Condo Line

Wakeup calls from the locked-out

Q. I have been the president and treasurer of our condominium for several years. Recently, the position has become overwhelming with renters and owners losing their keys and waking me in the middle of the night to open their units. I understand the statutes in that directors cannot receive compensation. Is there any way to alter this limit and pay me for my inconvenience?

R.L., Stuart

Opening doors for lockouts is not a standard duty for directors. In fact, it is a possible security violation. I would send a letter to all owners and advise them that the board will no longer open doors in the event of lockouts and that all keys held by the board will be secured for safety. If a key is needed, the owner will face a fine for breach of security. Advise the landlords that they must notify their renters to call them or a locksmith rather disturb the board. If they call board members, send a notice to the owner that a fine must be paid to the association. The board should establish a policy and schedule of fines and a policy that keys to the units be secured in a safe and will not be used except for an emergency. In other words, put the burden back on the owner/landlord for their renter.

Q. We live in a HOA community that falls under FS 720. Some of the board members want to clean up e abandoned and foreclosed homes. Their yards are full of weeds, palm fronds, papers and other debris. Some of the homes have mold and need pressure cleaning. Many residents are complaining of the unkempt look of these homes. Do we need to put this up for a vote of the members or can the board approve the cleanup?

K.B., Stuart

What you are referring to is called “Self Help” legally. Most homes that are abandoned or in foreclosure are private properties. That means that the board cannot go on the property and start cleaning and cutting the grass. It needs to take certain steps first. Also, keep in mind that there will be expenses. Seek legal guidance first. If the home is involved in a foreclosure process, it would be wise to contact the bank or mortgage company and ask it to clean up the property. I would recommend that the association’s attorney send a demand letter to the owner and the mortgage company. If they do not take action, then the association may enter the property. Any expense could be applied to the owner’s account but keep in mind that you may not collect from a delinquent owner who is under foreclosure. Most documents allow a board to take action with proper notice and apply charges to the account. The key in self-help is to properly notice the owners first.

Q. To change a rule that is included in the recorded documents, a notice and vote by the owners is required. When the same rule is also included in our house rules, notification to the owners is also required but the board votes regardless of the owners’ opinions. Which procedure should be followed?

M.H., Tampa

The ‘order of priority’ requires the document rules to be stronger than the house rules. The board can change the house rules only if they include the document rules.

As an example: Your rules say that all garbage and trash must be bagged and placed in the chute for waste removal. The board would like to start a recycle program and wants to change the rule to require that trash to be separated into paper goods, plastic and waste and each be placed in separate containers. While this change requires more strict requirements, it still allows the removal of the trash.

Another example: Rules say dog owners must clean up any droppings. The board can change the rule to require that no dog be walked within 25 feet of any building and 50 feet of the pool and if the owner does not pick up the droppings, he or she can be charged a cleanup fee. This change does not restrict dogs from being walked but restricts the area in which they are walking.

Write to Condo Line, Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115, or e-mail Include name and city.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category