Q: Our condominium has never been audited and the board keeps recommending that it continues that way. We have never had the required reserves (roof, paving, and painting) until January 2008, when the majority voted and approved a 44 percent condo fee increase. A large portion was to go toward replacing a 21-year-old roof that has already leaked, damaging two units. Suddenly, the board claimed in April that there was a huge protest over the fee increase and conducted a revote. They claim it was approved and have now reduced our fees, so now we have no reserves. Many of us suspect the whole revote was fraudulent, and that they cannot be trusted in any future voting. What can we do?
A: You indicate several areas where your board has operated in a fashion that violates their fiduciary duty as well as the statutes. The amendments to the condominium act effective Oct. 1 say that an association may not waive financial reporting requirements for more than three consecutive years. In addition, the election process has been strengthened to allow turnover of directors. But if the members do not take a more active role in the association, you will never take control away from the current officers. Talk to your neighbors and write letters to the board about these shortcomings. Ask them to discuss the question at the next board meeting. If that fails, contact the Condominium Ombudsman's Office in Tallahassee with your complaint: (850) 922-7671.
Approvals okay within policy guidelines
Q: I am president of a mobile home cooperative park. Our documents say the board must approve all physical changes to units in writing. We have approved a routine operating instruction regarding patios. Can our on-site manager approve a request for a patio that meets all of the requirements or do we have to approve it at our monthly board meeting?
A: Since you have the policy approved, the manager or a small committee can be granted the duty to approve submissions that meet the policy guidelines. I would suggest that you appoint a small committee for this job. The committee can be made up of board members or volunteers or a combination of both. Any submissions approved or disapproved should be reported at the next board meeting. A hard copy of the report should be presented to the secretary to be attached to the minutes. If someone submits a request that is not in compliance with the guidelines, then the board must consider the approval or rejection at the board meeting.
Choose block captain to relay messages
Q: We have a condominium board-appointed committee that many owners feel meets in secret as we are not adequately notified of meetings nor do we see minutes. There is a bulletin board in our clubhouse to post meeting notices. However owners, including board members, do not regularly go to the clubhouse to read the notices. Shouldn't our board insist the committee mail or deliver such information? By the way, this committee makes recommendations to the board regarding the budget and has even suggested special assessments.
A: Committee meetings that discuss budgets or financial matters must post a notice similar to any board meeting. That means an approved bulletin board to post official notices. Committees that do not discuss financial matters or budgets are not required to post notices. However, I strongly suggest that all committees have a transparent agenda and that means posting notices of their meetings. No, there is no requirement that committee meeting agenda be sent by mail or other direct delivery. If the members are disabled and cannot go to the clubhouse to read the notices, why not have a block captain or neighborhood watch set up to relay any messages? This also helps neighbors get to know each other.
Managers, stay out of political matters
Q: I am a newly licensed community association manager accused of encouraging unit members to run for the upcoming board of directors' election. The management company I am employed by does not support me and tells me not to become involved. Please let me know what my parameters are. Am I violating a law and what law is it?
A: I strongly suggest that you stay away from any political matters in the association. You are engaged to answer to the board of directors, whomever they are, and not to control the board or become involved in their fights. Look at your management contract. I am sure that it does not say you need to become involved in political matters. You must remain neutral and treat all directors and candidates the same. If you want to make a recommendation to the board to seek new candidates, then tell the board, not individual members. Once you talk to members behind the backs of the board, your career will be short-lived. I know it is hard to remain neutral but you must only talk in matters you are assigned. Your management company is correct.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Sorry, he can't take phone calls or provide personal replies by mail, but you can e-mail him at CAMquestions@cfl.rr.com. Please include your name and city. Online: talkwithcam.com.