Q. I am concerned our HOA board of directors is completely out of control with spendin. It gave the police and fire departments contributions without the knowledge of any of the residents. It appears that the funds came from our reserves. It decided to erect a new gate security house and roadway changes without approval of the owners. I feel if you give too much power to an individual it will eventually lead to corruption. How can we get a forensic audit performed by the state or city? Do we have to retain a lawyer? What are our legal rights?
F.V., Port St. Lucie
You are feeling the pain of a board that has little oversight by the members. My guess is that very few members attend the meetings and really understand who the best candidates are. The problem is that the board sees this lack of supervision and submissive attitude by the members and does what it pleases. Unfortunately, there is no outside help such as a state agency. You must start a grassroots campaign to elect better directors. It is good that you fear the unaccounted expenses and want to see if you can stop these actions by the board.
Q. Our HOA documents state that each home is to be maintained in a quality condition by each owner. We received a letter that strongly intimated we had to use a specific brand of paint. Three years past, we used a better quality paint than was recommended at that time and many owners who used the recommended paint have had failure of the paint. Now comes the board again forcing all homes to repaint using a recommended contractor and specific brand of paint. We would like a legal opinion as to whether the HOA board has the authority to order us to use the contractor and brand of paint.
J.C. & C.C., Stuart
I cannot provide legal advice; for that you need to engage an attorney. Let me give you an example of a similar situation I had last week. My HOA send a letter that I needed to paint my mail box. About once a year I take a spray can to my mailbox but it had been several months since my last painting. I immediately took my spray paint out to paint my mailbox. But I had a problem, as I had been using flat paint. I send back a letter explaining that I had painted my box with flat paint but wondered if they wanted gloss paint. I know that there is a difference between painting a mailbox and a fence, but the example takes the same action. The association answered that they wanted gloss paint but would accept my flat paint this year.
I suggest that you send a letter to the board and ask if they can inspect your current fence and see if it needs painting because you used a better grade of paint last time you painted. Sometimes it will be best to comply with rule enforcement rather than fight.
Q. You must be kidding! A quorum in my HOA community would be 10 people. The board has five people on it, so if each has a neighboring friend they can bully the rest of us? Any reasonable democracy would be saying majority is minimum as part of state law, that would be 51 percent or more. Clearly the association documents prevail.
It is not a case of a few bullying the many; it is a situation in which a lower quorum allows the board and associations to conduct business. To have an annual meeting and elect new directors, the state said that a minimum quorum is 30 percent in FS 720.306. The key reason is that many owners do not take interest in the operations of the association and do not attend the meetings and do not vote. This is a common event and the state dropped a higher quorum in order to allow HOA to conduct business. If members in the community attend the meetings, then the board cannot push their agenda. If the members do not take interest in the association, they are subject to the board’s agenda. The answer is to attend meetings and vote.