On September 10, the Broward County Commission passed an amendment to the County Code of Ordinances that would require community associations to provide written notices to applicants regarding the status of an application to rent or purchase a dwelling, including specific reasons when rejecting an application. The goal of the ordinance is to prohibit community associations from refusing to sell or rent to a person based on a discriminatory classification. Specifically, the new law requires that associations do the following when receiving an application to rent or buy:
1) Within fifteen days after receiving the application, the association must send a written acknowledgment of receipt of the application. If any portion of the application is incomplete or completed incorrectly, the association must specifically identify each portion that must be completed or corrected.
2) Within forty five days after receiving the application, the association must decide whether to accept or reject the application. If the association rejects the application, it must provide the applicant with the reasons for the rejection and state each reason with specificity.
3) If the association fails to comply with these notification requirements, the Broward County Human Rights Section may send a demand letter requesting that the association send the requested notification within ten days of the demand letter. If the association fails to timely comply with the demand letter, this failure can be considered in determining whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the association discriminated against the applicant.
State law requires that the County file an ordinance with the Department of State within ten days of enactment; once it is filed with the State, the ordinance will become effective. Associations should implement a uniform schedule for newly received applications to ensure that they respond to each application in a timely manner and adhere to the new law.
Joshua Krut is a Partner at Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Bonsike, P.L. where he serves as Chairperson of the Community Association, Club & Resort Practice Group. The Firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables. Mr. Krut can be reached at 954.763.4242 or email@example.com