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Office must secure residents' keys

By RICHARD WHITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2001


Question: We spend only six months a year in Florida. When we bought our unit, the condo asked us to leave a set of keys to our apartment.

Recently our son came to use our apartment and went to the office to get the keys. The office told him there were no keys; apparently the office had lost them. Now they say I never gave them the keys.

A locksmith charged our son $55 to open the door and make keys. The condo refuses to pay the locksmith's fee and is asking for a set of the new keys.

Answer: It is always good for the association to have a way to enter apartments in case of an emergency, but the security of the keys is extremely important. Yes, give the association a set of keys, but question how those keys are handled.

I recommend that the association have a key safe installed in an office area that is controlled and locked. Limit those who have access to the keys and require that keys be signed in and out.

The board should approve a policy that specifies the emergency conditions under which apartments can be entered and who is authorized to use the keys. No one should ever enter an apartment alone with these emergency keys; entry should be made in teams of two.

Election rules

Question: Is it legal for two people from the same household to sit on the board when our bylaws allow only one vote per household? Is it legal for someone to run for the board, knowing he is going to sell his house soon, just to keep another person off the board? A week after this individual was elected to the board, a "for sale" sign went up on his house. And must you live in the community to be on the board?

Answer: Here are the rules for condominium elections: Any owner (sometimes any person if the documents permit) who is 18 years of age or older and has not been convicted of a felony and had his or her citizenship taken away can run for the board.

If a husband and a wife are elected, each has one vote as a director at board meetings. (They have one vote per household at membership meetings.)

Residency is usually not a requirement to be elected as a director.

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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@bigfoot.com. Please include your name and city. Questions should concern association operations; legal opinions cannot be offered. For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney.

To discuss provisions of the state condo/co-op acts, call the state Bureau of Condominiums office in Tallahassee at (800) 226-9101 or (850) 488-0725 or call the Tampa bureau at (800) 226-6028, (800) 226-4472, or (813) 744-6149. Or write to the Bureau of Condominiums, Education Section, Suite 200, 4524 Oak Fair Blvd., Tampa, FL 33610. Please note that this office provides no information about homeowners' associations. The state has no bureau or department covering those associations.

You can access the Bureau of Condominiums Web site at http://www.state.fl.us/dbpr/html/lsc/co_page.html.

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