Board responsible for leader's actions
Q: Our president engaged the law firm that we have on retainer — misrepresenting himself under the guise of the association — without the knowledge of the board. He sought to bring an action against another officer. Upon learning of this, the board took immediate action to remove the president and notify the firm that the action instigated was not with board approval. The firm has now billed the association for the president's actions because, as they say, he was acting in his capacity as the association's president.
Obviously, the board does not accept responsibility for the services provided and has asserted that to the law firm with no resolution. When the law firm represents the association, can they act on behalf of one officer to bring an action against another officer? Do you think the association and the board have a financial responsibility to the law firm?
A: I think that the association is responsible for the expense and should pay the legal costs. It is a bitter pill for the board to pay for the cost incurred, but the actions of one person will affect the board as a whole. Let the members know of the mistake, pay the bill and move on by learning from this mistake.
Outgoing officers must leave records
Q: If the treasurer is voted out, must he turn over all financial records in his possession to the new treasurer?
A: All outgoing directors and officers are required to turn over all association records. If a manager is dismissed or leaves, he/she is also required to do so. Such records are the property of the association and failure to return them could be considered unauthorized possession. If some records are not returned, it could be considered a criminal act.
Report troublesome occupants now
Q: We have a small HOA. We have several seedy people living in one of our homes. The owner is rarely there and we are not sure if these are his relatives or renters. They are a constant disturbance. I do not think our bylaws are strong enough for eviction. We spoke to the police and they are aware of our complaint. Can we ask each for ID to see if they are related to the owner? If not, do we have the ability to evict them as renters?
A: Keep records of the disturbances. Request copies of police reports. I assume that it is mostly noise problems and not vandalism. Notify the board of directors and ask them to send a letter to the owner regarding the disturbances. With no real enforcement provided in your documents, you must seek help from other sources such as the police and maybe county code enforcement. A properly written letter to the owner may solve most of the problem.
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.