1. Archive

Minutes of meetings are all-important

Question: Should minutes of the board meeting be reviewed by someone? Who signs them? Does each member get a copy? Should they be read at the next meeting?

Answer: The minutes are one of the most important documents in your official records. They are used as evidence in court matters, they serve as the foundation for the correction of errors, and they are the business historical records and require a formal systematic archive for the preservation of the records.

Shortly after each meeting, the minutes should be drafted. The manager and the secretary may work closely together to draft the first copy. The minutes should not be a verbatim or word-for-word transcription of the meeting.

Use the agenda to outline the minutes, then take each section and briefly discuss the action taken. Record motions (who moved and who seconded). List important discussion points briefly. Record by name how each member voted. I always offer the first draft to the president as a courtesy to edit the minutes before I circulate them to other board members.

Some secretaries sign the minutes before circulation, but most sign them after approval at the next meeting. Minutes need not be circulated to the board members, but they should be posted on a bulletin board or made available to the members. They should be read at the next meeting and approved. Some associations interpret the word "read" to mean "read silently," and they approve the minutes as read.

I like to add supporting information to the minutes, such as copies of reports and bids discussed at the meeting. Once the minutes are approved, put them in a file or notebook.

I also recommend creating a database of motions that refer to specific minutes for future records.

Quorum for business

Question: Often we have no quorum at our board meetings. Can we conduct business using proxies?

Answer: No. You need a quorum to conduct business. That means that members must be physically present or on a speakerphone for all to hear.

Delinquency policy

Question: I am a new president of a condominium. Several tenants have refused to pay their monthly fees. The outgoing president told me that I would need to increase fees because of the delinquency problem.

How can we get rid of these deadbeats?

Answer: You need to create a collections policy that details the procedures to collect delinquent accounts. Publish this policy to all the members and then follow through.

Contact an association attorney and engage him or her to represent the association. Start liens on all units delinquent and follow through with foreclosure action.

With a strict policy, all your problems should be solved in 120 to 180 days.

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 For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney.

To discuss provisions of the state condo/co-op acts, 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, (800) 226-4472, or (813) 744-6149. Or write to the Bureau of Condominiums, Education Section, Suite 200, 4524 Oak Fair Blvd., Tampa, FL 33610. Please note that this office provides no information about homeowners' associations. The state has no bureau or department covering those associations.

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