1. Archive

A reserve fund has limited use by board

Question: Can the board establish a reserve account without a vote of association members? Can the board change the use of a reserve account without unit owner approval?

Answer: Condominium boards are required to establish adequate reserves. Homeowner association boards do not have the same statutory requirements but they have the fiduciary obligation to include them in the budget. Both boards have broad powers to modify budgets, including creating new reserve accounts, but once the reserve accounts are established and funded, the board has the right to use the particular reserve fund for that specific item only. Unless the owners approve the transfer of funds from another reserve item to another, the fund must remain intact.

Minutes dos and don'ts

Question: Our president insists that the minutes should be a verbatim transcript of everything that is said at the board meeting. You have said that only the business conducted should be recorded. Does that not mean all the conversation and debate?

Answer: No. Minutes should be brief and should not include conversation, debate, or remarks. They record the business conducted at a meeting in an abbreviated form. Minutes record the date, time and location of the meeting; they list directors present and those absent. They record motions and resolutions, who made and seconded each motion and how each director voted.

Attorney Daniel Perry has prepared a two-page report listing 10 "to-do" and "not-to-do" items for minutes. For a copy, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to the address at the end of this column. Mark your outside envelope MINUTES.

A guideline I have previously suggested is that the minutes should average one page per hour of meeting. If your minutes are longer than that, you may be putting too much detail in your minutes.

Verifying age

Question: What forms of identification does an association, classified as an adult community, have a right to request from the residents? Our park management is requesting Social Security numbers, driver's licenses and titles to homes. In this day and age of identity theft, the fewer places my Social Security number is lying around, the better. The management says the government requires these three forms of identification and we have no choice. I don't see where my Social Security number tells my age and have already produced it once to get my driver's license and the title of my home.

Answer: The source of my answer comes from the Federal Register dated April 2, 1999. It says in section 100.307 that any of the following documents are considered reliable documentation of age of the occupant: driver's license, birth certificate, passport, immigration card, military identification, and any other state, national, or international official documents that contain a birth date.

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 Please include your name and city. Questions should concern association operations; legal opinions cannot be offered. For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney.

Readers may call the state Division of Condominiums Bureau of Customer Service at (800) 226-9101 with questions or requests for materials. Or write to Bureau of Customer Service, 1940 N Monroe St., Northwood Centre, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1032. 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 Condominiums Web site at