Q: I have a question regarding my homeowner association and the inconsistencies of their management. Who would I contact regarding their responsibilities, as to the minutes and details of all meetings? Are there records of the hearings, architectural reviews and recommendations of other owners? I have questions regarding board meetings and how they are conducted. What can you help me with to find this information?
A: It is good that you are concerned how the board and association function. However, you must read your documents first. While the state statute, FS 720, defines the legal duties and define your rights to view the records, the board can establish policies for such searches of the records. Sources for information on how associations operate and their duties can also be found from the Community Associations Institute (CAIonline.org). A simple explanation is the board must operate as a small business and not a Mom and Pop shop.
You should attend board meetings and observe. Take notes of discussions and decisions you do not understand and write the board and ask for explanations. Remember the directors are volunteers and your neighbors. You need to take an attitude of wanting to learn and not an aggressive action.
Ask, in writing, to see financial report
Q: I am a shareholder in a cooperative of about 400 units. I am told that we have a reserve account of about $900,000 but no member has seen a bank statement or any financial report to confirm the funds. Several members have requested the information without any success. In fact, a couple of directors have made the same request but the signing members will not allow the information. Could you address this matter for me?
A: While cooperative members can read in FS 719.104 that official records must be released to the members upon request, condominium and HOAs have similar statute requirements.
Your first step is to send a certified letter to the board of directors and request an inspection of the latest financial report to include the reserves accounts. The board has 10 days to allow the review. If the board does not allow the inspection, they can be fined. If the board does not allow the records, you have other options. You can file a complaint with the state, file a lawsuit, start a recall or start mediation.
In addition, the other directors can, if they have a majority, vote in new officers at any board meeting. Each year the board must call an annual meeting to elect new directors. You and the members that are concerned must step up and become candidates to serve on the board and eliminate the directors and officers that are not cooperating. The board is obligated to provide a financial report to each member that requests the report. There are several ways to force the board to comply with the statutes but you must press the issue.
* * *
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.