Condo Line

Dealing with stranger in the pool

Q. I live and own my lot in an adult community RV park. Occasionally someone that no one recognizes is seen in the community pool. If a board member is at the pool, shouldn’t he or she challenge the person or should it be the park manager? I maintain there is a small chance that a confrontation could be ugly or embarrassing. I contend that the director should not be required to take on this risk.

J.D., Okeechobee

Quite frankly, it is all members’ responsibility to take some action to identity an unknown person using the facilities. I do not recommend that you or any member take aggressive action, but simply say something like, “Hello. I have not had the opportunity to meet you. Are you a new resident?”Once you have introduced yourself and had a chance to find out who they are and if they are lawful visitors, then you can take action to call the board, manager or even the police. Your first contact should be polite and welcoming. Usually such visitors are children or grandchildren of owners. I am sure that they would not take a positive attitude if the first contact is aggressive.

Q. I live in a townhome community. The unit next to my home was destroyed by fire two years ago. The owner of this unit did not have insurance and has walked away, leaving the unit in a state of disrepair. The board has repaired the exterior of the home but the unit cannot be occupied due to the damage. Since the owner departed, neither the mortgage nor the maintenance fees have been paid. The board does not want to foreclose because it does not want to take on the extra costs to repair the unit. The bank has stopped action to foreclose and thus the unit sits as a black mark in our neighborhood. What action should we take as members to get someone to clean and repair this unit?

C.T., Tampa

Have hope! Someday this unit will be repaired and you will have a new neighbor. The mortgage holder will eventually foreclose on the unit and then make the necessary repairs. With today’s foreclosures, it normally takes about three years for title to be taken by the mortgage holder. In the case of this unit, it may take longer to locate the owner to receive the legal documents, forcing the bank to post proper notices. As to the board’s actions, it needs to seek guidance from the association attorney. Normally I would recommend that the board foreclose on any delinquent owner, regardless of the mortgage foreclosure. In this situation, with extensive damage, it may be a wise decision to let the bank foreclose. What I would recommend is that the board send the bank a letter and ask it to make repairs. Some banks will take action to help clean up the community.

Q. In my HOA, the board requires each owner to clean the walks and driveways to remove the mildew and other stains. They require us to use a pressure cleaner to remove the marks. This method leaves the concrete clean but removes a little of the concrete each time. A number of homes have large sections of the concrete damaged from the repeated pressure washings. I prefer to scrub my concrete with a stiff brush with soap and bleach. Can the HOA force me to use a pressure washer?

R.S., Winter Haven

If you can clean the walks and drives, I cannot see that the board can force you to use a pressure cleaner. Let me warn you that the chemicals you use also can harm the surface as much as if you had used a pressure cleaner. The problem of damage you see in your neighbors’ homes comes from the pressure settings. Some cleaners are as low as 1,600 pounds per square inch (PSI) to as high as 3,000 PSI. The higher setting will take more off the concrete and surface.

Q. The board for our HOA is requiring any members who use common elements to sign a waiver exemption for injury. I have studied law and no citizen can sue the federal government unless it grants the right to sue. Would it not be the same for the association?

G.B., Palm Harbor

I have often been told that a person cannot sign away their rights. The board should ask its attorney and talk with the insurance agent as to if the exemption is proper and legal. As a member in good standing you cannot be denied use of the common elements. It appears that the board is trying to shield itself from a member improperly using the areas. I feel that this action is a waste of time. It would be better off to make sure that the common areas are properly maintained and repaired.

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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