Q. What are the requirements and liability for a condominium to have security personnel that understand and speak English? Our building has two guards on site 24/7. Recently, I had an emergency and the guard on duty did not understand me. Fortunately, it was not a life-threatening situation. The incident did open up the question of the condominium risk of liability.
The two questions you need to ask are: How much responsibility does the condominium have to protect the members? What are the duties of security?
Condominiums do not have the final obligation to protect members but only to establish safety policies and correct hazards. Owners are responsible for their own safety. There should be a policy established by the board called “Post Orders,” “Security Duties,” “Safety Operations” or similar policies. I have been taught to call it access control, so as to prevent the illusion of false protection to members.
In event of an emergency, you need to call 911 first. Anytime I wrote a post order, the first action for the access control person was to observe, back away and call for help. If a person in a pool is in trouble, security should call 911 and then try help the swimmer. If someone is breaking into a unit, security should back away and call 911. If security cannot speak English can he or she perform the duty to protect and report? Post orders should provide an answer. In your situation, was the language barrier an inconvenience or an involved security problem? Remember, you must provide the final security for yourself.
Q. I have a question regarding the number of votes a household is entitled to. We are a small community, 42 homes. One homeowner owns two homes: does this person get one or two votes?
R.J., Fort Lauderdale
You would need to read your document to see how the voting is counted. Normally it is per lot or, in the case of condominiums, per unit. There are some exceptions but they are rare. My guess is that your documents say each lot has one vote. Therefore, if an owner owns two lots he would be allowed two votes. He must pay a fee for each lot and that would give him the rights for both lots. I am referring to annual meetings or members’ meetings in which there is a vote or election. If he is a director on the board, then at board meetings he would only have one director’s vote.
Q. Our condominium has 92 units and is an adult association. Our board is controlled by the president, who sets the agenda and makes all decisions and writes the checks. The management company takes orders from only the president. The president and board monopolize one of our two recreation rooms to the exclusion of all owners. I called the state and it does not help in such matters. There seems to be no way to bring up new business or speak at any board meetings. The president made a new rule that in order to use the recreation room, an owner must have the approval of the officers, who hold the keys to the room. I read the bylaws and it is clear the common elements are for the owners’ use.
M.A., Boca Raton
If you are upset by the board’s actions, are other members also concerned? The so, vote in a new board or force the current board to take control and vote in a new president. If you engage an attorney and the matter ends up in court, it will be many months if not for years for the trial to be heard by a judge. Your annual election should be in a few months. You have time to talk to your concerned neighbors and persuade them to become candidates. Meanwhile, you have time to send letters to the board and explain your concerns. Ask the board to discuss the closing of the recreation room and other matters. Explain that the statutes allow owners to talk on agenda items for three minutes at board meetings. Have your neighbors send letters as well. I suggest that you send the letter by certified mail.