Q. Some time ago I read in your column that one does not have to be a unit owner to be on the board of directors of a condominium association. Is this right? If it is, where can I read about it?
A. The two primary sources would be the Florida Condominium Act (FS 718) (for HOAs, FS 720) and the Corporation Not for Profit Statute (FS 617).
The qualifications to become a candidate and serve on the board are very limited. They include being of legal age, not having a criminal record, not being delinquent on fees, and allowing only one member from one unit. Some condominium documents do have other requirements, but these are rare.
There is no requirement in the statutes that a director be an owner or a full-time resident.
Would you not want the best-qualified people to serve on the board? Could a non-owner be better qualified to serve the community? I once managed a community where the son-in-law of an owner was the president. He was not an owner, but he had a personal interest in ensuring that the community was properly operated and managed.
I also managed a community where all the board members were snowbirds, and for four months each year we had no board meetings.
There’s nothing to say that non-owners or nonresidents cannot make better board members than full-time owners. There is no exclusion of renters, either. I have found that renters sometimes are more concerned about proper operations than are owners.
There is no rule against businesspeople and professionals serving on the board. In other words: Realtors, attorneys, CPAs, contractors and vendors that serve the community can serve on the board of directors.
Very simply, almost any person can become a candidate and serve on the board of directors.
Q. We are a condominium association. Some residents have put plants and bushes outside their property. The property manager says those items are illegal because they are in the common area. They are about three feet from the property line, and some are very trim and good-looking, improving the appearance of the area.
Is there a happy medium in this situation? Can the board of directors override the property manager and set some guidelines as to what and where plants and bushes can be used?
A. The condominium act says that no person may use the common area for personal use. It also says that the board must maintain the common areas. But the manager does not have the authority to enforce these requirements without the board’s approval.
Since it i’s the responsibility of the board to enforce the statutes and the documents, the manager was advising the board on the statute requirements and following the board’s instructions.
As for the compromise you suggest, who would maintain these areas? Since the statutes say it is the board’s responsibility to maintain the common areas, this might create an added expense for the board. If your answer is that the owners would be responsible, then what would happen if the owner is injured while maintaining the garden?
In other words, you not only have maintenance problems but you have liability situations. You also have the possibility of architectural and landscape variations that may devalue the community.
Q. Does a homeowners association have the authority to require all of its residents to participate in a nonessential service (specifically cable TV service) mandated by board vote only, without putting it out to a majority vote by the owners?
T.H., Port St. Lucie
A. If cable TV was not one of the original services provided by the developer, then the addition of the service would require a vote of the members. However, if the developer is still in control of the association, then he may have the right to add the service.
There are other exceptions, but normally the addition of the service would require members’ approval. In such a situation, each owner would be required to pay his or her share of the expense.