Q: I live in a small condominium. For several years the board of directors has not had a president or vice president; we have operated with the secretary and treasurer. Are there any rules or laws governing makeup of the board? Are we permitted to operate without these positions being filled?
J.C., St. Petersburg
A: The statute FS 617 requires a corporation have a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Your condominium has been in violation of this statute and Florida laws. Unless your documents say otherwise, multiple officer positions can be held by a director. You should have an election every year to elect new directors. The directors then would elect the officers.
You say this situation has been going on for years. This shows the lack of support by the members — their apathy regarding how the condominium is operated.
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The board should have been filing an annual report to the state each year. That report requires names of the officers. If you have not been filing this report, your corporation is nonexistent in the eyes of the law. As long as no complaint is filed by an owner or outside entity, no legal action will be taken against your condominium. However, if you’re faced with a lawsuit you will more than likely lose the lawsuit. Since your corporation does not exist, each owner would then be responsible for any financial claim.
The owners in your condominium must immediately assume their responsibility to elect the board of directors and officers and operate the condominium properly. I strongly suggest that the board engage an attorney to correct the situation.
Q: We have an entrenched and inept board. One homeowner has asked the president to release a portion of common area next to his house. From what I understand, the president has agreed, providing the homeowner gets signatures of the homeowners and pays the association $2,000. Since this property is part of the common area, the release affects the entire community; therefore, I would think that 100 percent of the owners need to agree or it is a no go.
I have refused to sign for a number of reasons. No meeting has been held with the homeowners to discuss this as an option. Since our homes are documented as single-family, zero lot line homes, I would think this would be a violation of county building and zoning ordinances and would require a variance in order for this to be a legal transaction.
I am afraid that not taking the proper steps could lead to a disruption of the declarations noted in the individual documents securing our homes. There has been no survey presented to the homeowners as to how much is being conveyed or the market value of the land under consideration. I am not sure that our president has a legal right to make such a deal. Specifics of this nature are not found in our documents. We need your assistance.
A: The statutes clearly define that no owner can privately use the common area. However, most documents allow the board to sell or buy property. I would guess that these two conflicting provisions would allow the board to transfer title to certain parts of the common area. However, the board and all the owners would have to vote on this issue, not just one officer.
Quite obviously in real estate transactions, as this would be, an attorney must be engaged to draft the proper documents. I am also sure that the county tax department would be concerned about this transaction as it would alter the real estate taxes due. That’s another reason an attorney must be engaged. Such an exchange would also include IRS tax reports, so your CPA must be informed of the transaction. There may be a change in liability or responsibility for insurance coverage, therefore your insurance agent should be informed of the transaction. It cannot be just a simple agreement.
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.