The 2016 Regular Session of Florida’s Legislature ended without any substantial piece of community association legislation becoming law. However, there are a few bills that passed into law that are of interest to community associations.
Every board and manager should be aware of new requirements in regard to an application for lease submitted by a servicemember, community residential homes, and private residential elevators.
Application for Tenancy by a Servicemember:
- If an applicant for lease is a servicemember, ALL Florida community associations must, within a seven-day period, notify the servicemember in writing of an application approval or denial and, if denied, the reason for denial. Absent a timely denial of the rental application, the landlord must lease the rental unit to the servicemember if all other terms of the application and lease are complied with. This requirement is not waivable under any circumstances whatsoever – even by the parties themselves! A “servicemember” is defined as “any person serving as a member of the United States Armed Forces on active duty or state active duty and all members of the Florida National Guard and United States Reserve Forces.”
Requirements for “Community Residential Homes”:
- A “community residential home” is a dwelling licensed to serve residents who are clients of the Department of Elderly Affairs, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Juvenile Justice, or the Department of Children and Families or licensed by the Agency for Health Care Administration which provides a living environment for 7 to 14 unrelated residents who operate as the functional equivalent of a family, including such supervision and care by supportive staff as may be necessary to meet the physical, emotional, and social needs of the residents. This new law establishes site requirements for community residential homes and provides that a community residential home may not be licensed within 1,200 feet of an existing community residential home.
Private Residential Elevators:
- All new elevators installed in private residences must have a clearance of no more than three (3) inches between the hoistway doors and the edge of a hoistway landing and must have certain doors and gates to withstand a specified amount of force and to reject a sphere of a specified size under certain circumstances.
Discharge of a Firearm:
- Any person who recreationally discharges a firearm outdoors in a residential area with a density of one (1) unit or more per acre commits a first degree misdemeanor, unless the discharge was to lawfully defend life or property, in performing official duties requiring the discharge of a firearm, the discharge does not pose a risk to life, safety, or property, or the discharge was accidental.
Repeal of Cohabitation Prohibition:
- Although not enforced in some time, the prohibition of cohabitation by unmarried men and women that was previously contained in Section 798.02, Florida Statutes, of the State’s criminal code, has been officially removed.
Changes Related to the Building Code and the Fire Prevention Code:
- Combined Local Appeals Board. Local boards created to address issues arising under the Florida Building Code or the Florida Fire Prevention Code may combine their respective appeals boards to create a single, local board. The combined local appeals board may grant certain alternatives or modifications through procedures outlined in NFPA 1, Section 1.4, but may not waive the requirements of the Florida Fire Prevention Code.
- Appealing Decisions. Any decision by the local fire official regarding application, interpretation, or enforcement of the Florida Fire Prevention Code or by the local building official regarding application, interpretation, or enforcement of the Florida Building Code, or the appropriate application of either code or both codes in the case of a conflict between the codes, may be appealed to a local administrative board.
- Joint Committee. All decisions of the local administrative board in regard to the application, enforcement, or interpretation of the Florida Fire Prevention Code, or conflicts between the Florida Fire Prevention Code and the Florida Building Code, are subject to review by a joint committee composed of members of the Florida Building Commission and the Fire Code Advisory Council, and decisions of the local administrative board related solely to the Florida Building Code are subject to review as set forth in Section 553.775, Florida Statutes.
- Minimum Radio Signal Strength for Fire Department Communications in High Rise Buildings. The local jurisdiction must determine the minimum radio signal strength for fire department communications in all new high-rise and existing high-rise buildings. Existing buildings are required to comply with minimum radio strength for fire department communications and two-way radio system enhancement communications by January 1, 2022.
- Minimum Fire Safety Standards for Existing Buildings. The local fire official may consider the fire safety evaluation systems found in NFPA 101A, Guide on Alternative Solutions to Life Safety, adopted by the State Fire Marshal, as acceptable systems for the identification of low-cost, reasonable alternatives. It is also acceptable to use the Fire Safety Evaluation System for Board and Care Facilities using prompt evacuation capabilities parameter values on existing residential high-rise buildings.