Q: Can the chairman of the rules enforcement committee close a meeting to the other owners? I ask because a rowdy bunch sometimes comes to make problems for us because one of their buddies is coming up for violations they feel he doesn’t deserve.”
A while back, I read in the statutes that only two kinds of meetings can be closed — one with the board of directors and its attorney, and the other meetings of the rules enforcement committee.
The manager says they can be there and can ask questions and also speak for three minutes. I do not agree with the manager. I want to close the meeting to just the committee members, manager and the people summoned to be there. I think the other owners should not be there because they are not on the agenda.
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A: Board meetings must be open, with two exceptions: pending litigation with the attorney and employee matters. You are addressing committee meetings. While committee meetings should be open to all members, they do not follow the same agenda as a board meeting.
I am not sure if you mean a rules violation committee or a fining committee. A rules enforcement committee seeks out violations and reports them to the board for corrective conditions by the board.
The fining committee has very strict guidelines for operations and meets to assess fines. It is conducted as a quasi-court hearing. The committee members must be independent with no connections to the board of directors. The violator or defendant has the right to provide evidence and witnesses in his defense. In so many words, if the defendant wishes to have his friends present, they can testify in his defense.
The committee chairperson would open the meeting, and the only agenda item would be to discuss the violation and whether to assess a fine. There is no open discussion, so the three-minute rule is not in effect.
The board is wise to establish rules violation policy and guidelines for all the members, the rules violation committee and the board of directors. Then the committee can follow the policy and conduct rules enforcement.
Q: I have lived in my oceanfront condominium for more than 20 years. Recently, the doors leading to my balcony started showing wear and tear. I believe they need to be replaced. There’s nothing in our rules book about the replacement of the doors and who is responsible. Can you guide me with an answer as to who is responsible for the cost of replacing the doors?
S.P., Fort Pierce
A: There is no one correct answer. When you refer to the rules book, I assume you are referring to the condominium documents. Each condominium would be guided by its own documents. I have seen it where the owners are responsible and where the condominium is responsible. In one case, the owner was responsible except for storm damage.
Keep in mind that building components such as windows and doors will wear out and need repairs or replacement. The responsibility for these repairs or replacement should be found in your documents, but they may need a legal interpretation.
I recommend that you send a letter to the board of directors and ask about the policy on door and window replacement. If the board cannot supply an answer from the documents, it must have the association attorney render an opinion letter.
Q: Our homeowners association has a five-member board. If one member quits, is there a statute that says the board has to replace them if another homeowner wants to be on the board?
A: While you can find it in different statutes, the best source is FS 617.0809. In brief, the board must immediately appoint another person to fill the position. It is the board’s decision whom it wishes to appoint to this vacancy.
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.