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Community Living

Board must rein in heedless president

Q: Our condominium president is out of control. He spent $3,000 for a computer program for the office, but no one knows how to run it. Every time a trainer visits to train the office manager it costs us $500. The board voted to set a limit on what the president can spend without prior approval, but he ignores it.

Without knowledge or approval of other directors he sent a letter to all residents about "his" rules that will be enforced. He had hurricane windows installed in the office with no permits or inspections. Next he's going to demolish the butterfly garden we've had near the office for 10 years (created with board approval). What can we do?

A: Your problem is with the other directors who allow the president to take solo action. At any properly called board meeting, directors can elect a new president or can take disciplinary action against the president by limiting his actions.

Their inaction can be considered consenting to the action. The president must understand that any solo action can result in unprotected liability for him.

Illegal fence raised

Q: One of our condo owners has altered his balcony by installing a metal fence that completely encloses the balcony. He claims he had to do this to protect his young daughter and to keep pigeon droppings out. Other parents with young children have no safety problems. Our manager and our attorney have instructed this owner several times to remove the enclosure, but he refuses. He has indicated that he's wealthy and is ready to spend whatever it takes to prevail. What are our options?

A: Consult with your attorney about whether this is the right time to take the matter to court and let a judge decide. I'm not a lawyer, but my reading of the statutes (FS 718.113) is that no owner can use or alter the common areas without member approval, and that appears to be what this owner has done.

An alternative is to have the members vote on a change to the common area and allow the fence. This must be done either at the annual meeting or at a properly called members' meeting. If the members defeat the alteration, the board can take the matter to court.

This fence could be a fire hazard, so check with the fire inspector and with your city government about code enforcement.

Let owner end lease

Q: You've written about the difficulty of evicting an owner who appears to be mentally unstable and threatening. A tenant in our association fits that description. What's the procedure to evict him?

A: Since the unit owner and the tenant have a rental agreement, the association is limited, as a third party, in its ability to take action against the tenant. The association does have the power to enforce rules on the owner of the unit. Most documents say the unit owner is responsible for invited guests. That means the owner is responsible for controlling tenants and is responsible for their rule violations. The association should be able to bring pressure on the owner to terminate the lease.

Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him c/o Community Living, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Sorry, he can't take phone calls or provide personal replies by mail, but you can e-mail him at CAMquestions@cfl.rr.com. Please include your name and city. Visit him online at http://talkwithcam.com.

Board must rein in heedless president 05/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008 4:30am]

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