Q: Can the board appoint alternates to serve in place of absent directors, with voting rights? Our board has always done this when the elected directors cannot attend meetings. These alternates have voted on new rules and approved many motions for repairs. If they did not have voting rights, does that invalidate those votes?
A: Florida Statute 617 makes no reference to alternate directors. It would be my belief that the board cannot appoint a temporary director to sit in for an absent director. Check your bylaws to see if they provide for a temporary replacement.
Ordinarily an elected director would have to resign before a new director fills his/her vacancy. I recall one situation where a director served for six months and when he went North for the summer, he resigned and a new director was named by the board to fill his vacancy.
The statutes provide for an absent director to attend meetings and be counted as present through the use of a speaker phone.
As to the legality of any action taken by the board with temporary directors, that would be a question for the association's attorney. It is my belief that it would be considered an illegal vote if the matter was challenged.
Nepotism on board?
Q: After the elections at our annual meeting, one of the sitting members resigned from the board. At the next meeting the board appointed the wife of one of the sitting board members to fill the vacancy. There is nothing in our documents about this situation. Do the statutes say anything about this?
A: There are three issues here. First, on the subject of spouses or family members serving on the board simultaneously, the statutes do not prohibit this. Check your documents to see if they prohibit this situation.
The only restriction in the statutes is that directors be a minimum of 18 years of age. Condominium statutes prohibit a person with a felony conviction from serving. FS 617 has most of the qualification to serve as a director.
To take up the second issue in your question, FS 617.0809 says that in event of a vacancy on the board, the remaining directors need to select a person at the next board meeting to fill the vacancy. The action by your board to appoint a new director at the next meeting was legal.
As for the third point, while appointing a spouse to fill the vacancy is legal and proper, I don't recommend it.
Q: A Canadian who wished to buy property here was told to his face by the owner that she would not sell to a Canadian. Others in the association are angry about this. Was this owner breaking any law in refusing to sell to a Canadian?
A: Several federal discrimination laws apply to the sale of real estate, addressing age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion and national origin. From the Department of Justice: "Laws prohibiting national origin discrimination make it illegal to discriminate because of a person's birthplace, ancestry, culture or language. This means people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they or their family are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, because they participate in certain customs associated with a national origin group, or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin."
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him c/o Community Living, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. 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. Visit him online at talkwithcam.com.