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Tampa Real Estate Lawyer > Blog > HOA Condo Association > Does The Sunshine Law Apply To Community Associations?

Does The Sunshine Law Apply To Community Associations?


The Sunshine Law is a law on the books in Florida that states that any records made or received by a public agency “in the course of its official business” are available for inspection by the general public, barring certain limited exceptions. Over time, the definition of ‘public records’ has expanded, including more and more public entities. At different times, the question has come up as to whether meetings of private community associations like homeowners’ associations (HOAs) or condo association boards fall under that law. The answer, strictly speaking, is no – but they must comply with certain other Florida statutes that essentially restate the same requirements.

Yes … And No

In general, the Sunshine Law would not apply to any kind of private community association unless that body had been nominated to perform certain governmental functions (which is, as one might imagine, quite rare). However, the state Condominium Act, Cooperative Act, and Homeowners’ Association Act all mandate that associations comply with transparency requirements that could have been lifted whole cloth from the Sunshine Law itself. Examples include:

  • Written minutes must be taken, and must be available to all parcel or unit owners;
  • Notice of meetings must be given at least 48 hours in advance – or, in the case of special assessment discussions, 14 days; and
  • Voting must happen via open ballot – no secret ballots allowed.

At least in terms of transparency to its members, all community associations that fall under one of these three categories (condominium, cooperative, or homeowner’s association) are required to be as open as possible, in order to foster a better living and working environment.

Know The Exceptions

There are certain exceptions to these transparency requirements, such as for any meeting that involves potential legal advice or litigation. However, too many boards and board members fall into the trap of assuming the transparency requirements are narrower than they actually are. For example, the definition of a ‘meeting’ in the context of association business is broader than one might expect – in some cases, a conference call can technically count as a ‘meeting,’ and if proper notice to owners is not given, it may create problems in the future.

If you suspect that your board has not been meeting transparency requirements, it is a good idea to do your research before getting an attorney involved. For example, if a new policy is unilaterally implemented without it being run by owners, one can reasonably assume that it was adopted behind closed doors. Some instances where this happens may prove inconsequential, but it is generally not a good idea to allow this kind of thing to happen unilaterally.

Contact A Tampa Community Association Attorney

Whether an owner or a board member (or both), being aware of the requirements for transparency is important. A community association’s failure to be transparent can cause serious consequences at a later date – it is important to know the rules on both sides of any potential conflict. A Tampa HOA condo association attorney from the Seward Law Office can help to clarify any issues. Call us today to schedule a consultation.



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