What are condo manager’s rights to enter my unit?

Q: Many times you have stated that condominium management has to be able to enter units. In other words they cannot be locked out. What are my rights as an owner when I have been robbed five times since 1980 and other residents have reported theft as well? The police and management have blamed these incidents on guests of family members. I live alone and never provide my key to anyone.

Our board of directors has access to keys from all the other units. My Ohio attorney states that this is illegal in other states and only one person can have access to the keys. What does Florida law state? What are my rights if I get robbed again?

J.H., Hillsboro Beach

A: Here is the section from FS 718.111: (5) RIGHT OF ACCESS TO UNITS. “The association has the irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours, when necessary for the maintenance, repair, or replacement of any common elements or of any portion of a unit to be maintained by the association pursuant to the declaration or as necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or to a unit or units.”

Notice that management is not included in this section of the statutes. However, the board of directors may instruct the manager to inspect apartments.

Some condominiums require the unit owners to provide a key in the event that they need to access the unit for repairs or inspections. There are procedures to secure entry when owners are not at home. In some situations when entry is required and the owners are not available and no key is provided, the board of directors can force entry into the unit. Obviously, there needs to be some type of communication or attempt to communicate with the owner before entering the unit.

Each state has its own laws and the out-of-state attorney without knowledge of the Florida condominium act cannot advise you as to the proper procedures you are questioning.

Q: After an annual election for a new board of directors, can the new directors assume responsibility and enact their powers without going through a swearing-in process? Is a swearing-in the legal requirement for the newly elected board of directors or can the members assume their director’s duties from the moment the election results are announced, with the previous board immediately dissolved?

J.P., Sunny Isles Beach

A: Normally at the completion of the annual meeting, the new board would call to order an organizational board meeting. That meeting should have an agenda with two items — the election of the new officers and the scheduling of the next regular board meeting. There is no legal requirement for swearing in the new board. Some associations require a swearing-in process, but it is not needed.

There is no regular process or procedure for this organizational meeting. I would suggest that the outgoing president, the manager or an outgoing director or officer call the organizational board meeting to order and proceed with the election of the new officers.

Once a new president is elected, the meeting could be turned over to the new president to chair the meeting or have the manager continue the meeting agenda. This meeting would be conducted as any other board meeting and once the two agenda items are completed, the meeting should be adjourned. As a side note, the election of the officers is the only time a vote can be a secret vote.