Q: We live in what is supposed to be a deed-restricted community. I recently talked to an attorney who said that the Florida Department of Corporations showed our association as inactive since 2003. Does this mean we are no longer a deed-restricted community?
A: The answer is yes - and no. Since your community is registered in the county records, the deed restrictions are still on the books. The problem is that since the board in 2003 did not file an annual report with the state and pay the necessary fees, the state has terminated the association's rights as a corporation. The board will have a difficult time enforcing rules and collecting delinquent accounts. Also, if the banks, the mortgage holders, find out, they can call all the loans on member homes or refuse to lend on new sales. Contact existing board members and ask them to talk to the state about the annual report. (If there are no existing directors, call a meeting of the members and vote in a new board.) It is possible to reinstate the corporation or even file for a new corporation. Obviously this is a serious legal matter, and the board should seek legal advice. One other serious concern: If someone is injured or has a claim against the association, each owner would be named in the lawsuit as there is no corporation protection.
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Repairs could impact other units
Q: I have an investment condominium unit, and sometimes I do some small repairs like painting. The association manager says that I need a licensed and insured plumber or carpenter to do these kinds of tasks. By law, can I do some jobs like painting without hiring a contractor? Which jobs could I do without having to contract someone?
A: I cannot provide a list of projects that must be done by contractors and which can be done by you, but I can provide some guidance. Here is why the manager provided the advice he did: Building services often are provided through utility lines and pipes. If you attempt to alter or repair the lines and pipes in your unit, you could disrupt or alter services to other units. I doubt the manager was referring to painting, but if you planned to remove carpet and install tile or wood floors, for example, then you would be altering building structure. I suggest that before you make any alteration, repair or replacement, check your documents and discuss it with the board. As always, put it in writing so you will have a formal record of the information.
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Directors can call meetings
Q: I am the secretary on our condominium board. One board member asked to set up a board meeting. The president was traveling abroad and was not present when the request was made. I individually polled the other board members and they agreed to conduct the meeting. The meeting was scheduled for five days after the president returned. E-mails and notices were exchanged to schedule, and the president was copied. The meeting notice was posted well in advance, and the agenda was also posted with the notice. After the president returned, he took down the agenda and notice and posted a note that the meeting was canceled. Our documents allow a majority of the directors to schedule a meeting. How is the board supposed to be productive when our meetings are canceled?
A: The president was wrong to cancel the meeting; the directors do have a right to call a meeting and set the agenda. The president does not seem aware that the directors have the responsibility for the operations of the association and the officers, including the president, have duties that are subordinate to the directors. I would suggest that the president meet in private with a committee of the directors, not a quorum, to discuss the situation. If the president does not yield to the directors, vote the president out at the next board meeting and elect a new president.
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.
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ON THE WEB
If you are unsure about the Florida statutes governing community associations, go to leg.state.fl.us. During the legislative sessions, go to flsenate.gov and myfloridahouse.gov to find the latest on pending bills.