Q: We have a very manipulative president and a clique of followers. Most residents do not know what is going on or do not care in our homeowners association. My question is, what can be done about not posting the Architectural Review Committee meetings and the finance committee meetings? I have mentioned this at several board meetings. The property manager agrees that a notice for these meetings is mandatory and illegal if a notice is not posted, but it does not happen. What actions can be taken?
A: The board of directors must be warned of the statute violations in writing. Point out that any meeting that requires a notice can be considered illegal and the information approved at the meeting can be considered improper. It may require that you start talking to your neighbors and have them write letters to the board. Your members need to become involved. In my older years, I have learned that a person in power will push the limits of their power. Unless the people become involved and voice their objections, the people will lose some of their powers and rights.
Q: Recently I was informed that because I am not a unit owner I can no longer attend board meetings. I was told this is not a rule or by-law of the condominium but a state law.
A: I do not know of any law that restricts visitors at association meetings. Many boards think that the business is not the concern of nonmembers. It may be a policy of the board or it could be in the documents, but it is not in the statutes. If there are no restrictions on a visitor attending the meeting, they still should not have a right to address the board or vote on matters. However, sometimes the visitor has a proxy or a power of attorney. The question can be about an owner that has an attorney or a professional attend to represents his/her rights during a meeting. If the board fees so strongly about denying visitors, I would suggest that they have the association attorney render an opinion.
Q: I am president of a homeowners community. Our board allows members to speak only after the board has discussed and voted on issues. This is of no value, as we want members to voice their opinions prior to any vote. On what would you base your opinion that it is not consistent with the statutes?
A: Let us not talk about the statute requirements. We need to address what is right and wrong or what is best for the association. Members should have a way to address the board. My first suggestion is for members to write letters to the board with their concerns. A board meeting is not the place for owners to vent their concerns. However, they should be able to address agenda items at the board meeting. I suggest that the board approve a policy requiring members to give the secretary a note that they would like to talk on a specific agenda item. Then as the board comes to the item, after the first discussion by only board members, those who have submitted a request may speak for three minutes. Then if any director has any input, the directors would have a second chance to address the directors again and then they vote.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. He cannot 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.