Q. I hear there are new state laws concerning associations. Do you have any information on the changes?
A. You should call it the "new" condominium statute as it is a major change that will take effect Oct. 1. While the governor signed the condominium act changes, he vetoed the homeowners association act changes. The HOA Act will be reworked next year. The changes for condominiums are broad and all boards, members and managers need to study the changes. I have a seven-page outline report that is available if you send a self-addressed, stamped (two stamps) envelope marked "new statutes.'' If you send an e-mail, I will provide a link to a discussion with State Rep. Julio Robaina, one of the authors of the new statute.
Announcing vote count could get dicey
Q. At the annual meeting of our HOA, there was an election for directors. The results were announced by naming the winners only. We were told that it was illegal to announce the actual count. Is this correct?
A. It is not illegal to provide the members the number of votes received. However it is not recommended. You are talking about your neighbors and the possibility of alienating people that you will be living near. The best thing is to just announce the winners and forget how many votes they got.
Rules are meant to be followed
Q. Our boards for the past three years never enforced the rules that state one pet per home. Now the current board has decided to suddenly enforce the rule for dog owners, but not cat or bird owners. Doesn't this seem like a vendetta against dog owners and a potential legal action against the board if it does not enforce all of the rules instead of picking and choosing?
A. When a buyer takes title to a home in an association, they have a duty to comply with the rules. You now have a board that is attempting to enforce the rules when past boards did not fulfill their responsibilities and this can lead to distress. Maybe it is time for the members who are complying with the rules to back the board and those who are violating the rules to recognize the problem. With reference to the board only trying to enforce the rules on dog owners, they have to start someplace. Once they have the dog violators under control, I am sure that they will then address the other pet issues. It sounds like many of your members have really taken advantage of past board failures and it is something that your current board will need time to bring back in line.
Volunteer for board to serve community
Q. You often respond in your column, "why not run for the board?" Perhaps, unfortunately it is because of the responsibility involved. I have seen too many people who hold the president responsible and sometimes they are correct if the other directors do not fulfill their duties. I sure do not want to be president. We are lucky to have any person serve on the board because most members want others to serve and do the work. Why would any person take on this responsibility?
A. Your observation is very true. Too few will volunteer. There comes a time when each person must step up and do something for their neighbors and their community. It is not necessary to be president but perhaps serve on a committee or volunteer to be a candidate to serve on the board. All owners must also understand that the final responsibility is not with the board. Owners have the final responsibility. By this I mean if the board makes a defective decision that causes a financial loss to the association, the board may be held accountable but in truth each owner will have to pay for the loss. Harry Truman said that the buck stopped with him. Well in truth, if he made a mistake, each taxpayer would have had to pay for the blunder.
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 attalkwithcam.com.