Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Home and Garden

Community Living: Members control board through elections

Members control who is on board

Q: At the recent annual meeting of our condominium, we elected a past president to the board. After the elections several facts were disclosed about his past actions. The first is that he is a Canadian citizen and only lives here for a few weeks each year. He also have violated our rules by building a patio on common grounds at his unit as well as opening a wall and installing a window without approval by the board. For the election, he assisted some unit owners in filling out their ballots. And these are some of the violations that he has done. One of his campaign promises was to keep fees the same this year. In lieu of all the violations and improper actions that this man has done, is there anything that we can do about this person being on the board?

A: If the members elected the director, good or bad, the members are to be blamed, not the candidate. It is the members' duty to know the details of the person they vote for or to verify the facts. Requirements of the person must be verified by each individual before they vote. Citizenship and residency are not a requirement to serve on a condominium board unless your documents say otherwise.

The filling out of a ballot as you described only means that those ballots should be voided. If he is that bad, the other directors can strip him of all officers' duties. The directors have the final vote to elect officers.

Directors cannot benefit from role

Q: We are a HOA. For the past few years, it has been very difficult to get any volunteers to serve on the board of directors. This year we were forced to reduce the number from seven directors to five directors. Would it be legal to have the members vote to exempt the directors from paying their fees? If this were feasible, we think we would no longer have a shortage of volunteers. We feel that this would be cheaper than to hire a management company.

A: FS 720.303 section 12 does not allow compensation for directors serving. That also means a forgiveness of any fees due would not be allowed. That also would mean the directors cannot receive any gain or special benefit. It would be their responsibility to properly operate, maintain, and spend the funds wisely; a fiduciary duty.

Here is what I suggest to get volunteers. Start with better communications. Go out and meet the members and ask them to help face to face. Create a comfortable environment for volunteers. Face the facts, a director must volunteer to work and give time to the operations. Why not hire a manager to do the day-to-day work and assist the board? Explain to the members that if they volunteer and a manager does the daily work, all they would have to do is provide the guidance and observation. You need to explain that a failure to volunteer to serve your community will, in the end, lower property value and can result in higher fees. As directors, you must think of operating a big business, not a mom-and-pop shop. Hire professionals to help provide guidance and labor and you will find that your association will operate better and increase the property values.