Q. I live in a large adult HOA community. Recently we were notified by the county utility department that our water costs would increase if we used more than the allotted amount. The letter also said that we could face civil penalties if there is a continued excess use of water. Our documents contain certain landscape requirements. We have some residents who say that the landscape document requirements take precedence over this edict. Would the county restrictions override our documents?
M.S., Spring Hill
I would suggest that you follow the county utility department restrictions. Water restrictions have been in place for more than a decade.
As for landscape, the University of Florida has been a leader in xeriscaping plans to reduce water usage. Landscapes can be designed to reduce the amount of water needed to maintain them by selecting the proper plants and efficient irrigation systems. Florida has many plants that can fit within a xeriscaping plan. With such plans you reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides, cut maintenance and reduce or prevent wildfires and preserve wildlife. The University of Florida has developed new grasses for lawns that need little or no irrigation and very little maintenance. There are two disadvantages: the initial cost to install the new landscape and change of the appearance of the native plants. In the long run, xeriscaping plans will save money and maintenance. Each county has an extension agent who can help, and the University of Florida web page will provide much information.
One web page that addresses HOA restrictions at the university is http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/UW248. The state and counties are serious about water usage reductions and your community needs to become more serious as well. Make a few phone calls, search the Internet, or check the local library and you will find plenty of information to help establish a workable plan. Another source is the Community Gardener at www.flcaj.com. Q. I live in an adult mobile home community. In the past, no person under 55 could buy in our community. Recently sales have been made to families younger than 55. In fact one young lady has a 4-year-old girl living in our neighborhood. I want to know what my rights are, as when I purchased my home I did so thinking we would not be disturbed by children.
If your park is a rental community, you need to address the question with the manager or owner. If you are a HOA, cooperative, or condominium, you need to address the problem with the board of directors. If your claims are correct and the manager/owner or the board has allowed this to happen, they have violated the adult community status. If they do not correct the presence of underage residents, your community would not be able to restrict young residents in the future.
I would suggest that you and your neighbors send letters about the problem to the board or manager/owner. Ask them to correct the error and establish correctly that you are an adult community. Briefly, federal and state laws require that one resident in each home be 55 years or older and no resident be under the age of 18.Q. Our homeowners’ documents say we need 50 percent of the membership present in order to vote on issues. We never have 50 percent present, but the meetings use the members present and proceed as if we have a quorum. I feel that this is not in accordance with our bylaws and any such vote is not valid. Would you have any thoughts on the process?
FS 720.306 says that a quorum of members for HOA is 30 percent. This would override your bylaws’ 50 percent requirement.
At a board meeting, only a quorum of directors are needed to conduct a meeting and that does require 50 percent of the directors to be present. There is no quorum requirement for members present at a board meeting. In a members’ or annual meeting you need 30 percent present or represented by proxy to be a valid members’ meeting.
What are you voting on at a members’ meeting? Normally the board has the responsibility to conduct the business affairs of the association and establish policies in board meetings. If your members are voting on operational matters or business affairs, then the board is not fulfilling its responsibilities. Why don’t the members take more interest in the association’s affairs? Sounds to me that something must be done to get them interested. Is it the board’s obligation to get them involved or is it the members themselves who need to get the word out? It is both, and that means you need to get your neighbors involved and get the board active in better communications.