- Delivery Acceptance Procedures
- Satellite Dish Installation Restrictions
- Prize Promotions
- Florida Towing Laws and the Property Manager



Delivery Acceptance Procedures
by Harry Heist, Attorney at Law


INTRO - As e-commerce continues to grow, management and staff are faced with an ever increasing amount of deliveries to the office for their residents. These deliveries pose a large liability hazard to management, as once they are signed by someone in the office, a duty of care arises under which management must make sure that these deliveries are kept safe and secure for the resident. While a policy could be put in place under which management does not accept deliveries on behalf of the resident at all, this policy will probably not be workable, as most residents will expect management to provide this service should the resident not be available. The goal is being able to accept deliveries, but avoiding liability in the process.

LIABILITY- If you accept deliveries on behalf of a resident, you become more vulnerable to potential liability for the loss or damage to the item or items accepted. Often the delivery service, be it Fed Ex, UPS or others, will allow just about any of your staff members to sign for a package. This package could be of little value or of incredible value, and you will have no idea when signing. Since many companies do not have a secure safe or other secure place in which to place these items, the minute they come into the office, potential liability arises. Properties experience theft of delivered items from employees, residents and visitors all the time. No one is immune. If your company accepts deliveries, this potential liability must be decreased, and policies must be in place to achieve this goal. Often in our quest for providing customer service, we forget that the potential liability for doing so increases dramatically. However, it can be minimized.

PROCEDURE - If deliveries are accepted, you need to determine where they will be kept once accepted, and who on your staff will be allowed to sign for and accept the deliveries. Since at any given time someone in the office may be out on the property, most companies allow more than one employee to accept a delivery. Therefore, anyone authorized to accept deliveries should be trained, and a document should be created under which you set the terms of the delivery acceptance, and have those persons designated to accept deliveries sign this document. Those who are not allowed to accept deliveries should sign a document acknowledging and agreeing that they will under no circumstance accept or sign for a delivery. If someone slips up and does accept a delivery when not authorized, that individual should be written up and given a written warning.

SAFEKEEPING - If you do not have a reasonably secure area in which to hold accepted deliveries, you should have a policy to not accept them at all, and this needs to be communicated in writing to your residents. You can state the reason right in your communication, or wording can be placed in the lease. With that said, many staff members will decide to accept deliveries nonetheless, possibly placing the package in the manager's office or a closet. Any time exceptions are made, the risk of loss increases. If deliveries are to be kept in the manager's office, but the manager is on the phone in a private conference with the door closed, the package may be placed on the desk of another staff member of course, only to subsequently disappear. Look at every delivery, be it a letter or a package, as something of significant value, and train all staff to take all deliveries extremely seriously, no matter what size or shape. Occasionally you will need to deal with oversize packages, and provisions should be made for these as well.

REFUSAL OF EXCESSIVE DELIVERIES - If you encounter a resident who is receiving excessive deliveries, a properly worded Delivery Agreement will enable you to decide not to accept these anymore. Excessive deliveries can continually interfere with your day to day operations, and since you are not being paid to be a secretary for the resident, you should not have to perform these duties. Your Delivery Agreement should clearly state that you can refuse or suspend the signing for and acceptance of deliveries for a resident at your discretion. If you do make this decision, notify the resident in writing, and most importantly, notify your staff members. Make certain that you create some sort of standard before you decide to refuse a particular resident's deliveries, as you do not want to be accused of discrimination.

THE DELIVERY AGREEMENT - Examine your current delivery agreement if you have one, compare it to the one provided here, and see if all the bases are covered.

1. Use a proper Delivery Agreement
2. Create a policy for delivery acceptance
3. Find a safe place to keep all deliveries


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Florida Towing Laws and the Property Manager
by Brian P. Wolk, Attorney at Law


Perhaps there is no other act by a property manager that will invite heated confrontation between the property manager and a resident than the towing of a resident's vehicle. Of course the resident will be upset. Without the vehicle, the resident's ability to earn a living may be impacted, there may have been valuables left in the car, maybe even a wallet or purse, and now the resident will need to pay a good deal of money to get the vehicle back. Towing can constitute a very drastic action indeed. There is no doubt that a property manager must police the parking areas of an apartment community, especially when there is limited parking, as is often the case. However, actions made by the property manager in the heat of the moment, without proper thought and reflection, can and will lead to very unfavorable outcomes, and will invite lawsuits exposing the landlord to significant potential liability. Unfortunately, many property managers find out after they have instructed their towing company to remove a vehicle that the apartment community was not in compliance with Florida towing laws as they relate to the non-consensual towing of vehicles from private property.

What law governs the towing of vehicles from private property?

Florida Statute 715.07 regulates the towing of vehicles parked on private property. Counties and cities also enact ordinances which govern the non-consensual towing of vehicles on private property.

Initial steps to be taken by the property manager prior to towing

There are a number of actions to be taken before a property manager should authorize the towing of a vehicle. The lease and rules and regulations must be worded correctly. The property must be in compliance with local ordinances and Florida Statute 715.07, and the property manager should obtain confirmation from both the towing company and the property management company that this is the case. The property manager must also obtain proof that the vehicle was parked in an unauthorized manner in the event there is future litigation. The property manager should also keep an updated list of the residents' cars, so that the wrong vehicles are not towed.

The Lease plus the Rules and Regulations contain the appropriate language

The property manager must be sure that car is parked in an unauthorized manner before towing. It is not enough that the correct signage and other requirements of the statute are in place on the apartment community grounds. The lease and the rules and regulations must support the position that the vehicle is parked in an unauthorized manner, and must spell out in detail what type of vehicle parking is unauthorized. For example, the lease may state that the resident must park in an assigned spot, or prohibit vehicles with broken windows, flat tires, or inoperable vehicles. Equally important, the lease must clearly authorize the apartment community to tow vehicles parked in an unauthorized manner.

Components of Florida Statute 715.07

Florida Statute 715.07 regulates the non-consensual towing of vehicles on private property. It contains many requirements, including but not limited to, detailed signage specifications, storage requirements and the type of vehicles subject to being towed. It also subjects violators of the statute to criminal penalties.

Who may authorize the towing company to tow the vehicle from the private property ?

The statute allows an owner or lessee of real property, or any person authorized by the owner or lessee, to authorize a tow of a vehicle parked without permission on private property by a person regularly engaged in the business of towing vehicles.

Signage requirements

Florida Statute 715.07 contains very detailed signage requirements that the property manager must have in place before towing. The notice must be prominently placed at each driveway access or curb cut allowing vehicular access to the property, within 5 feet from the public right-of-way line. If there are no curbs or access barriers, the signs must be posted not less than one sign for each 25 feet of lot frontage. The notice must clearly indicate, in not less than 2-inch high, light-reflective letters on a contrasting background, that unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at the owner's expense. The words "tow-away zone" must be included on the sign in not less than 4-inch high letters. The notice must also provide the name and current telephone number of the person or firm towing or removing the vehicles or vessels. The sign structure containing the required notices must be permanently installed with the words "tow-away zone" not less than 3 feet and not more than 6 feet above ground level and must be continuously maintained on the property for not less than 24 hours prior to the towing or removal of any vehicles or vessels.

These are just a portion of the requirements, and the property manager should be sure that the property management company and towing company have verified that the above signage requirements are in place at the apartment community prior to any towing of a vehicle. With all the restrictions governing the signage, it begs the question whether the landlord can adequately warn about what will constitute an unauthorized vehicle subject to towing. It can be argued that if the resident agrees in the lease agreement and rules and regulations what constitutes grounds for towing, then the signage is not necessary, since the resident has already essentially consented to the tow at the outset of the tenancy. However, this argument may or may not be effective in court. Moreover, individuals who did not sign the lease, such as guests, never agreed in writing to the rules governing vehicles, and compliance with the signage requirements becomes even more of an imperative.

City and County Ordinances

Florida Statute 715.07 contains language indicating that the statute sets forth only minimum standards and authorizes the enactment of additional regulations by any municipality or county. Therefore, the property manager must make sure that the apartment community is in compliance with all local law towing requirements in addition to compliance with F.S. 715.07.

The property manager should keep an updated inventory list of authorized vehicles

A diligent property manager should not tow a resident's car if the resident accidentally parked in an unauthorized spot. While towing technically may be an option, that is not going to lead to resident retention. Many property managers tow a car from an unauthorized spot under the mistaken belief that it is a guest's vehicle. With a properly updated vehicle list, the property manager in that scenario would realize that the vehicle belonged to an existing resident, and would generally afford the resident an opportunity to move the vehicle from the unauthorized space.

Pictures must be taken

All too often, an apartment community that has proper signage in compliance with the statute and has the proper wording in the lease and rules and regulations, will still lose in court, and the reason is simple. In court the property manager is unable to prove that the vehicle was parked in an unauthorized manner. Pictures must be taken to convince the judge that the vehicle was indeed in an unauthorized spot or was otherwise not in compliance with the rules governing vehicles.


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Prize Promotions
by Michael Geo. F. Davis, Attorney at Law


A marketing idea that property managers occasionally use is to conduct a promotion with a prize. The prize may be cash or merchandise, like a big screen TV. The promotion is often to encourage renewals or drive traffic to the leasing office. A carefully planned promotion done in compliance with the law may obtain the desired results. A poorly planned promotion, not properly reviewed by an attorney, can result in not only a marketing failure, but an expensive encounter with the Division of Consumer Affairs. The property manager should understand the legal and practical requirements of a successful prize promotion.

An Attorney's Advice is Important

At the outset the property manager is advised to consult with an attorney. The statutory prohibitions, exceptions, exemptions and regulations make an attorney's advice critical to compliance. The penalties for failure to comply are both civil and criminal, and needless to say, some very bad publicity. There are no model rules for a promotion upon which the manager can rely.

All Lotteries Are Prohibited

We start with the principle that all lotteries are banned in Florida, unless a statutory exception or exemption exists. "Lotteries" broadly covers all games involving chance for money or anything of value. As can be expected, statutory exceptions and exemptions abound, covering the many games, drawings and prize awards commonly seen in Florida, from local bingo to national marketing contests. The statutory exemption upon which the property manager seeking to hold a prize contest would rely is found at Florida Statute 849.094, Game Promotions in Connection with Sale of Consumer Products or Services.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs

The next principle is that the statutes and regulations will be enforced and construed liberally to protect the consumer. The regulation of lotteries falls under the Division of Consumer Services of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services ("Department"). The Department has the right under the statute to establish rules and regulations to enforce the statute. The courts are likely to give the Department wide latitude in its decisions. There are not a lot of civil court cases in this area, as the statute is commonly employed in criminal arrests for illegal and/or fraudulent schemes. This is not an area of the law in which the property manager should take a chance that the Department will decide any gray areas in favor of the contest holder. People can and do complain to the Department, and it may only take one complaint to start an investigation, which will needlessly consume management time and expense.

The Statutory Exception

FS 849.094 permits game promotions, which include but are not limited to any contest, game of chance or gift enterprise in connection with the sale of consumer goods or services. Any promotion that is a contest, game of chance or gift enterprise, that is conducted in connection with the sale of consumer goods or services, and that has the element of chance, is covered by the statute. The term "sale of consumer goods and services" is not defined, and given the broad interpretation normally afforded consumer protection statutes, the Department's position is that it covers the renting of apartments. The most common "game promotions" in a community would probably be prize drawings for all renewals or applications within a certain time period. These prize drawings would fall under FS 849.094 and would have to comply with the statutory requirements. As will be seen later, the total value of monetary prizes or retail value of non-monetary prizes should not exceed $5,000.

A Clear Set of Rules

The first requirement would be to have a clear set of rules governing the prize qualification and drawing. Although the statute doesn't expressly require this, it is a practical necessity to avoid the claim that the promotion was not arbitrary or manipulated. Again, this is where an attorney's advice is important. A clear set of rules complying with the statutory requirements will avoid problems later. It is unwise for a property manager to try to comply on her own under the theory that it is a small promotion. Remember, there are criminal penalties for the failure to comply with the statute. It should also be noted that the statute applies not only to the individual, firm, corporation or association conducting the promotion, but also to their agents or employees.

Predetermined Winner, Rigging or Manipulation is Forbidden

The statute forbids predetermining the winner. It forbids the rigging or manipulation of the promotion. It forbids the manipulation of the promotion to favor any one of the sponsors of the promotion. This means that if more than one community is participating in the promotion, the promotion cannot control the outcome to direct the prize to only one of the communities. The statute forbids the manipulation of the promotion to any particular period of time during the promotion, or to any particular geographic area. This means that if the promotion time is for an entire month, the promotion must give all entries for the entire month the same equal chance at winning the prize. If the promotion takes place in Orlando, for example, all entries from people living outside Orlando must be given the same equal chance at winning the prize.

The Prize Must be Awarded

It is unlawful to arbitrarily remove, disqualify, disallow or reject an entry. This means what it says and doesn't require explanation. It is unlawful to fail to award the prize. The property manager must award the prize. If the property manager notifies the first winner of the prize drawing, and that person does not claim the prize in the allotted time, then the property manager must proceed to the next winner (a second drawing) and so forth until the prize is claimed. This is a point that the attorney will cover in preparing the promotion rules - the manner and time for claiming the prize. It is unlawful to publish or advertise any material in connection with the promotion that is false, deceptive or misleading.

Fees or Payments to Enter are Forbidden

The property manager may not require an entry fee or payment as a condition of entering the promotion. Since "payment" will probably mean requiring anything of value, entry into the promotion should not be conditioned on the entrant doing anything other than properly completing an entry form. This means that the promotion cannot be limited to those who provide some value to the property manager. For example, a renewal promotion should not be limited to those residents that renew. Likewise, a rental promotion should not be limited to those prospects that complete an application or view the model apartment. An entry form should be given to anyone who asks for it, including someone who doesn't renew or doesn't even fill out an application. It would seem prudent to play it safe, rather than to attempt to limit the entries, only to be found later in violation of the statute for attempting to illegally manipulate the prize outcome. For this same reason it would be wise to make the entry form, as well as the promotion rules, available to anyone that requests them by mail, however unlikely that is.

Shipping or Delivery Charges

The statute does not indicate whether a shipping or delivery charge can be imposed for the delivery of the prize. Since the prohibition on charging a payment may be broadly interpreted to prohibit this, it would be practical to require that the prize be claimed at the community. Your attorney can cover this in the promotion rules.

The Resident Referral Fee

The statute provides that it does not apply to actions regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. For this reason, the property manager cannot use this statute to conduct a promotion for current residents to award a referral prize or monetary award. The $50.00 limitation imposed on referral or finder's fees by FS 475.011 applies.

Prizes Greater in Value than $5,000

As previously indicated, the total of monetary prizes or retail value of a non-monetary prizes awarded in the promotion should not exceed $5,000. A total prize promotion exceeding $5,000 in worth is subject to more extensive regulations. These include filing a copy of the promotion rules with the Department and paying a filing fee, establishing a trust account or surety bond for the prize amount, and providing a certified list of the winners' names and addresses to the Department. The time and expense of complying with these and other regulations will increase the cost of any promotion.


For violations of the statute, the Department can seize the prize, impose civil penalties, seek a court injunction to halt the promotion, and refer the case for criminal prosecution. There is no exception for good faith mistakes under the statute. Neither the statute nor the regulations supply the property manager with safe harbor promotion rules. The property manager is again reminded that the advice and input of an attorney is crucial to complying with the statute and avoiding an illegal lottery.

The Department's Website

For further information on conducting a promotion involving a prize, see the Department's website at http://www.800helpfla.com/sweepsbus.html.


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Satellite Dish Installation Restrictions
by Brian P. Wolk Attorney at Law


Satellite dish installation in apartment communities is a continued source of frustration for property managers. Many managers fail to understand the applicable federal law. Other Apartment community managers neglect to enforce the rules. Even worse, some managers take matters into their own hands and remove satellite dishes from unauthorized areas, exposing their companies to substantial liability. It is important that property managers understand that there are limitations as to how they may prohibit satellite dish installation on apartment community grounds. In addition, the lease plus the rules and regulations must contain the proper wording so that the apartment community is able to properly place restrictions on satellite dish installation by residents.

FCC Over The Air Reception Devices Rule

At the direction of Congress, Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Over the Air Reception Devices Rule, which governs restrictions on a viewer's ability to receive programming from direct broadcast satellites. Effective in 1999, the Federal Communications Commission amended the rule and expanded its application to apartment communities. Effective in 2001, the FCC again amended the rule to also include antennas that receive and transmit wireless signals.

Outright ban on satellite dishes not allowed under the rule

The Over the Air Reception Devices Rule governs apartment communities. Satellite dishes cannot be prohibited in an exclusive use area of the apartment community or an area under the exclusive control of the resident.

Meaning of exclusive use

Exclusive use of the apartment community is defined as an area that is only used by the resident on the lease, and from which area other residents can be excluded from entering. Patios and balconies not shared with other residents are considered exclusive use areas. Common Areas

The rule does not apply to the apartment community common areas. The hallway, the roof, the apartment community lawn and exterior walls of an apartment building are among those areas considered common areas. Therefore, an apartment community could restrict the resident from installing a satellite dish to the exterior of the apartment building.

Satellite dish that is covering both an exclusive use area and common area

The rule does not offer protection for the resident if the satellite dish is installed within an exclusive use area but protrudes into the common area. For example, the resident installs the satellite dish on his patio, but the dish extends over the patio wall. The apartment community is allowed to restrict the resident in that scenario.

Right of inspection by management does not affect the rule

Even though an apartment community has the right to make repairs and inspect a resident's apartment home, the apartment home for purposes of the rule is still considered to be within the exclusive control of the resident. Accordingly, the rule will apply, and the apartment community cannot prohibit the use of the satellite dish by the resident by virtue of having repair and inspection rights.

Regulation of the exclusive use area does not affect the rule

Often, an apartment community will regulate exclusive use areas. For example, barbeque grills may be prohibited by the terms of the lease from being placed on the balcony. The balcony still is not considered a common area. Therefore in that example, while the grill could be banned, the resident could not be prohibited from placing a satellite dish on the balcony. If it is an exclusive use area, the FCC Rule will apply.

Deposits may be required

The rule would arguably not prevent an apartment community from requiring a deposit to cover possible damage from the installation of the dish. The deposit would most likely be upheld if the amount were reasonable, and if the deposit were fully refundable unless the damage was beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Apartment community can impose reasonable restrictions

Restrictions made with respect to the installation of the satellite dish by the resident in order to limit damage to the apartment community are allowed by the FCC Rule if the restrictions are reasonable. It would certainly be reasonable to prohibit the resident from drilling holes on the roof. It would most likely not be reasonable to prohibit the resident from causing minor damage to carpets or walls within an exclusive use area. The apartment community is allowed to place restrictions according to the Rule to impose restrictions for safety reasons. For instance, the restriction would likely be upheld if the resident places a satellite dish on the balcony that is not installed in accordance with the local building code. The apartment community need not allow that. Restrictions for historic preservation are also permitted.

Correct lease wording

The apartment community is allowed to impose reasonable restrictions on satellite dish installation. In order to impose those restrictions, they must be included in the lease and applicable rules and regulations. The lease should limit the resident's ability to install satellite dishes in community common areas and other areas of the apartment community not with the resident's exclusive use or control.

Enforcement of satellite dish restrictions

Suppose the resident has violated the lease and has placed a satellite dish on the common area grounds of the apartment community. The knee jerk reaction of the property manager is to remove it. That is very dangerous and will expose the landlord to liability to the resident for property loss or damage. The correct step for the apartment manager to take would be to serve the resident with a Seven Day Notice to Cure addressing the lease noncompliance. The notice should list in reasonable detail why the resident is not in compliance with the lease. After the expiration of the notice, if the resident is still not in compliance with the lease and the apartment manager has sufficient proof, then the next step would be to serve the resident with a Seven Day Notice of Termination, in which the resident would have seven days to vacate the apartment home or face an eviction action. In that instance, the property manager should have pictures or video to support the case.


Many apartment communities with residents who are placing satellite dishes in unauthorized areas do not address that problem immediately, or the property manager may inherit a property on which the prior property manager or even a different management company failed to act for a significant period of time. By neglecting to take action early on, and then continuing to accept rent, it is possible that a judge may find that the landlord waived its ability to evict. In those situations, non-renewal in accordance with the terms of the lease may be the property manager's best option.


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Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Wolk, P.A.
Phone: 1-800-253-8428 Fax: 1-800-367-9038

Serving Florida's Property Managers with main office in Fort Myers Beach. Available by appointment in Orlando and Clearwater

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