Condo Line

Paying for management’s error

 

Q: I do not live in my mother’s condominium — it was purchased for her and all payments are handled through bill pay. On file with the association are instructions to send communications by both email and mail to my home. Last November the association fee was increased by 51 cents per month and I did not become aware until a delinquency notice arrived by mail in April. The management company was immediately contacted, at which time I was informed of the rate adjustment. Apparently, the information was only sent by email by an unknown staff member; it landed in my junk folder. The $2.04 rate increase was paid and I requested that late fees of $25 per month be removed. The management company has refused. I tried appealing to the three board members via letter through the management company, but have not received a response. Late fees continue to accumulate at $25 per month, currently at $275. What are my options? I always pay my debts; never have carried interest payments except for a mortgage, am never late on credit card payments. Where do I go for help?

J.R., Miami

A: I would suggest that you pay immediately and then challenge the charges. The final responsibility falls to you as the owner of the condominium unit. As an absentee owner you have a problem in which management made an error, but the responsibility is yours nevertheless. During the budget process, you should have received a copy of the proposed budget. If you read the budget you would have probably picked up the increase in fees. In order to try to credit back the late fees, I would suggest you send a certified letter to the board of directors and ask that it review your account. Also, ask for a meeting with members to discuss the late fees. Do not try to negotiate with management, as it only follows instructions issued by the board.

Q: I am interested in buying a book for condominium rules, which I think is called “Roberts Rules,” and I think Mr. White is the author.

C.N., Key Biscayne

A: I do appreciate your consideration that I may have written “Roberts Rules” but I did not. The book that you are asking about is for parliamentarian rules and can be purchased at almost any bookstore. You would probably gain more understanding of how your association operates by reading your condominium’s documents. You need to first understand that the condominium is governed by your documents as well as the state statutes. The state statute for condominiums is FS-720 and can be downloaded at www.leg.state.fl.us. If you live in a HOA, the statute is FS-720 and can also be downloaded at this same site. While most condominium documents refer to “Roberts Rules,” many boards do not understand how to use them. In truth, they are really for large organizational meetings and may not apply totally to condominium and HOA meetings.

Q: Can you please tell me what the current ruling or law is in that condominium boards are required to send notice to owners for board and committee meetings? Also, does the agenda need to be noticed along with meetings? At present our board sends a notice 48 hours in advance; recently it has have voted on non-agenda items and then, at a following meeting, ratified them. Is this legal?

M.M., Tampa

A: Condominium board meetings must be noticed 48 hours in advance along with the agenda. Committee meetings are not required to be posted with the exception of when the committee is discussing financial matters, budget preparation or final decisions. However, it makes good business sense to post committee meetings. Keep in mind that usually committees do not have an agenda but they do have a subject matter or question to be solved. The non-agenda items that you question could be considered improper actions taken by the board. If an emergency non-agenda item occurs, then it must be ratified at the next meeting. If this is a common event at board meetings, it shows poor business operations.

Write to Condo Line, Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115, or e-mail CAMquestion@cfl.rr.com. Include name and city.

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