Q: I'm thinking of refinancing my home, but my lender says I have to have the board of my homeowners association fill out a form. Why is my mortgage any of their business?
A: This is standard procedure for lenders. When they refinance your loan, they're concerned not only about your creditworthiness, but about the value of your home. The form will ask about the operations of the association: how many owners are delinquent in their monthly maintenance payments, percentage of rentals, other operational matters, reserves and so on. Lenders are often reluctant to lend on a unit in an association with poor business practices and a high percentage of absentee owners because they believe those units are unlikely to hold or increase their value. Typically the president and the secretary of the association have to sign this form.
Who can run for board
Q: Can two people from the same unit (husband and wife) run for or be appointed to the board of directors? Can a girlfriend or a live-in partner (someone who is not married to the unit owner) run for the board? What are the legal requirements for election?
A: The statutes require only that the candidate be 18 years of age or older. They do not require that a candidate be an owner. Beyond that, consult your documents: Some do require ownership or full-time residence, but most do not. The answer to both questions, therefore, is yes: Unless the documents state otherwise, both husband and wife can seek election, and so can a partner.
Sorting out plumbing
Q: The water pipes in our condo have pinholes. Who must pay for the repairs, the association or the owner?
A: It depends on where the pipes are located and what your documents say about utility lines. Most documents say that a water pipe that serves two or more units is the responsibility of the association and a pipe that serves one unit becomes the responsibility of the owner. Some documents do not clearly indicate at what point the owner becomes responsible, so the board should have the association attorney render a letter of opinion for the records.
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
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