Question: Can a Florida homeowners’ association require that a homeowner disclose, prior to taping, that they wish to tape a board meeting? D.D. (via e-mail)
Answer: In my view, a homeowners’ association can require that a homeowner disclose their plans to record a board meeting, prior to doing so. Section 720.306(10) of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act states that any parcel owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the board of directors and meetings of the members. However, the statute also permits the board to adopt reasonable rules governing the taping of meetings.
It is likely that a rule that requires disclosing one’s intent to record prior to doing so is reasonable because Florida law supports obtaining permission prior to recording in other situations. For example, Chapter 934 of the Florida Statutes provides that in certain situations, wire and oral communication requires consent, prior to recording, to safeguard the right of privacy. This is known as Florida’s “all-party consent law”, which provides, in part, that private conversations cannot be recorded unless all parties provide consent. While Chapter 934 does not govern “public” oral communications, and its applicability to an HOA meeting is certainly debatable, the statute supports the idea that people have a right to know when they are being recorded.
In a 2002 appeals court case called Pinellas County School Bd. v. Suncam, Inc., the court found that it was unlawful to deny the right to record a public meeting. However, the court quoted the attorney general in stating that reasonable rules and policies, to ensure the orderly conduct of a public meeting and to require orderly behavior on the part of those attending, are appropriate. Similarly, it seems reasonable for a board to adopt a rule requiring homeowners to disclose their plans to record a meeting because this could allow the Board to determine where recording equipment should be set up, provide access to outlets if equipment needs to be plugged in, and announce that the meeting is being recorded, so that the meeting is not disturbed and those who speak are aware that they are being recorded.