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See condo rules on merging units

By RICHARD WHITE
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 1, 2002

Question: If I purchase the condominium unit next to the one I own, does Florida law allow me to join the two units, or must I obtain the approval of the condominium association?

Answer: State law does not address this question. You must check your condo documents to determine whether there are restrictions. You would also need to pose the question to the board of directors, or, depending upon your documents, this might require approval of the unit owners. If your proposal is approved, you would own two units and would be required to pay two fees. An advantage, of course, is that you would have two votes.

Signs not a must

Question: Very often in older subdivisions I see signs that say, "a deed-restricted community." Our community is deed-restricted, too, but we have no signs. Is there any legal reason for having these signs?

Answer: No. I'm not sure just where or when these signs started. It may have been a good idea years ago to alert prospective buyers and real estate agents that there was an association. Today, nearly 100 percent of new communities are deed-restricted. I believe a better sign would be: "Read our documents before you buy here!"

Clarification, please

Question: More than once, you have explained and discussed the importance of boards' abiding by the statutes and have said that boards cannot meet without a notice and quorum. In a recent column, you said they could meet to discuss day-to-day activities. How do you reconcile this conflict?

Answer: Daily activities involve such matters as administration, finance and property management. The board should establish working and operational policies for management and the officers. Such policies would include, but are not limited to, collections, payment of bills, screening of rentals and sales, and a host of other operations that are necessary, such as rule enforcement.

When the board approves the budget and approves the policy of who can sign the checks, any invoice for services, such as the monthly utility bill, would be paid automatically. It should not take a motion, discussion and vote at a board meeting to pay the bill. That is routine daily business.

Rules enforcement is another area where the board could establish that letters could be written where there are rule violations. The collection of the maintenance fees is another example. It does not take a discussion, motion or vote to post, account and deposit the fees when they arrive. Nor should it be necessary to discuss at a board meeting the need to send delinquent letters when owners have not paid their fees. When I refer to day to day, I am referring to the ongoing business of the association.

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-- 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 CAMquestions@att.net. 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.

Access the Bureau of Condominiums Web site at www.state.fl.us/dbpr/html/lsc/co_page.html.

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