Q. We are owners in a community. When we purchased, we were assigned a parking spot. The board has taken it upon themselves to change the location of the numbers on the spots thus changing our parking location. We still have the same number but it is in a new location. Some owners have their number on their deed but now their location has changed. Does the board have a right to just change the location and transfer the number?
D.Z., St. Petersburg
You indicate this is a deed and title right, so you need to read your documents to see if they grant the board the right to change the location. My deduction is that the board does not have the right to change the location. I would question the board as to why and what rights they assume they have to change the location of the parking. Find the original plans, which may be in the office, or go to the county courthouse and pull the plans. These plans may have reference to the parking plan and space numbers. Demand that the board return the parking to the plans that first were recorded.
One last thought: Maybe an outside inspector, such as a fire inspector, demanded that the spaces be moved because of a safety issue. That is something that you are going to have to work out with the board. Unless the board has a similar reason, chances are high that they do not have a right to just change the parking spaces.Q. I live in a garden condominium. Several owners have requested to add three feet to the rear of their unit into the common area. One of the owners has circulated a petition to permit his extension. I have heard two opinions: One is that 75 percent of the owners must sign the petition and the other is that 100 percent must sign. What I am asking is, can one owner stop the extension of three to five feet? How can we overcome this action to block our request for the extension?
J.V., Sun City Center
Each owner has an undivided interest in the common area. The statutes say that no owner can privately use the common areas without amendment. I recommend that the association attorney guide the board and members through the process.
There are other considerations. You may need to change the percentage of ownership listed in the documents. The county tax agent will be interested because of the increased size of the unit. You will find that there is an increased cost for the association’s insurance because of the increased value added. There must be an understanding about future repairs and who pays for them — the owners or the condominium. You also need to understand what will happen if there is a need for deconstruction. You may need to seek approval of all mortgage holders. It is not a simple vote by the members but a coordinated effort by many outside parties that have interest in the condominium. You must have the guidance of an attorney that understands your documents and the statutes.Q. Our HOA has an Architectural Committee that approves paint colors for our homes. The members are volunteers and unpaid for their services. This leads to a reduction of their actions with little follow up. My problem is the recent color approved on homes in our neighborhood. It is quite obvious that the recent colors clash with the older colors. I have complained to the board of many failures with rules but they have not responded to my concerns. Enough is enough; can I sue for damages and loss of value to my home?
“Can I sue?” is the wrong question as anyone can sue any person for anything. The correct question is, “Can I win a lawsuit?” I cannot answer that because that is between you and your attorney and the judge.
If you are so upset, the better solution is to become involved with the association. Volunteer to be on the Architectural Committee or better yet become a candidate for the board at the next election. I have watched too many members sit back and complain and fail to become involved. It is every member’s responsibility to be not just a spectator but get up, stand up, and volunteer to help your community.
The state says that each member has the following responsibilities: 1) Pay your fees on time. 2) Use the common areas in a proper manner that does not infringe on others. 3) Maintain your private property. 4) Attend and participate in meetings. 5) Vote. 6) Bring concerns and problems to the attention of the board using proper communications. 7) Serve on the board of directors and committees. 8) Be familiar with the document and statutes. In most associations, only about 20 percent of the members follow these guidelines. Until the members lose the “Let Others Do It” attitude, no community will operate with the efficiency that the members deserve.