Q. In which court can I file a lawsuit against a homeowners association for having underage children, which is a violation of the bylaws, and for raising fees for reserves even though it was voted down by a majority of the owners? They have wanton disregard for complying with the documents and failed to answer letters and provide documents when requested. I have found the state unwilling to help in disputes with homeowners associations, claiming it is not under its powers.
A. Before you take the matter to court I suggest the following action: Review Florida statute FS 720.311 Dispute Resolution. You need to have your ducks in a row. You must attempt to correct the problems before you start legal action. You need to have documented proof that you have notified the board of its errors — copies of letters sent to the board addressing the errors. I recommend you send these letters by certified mail.
Before you go to the expense of going to court, I suggest that you talk with the other owners to find out whether they have the same concerns. Your ability to reconcile or correct the board’s shortcomings will depend on community support.
I further suggest that if you take legal action, you retain an attorney to guide you in the right direction and to complete the proper paperwork and documents.
The best solution for overcoming these errors is to elect new directors at the next annual meeting. This will require that you contact members of the association and ask them to become candidates and help elect new directors. In other words, you should conduct a door-knocking campaign.
Q. Our condominium is 25 years old. A few years back, our board appointed a committee to study the condition of the roof and make recommendations for the reserve budget. At the beginning of this year, the committee recommended that the board hire a roof consultant to provide information and specifications to replace the roof. At the same time, a list of roofing companies was provided to the board with information about suppliers and manufacturers. The committee recommended that the consultant help interview the roofing companies.
The president tried to micro-manage the consultant, and the consultant quit. When I received word of this problem, I immediately called the president and consultant for a meeting. At the meeting, it was agreed that I would be the only contact between the board and the consultant. This lasted for about 10 days, and then the president started micro-managing again. At this point, everything went downhill. The consultant agreed to provide a copy of the specs, but would no longer be involved.
Once the specifications were presented to the board, the president altered some of the figures and some of the specifications. We now have a situation that most of the board members will not approve. Where do we go from here?
A. The board of directors as a whole must take control of the president. It is a board’s responsibility to replace the roof, not the president’s responsibility alone. If the president does not follow the instructions of the other directors, then the directors have the duty to replace the president at the next board meeting. If the other directors do not take control, they become as guilty as the president of not performing properly.
It is not a one-man show. All of the directors are responsible, but the president and other officers have only duties — duties that come from the instructions of the other directors, the condo documents and state law. The actions of one person are illegal, but all can be held accountable if they allow that one person to make mistakes.
Write to Condo Line, Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115, or e-mail CAMquestion@cfl.rr.com. Include your name and city.