Condo Line

Service pet opens Pandora’s box

Q. Our condominium has a no pet policy in our documents. Over the years several owners have tried to change this rule. Several times the matter has been presented at members’ meetings and we have voted out the suggested change. Suddenly our board allowed a renter to move in with a small dog that is said to be a service dog. This has opened a new door for others in our building who want dogs. While we understand the ADA requirement to allow service dogs, this seems to be a line of delusion to avoid the no pet rule. How do we address future problems that may occur?

B.G., South Pasadena

When a buyer enters into a contract to buy into a condominium, he or she has an obligation to read the documents, rules and regulations and agree to comply with them. It can be a problem when the federal government, more specifically the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), affects existing rules. As an example, a person who has a phobia against dogs moves into the condominium because it has a rule of no pets. He or she has an expectation that they will not have to face a dog.

Service dogs are used for a wide range of conditions that has been expanded over the years, leading more people to acquire such a pet. To face future events, I suggest that the board establish guidelines that are approved by the association’s attorney. These would not limit qualified service dogs but control non-service pets in order to comply with your rules. They would have certain document requirements and evidence that the service dog complies with the needs of the disabled. It is a serious question that needs proper attention.Q. We live in a new condominium. Most of our owners are non-residents and that include a minority of our board of directors. When Tropical Storm Debbie hit our area, most of the owners were away. We sustained some damage. To start making repairs, we wanted to call a meeting with those present in our building to discuss the damage. We had the directors in residence but the manager said that the meeting would constitute a board meeting. The manager asked one of the directors to leave and that way members could discuss the damage, however no official decisions could be taken. Was this correct procedure?

E.C., Seminole

The Condominium Act says that anytime a quorum of directors is present to discuss association business, it should be considered a board meeting. The manager was correct in that situation. The alternate way to handle the meeting is to have the directors present to declare an emergency meeting. That would mean that at the next regular board meeting, any action taken at this emergency meeting would need to be ratified.

Q. Our HOA board of directors meets without any notice posted. Such meetings are conducted with no owners in attendance. No minutes are taken but decisions are made in private. Please provide the appropriate state agency or department so that I can report this matter.

B.T., Palm Harbor

Like condominiums and cooperatives, HOA have similar statute requirements for board meetings. Workshops, secret meetings and closed-door meetings with a quorum of directors present are illegal. Unfortunately for HOA there is no state agency to report the violation. Legal action must be taken by members by sending letters to the board and reminding it that such meetings are illegal. Talk to your neighbors and ask them to send letters. Your best direction is to get others to volunteer to become candidates and vote in new directors who will follow the laws and your documents. I do not recommend suing the board and association.

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

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