Condos: Get association members involved
By Richard White, Special to the Times
Published November 24, 2007
Q: If no quorum is present at the annual meeting of a home-owners association, what happens? Can the board just roll over into the next year, or must we schedule another meeting and another, and another until we get a quorum and can hold an election? At my association no one pushes for good attendance at the annual meeting, so the directors just reassign themselves to the board year after year. As I read the statute, that's not legal.
A: The statute, FS 720.306, requires only a 30 percent quorum. If the board or some concerned owners go out and do a little door-knocking and ask that owners either come to the meeting or sign a proxy, you should not have the state of affairs you describe.
Most documents say something like, "An incumbent director will remain as a director until he/she is replaced."
Your question suggests (a) that your neighbors don't care and want others to do the work, and (b) that the board is willing to do the work and enjoys exercising power. The answer's simple, but it will take work: Get the members involved.
Lease not unusual
Q: Residents in our mobile home community recently formed a club for the purpose of putting on social events and having fun. There is a small fee to join, but all unit owners and residents can attend any activity by paying a small event fee. We requested use of our clubhouse and submitted a list of the dates and events. None of these conflict with anything the association is planning, but the board refused to allow us to use the clubhouse. The park manager and the owner are now telling us that we must sign a formal lease of the clubhouse if we want to hold our events there. No one else is asked to do this: not the golf league, not the Red Hat Ladies, etc. Our prospectus allows residents to use the clubhouse when requested and states that neither the board nor manager can deny us use unreasonably. They claim they both have every right to do this.
A: It's not at all uncommon these days for associations to require formal leases when private groups want to use the facilities.Even if everyone who attends is a resident, the activities you describe could be considered private parties. The association is not the official sponsor.
There are insurance liability concerns, wear and tear on the common areas, and use of utilities, an additional expense to the association. Suppose a fire starts when you are heating food in the kitchen, or someone falls and is injured, or someone drinks too much and injures himself or others driving home? The association could find itself one of many defendants in a lawsuit.
Upkeep not optional
Q: Can members vote not to fund repairs and replacements to the common areas that the board says are necessary? Can the membership vote to withhold funds, not replenish the reserve funds, restrict use and movement of reserve funds that the board deems necessary to maintain common areas in good repair?
A: Members cannot override most repairs and maintenance. The statutes say the board is responsible to maintain the common areas, and members cannot override the statutes. In most situations the board has the statutory duty to maintain common areas.
Members have no right to withhold funds or fees. If they do so, the board can lien and foreclose.
As to reserves, members can vote to reduce or eliminate reserves, but they must do so at a properly called members' meeting (not at a board meeting, at which only the board votes). Reserves can be used only for the specific purpose for which they were collected, or for another purpose only if members vote to approve the transfer of funds.
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.