29 Jan Websites Required
According to a survey by Fiserve, an online bill payment provider, 90 percent of U.S. households used some form of online payment for at least one of their monthly bills during 2016. And even though banks offer free online pay options, the most commonly used payment portal was a company sponsored website. In other words, most of us will go to the Discover.com to pay our bill instead of writing and mailing a check. So why is it that many associations still don’t have online payments options when statistically owners would be more likely to submit their assessment payment on time and in full if they could do it with a link and a login?
Florida legislatures were asked that same question and after careful consideration, made the decision to require non-timeshare condominium complexes with 150 or more units to maintain an association website. The change to the Florida Condominium Act, specifically Florida Statues 718.111 and 718.112, became law on January 1, 2019. It not only requires an HOA website but states that there must be an owner-only section that includes:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Recorded Bylaws
- Rules of the Association
- Annual Budget
- Financial reports
- Director certification
- Association Contracts
The open section of the website would include meeting notices and an association estoppel designee. There’s no instruction on where social communications would be housed.
Single family home communities were left with the impression that they were exempt from the website requirement. FS 718.111 is specific to non-timeshare condo’s, however SB398 states “Each association shall designate on its website…”. This indicates that non-condo HOA’s are expected to have a community website.
It’s important to note that social media sites do not fulfill this website requirement. The law clearly states that there must to be a password driven section for homeowners only. Even a private group on a social media platform isn’t going to meet the login requirements of FS 718.111.
With more and more homeowners using electronic communication, associations should be prepared for the Florida statute to become part of their own state laws. If a board member needs convincing, remind them that hard copies of association document usually cost a homeowner 10—25 cents per page. But that homeowner wouldn’t be charged if they receive the same documents electronically. It makes sense to create an online source of information easily accessible by the every homeowner. As an added bonus, payment portals automatically create financial tracking which would benefit both the homeowner and the association.