Identity Crisis: What is a Resort Condominium?

Are you or anyone in your condominium renting a unit more than 3 times a month?  Did you know if you do you must have a license pursuant to Florida law?  If not, you are not alone.  There are several condominium owners who have jumped into the rental market as a way to lessen the burden of a short term investment turned long term investment due to the collapse of the real estate market. 
A resort condominium is defined by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants as, “Any unit or group of units in a condominium, cooperative or time share plan which is rented three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or one calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented for periods of less than 30 days or one calendar month, whichever is less.” (Section 509.242(1) (c), Florida Statutes)    Something as arbitrary as remembering that February does not have 30 days can be the difference between a property that runs smoothly and the necessity to obtain a Resort Condominium license.
The licensing process is very simple. There is an application that must be submitted for review by the division along with a cost for application that may differ depending on the application.  After completing the application, it is imperative that the owner obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number and a Sales Tax Registration Number or an exemption.  Resort condominium licenses are divided into three specific groups. 
1.      Single License- may include one or multiple units within a building or group of buildings owned and operated by an individual person or entity, but not a real estate agent, appraiser, etc. 
2.     Group License- issued to a licensed agent to cover all rooms or units within a building or group of buildings in a single complex.
3.     Collective license- issued to a licensed agent who represents a collective group of units found on separate locations.  A collective license is limited to 75 units or less and is restricted to counties within one district. 
 It is important to note that the term “Licensed Agent” does not infer that the operator of a management company must obtain a license from the Division of Real Estate.  As per the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, a “Licensed Agent” means that the operator of a management company has been “licensed” by the property/unit owner to hold out the property/unit for rent on a transient basis.  The “license” can be in the form of a rental agreement or contract between the two parties.
                There are a very stringent set of rules that are put forth by the division and periodic inspections to enforce those rules.  They range from something as obvious and necessary as displaying all licenses in a conspicuous manner to making sure that if the complex uses liquid soap it is in dispensers.  If a condominium is 3 stories or more, the owner must file a Certificate of Balcony inspection form every 3 years unless the stairs are “common elements”, defined as:  parts of a condominium, cooperative, or private home association shared by all residents, so that each unit owner holds an undivided interest in.  A full list of rules and details can be found on the division’s website.  It is vital to pay close attention to the fine print of the specifications to avoid penalty.  As a registered resort condominium owner, one can expect one or two safety inspections per year.  Even routine inspections are unannounced and may take place at any time during normal business hours.  Violations are subject to penalty by not only the division but the Fire Chief as well.  Inspections can also be conducted in lieu of a complaint and may be partial, meaning an inspection of only the area of complaint.  It can also be a full inspection, which is purely discretionary. 
               
           
            

Smartphone Family Feud IPhone4 vs. Blackberry

Features Unique to the IPhone4

1. Voice Control- This feature enables the mobile lawyer to call contacts, numerical phone numbers, and play voice recording saved on ITunes. This is all possible by holding one button and using the operator’s voice.

2. Multitasking- The IPhone4 enables its user to run any number of applications while switching between music, wireless internet, and holding a phone call all with a single touch of a button.

3. Retina Display- The highest resolution screen of any IPhone model ever created has been achieved. The IPhone4 has a pixel density that is unperceivable to the human eye offering the easiest viewing text on the market.

4. Face Time- Much like the IPad, the IPhone4 offers users the ability to have meetings with other IPhone4 users face- to-face (on a Wi-Fi connection).

5. The Safari Web Browser- An intricate database allowing users to write text in the URL bar to find any document on the web. With a new version of JavaScript, the IPhone4 makes Safari the most advanced mobile browser in existence.

6. The Future- The Deponent Application, which is already available for the IPad, and eventually the IPhone4, will give lawyers the ability to put together a deposition question outline that can be customized for a specific witness. It gives attorneys the opportunity to link exhibits to each question as well.

Features Unique to the Blackberry Family of Phones:

1. Physical Keyboard- The blackberry has a full standard QWERTY keyboard on the device. This makes texting and typing, on-the-go, much easier because key location can be memorized, making constant viewing unnecessary.

2. Compatibility- Microsoft is still king. Blackberries are readily compatible with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and many other PC formats. This allows users the freedom and ease of maintaining words documents in their .doc or. .docx format without conversion from desktop to mobile phone.

3. BBM- Blackberry Messaging has become a craze among friends from colleges to corporations and even in the legal world. Blackberry users can form BBM groups in which messages are shared between all associated phones.

4. Intelligent Push Email- Although taxing at times, the Blackberry is the forefront of emailing technology, giving a text message bubble each time an email is received. This gives the user a virtual real-time mailbox at their fingertips.

5. Battery Life- While resting, the phones are virtually equal. However, the simplicity of the Blackberry’s operation system has led multiple sources to the conclusion that, in a day-to-day setting, the Blackberry outlasts the IPhone4 in most instances.

The decision is purely setting based. While it is refreshing to see a riveting and vibrant high resolution screen to some, others may argue that the screen doesn’t look so impressive when the battery dies. Each phone has its own unique way to foster an increased level of communicative ability between fellow users and contains some exclusionary features specific to each phone. It is important to research one’s typical work day to truly make an informed decision. Depending on the company you keep and the necessary application of the device, cliché would call it a coin flip.

Elementary My Dear Watson, Elementary



                What would Sherlock Holmes think if he saw Watson now?  IBM recently released its supercomputer “Watson”, aptly named for IBM’s first president, Thomas J. Watson.  Watson operates using a system called “Deep QA” and has two kinds of artificial intelligence at its disposal.  Not only can Watson understand the questions that are asked to it but, like humans, it gets better with practice and repetition.  Lawyers routinely spend long nights and innumerable hours searching for statutes, precedents, and other data that could be used in litigation.  This practice could become as arbitrary as getting a cup of coffee in the near future.

                Watson recently competed against Jeopardy legend Ken Jennings on February 14, 2011.  The results were overwhelming for both IBM and the audience in attendance.  Despite missing the final Jeopardy question, Watson defeated Jennings handily.  The most unbelievable part is that Watson has the potential to be asked the same question again and answer correctly without any human tampering. It is important to note that Watson is the product of human hands and human minds; therefore, it should not be seen as a nuisance or threat to the legal community. It is, however, a learning, growing database that could potentially further the legal profession like no other single piece of equipment in documented history.  Deep QA can analyze hundreds of millions of pages of information, gather facts, and respond faster than the human mind can recall a piece of previously discovered information.

                The critical question is “What can Watson do for the legal community?” The answer is simple: everything.   Watson could eventually be taken into a courtroom and have the ability to discredit a witness.  It could be a portable personal assistant for lawyers, serving to aid, but not replace the maturity, reasoning, and experience of a seasoned attorney.  The ability to have a thinking analytical assistant, that requires no sustenance or pay beyond initial purchase, could be fifteen years in the future.

                 

15 Reasons Lawyers and Law Students Should Own the IPad 2


The IPad 2 is:

1. Thinner- 33% thinner with a new edgeless design makes the IPad 2 much easier to operate while handling. Furthermore, it is half the size of even the thinnest laptop.

2. Faster- The IPad 2 contains the new A5 chip which contains two processors instead of one making the device virtually 100% more efficient than its predecessor and twice as fast; allowing it to compete with any tablet.

3. Boundless- Remote connectivity to your office is possible from anywhere in the world using applications available on the IPad 2. You can print remote files and emails through the air to a multitude of locations.

4. Powered up- Although the IPad 2 can attain a higher resolution, surf faster and do more, it has maintained an incredible 10 hours of battery life.

5. Dragon Dictation Software- A standard Apple application that has the ability to hear and transcribe a testimony or meeting right to your desktop. This is invaluable for law students and lawyers alike.

6. Presentations- The new IPad can display mirrored images of ANYTHING on the IPad from your screen to a projector screen or HD TV in 1080p full resolution while supporting image rotation. No other Apple product offers 1080p.

7. Simplification- Sound and video now travel through one single HDMI cable giving lawyers the ability to have a meeting at a moment’s notice with virtually no set-up time.

8. Face Time- The critically acclaimed application for the IPhone 4 giving Wi-Fi connected users the ability to chat face- to-face is now available on the IPad 2. With a much larger screen, the IPad2 makes you a moving video teleconference.

9. The Smart Cover- Attaches to the IPad 2 using magnets and immediately puts the device to sleep. Divided into 4 parts, the device has the ability to be folded so that the IPad is angled as a keyboard and also fully propped up to view videos, photos, and notes.

10. IT Ingenuity- The device can enforce and encrypt pass codes, remotely, assuring only warranted users have access to Microsoft Exchange and Outlook.

11. Memory Wipe- In the unfortunate case that your IPad 2 is stolen, users can remotely wipe the memory saving a case, credit card numbers, and other personal information from misuse.

12. The Price- Starting at $499, the IPad 2 has somehow maintained the same cost as the original.

13. Cameras- The IPad 2 has cameras on both the front and the back of the device. It takes pictures and records videos in 720p and can be saved to the IPad and then transmitted to the desktop via ITunes. This is also valuable to law students for recording class.

14. Multi-Touch Screen- Gives users the ability to perform hundreds of tasks without a keyboard or mouse by using commands to alter text size and turn pages all with your fingertips.

15. Wi-Fi Access- Access corporate or personal Wi-Fi with the IPad’s integrated system making connection to virtually any network seamless.

Fla. House Speaker Envisions Splitting State Supreme Court in Two


A proposal to create two divisions of the Florida Supreme Court, separating the bodies by civil and criminal divisions, would cost more than $14 million, according to the state’s Office of State Courts Administrator.
The proposal is favored by Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, according to the Associated Press. Voters would have to pass a constitutional amendment for the plan to come to fruition. It would increase the number of state supreme court justices from seven to 10, and the cost estimate includes remodeling and moving costs, additional personnel and building permits.
The revamped court would occupy the First District Court of Appeal structure. It hasn’t been stated where the First District would be relocated under the plan.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that some think the idea is part of Cannon’s plan to get even with the state court after it tossed three of the the Winter Park Republican’s constitutional amendments off the ballot last year. Besides the proposed state supreme court changes, Florida Republican legislators have proposed taking over the court’s internal rulemaking process, opening judicial misconduct investigations to the public and expand the state supreme court’s jurisdiction so it could consider cases beyond those where lower appeals courts have disagreed on the same point of law.
"This is all about getting even with the judicial system,” Gerald Kogan, a retired Florida Supreme Court Justice, told the Associated Press.
Alternatively, Cannon said that he wants to quicken justice, give citizens accountability, and "add transparency to what is an obscure system."

Summer Intern Mentoring and Training Program

Mentoring

Each summer intern has a shareholder mentor and paralegal mentor. The shareholder mentor meets with the summer intern regularly to provide performance feedback and to advise the summer intern about work assignments and any questions and concerns the summer intern may have. The paralegal mentor helps integrate the summer associate into the firm and the city, both personally and professionally. In addition, summer interns are assigned “readers” so that each receives constructive feedback and instruction on all written projects.

Training

Ertl & Kistemaker Business Law Group is committed to the professional development of each of its interns, and it begins with a commitment to providing relevant training to its summer interns. Our summer associates will develop and refine their skills through on-the-job experience supplemented by formal programs.

As part of this training process, the following training is provided throughout the summer:

Writing Skills & Strategies
Legal Research Training
Legal Technology & Social Media Training
Timekeeping & Billing
Law Firm Economics
Shadow Court hearings, Mediations and Arbitrations
Client site tours & courthouse tours


Meet 2011 Summer Interns
Ellie

Ellie graduated from Florida State University in 2011.  She interned for the American Lung Association in 2008-2009.  Ellie went on to intern with the Florida House of Representatives in 2009-2010.  In 2010, Ellie was a counselor of the Flagler County Summer Camp.  During Winter break in 2010, she interned for Ertl and Kistemaker Business Law Group.  She is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society.  She is also a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.  She is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society.  She was a member for the Lambda Iota Tau Literature Honor Society.  She also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and The American Cancer Society.  


Michael
Michael attended Florida State University from 2006 – 2010. While working for the Agency for Health Care Administration, Michael gained a world of experience in the area of background screening and fingerprinting. Further, Phi Kappa Tau, or Phi Tau (saw with a t) as he affectionately calls it, gave him the opportunity to grow both professionally and socially. In his junior year, Michael was selected to be part of the Membership Orientation Officer team which is responsible for the assimilation of the incoming freshmen. He reveled in the opportunity to interact with younger people and the difficult task of relaying knowledge to a variety of personalities and backgrounds. Michael was accepted to the University of Tulsa, Mercer, South Texas College of Law, and the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. In the end, he chose the University of Arkansas Little Rock. He has an interest in becoming a legislative staff writer and one day even moving into politics.


For additional information about our Summer Intern Program, please contact us here.

Creative Ways For Community Associations To Collect Delinquent Assessments In 2011

Personal Judgments – Chapters 718 and Chapter 720, Florida Statutes, governing condominium associations and homeowners associations, respectively, provide associations with the power to seek a personal judgment against an owner that is delinquent in the payment of assessments. The associations’ right to seek a personal judgment against delinquent owners is in addition to the associations’ right to file and foreclose on a claim of lien for such unpaid assessments.
Amending governing documents – While some governing documents provide the association with the power to collect rental payments directly from tenants when the owners are delinquent in the payment of their assessments, others do not. If the association’s governing documents do not provide the association with such authority, the board of directors may wish to consider amending the association’s governing documents to include such provision. Such provision would obviate the need to require a lease addendum.
Petitions for the appointment of a receiver to collect rents- The collection crisis being experienced by associations is magnified by owners who are leasing their homes, collecting rents, and refusing to pay assessments on same. Pursuant to Chapters 718 and 720, Florida Statutes, an association may seek the appointment of a receiver against an owner during the pendency of a foreclosure action. By seeking to have a receiver appointed, the association can employ the powers of the court to collect rents from those homes occupied by tenants, which are delinquent in the payment of assessments and return to have a positive cash flow to properly fund and operate their community.
» Motions to Compel Banks to Proceed with Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint or to Commence Paying Monthly Assessments Due to Association– It is unfair and inequitable for a bank to unreasonably delay their foreclosure actions, thereby causing the assessments owed to the association to continue to accrue. By moving to compel banks to proceed with their case when they have unreasonably delayed their foreclosure actions, we MAY be successful in obtaining orders from the court requiring the banks to proceed with their case in a diligent and expeditious manner. Such orders alleviate delays in cases and may lessen the impact felt by associations unable to collect assessments during the time the foreclosure case is pending.
By Erum Siddiqui Kistemaker & Christene M. Ertl 
Ertl & Kistemaker Business Law Group 

11Reasons Your Business Needs To Have An In-House Legal Counsel

1. Supervisory or field sales personnel have access to counsel for contract review or relevant legal
questions.

2. Human Resource strategies can be established and closely managed to prevent or minimize
liability risk.

3. Peace of mind knowing you have hands-on protection of trade secrets, from customer lists to
critical competitive information.

4. Access to a front-line legal specialist who works with management to best implement preventive
legal strategies.

5. Maintain greater control of outside legal expenses by reducing per-hour costs and realize
increased economic efficiencies in handling corporate legal overflow.

6. Tackle issues that would otherwise demand the attention and time of top management.

7. Enable your business to promote a larger image in your industry.

8. Priority access to a responsive, legally trained team member who deals with each transaction,
matter or issues with the immediacy and urgency your organization requires.

9. Implement policies that protect your business and maintain compliance with current statutory
requirements.

10. Gain the ability to budget your legal costs without the attendant employee costs a full-time
counsel would require.

11. Allow the drafting of contracts and preparation of standardized forms to be accomplished by a
team member with intimate knowledge of the structure, goals and culture of the organization and
allow supervisory control over entire procedure of contract formation and administration.

Our Outsourced In-house counsel services typically follow one of two tracks for small to mid-sized
enterprises. For companies that outsource legal matters infrequently, our part-time involvement typically
includes bundled services tailored to the clients' needs.

These services are designed to mirror those
typically provided by law departments of medium to large corporations. The second track is designed to
augment the active involvement of outside counsel in day-to-day legal matters for quicker response and
generally reduced costs.

So if you want a legal team that really understands your business give us a call today at 386.310.7997 or,
send us an e-mail.

Read more about our services at our website: www.e-kbusinesslaw.com

Court ruling: New laws may not apply to your condo or HOA

Experts say to check governing documents for language that says state laws apply and will be amended from time to time
A new Florida Supreme Court ruling makes one thing crystal clear about new condominium and homeowners association laws: They may not apply to your community if your governing documents do not specify they are subject to Florida laws and contain the words "as amended from time to time" or similar language.

Unless your documents specify they are subject to new amendments passed by lawmakers, your documents may lock your community into the laws in effect when the community was built and the association was incorporated. For example, if your community was incorporated in 1990, and the governing documents do not contain as-amended-from-time-to-time language, your association may be governed by the laws in effect in 1990 — and not many of those passed after 1990.

Also, if lawmakers pass a law being considered now that would allow an association to file a lien to recover costs racked up by a management company in its efforts to collect past due payments from a delinquent owner, the law would not apply to condos if the governing documents do not have the proper language saying new laws apply.

Quick Tips for the Tech Savvy Attorney

Productive i-Phone Apps – make it easier to work form any location:

1) Dropbox, a free app that allows you to store your documents in the Cloud;

2) Dragon Dictation, a free app that enables surprisingly accurate voice to text
transcription;

3) The Fastcase app, a free app that provides you full access to their entire case
law database so that you can conduct legal research on the fly;

4) The ABA Journal’s free app that aggregates their very informative blog posts;
and

5) Yap voicemail, a free app that imporves the iphone’s native voice mail system.

Productive i-Pad Apps –

1) Dropbox;

2) Goodreader, $2.99 app that makes storing, accessing and marking up PDF’s a
piece of cake;

3) Evernote, a free app that allows you to collect, store and easily access notes,
images and more;

4) The fee Kindle app, which turns iPad into an eReader; and

5) Desktop Connect, a $14.99 app that facilitates remote access to your desktop
computer.

Please go to our website and review our blog on technology updates.
1651 N. Clyde Morris Blvd. #2
Daytona Beach, FL 32117
Tel: (386)310-7997
Fax: (386) 478-4425
www.e-kbusinesslaw.com

April 2011: A Year for Revision

The passage of important bills in 2011 may provide a measure of solace and a reprieve for members of community associations. The 2011 legislative session has begun and two bills that directly affect community associations are pending.  The first is referred to as the “Glitch Bill” (SB 530) and is intended to correct the unintended consequences and mistakes in the bills passed in 2010.  The second is a revival of the bill, vetoed by Governor Crist, limiting the liability of design professionals. Its affects are problematic for community associations.


Have doubts about the 2010 laws?  Can you cut off cable or not?  Does a tenant have to turn over the entire rent check?  Can you still publish a directory? 

There are several bills impacting associations filed for consideration by the 2011 Florida legislature - some clearing up unresolved ambiguities.  Here is a preview of the issues raised:

 SB 530/HB 1035: The definition of the word “Glitch”, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is: a sudden, usually temporary malfunction or irregularity of equipment.  In the case of the “Glitch Bill”, the word is used more to describe a positive interjection of revisions to aid owners and members of associations alike.  The bill covers a wide range of material but is rather straightforward in nature.  If this bill becomes law it will:
  • Enable owners to review employment agreements and see financial records that show compensation paid to employees.
  • Clarify that owners may allow the association to publish a directory or other document with their phone numbers, email addresses and other contact information. 
  • Allow condo boards to hold closed meetings to discuss personnel matters, without an attorney being present, just like homeowners’ association boards. 
  • Enable condos and HOAs to pass management collection fees on to the delinquent owner.
  • Make it perfectly clear that all rent shall be paid to the association until a unit owner's delinquency is paid in full.
  • Clarify the procedure to suspend use and voting rights (when an owner is delinquent for more than 90 days), as well as some other issues.

SB 328/HB 59:  Specifically permitting process servers in to common areas of condominiums, gated communities, or any secured residential areas without notice when serving a summons or other process.
SB 332/HB 173:  Equalizing treatment of multi-family (i.e. condominiums) and single family residences with respect to submerged land leases. Currently, multi-family residences are treated like commercial, profit-making entities.
SB 476/HB 883:  Addressing public lodging establishments. Chapter 509 creates two classes:1) transient (allows rentals more than three times per year for periods of a month or less); and 2) non transient (rentals for a month or more). This bill raises the transient/non transient threshold from one month to six months.
SB 646:  Requiring a mobile home park owner to notify the officers of the homeowners’ association created by ss. 723.075-723.079 of a bona fide offer for purchase.
SB 650/HB 423:  Allowing local governments to enforce violations of certain mobile home statutes and requiring notice before a park owner can evict a mobile home owner because of a change in land use.
SB 712:  Making is perfectly clear that condo boards can suspend use of recreational facilities, meeting rooms, gyms, pools, cable television, internet service and valet service when an owner is more than 90 days delinquent.
SB 832/HB 583:  Requiring the Division to notify a mobile home homeowners’ association before approving changes to the prospectus or offering circular.  Prospective tenants will receive a “mobile home expense disclosure document.”  The bill also defines the “market area” or “competitive area” for comparable mobile home parks.
SB 1112:  Requiring condo and co-op boards to provide the local property appraiser with a list of units rented during the previous year, so the property appraiser can investigate possible violations of homestead laws.
SB 1132:  Prohibiting immediate family members in the same unit from serving on the board of a cooperative association together.
SB1288/HB 799:  Adopting a non-judicial foreclosure process for commercial property, including commercial condos.
SB 1516/HB 1195:  For both condos and HOAs, this bill would:
  • Require insurance companies to notify all owners (by certified and regular mail) if the board cancels or does not renew its required insurance coverage (50 units or less) and enable a majority of the voting interests to direct the board to obtain substitute coverage.
  • Provides that associations may install impact glass or other code-compliant windows in certain circumstances. 
  • Specify that rent paid to the association by tenants will apply to outstanding and future monetary obligations. 
  • Relieve the association from joint and several liability when it takes title to a property by foreclosure or deed in lieu thereof.
  • Give HOA owners the right to speak at board meetings on any agenda item (for at least 3 minutes) without a special petition.
  • Require “condo-style” elections for homeowners’ associations (60-day notice, written self-nominations, second notice, two-envelopes, secret ballots, etc.).
  • Prohibit co-owners in an HOA from serving as board members together unless they own more than one parcel or unless there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the vacancies on the board.
  • Specify that anyone more than 90 days delinquent is not eligible for board membership.
  • Prohibits convicted felons from serving on the HOA board unless their civil rights have been restored for at least 5 years as of the date on which such person seeks election to the board.