Q. We are 75 and 76 years of age and live on a fixed income. We are having a major problem with our HOA. It has placed a fine of $25 for an error we made in payment of our fees. The board placed a lien on our property that amounts to $700 (+), all of which is legal fees except for $25. We are getting by on our income. We tried to pay the $25 to clear the shortage but the HOA refused it and told us to pay the attorney. Can you advise us how to clear up this mistake?
G.Y., Bonita Springs
Send a letter to the attorney and copy the board and explain your financial situation. Ask if it would accept a payment plan for the $700. Chances are that the board may refuse but it may allow you a short time to collect the needed funds. My guess is that the board sent you a letter about the shortage of the fee payment. That was your chance to correct the error. Do not delay on contacting the attorney and the board. If you fail to take action, the board will start foreclosure and you will lose your home.
Q. In a HOA, if you have a husband and wife on the board, does their vote count as one or two?
H.K., Fort Lauderdale
The condominium act restricts two residents from the same unit from serving at the same time. The HOA act is silent on this situation. However, I urge members not to elect a husband and wife to the same board in a HOA. In an annual meeting they would have one vote between them. If elected, in a board meeting they would vote as directors, not owners, and they would each have a vote.
Q. I read that if the board uses a reversal for anything but what it was allocated for, then this is a felony. Our local police will not help as they are too busy with identity fraud . Can you help me?
G.S., Hallandale Beach
Unless the directors use the funds for personal use, it should not be considered a crime; instead it would be considered an improper use of funds. Reserve accounts are the property of the owners and can only be used for the line item for which they were collected. Unless members vote to move or transfer the reserve funds, the board should not use the funds.
You have several courses of action: You could write the board a letter and ask it to replace the funds and discuss the matter at the next board meeting. You could report the matter to the state division, but you need proof of the improper use of the reserves and you will need to put your complaint in writing and sign it. Or you could recall the board. If you take this action, I suggest you engage an attorney. The most obvious course of action is to elect a new board at the next annual meeting.
Q. I am a caretaker of a friend who lives in a condominium. This is considered an adult community. Since I sometimes stay overnight when my friend is ill, the board has asked me to register as an occupant. Why should I register since I do not live here nor I am an owner?
G.H., St. Petersburg
All associations and condominiums have different rules and regulations as well as different documents. If an association or condominium asks visitors or new residents to register, there could be any number of reasons. Maybe it has a rigid security program, maybe it has concerns that an underage person will be residing in the unit and affect their adult community status. Maybe it needs to review all residents who live in the community. I would suggest that you have the owner contact the board and find out what you need to do.