Q. My HOA board is doing very well financially, but there are certain things I have questions about. The board controls the monthly edition of the community magazine but does not allow any controversial statements in it. How do I get in touch with the community? We have 1,400 homes and 30 percent of our communities consist of snowbirds. At board meetings you are allowed to speak on agenda items only in Good and Welfare, which usually comes up at 9 p.m. The meeting is ending and there is nobody around to hear your concerns. How do I let the community know how I feel about certain items the board wants to change?
B.G., Port St. Lucie
I would suggest that you first send a letter to the board and express your concerns. In the letter ask the board to discuss the issues and also ask it to put them on the agenda for the next board meeting. If you are not happy with the answer to your letter, you must consider how much work and effort you want to do to help solve this problem.
In your community are residents, snowbirds and landlords. With the percentages you provided, I calculate that there are 1,000 residents that you need to meet in person and 400 that will need to contact by mail or email. You can print up your concerns in a flyer and hand deliver it to your neighbors and mail it to the absent owners. Express your concerns and ask your neighbors for help to communicate with other neighbors. You can also knock on doors and talk to your neighbors. Find out if they will help to meet other neighbors. If you took an hour each evening, in five days you could meet about 25 to 35 neighbors. Over a month you could meet about 10 percent of the residents and that would give you an idea if the other members agree with you. Ask for their help in handing out the flyers and knocking on doors. To obtain the addresses of the snowbirds, send a letter to the board and ask for a mailing list from the board’s records or obtain a list from the county records. What you need is effort and a limited budget for out-of-pocket costs.
Q. Is it legal for a spouse of a voting member to run for master board for which said voting member will be voting?
M.S., Fort Lauderdale
Unless your documents say otherwise, almost any person can be elected to the board of directors. When you refer to a voting member, I assume that you are referring to the person named on the voting certificate. (A voting certificate is a document used to name the person to cast the unit vote in situations where there is more than one owner or in situations where the unit is owned by a trust or business.) The statutes are very broad as to who can be a candidate. Statutes do not limit the candidate to owners or even fulltime residents. That means a renter or non-resident may qualify, be elected, serve and have a vote at a board meeting. I have often said that a person off the street could serve on the board.
Q. Can a board of directors decide to not enforce rules and regulations? Can the board decide to look the other way when non-permitted work is being done on the property? For example: Plumbing work is done in a unit and the main valve has to be turned off. The owner asks the property manager, but there is no request for permits, licenses, etc. By posting signs that the water will be shut off and allowing the work to be done, is the association then allowing plumbing work to take place when they have not obtained a permit?
The need of a permit would depend upon the work to be done. If a faucet needs to be replaced and the valve under the sink is frozen and the water cannot be turned off in the unit, it could require the building’s main water valve to be closed. If, on the other hand, they are modifying the bath or kitchen and the building’s plumbing, then it might require a permit. In such a situation, the board should be active and require proper contractors to include permits and licenses. The proper action is to post proper notice of the water cutoff, as you indicated.