Q. I am a director on the condominium board. Many owners have installed clothes dryers on the second floor and are not vented through the roof to the outside. Are directors permitted to enter units to inspect for these? Can we require these owners to properly vent to outside the building? What are our options if the owners refuse?
A.J., Indian River Shores
There are a lot of problems with your situation and question. First, no condominium owner is allowed to use the common area for his or her own use. If you allow owners to cut through the roof to vent dryers, they will be using the roof for their own use. Does your building have the right plumbing to allow clothes washers? Most buildings were not plumbed for the extra drains or to include dish washers and garbage disposals. You will need to read your documents to see if they restrict washers and dryers and other such equipment. If they are not restricted in your documents, you should have a plumber inspect your system to confirm that washers and other equipment can be installed. Ask the plumber if the county codes would allow such equipment in the building. Check with your attorney, who can answer your question better than I can. It may be necessary to have the attorney enforce removal of the equipment or have it installed according to code. If you find it in violation of your documents or installed improperly, then the attorney can help to amend the documents.
Q. In the past you said that one of the duties of owners is to request from the board the right to make additions, changes, or modification to the exterior of their homes. You included additions to landscape as well as painting. Can you provide that information again?
Subject to your documents, the board has the responsibility to maintain the association. That also means the responsibility to keep all the homes in a comparable appearance as to when they were built. Most HOAs require that the board establish an architectural review committee (ARC) to administer the policy of operations. It would monitor paint colors as well as landscapes that conflict with plans for the community. As an example, an owner could not remove the grass lawn and replace it with gravel unless he submitted to the ARC or board a request to make the change and received approval. In a condominium, no owner can use the common grounds for their personal use. That means that he or she must maintain the unit in a “same” condition. Neither can they plant flowers or shrubbery in the common area.
Q. I have lived in my condominium for 20 years. Each year the members have voted out the reserves. This year the board approved a special budget line item for painting in four years. I have looked at the statutes and cannot find that the board can just name a line item that is like a reserve.
With limited information on the budget that your board approved and the line item for future painting, I can only speculate an answer. The statutes require the board to approve a budget each year with properly calculated reserves. The members have a right to vote for no reserves or reduce the amount the board calculated. However, this will create a problem in future years when repairs or replacements are needed and there is no or an insufficient reserve fund to pay for the work. Since the board is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the property, it gets money to pay for the work by assessing the members. Apparently the board has quotes on how much the painting will cost and created a special assessment payable in monthly installments for the next four years. It is a simple matter of paying early or pay a lot in the future.