Q: I recently requested the financial records of my association. What I discovered was clear misappropriation of funds.
I talked to a few owners who saw the same. One owner actually suggested that we pool our money and hire an attorney, which I am for. However, most of the owners do not want to get involved.
I filed a complaint with Florida Business and Professional Regulations and sent them several copies of questionable invoices. I received a call from someone in Tallahassee who stated that they do not deal with misappropriation of funds but only regulate. She suggested that I call law enforcement.
Is there not an agency that holds a board of directors accountable? Is there any statute that provides the steps I need to take against the board for misappropriation of funds? If so, please refer me to those statutes.
A: It is good that you are concerned about your association’s funds and operations. You have now experienced the most serious situation in associations today: the apathy of most owners.
Associations with homeowners who are interested, concerned, and take responsibility are well operated. A responsibility of all homeowners is to be active in the operations and volunteer to serve on committees and be candidates for elections.
Since you did not explain to me your concern of the misappropriation of funds, I cannot provide you with the final answer. The state only enforces violations of the statutes and not criminal activity. That should be reported with the evidence to the police or state attorney.
Did you send the board a letter and ask about your concerns with the financial records? That should have been your first step. Your board may offer a reasonable explanation for the expenditures you question. Until you have your answer from the board, I would not be concerned with taking outside action. Remember, any claim or report must be backed up with written proof.
Q: I am part of a renegade board. I follow the law; the other directors do not follow the Florida statutes. I am unable to make them change their behavior and I already have exhausted all internal courses of actions with the other directors.
They continue to meet in private with a quorum of directors present and discuss board business (no agenda posted, no minutes taken). A few directors even signed contracts without the knowledge of the entire board. They exclude certain board members from communications.
Do you think I should start, as my first step, with the Ombudsman? The Ombudsman will not address breaking our own condominium rules but will address statute violation issues. Our management company is no help at this point.
A: First, do not let the other directors’ actions create a stressful situation for your health. Do not resign as a director. Keep in mind that the best boards operate when they have directors that oppose the majority. When you have this conflict between directors, it forces all directors to justify, study, and make better decisions for the members.
While the Ombudsman is a direction you can take, I have other suggestions. Document all conflicts. Put in writing your concerns and send them to all the directors. When they violate the statute requirements concerning quorum, make sure this is part of the official records.
At the board meetings during reports, report your concerns and have it recorded in the minutes of the meeting or send a certified letter that would be filed in the official records of the association. Become a thorn by officially reporting your concerns in writing.
To protect your health, let your pen do your talking and let the other directors have the pressure of correcting their problems. Once you’ve put it in writing, you’ve done as much as you can and you protect yourself if someone sues the board for improper action.