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Make vote tally available to owners

By RICHARD WHITE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 8, 2001


Question: Are condo unit owners allowed to see the tally of votes at the annual meeting?

Answer: Yes, owners are allowed to inspect the election results. I would discourage you from publishing or otherwise publicizing the actual numbers. Every candidate is a neighbor. Why tell everyone how well So-and-So is liked by documenting his degree of popularity: i.e., how many votes he got? Give the candidate a chance. At least he volunteered to serve! That's more than most of the owners did. Give him a break and say, Thanks for trying.

Close door on dispute

Question: Recently our president renegotiated the contract with our management company. He gave it a $50-a-month increase without board approval. Shortly afterward he resigned and put his unit up for sale. The buyer complained about a small dent in the door. The seller, the ex-president, told the manager that no similar door was available and instructed him to install another style of door as a replacement. This replacement door looks totally different from the original door. The manager and the board have been told twice at meetings that a door similar to the original is, in fact, available. The ex-president ignores our correspondence. We consulted our lawyer, who said we have two choices: use the similar door or the different door. What is our next step?

Answer: Follow the advice of your attorney. Several wrong choices may have been made. I believe it is time to forget the past and move forward. Learn from the mistakes, pay the price to correct the mistakes, and try never to let it happen again.

Exemption is illegal

Question: Can a condo board member be exempted from paying the unit's maintenance fees? Can the member appoint a friend to assist in handling the day-to-day work and exempt the friend from the fees?

Answer: No. The board has no power to exempt anyone from paying the monthly fees. This would be considered a method of compensation and, therefore, subject to payroll taxes and other requirements. This exemption would violate several state and federal laws. Your documents require that each owner pay his or her share. State statutes also require the board to collect the required share of assessments from each owner. If it is true that your board is exempting some owners from paying the fees, several agencies would be very happy to investigate and fine the board and 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 CAMquestion@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.

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