Q: We have a policy forbidding an owner from renting their condo unit until the arrears are paid in full. If a delinquent owner sneaks in a renter, how can they be denied occupancy? Can we deny the renter access to the pool area and other amenities? Can we turn off electricity and water during eviction action?
A: It is good to have a policy; however, the board should have a way to enforce the policy. You cannot just make a rule or policy because you think it will cause an effect. Condominiums cannot take away rights to use common areas. No, do not turn off electricity or water or any other service. You have a power to lien and foreclose to collect delinquent fees, and trying to restrict rentals is not the way to force collections. Unnecessary rules create too many complications and result in undue backlash. You need to define the problem and ascertain if a new rule is necessary. Then you should determine what results are desired by the new rule. You must examine if the new rule will conflict with an existing rule or other provisions of the association's documents. Ask if the rule will be reasonable and enforceable and what powers will be required to enforce the rule. Get the members involved in creating the rule. Once you have a draft of the rule present it to the association attorney for his/her review.
Handling indifferent board members
Q: We have board members who do not assist with any board responsibilities. They do not read the board material and meeting package and as a result are not prepared for board meetings. The membership is not active and is not concerned with how the board operates. They are elected by default. Is there any statute relief to keep these directors from being reelected?
A: Statutes will not force members to be more active. Owners must understand that the value of their homes and units is directly related to the operations and services of the community. Stop pointing fingers and start volunteering. I would suggest that the board make an attempt to have face-to-face contact with each member, produce an active newsletter, produce transparent communications, and have short, active board meetings to attract the members and allow positive interaction to solve problems.
Determine grounds for ejection
Q: We leased a mobile home lot in a 128-lot community. We paid the taxes on the lot for two years but now we cannot use the lot because the park board filed an ejection injunction against us. We contacted the State Department of Business and Professional Regulations and they would not help us. When you write your articles you are only giving owners false hope as they will find that the state regulators do nothing even if the board of directors commits fraud. Who can we turn to for help?
A: It is my hope in writing this column that my readers do not have false hope, but use the information to help solve problems. They need to understand that they have certain responsibilities not only for themselves but to the community. In order for a mobile home park to eject a resident from the park, they must comply with state laws, part of which are found in Florida Statute 723.061. Since the requirements are extremely detailed, the park should have used an attorney to file the necessary paperwork. You didn't state the reason for your ejection. You need to find out what the grounds were for the ejection, and not assume that the association was wrong.
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.