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One person can hold multiple offices

Question: Is it legal for an association president to hold the office of treasurer as well?

Answer: Check your governing documents to see if there are any prohibitions on multiple office-holding. There are no legal restrictions that would prevent one person from holding multiple offices. There may be potential liability problems should something go wrong. If possible, have two signatures on all checks. Have a third party reconcile the bank statements each month.

I once managed a condominium with three directors. One board member had to hold two officer positions. Another condominium with five very busy directors appointed two to hold two positions each, president/treasurer and vice president/secretary, and appointed me, the manager, as assistant secretary and assistant treasurer with powers to sign checks and association documents and letters.

Meeting legally closed

Question: At a recent meeting, the board asked everyone to leave while it discussed upcoming legal action. As owners, don't we have the right to know what is happening?

Answer: Most business should be conducted in the open at a board meeting with a quorum of directors, but there is an exception. Pending legal action may be discussed in a closed meeting. If the board discussed its legal strategy in an open forum, its opponent could sit there, take notes and know exactly what he or she will be facing in court, thus gaining an advantage.

Owner as rule enforcer

Question: We live in Florida but own a condo out of state. Recently, we received a letter notifying us that our tenants are not in compliance with the rules. Why is the condominium writing us rather than the tenants?

Answer: In most governing documents, the association has the power to enforce penalties for rule violations against unit owners for actions of their guests or invitees, in this case your tenants. Usually, associations are not parties to the rental agreement; that is strictly between you and your tenants. Therefore, the association has no direct enforcement authority over the tenants. The association will look to you to enforce the rules.

It is a good idea for boards, with the help of their attorneys, to draft changes to the documents that grant them powers to enforce rules with tenants. It could be as simple as requiring every landlord owner to include an addendum on the lease that names the association as a third party to the lease with eviction rights.

Calls bombard board

Question: Our documents say nothing about treatment of officers by unit owners. One couple constantly call the president and members of the board after 11 p.m. with trivial matters. What are our rights? How should we handle this situation?

Answer: This may not be a condominium problem. It sounds like a civil matter. The board should establish a complaint policy that reads something like: "All complaints should be made in writing and should be delivered to the office." Emergency situations should be spelled out (i.e., life-threatening situations, major damage to high-value equipment) and the procedure outlined for handling those.

Circulate the guidelines to members, post them on the bulletin board and pass them as a motion at a board meeting. If the calls continue, keep a log. Meet with the offending parties to discuss their problems. Warn them that if they fail to follow the complaint policy, the matter will be turned over to civil authorities.

Should the problem continue, contact the association attorney and the phone company. At association expense, board members may have to have call-blocking or caller ID features installed on their phone lines.

Write to Richard White, 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 etihwatt.net.

For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney or call the state Bureau of Condominium office in Tallahassee at (800) 226-9101 or (850) 488-0725 or call the Tampa bureau at (800) 226-6028 or (813) 744-6149. Or write to the Bureau of Condominium, Correspondence Unit, 725 S Bronough St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1033.

You can access the Bureau of Condominium Web site at http:// www.state.fl.us/dbpr/html/ lsc/copage.html.

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