President is permitted to make motions and cast votes
Q: Is an elected president allowed to make motions and vote?
A: This is a commonly asked question. Thinking that the president does not vote or make motions is incorrect. In fact, if you read the section on "Voting, Chairperson" in Robert's Rules of Order, it says: "The presiding officer, if a member of the assembly, can always vote in the case of a ballot at the same time other members do."
Thinking that the president only votes in case of a tie is wrong. The same is true if the president needs to make a motion or seconds a motion.
My recommendation is that the president asks other directors (at a board meeting) or members (at a members meeting) to make the motion. However, in some situations, it is important that the president make the motion and they would vote on the motion.
Most documents let board enter private property to make repairs
Q: A house in our gated community has been abandoned and the mortgage holder has not yet foreclosed on the property. The board has sent at least two certified letters to the last known address of the previous owner informing him that the lanai screen is broken, and the letters were returned marked not deliverable.
We are concerned about our HOA's responsibility if a child or pet wanders onto that property through the broken screen and falls into the pool. Since it is still private property, must we have a court order to allow us to go onto that property to repair this hazardous condition?
A: What you are referring to is called "Self-Help." Most documents allow the board to enter private property to make repairs. In this situation you describe, it involves making the property secure against a possible "attractive nuisance," which refers to objects or things on the premises that might attract children and therefore pose possible danger or harm.
There are two actions that I suggest. The first is to send a certified letter to the bank holding the mortgage, informing them of the problem. Ask them to make the necessary repairs or allow the board to enter the property and make the repairs.
The second action is to have your attorney send a letter to the previous owner. That letter should be a demand letter to make the property safe and should state if they do not make the repairs, the association will enter and make the property safe at the owner's expense.
Consult an attorney for further guidance.
Get creative with technology to let absent owners serve on board
Q: In a recent column you stated that part-time residents or landlord owners could serve on a board of directors. We are a small community with several homes rented and some owners who use the home as a vacation home. We do not have a clubhouse or common area building to hold our meeting. We meet at a local library where we would not have access to a speakerphone. How could any absent owner be informed of the needs of the association and serve on the board, much less serve as an officer?
A: Sometimes you must be creative. With today's electronic gadgets, there are several methods you can use.
Most libraries have wireless systems available. Using a laptop computer, there are several communication systems available to make connections with out-of-town directors. There are telephones that plug into computers, as well as Skype, which is a program used online that functions as a telephone and videophone. Cell phones can be used as a platform and serve as a speaker phone.
The problem is for the directors living out of town to keep advised of the necessary work and operations.
I would not restrict a person living out of town if they were willing to study and provide advice on solutions to problems. This can be done by e-mail and other electronic transmissions.
These solutions can be solved with limited expense and most of the equipment could be found from owners in your community.
The key words are communications, staying informed and a willingness to dedicate the time necessary.
Holding more than one officer position isn't a good idea
Q: Is it permissible for one person to hold the office of president and treasurer at the same time? I think the board should not let this happen — the board has other directors and we can have one person for each position. Why is there a need for our directors to allow this to take place?
A: The source for this answer can be found in your documents rather than the statutes. More than likely if your documents address this situation it would be in your bylaws, but most documents do not limit this situation.
It is not a good idea for a person to hold two officer positions, but in some situations it is necessary. The directors should not appoint one person to do most of the work unless there is no other option.
If directors do not have the time to serve as officers, they have two options. The first is to resign and let another owner fill the vacancy. The second is to engage professional management to do the work, and then the directors and officers would only need to supervise the manager's work.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.