Resolution for 2015

 Welcome to 2015 and my best wishes to all of my blog's followers for a very happy and healthy new year.

2014 was an extremely busy year and I was unable to post entries here as often as in previous years.  I'm hereby resolving to do better in 2015. 

We'll start 2015 with a reminder that all community associations are not created alike.  A board member in one of the cooperatives we work with asked me last week whether a husband and wife (who together own only one unit in the community) could both run for the board of directors.   Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, which governs condominium associations, prohibits co-owners of a unit from serving on the board of directors at the same time unless:

  • the condominium association has less than ten units,
  • the condominium association includes timeshare units or timeshare interests, or
  • there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the vacancies on the board at the time of the vacancy

Those provisions in Chapter 718 are not found in either Chapter 719 or Chapter 720, which governs mandatory homeowners associations.  This means that, in a cooperative association or mandatory homeowners association, if there are five named owners of the unit or parcel, assuming that each of those five named owners would otherwise be eligible to serve on the board, all five of them could run and all five could serve if they were elected--even if they only owned that one unit or parcel in the community.

This is just one example of why community association board members, managers (and their attorneys) cannot simply assume that "one size fits all".  At least for the time being. when it comes to condominiums, cooperatives, and subdivisions in Florida, nothing could be further from the truth!

I'm looking forward to speaking at the EPROC meeting this Friday at Emerald Pointe in Zephyrhills and hope to see many of our East Pasco County friends at this event!

 

SB 1196 Gives ROCs a New Tool to Collect Delinquencies

The Florida legislature has provided managers and boards of condominium associations, cooperative associations and mandatory homeowners associations with some help in collecting delinquent payments from unit owners and association members.

Senate Bill 1196, which goes into effect on July 1, 2010, provides that if a unit or parcel is occupied by a tenant and the unit owner or parcel owner is delinquent in paying any monetary obligation due to the association, the association may demand that the tenant pay to the association "the future monetary obligations" related to the unit or parcel.  For some reason, condominium and cooperative associations are required to make a written demand on the tenant while the language applying to Chapter 720 homeowners associations does not seem to require a written demand.  I assume that "future monetary obligations" refers to the tenant's obligations to pay rent to the unit or parcel owner.   In all cases, the demand is continuing in nature and the tenant must pay the monetary obligations (again, I assume this is the amount to be otherwise paid by the tenant to the unit or parcel owner) until:

  • The association releases the tenant from making any further payments to the association
  • The tenant discontinues tenancy in the unit or parcel

Condominium and cooperative associations are required to mail written notice to the unit owner of the association's demand that the tenant make payments to the association but again no such requirement seems to be included in the provisions for mandatory homeowners associations.  

A tenant who acts in good faith in response to a written demand from an association and pays his or her rent to that association is immune from any claim from the unit or parcel owner.

In addition, the revised statutes now appears to allow ROCs to evict tenants for failure to pay monetary obligations pursuant to the residential landlord-tenant provisions of Florida Statutes. 

There is a good deal more involved in these amendments and I'll post further entries on them this summer.  

 

 

 

ROCs can use written rules to encourage civility at meetings

"Civility" is a new "buzz word" as a result of the outburst of the South Carolina congressman who yelled "you lie" during President Obama's address to the members of the Senate and House of Representatives last week.   Regardless of how one feels about the health care reform debate, this interruption of the President's speech by a member of the U.S. Congress was a shocking breach of decorum and left me feeling less than confident that our current elected officials would be able to reach any constructive resolutions to the important issues and challenges that we face.

I've had similar feelings recently after leaving several board or membership meetings in resident owned communities.   The past few years have seen a pronounced decrease in courtesy and respect and an increase in volume and vitriol.   I'm sure that almost every resident reading this has had at least one unpleasant experience with a board or membership meeting that deteriorated into a shouting match or name-calling contest.   

While no one should have to be told that his or her neighbor should be treated with respect and courtesy, the unfortunate reality is that ROC boards and managers must occasionally deal with residents that refuse to behave in a civil manner at board or membership meetings.

Florida Statutes governing board meetings in resident owned communities provide some assistance to ROC managers and board members:

  • F.S. Sections 718.112(2)(c) and  719.106(1)(c), which apply to condominium associations and cooperative associations respectively, give unit owners the right to speak at board meetings on "all designated agenda items" but also allow ROCs to "adopt written reasonable rules governing the frequency, duration, and manner of unit owner statements" to be made at board meetings. 
  • F.S. Section 720.303(2)(b), which applies to meetings of mandatory homeowners associations,  specifies that members can "speak on any matter placed on the agenda by petition of the voting interests for at least 3 minutes" but again allows the association to adopt written reasonable rules "expanding the right of members to speak and governing the frequency, duration, and other manner of member statements" and also allows for the inclusion of "a sign-in sheet for members wishing to speak".

Note that all three statutes require that the rules governing members speaking at board meetings be written.

It's always helpful for the person chairing the meeting to be able to remind the membership at the beginning of the meeting or prior to the time for membership comments that the community does have these written rules and that each member will be expected to follow those rules.

We've helped numerous communities prepare written rules governing the behavior of residents at board and general membership meetings and have found that  these rules do help to discourage "gadflies" and other residents that attempt to engage in disruptive, discourteous, or uncivil behavior.  

If your community does not have written rules for these situations, you may be missing an important tool to help ensure that your members treat each other with the courtesy and respect that each resident in your community deserves.