Documents determine eligibility for board
Q: If an owner is a part-time resident, living in Florida in the winter and in another state during the summer, can they be appointed to serve as president or an officer? In order to hold the positions, do they have to be a full-time owner? Also, are renters allowed to serve as a board member?
A: This is a document question. Read in your articles and bylaws to find the answer to this question.
Unless your documents restrict who can serve as a director or officer, the statute allows nonresidents and nonowners to serve on the board of directors. The statutes allow a director who is out of town to attend a board meeting and count as present by using a speakerphone.
With today's electronics, it is possible for an absent director and officer to keep current with the day-to-day business affairs.
One of my favorite stories is that I held a board meeting when all nine directors were out of town for the summer. I talked by phone and e-mail with all the directors and officers and established the agenda for the emergency board meeting.
Once the meeting package was completed, a meeting notice was posted and sent by overnight mail to each director. I had established a phone conference call with the telephone company.
At the meeting room, I set up the room as I would for any board meeting except there was a speakerphone connected to the public address system for the members to hear all of the directors.
If you can picture the room with the board table and nine empty chairs, the phone calls came in and were connected to the public address system.
Once all directors were on the line, I asked the president to call the meeting to order and the meeting was completed as if all the directors were seated in the empty chairs. The fact is that most of this community departed for the summer and for six months there were no board meetings except for this emergency meeting.
When the directors were in residence, they established operational policies for me as the manager. I send a weekly manager's report by e-mail to the president. Once a month, I mailed the financial report to the president and treasurer.
As you can see, if the board establishes proper operational policies, there is no need to have directors remain in full-time residency.
If restricting renter's rights, be sure it's enforceable
Q: I am a board member at a condominium and our documents say that we have no limitations on pets, but we only allow owners to have pets. Does the condominium act state that owners transfer their rights, except for voting, to tenants when they rent out their units?
A: This is a legal question that involves your documents and policies approved by the board. If the board creates a policy that renters cannot have pets and it is not in the documents, then the board needs to seek legal advice from the association's attorney. Find out if the rule can be enforced.
FS 710.106 says: "When a unit is leased, a tenant shall have all use rights in the association property and those common elements otherwise readily available for use generally by unit owners and the unit owner shall not have such rights except as a guest, unless such rights are waived in writing by the tenant . . ."
Keep in mind that if you restrict a renter/tenant, you must have the power to enforce the rule or policy. If you do not have the powers, then you may find that an owner or tenant will file a lawsuit.
That is the reason you need to seek guidance from the association attorney.
You do not want a judge rule against the association for attempting to enforce a non-enforceable rule.
Association cancels flood insurance; now what?
Q: I have a question about our association dropping flood insurance. They are suggesting we purchase our own insurance, and that is not a problem but it will not cover the items inside our unit that are not owned by us such as the sheetrock walls.
These items would have to be covered by the association's master flood policy, which the board has canceled. What are we to do about this and how can we get the association to pick the policy back up?
A: I have received several questions from your community on this matter. There is a problem that the other members brought up. If your association is in a flood zone, mortgage companies will not loan for new purchases or refinancing. In addition, existing mortgage companies can call their mortgage.
The board should read your association documents to determine if flood insurance is required.
It really is not a board's decision to not carry insurance as it is a requirement. Such expense is necessary to protect the association and really is not an area to save funds. The board not only has a fiduciary duty, they have a responsibility to the members.
You are correct in that the condominium is leaving themselves open for claims if they drop coverage.
I would send a letter to the board explaining that they have a duty to the members to protect the association in event of a flood loss. Ask them to discuss the matter at the next board meeting.
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.