Q. In December we received an invoice for our annual fees. Our property owners association has not had an annual meeting for years and the board has not held a meeting. Our community has both condominiums and single-family homes. Last year several members harassed the board and they called a board meeting but failed to notice it and thus few members attended. But the board continues to run its own show. We have read the statutes for condominiums and homeowner associations (HOA) but can find nothing about property owners associations. We called several state agencies to include the Condominium Division. All said that we need to engage an attorney.
The term Property Owners Association is just another name for HOA. However, if you have condominiums in your association, then the board should comply with condominium statutes. Form a committee and send a certified letter to the board that says it has not been complying with the statutes and your documents. Ask the board to call a members meeting to elect a new board. Explain that if it does not, the committee will engage an attorney and seek legal action as well as report the board to the state. If the board does not respond, ask an association attorney for guidance and action.
Q. My car’s windshield was cracked after being hit by a bolt while parked in the condominium’s lot. The bolt appears to be the same as those used on the roof. We have asked for reimbursement for the damage. The president said that negligence has to be proven for the condominium in order for it to be liable. Am I entitled to reimbursement and how do I go about getting it?
S.D., St. Petersburg
The condominium is rarely responsible for loss of personal property. You need to have insurance coverage for such loss. Report this to your insurance agent as a claim. To recover from the condominium, you would need to prove that the damage was directly and deliberately inflicted by someone involved with the board, an employee or management. Just because the object is similar to ones used by the association should not be evidence of neglect. If you find that a kid was responsible, such as throwing the bolt and causing the damage, you may have a case to sue the kid and maybe the family. There is a slim chance of recovery and you will need to file a lawsuit. Repairs are more than likely your responsibility.
Q. Our converted condominium originally supplied gas for our ranges. The board has discontinued this service. That will require a high percentage of the owners to convert to electrical wiring and purchase new stoves. The cost for each owner will be over $1,000. Can the board make this change without the members’ input or vote?
In my opinion, this would be a change to the capital improvements and thus need members’ approval. The board has a responsibility to maintain the common areas and the services that are supplied to members from the original conversion. If the board is trying to reduce the expense of this gas service, it would not be right to just stop it. The information in your question appears that gas is a common expense. Maybe the board could convert each unit to an individual with a meter to calculate each unit’s usage, but again that would require the members’ vote. The problem with this is that there will be a cost for each meter and then the expense of monthly meter readings and bookkeeping and billing. You may find that this expensive. From the information provided, I suggest that the board and the members approve a future change that when an owner must buy a new stove, it must be electric.