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BOARD CAN BOOT OFFICERS

Q: Six members of our seven-member board want to remove the president from office and have her serve only as a director. Where is this addressed in state statutes? Our documents don't speak to this.

A: FS 617.0842(2) says that a board of directors can remove any officer at any time with or without cause. The directors, at an appropriately called board meeting, can vote to remove the officer but not to remove her or him as a director. (That's because the membership elected her as a director, but you, her fellow directors, elected her president.)

There are several ways to accomplish this. One: You can privately go to the president and ask her to resign, explaining that she no longer has the confidence of the other directors. This may be the more diplomatic and dignified route. Two: At a board meeting, a director can move to elect a new president and remove all authority from the current president, such as being a signatory on checks, etc. This item must be on the agenda ("Election of president") if you are to take it up legally.

Guidelines for flags

Q: What are usual, customary and reasonable restrictions on flag flying? Do we need to alter the bylaws, deed restrictions and covenants?

A: In years past, association documents regulated flag displaying within the community. Some prohibited the flying of any flag on the property or from any unit. Some documents were silent. There were several famous lawsuits in which associations took veterans to court to order them to stop flying the American flag in violation of association documents.

Florida modified its statutes to allow American flags to be flown (FS 718.113 and FS 720.304).

In July 2006, President Bush signed the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act. All these acts allow the flying of the American flag in communities, condominiums and cooperatives, and they are not too restrictive.

The laws allow owners to display one portable, removable American flag, not larger than 4 1/2 by 6 feet, in a respectful way and on specific holidays. Recent changes allow the flying of service flags as well - the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, etc.

Some owners have taken the new laws to the extreme and have installed very tall flagpoles and fly large flags. In one case, an owner flew anti-abortion flags, which upset several mothers with young children, who asked what the flags said and what they meant.

Associations can establish reasonable guidelines for the flags that may help owners to understand the limits and to display American flags only. Since the laws outweigh the association documents, it is not necessary to amend the documents. However, it would be a good operating policy to bring your documents into line with federal and state law.

Report rules violations

Q: I bought a condo conversion a few months back and put a lot of money into remodeling my unit, as did a number of other buyers. Now the market has collapsed. Other owners have declined to improve their units. There are illegal rentals, signs in violation of our signage policy, poor maintenance, illegally parked cars, overflowing dumpsters and many other rule violations. We report these to the management and nothing happens. How can we resolve this?

A: Take photos of the rules violations and send them to the board along with a letter asking the board to respond promptly to the violations. Warn the board that failure to act will result in lower property values and subject them to potential lawsuits. Seek the support of fellow owners who are interested in the long-term value of their investments.

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 CAMquestions@cfl.rr.com. Please include your name and city.

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