Florida Reserve Study Laws

Common industry practice is that homeowners associations should perform periodic reserve studies as a prudent business practice.  Directors of associations are generally held to a “prudent businessman” rule in determining whether or not they have met the fiduciary duty of their position for the association.  A prudent businessman would establish a capital replacement budget (reserve study) to make sure he is generating enough revenues (reserve assessments) to provide for major repairs and replacements.

There is little discussion about whether an association should perform a reserve study.  The only significant areas of discussion revolve around how frequently a reserve study should be performed, and if there should be any minimum funding requirements.  Most states that have reserve study statutes require physical site inspections on 3 or 5 year cycles.  We believe that 5 years is too long.  3 years may be too long if significant reserve expenditures are being made during the subject time period.  However, the association should perform an update without site inspection every year as part of the annual budget process.

Florida has adopted two separate statutes, Chapter 718 for Condominium Associations, and Chapter 720 for Homeowners Associations.

Title XL, Chapter 718, Condominium Associations, describes the responsibilities of the Board of Directors to budget for and determine reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance for which the association is responsible.

Florida Statute 718.112 (f) Annual Budget

718.112 Bylaws.

(2)  REQUIRED PROVISIONS.

(f) Annual budget.—

1. The proposed annual budget of estimated revenues and expenses must be detailed and must show the amounts budgeted by accounts and expense classifications, including, if applicable, but not limited to, those expenses listed in s. 718.504(21). A multicondominium association shall adopt a separate budget of common expenses for each condominium the association operates and shall adopt a separate budget of common expenses for the association. In addition, if the association maintains limited common elements with the cost to be shared only by those entitled to use the limited common elements as provided for in s. 718.113(1), the budget or a schedule attached to it must show the amount budgeted for this maintenance. If, after turnover of control of the association to the unit owners, any of the expenses listed in s. 718.504(21) are not applicable, they need not be listed.

2. In addition to annual operating expenses, the budget must include reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance. These accounts must include, but are not limited to, roof replacement, building painting, and pavement resurfacing, regardless of the amount of deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost, and for any other item that has a deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost that exceeds $10,000. The amount to be reserved must be computed using a formula based upon estimated remaining useful life and estimated replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of each reserve item. The association may adjust replacement reserve assessments annually to take into account any changes in estimates or extension of the useful life of a reserve item caused by deferred maintenance. This subsection does not apply to an adopted budget in which the members of an association have determined, by a majority vote at a duly called meeting of the association, to provide no reserves or less reserves than required by this subsection. However, prior to turnover of control of an association by a developer to unit owners other than a developer pursuant to s. 718.301, the developer may vote to waive the reserves or reduce the funding of reserves through the period expiring at the end of the second fiscal year after the fiscal year in which the certificate of a surveyor and mapper is recorded pursuant to s. 718.104(4)(e) or an instrument that transfers title to a unit in the condominium which is not accompanied by a recorded assignment of developer rights in favor of the grantee of such unit is recorded, whichever occurs first, after which time reserves may be waived or reduced only upon the vote of a majority of all nondeveloper voting interests voting in person or by limited proxy at a duly called meeting of the association. If a meeting of the unit owners has been called to determine whether to waive or reduce the funding of reserves, and no such result is achieved or a quorum is not attained, the reserves included in the budget shall go into effect. After the turnover, the developer may vote its voting interest to waive or reduce the funding of reserves.

3. Reserve funds and any interest accruing thereon shall remain in the reserve account or accounts, and may be used only for authorized reserve expenditures unless their use for other purposes is approved in advance by a majority vote at a duly called meeting of the association. Prior to turnover of control of an association by a developer to unit owners other than the developer pursuant to s. 718.301, the developer-controlled association shall not vote to use reserves for purposes other than that for which they were intended without the approval of a majority of all nondeveloper voting interests, voting in person or by limited proxy at a duly called meeting of the association.

4. The only voting interests that are eligible to vote on questions that involve waiving or reducing the funding of reserves, or using existing reserve funds for purposes other than purposes for which the reserves were intended, are the voting interests of the units subject to assessment to fund the reserves in question. Proxy questions relating to waiving or reducing the funding of reserves or using existing reserve funds for purposes other than purposes for which the reserves were intended shall contain the following statement in capitalized, bold letters in a font size larger than any other used on the face of the proxy ballot: WAIVING OF RESERVES, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, OR ALLOWING ALTERNATIVE USES OF EXISTING RESERVES MAY RESULT IN UNIT OWNER LIABILITY FOR PAYMENT OF UNANTICIPATED SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS REGARDING THOSE ITEMS.

 

720.303 Association powers and duties; meetings of board; official records; budgets; financial reporting; association funds; recalls.

(6) BUDGETS.—

(a) The association shall prepare an annual budget that sets out the annual operating expenses. The budget must reflect the estimated revenues and expenses for that year and the estimated surplus or deficit as of the end of the current year. The budget must set out separately all fees or charges paid for by the association for recreational amenities, whether owned by the association, the developer, or another person. The association shall provide each member with a copy of the annual budget or a written notice that a copy of the budget is available upon request at no charge to the member. The copy must be provided to the member within the time limits set forth in subsection (5).

(b) In addition to annual operating expenses, the budget may include reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance for which the association is responsible. If reserve accounts are not established pursuant to paragraph (d), funding of such reserves is limited to the extent that the governing documents limit increases in assessments, including reserves. If the budget of the association includes reserve accounts established pursuant to paragraph (d), such reserves shall be determined, maintained, and waived in the manner provided in this subsection. Once an association provides for reserve accounts pursuant to paragraph (d), the association shall thereafter determine, maintain, and waive reserves in compliance with this subsection. This section does not preclude the termination of a reserve account established pursuant to this paragraph upon approval of a majority of the total voting interests of the association. Upon such approval, the terminating reserve account shall be removed from the budget.

(c)1. If the budget of the association does not provide for reserve accounts pursuant to paragraph (d) and the association is responsible for the repair and maintenance of capital improvements that may result in a special assessment if reserves are not provided, each financial report for the preceding fiscal year required by subsection (7) must contain the following statement in conspicuous type:

THE BUDGET OF THE ASSOCIATION DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR RESERVE ACCOUNTS FOR CAPITAL EXPENDITURES AND DEFERRED MAINTENANCE THAT MAY RESULT IN SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS. OWNERS MAY ELECT TO PROVIDE FOR RESERVE ACCOUNTS PURSUANT TO SECTION 720.303(6), FLORIDA STATUTES, UPON OBTAINING THE APPROVAL OF A MAJORITY OF THE TOTAL VOTING INTERESTS OF THE ASSOCIATION BY VOTE OF THE MEMBERS AT A MEETING OR BY WRITTEN CONSENT.

2. If the budget of the association does provide for funding accounts for deferred expenditures, including, but not limited to, funds for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance, but such accounts are not created or established pursuant to paragraph (d), each financial report for the preceding fiscal year required under subsection (7) must also contain the following statement in conspicuous type:

THE BUDGET OF THE ASSOCIATION PROVIDES FOR LIMITED VOLUNTARY DEFERRED EXPENDITURE ACCOUNTS, INCLUDING CAPITAL EXPENDITURES AND DEFERRED MAINTENANCE, SUBJECT TO LIMITS ON FUNDING CONTAINED IN OUR GOVERNING DOCUMENTS. BECAUSE THE OWNERS HAVE NOT ELECTED TO PROVIDE FOR RESERVE ACCOUNTS PURSUANT TO SECTION 720.303(6), FLORIDA STATUTES, THESE FUNDS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF SUCH FUNDS SET FORTH IN THAT STATUTE, NOR ARE RESERVES CALCULATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THAT STATUTE.

(d) An association is deemed to have provided for reserve accounts if reserve accounts have been initially established by the developer or if the membership of the association affirmatively elects to provide for reserves. If reserve accounts are established by the developer, the budget must designate the components for which the reserve accounts may be used. If reserve accounts are not initially provided by the developer, the membership of the association may elect to do so upon the affirmative approval of a majority of the total voting interests of the association. Such approval may be obtained by vote of the members at a duly called meeting of the membership or by the written consent of a majority of the total voting interests of the association. The approval action of the membership must state that reserve accounts shall be provided for in the budget and must designate the components for which the reserve accounts are to be established. Upon approval by the membership, the board of directors shall include the required reserve accounts in the budget in the next fiscal year following the approval and each year thereafter. Once established as provided in this subsection, the reserve accounts must be funded or maintained or have their funding waived in the manner provided in paragraph (f).

(e) The amount to be reserved in any account established shall be computed by means of a formula that is based upon estimated remaining useful life and estimated replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of each reserve item. The association may adjust replacement reserve assessments annually to take into account any changes in estimates of cost or useful life of a reserve item.

(f) After one or more reserve accounts are established, the membership of the association, upon a majority vote at a meeting at which a quorum is present, may provide for no reserves or less reserves than required by this section. If a meeting of the unit owners has been called to determine whether to waive or reduce the funding of reserves and such result is not achieved or a quorum is not present, the reserves as included in the budget go into effect. After the turnover, the developer may vote its voting interest to waive or reduce the funding of reserves. Any vote taken pursuant to this subsection to waive or reduce reserves is applicable only to one budget year.

(g) Funding formulas for reserves authorized by this section must be based on a separate analysis of each of the required assets or a pooled analysis of two or more of the required assets.

1. If the association maintains separate reserve accounts for each of the required assets, the amount of the contribution to each reserve account is the sum of the following two calculations:

a. The total amount necessary, if any, to bring a negative component balance to zero.

b. The total estimated deferred maintenance expense or estimated replacement cost of the reserve component less the estimated balance of the reserve component as of the beginning of the period the budget will be in effect. The remainder, if greater than zero, shall be divided by the estimated remaining useful life of the component.

The formula may be adjusted each year for changes in estimates and deferred maintenance performed during the year and may include factors such as inflation and earnings on invested funds.

2. If the association maintains a pooled account of two or more of the required reserve assets, the amount of the contribution to the pooled reserve account as disclosed on the proposed budget may not be less than that required to ensure that the balance on hand at the beginning of the period the budget will go into effect plus the projected annual cash inflows over the remaining estimated useful life of all of the assets that make up the reserve pool are equal to or greater than the projected annual cash outflows over the remaining estimated useful lives of all the assets that make up the reserve pool, based on the current reserve analysis. The projected annual cash inflows may include estimated earnings from investment of principal and accounts receivable minus the allowance for doubtful accounts. The reserve funding formula may not include any type of balloon payments.

(h) Reserve funds and any interest accruing thereon shall remain in the reserve account or accounts and shall be used only for authorized reserve expenditures unless their use for other purposes is approved in advance by a majority vote at a meeting at which a quorum is present. Prior to turnover of control of an association by a developer to parcel owners, the developer-controlled association shall not vote to use reserves for purposes other than those for which they were intended without the approval of a majority of all nondeveloper voting interests voting in person or by limited proxy at a duly called meeting of the association.

 

 

 

Additional State Reserve Study Laws