This week we conclude our review of relevant legislation from the 2023 Legislative Session. Previously we reviewed the bills that directly impact community associations through amendments to the community association’s statutes, including Chapter 718, the Florida Condominium Act and Chapter 720, the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act. This week we review legislative changes to other statutory provisions that have relevance to community associations.
The first of these Bills is SB 360, which changes the time limit parties have to bring legal action related to the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property. Section 95.11, Florida Statutes, discusses the statute of limitations for brining such actions, has been amended to provide that such actions must be brought within 4 years of the earlier of: the issuance a temporary certificate of occupancy; a certificate occupancy; a certificate of completion; or the date when the construction is abandoned, if not completed. Previously, the statute stated that the 4 year statute of limitations ran from the later of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy or the date the construction is abandoned, if not completed. This change will likely move the deadline earlier for many claims and associations who believe they have cause of action based on the design, planning, or construction of improvements of real property will need to carefully determine their deadlines.
SB 360 also changes what is referred to as statute of repose, which is the outside deadline for parties to bring a cause of action for construction claims based on latent or hidden defects. Previously, the time limit was 10 years from the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy or the abandonment of the project. The statute has now been amended to state that the deadline is 7 years from the issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy, the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, certificate of completion, or the date of abandonment if the project is not completed. Again, associations that have claims based on latent defects in construction have a shorter window of time to bring their cause of action.
Any party that has a cause of action that has now been made untimely by the changes in the statute, have until July 1, 2024, to bring a cause of action that would otherwise be barred by these changes. Therefore, any association that has, or believes to have, a claim based on construction defects or otherwise related to the design or construction to improvements to real property should carefully review the new deadlines with their legal counsel to determine when their cause of action must be brought.
SB 252 deals with statutory changes limiting the ability of governmental entities and business entities from imposing mandates related to COVID-19. The statute defines business entity to include corporations not-for-profit, pursuant to Chapter 617, Florida Statutes, which includes most community associations. The statute prohibits a business entity from taking certain actions related to COVID-19 testing and vaccine status and requiring face coverings.
If a community association is still imposing restrictions related to COVID-19, including requiring face coverings to use certain common areas, the association should review the provisions of SB 252 with its legal services provider to determine how it could apply to the community association’s actions. The Bill took effect June 1, 2023.