Board should have deadline for decision
Q: I am trying to rent my condo. I have met the association's requirements of posting a deposit, the applicant's screening fee and have a completed 10-page application by the tenant. Two months later, I have not received any answer.
A: Read your documents and the requirements for screening applicants. Most have a time period for the approval. If you do not receive a formal reply within that time, then it is assumed that the application is approved. If your documents do not provide a time period, then you must insist that the board establish a time for approval.
You need to contact the board by certified mail and demand an immediate answer regarding the applicant. Explain that their failure to reply will force you to take legal action. It can result in suing the board for the loss of rental income for their unnecessary delay. We are in a weak economy, and when a board is negligent in timely actions as you describe, it causes undue problems for owners. If the board does not respond to your letter, I would seek assistance from an attorney.
Association not at fault if trees fall
Q: We have a homeowner association and recently added a screened area to my home. I am concerned about two pine trees next to my property. I have written to the board about removing the trees as they pose a problem if they fall on my new screened enclosure. The board has not responded. If they do not remove the trees and they fall on my screened enclosure, is the association responsible for damages?
A: You would need to engage an attorney for the legal answer. I think you are dealing from a weak position as it appears that the trees were there before you added the screened enclosure.
If the trees fall from natural causes, it would be your responsibility to file a claim with your insurance company. If on the other hand, during the time the association was cutting the trees one fell on your screened enclosure, you may have a claim against their neglect.
An association is rarely responsible for loss of personal property. That is the reason owners need insurance.
Try to fix mistakes, not just hide them
Q: There was a legal matter that our attorney was handling for the board and he communicated with the president by e-mail. The president refused to provide copies to the other directors. After some harsh words he agreed that directors could receive copies.
The matter involved a warning by the attorney that action taken by the board was incorrect. Since the action should have been approved by a vote of the members, the president did not want them to find out. Who would be responsible if the mistake was not corrected?
A: We all make mistakes. If we know of an error, it is our responsibility to correct the mistake. We do this in the open by providing all information of the mistake and then try to make things right.
Since the board is responsible for the operations and all maintenance for the association, letting one person make the decisions is an assumption that the board as a whole agrees with the decisions. If the other directors understand that they hold the power and not one director/officer, they have the power to correct the mistake. If business was conducted improperly, as long as a contract was not signed, the board can repeal past motions or bring it up for a vote of the members.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.