Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Home and Garden

Community Living: Online group would face some issues

Q: Our large condominium has a diverse group of owners; many of the owners are in residence a few months a year. Owners' needs and desires have an outlet in board meetings, but the meeting is somewhat limited or even obsolete. Most owners are not here for board meetings. Vital issues that affect our lifestyles, annual assessments and monthly dues are communicated in ways that really do not tap into how the majority of owners really feel and want.

Several owners want to start an online discussion group limited to our owners. We would like to use it to query our group to obtain members' opinions and attitudes about practical condominium issues including proposed policy, budgetary, capital improvement and assessments priorities facing us. The discussion group will also be a focal point for communicating about social events and practical tips on good contractors, and related information. While association board members would be welcome to join our group, the discussion group would in no way represent the condominium association, board or management. We already have the emails of many owners and can start the group at any time. Can you offer guidance in this process?

A: I do not like the idea except for a method to communicate and distribute information. The key reason is that the board of directors is elected to operate and maintain the association. There is nothing wrong with members writing to the board with their thoughts. But the board meeting is not the place to bring up new ideas. Most decisions made by the board are directed by the documents and statutes so members' new input is out of place at the meetings. In the budget development, budget items are somewhat fixed on how they are calculated and outside opinions have little impact on the values to be calculated. Reserve budgets are directed by statute and are not measured by opinions but a set of specific formulas. Maybe you should request that the board create an advisory committee and a social committee to provide guidance to the board and the members.

Best answer comes from a pro

Q: I am a director on a board of our resident owned community. I am concerned about an action of a previous board to increase the closing fee for a new owner to $200. In reading FS 719.106 the fees can only be $100. Is the action of the previous board illegal?

A: Since the answer involves your documents as well as the statutes, I cannot answer your question, because it requires an interpretation of the laws and your documents. I suggest that you ask your attorney to provide a letter of legal rights for charging a new owner's closing fee. I have found that for some reason many boards do not want to ask professionals for correct answers or the best decisions when they face new situations. These boards just move forward without proper advice. Your question is a valid question, but you need to seek a proper source for the answer.