Condo Line

Renters not second-class residents

Q. We are a condominium and governed by a board of directors elected by the members. According to our documents a non-unit-owner can run and be elected to the board. Currently our treasurer is a tenant living in a foreclosed unit paying a reduced rent. The association painted the unit and made ready it at the association’s expense. To me it appears that since he advises the board on financial matters this is a conflict of interest.

A.A., Winter Gardens

The statutes have very few requirements to serve as a director or officer in a condominium. Ownership is not a requirement and therefore a renter or non-owner can serve on the board. I have seen non-owners with more experience than any member serve on boards and work harder to do a better job.

This is often a disturbing question for me, as it opens up two issues. First, renters are not second-class residents. Second, why don’t members concerned with renters serving on the board volunteer to serve themselves instead of complaining? As to the rent, how do you establish a fair rate? Perhaps the renter will be asked to move when the foreclosure is finalized. A lower rent is somewhat of a compensation of not knowing if they can live in the home next month.

Q. Our condominium board has contracted with a service company to repair and maintain household appliances and air conditioning in the units. This service was purchased in bulk for all the units and is cheaper than if individual owners buy it. However, a neighbor said this may be illegal as it is not within the common areas and instead within the domain and prerogative of the individual owners. He said it should not be assessed as part of the annual budget and maintenance fees. By including these charges as part of the maintenance fees, owners do not have a choice whether they want to participate in the program. Can you comment on this practice if it is illegal or how it can be handled differently?

N.R., Miami

The statutes and administrative code is specific on how to budget and develop the fees. The board cannot add non-operational charges to the budget. While it is not common, the members could vote to include extra services. I would recommend that any new service be included as an amendment to the documents.

While it was not part of your question, I assume that the board, not the members, voted for the service and added it to the budget. I do not believe the board has that power. Since I cannot provide legal guidance to this question, I suggest that the board seek an interpretation from the association attorney.Q. I have been the president of my condominium for several years. I have never charged the condominium with any out-of-pocket expenses except for some office supplies, light bulbs and other such items. Is it permissible for me to charge a portion of my computer expense to the condominium?

J.C., Fort Lauderdale

It would be my feeling that it would be improper unless the matter was discussed at a board meeting and the members as well as the board agreed to the reimbursement. The board could purchase a low-end computer setup for a few hundred dollars, including software and printer. This way there would be no question as to whether it would be proper.

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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