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Community living: Make sure association rules are enforced, even if it involves a lawyer

Get lawyer involved to enforce the rules

Q: Our monthly condominium fee includes the privilege of boatyard storage and use of a boat slip. Our association has a long-standing and well-known rule that each boat owner must give the boatyard/dock master an up-to-date copy of proof of his/her current boat insurance. Several boat owners are noncompliant. The boatyard/dock master has personally informed each one of them of their noncompliance. This did not resolve the problem and we still have several boats without any insurance. What do you suggest the board of directors do to remedy this situation?

A: The board needs to establish a rule enforcement policy. Like a collections policy that they should also approve, it involves letters and turning the matter over to the association attorney for legal action.

Never think that the board or a director can be the final authority to enforce the rules. The board must take certain actions to enforce the rules but in the end their powers are few. The policy includes three letters sent to the owners with dates to correct the violation. The first letter is a friendly letter, the second uses stronger language, and the third should be a certified letter stating that the matter will be turned over to the attorney. Each of these letters would have a date to answer, like 14 days or 10 days or more or less depending on the violation. Thus at the end of six weeks, plus or minus, the board would know that they have provided proper notice before turning the matter over to an attorney. The attorney would then send a letter to the owner to correct the violation.

If the violation is not corrected, then the board would instruct the attorney to file a suit against the owner. The judge will rule that the violation is invalid or that the association has a right to enforce the rule. If a board is not prepared to resolve a matter in court, owners will realize that the board will not enforce rules. If the word gets out that the board will take an owner to court, the owners know that the board will have a judge enforce the rule.

With the uninsured boats, you could ask for the right to have the boats removed from the property. The judge would provide that right.

One final thing: Many documents provide the right to fine. I do not like fines as it is difficult to enforce collections. If you must go to court to collect a fine, the primary objective may be to just have the judge rule to enforce the violation. Then you act.

Board should have minutes policy

Q: I was hired to take and produce the minutes for a condominium association. How long do I have to keep my written notes and recordings once the minutes are approved and filed by the board of directors? I would like to pitch everything older than one year.

A: FS 718.111 says that minutes must be retained in a book and are part of the official records and must be retained for seven years. This may or may not include your notes and the recordings. The board must approve a policy that once the minutes are approved, all notes and tapes or other recordings can be destroyed. Some boards want the recordings to be retained as a record.

If your board has not established a policy, then ask them to discuss and approve a policy not to retain the recordings and notes. The minutes are a history of the business transactions by the board. About the only time they will be used is in a lawsuit or other legal matters.

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.

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leg.state.fl.us

Community living: Make sure association rules are enforced, even if it involves a lawyer 07/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 7:08pm]

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