Our subdivision bylaws were never filed

Q: Recently, I went to the county records office to get a copy of the deed restrictions and the bylaws. There were no records of these documents being recorded, much to my surprise. Another officer also was told no documents for the subdivision have been recorded. I could not believe it and I went back to inquire myself. They did find documents recorded when the subdivision was first platted before homes were built.

If they have not been recorded, are they enforceable? My concern is that members will want to make all manner of changes to the deed restrictions, knowing that the original restrictions haven’t been recorded. An attorney friend counseled me to go now and have the documents recorded. Tell me your advice.

V.P., Orlando

A: Over the years, association laws have changed. Decades ago the bylaws were not required to be recorded. Now they are and they have to be filed in the county court records system.

It’s possible that your documents have expired under Florida Title Records Act. It is important that you have an attorney review the documents and perhaps renew them. At the same time the attorney can record your bylaws and deed restrictions. I’m too remote to provide further guidance.

While condominiums do not become involved in the Florida Title Records Act, homeowner associations must seek legal guidance to renew the documents as this act may cause the association to expire.

Q: Our CAM property manager purchased an REO (Real Estate Owned, by bank) in our condominium. The property was a lender’s approved short sale. Not only does this give them huge profits, it also gives them voting power. I thought buying a bank-owned property had to be an arm’s-length transaction with no insider information as to pre-foreclosure. Can you shed light if this is illegal?

B.F., Miami

A: Usually foreclosure action is not a secret. To obtain the information you need to be aware of public notices. When a bank forecloses and places it in the REO department, the information is sent to real estate companies and public notices. Any person can contact real estate salespeople or even the bank REO department. Almost all counties provide information online or at the county records office as to whom owns the property.

The information will not necessarily fall into your lap. If you want to know what’s going on, there are several sources from whom you can obtain listings of REO sales.

The manager has every right to acquire real estate properties or other investments. The manager should not use association records or association information, but if the information is in public records that overlap association records the manager has the right to purchase foreclosed properties. Directors and officers as well as any owner have the right to purchase properties within the association if they use public records.

If the manager becomes an owner of the unit by buying an REO property, he has the same rights, such as voting, as any other owner. I would not be so concerned about his one vote.

I’m sure this was an arm’s-length transaction and you had every right yourself to bid on the property. Think for a minute: Would the bank sell the property at a lower price by providing inside information or would they want to sell the property at the highest price available using competitive bids?

Write to Condo Line, Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115, or e-mail Include name and city.