Community Association Leaders which can be found hereTo see the original document from CAI click here. (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.org/info/help/Documents/Good2Great NULL.pdf)

When you are drafting a code of ethics, there is a lot to consider. Take a look at the most important elements that you should include in your community code of ethics. Continue Reading…

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Advertising on your Community Association’s Website

Consider these facts before advertising on your Community Association’s Website.

Advertising on your Community Association’s Website, PeytonBolin PL, Fort Lauderdale, FLYour community association website should have one ultimate goal: enhancing communication. This includes communication between the board, residents, owners, and community leaders. Websites can be used to post notices, conduct surveys, publish board meeting information, upload classifieds, and release inspection requests. Neighborhood links, FAQs, forums, events listings – there is no limit to what you can post on your community website.

Continue Reading…

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5 Effective ways of communication for your Community Association

How Community Associations Keep in Touch with Residents with effective ways of communication.

Effective ways of communication - PeytonBolinEvery community association, no matter how large or small, needs clear, concise, and consistent communication with its residents. Good communication helps board members and community leaders explain decisions, distribute information, and develop a solid relationship with everyone in the community.

It is absolutely vital that you communicate with your residents, but what’s the best way? The truth is, if you want to keep in touch with your residents, you need to use many different forms of communication. Continue Reading…

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