Condos

Condo line: When should residents speak at board meetings?

Q: At the last board meeting the board made a motion, discussed it and voted to pass it. During the discussion a member raised his hand with an idea but was not allowed to speak until after the vote. Then when he was permitted to speak he said it was too late, but they wanted to know and agreed the idea should have been discussed.

I now wonder why I should go to board meetings. You listen while they discuss issues and pass motions, but are not allowed to give any new ideas until the end of the meeting. I have a lot of ideas on maintenance issues but believe the only way to bring them to the board is to write a letter, but I am afraid letters aggravate them. Are letters the best way to bring issues to a board?

B.W.

A: A board meeting is not a place to bring new information before the board. The board is obligated to produce an agenda. Only the items on the agenda can be discussed and voted on.

For the board to make intelligent decisions, the directors must study information on each agenda item before the meeting. If new information is brought before the board at the meeting, it’s almost impossible for the directors to make an intelligent vote. If new items are added to the agenda and the board acts on them, members that did not attend may object because they did not have a chance to study the missing agenda item.

If you have concerns, suggestions or improvements, send them to the board in writing several days before the meeting. This will give the board a chance to review your information and determine if it needs to be added to the agenda. If it’s done correctly, the board should be pleased that the members are concerned and are providing them time to study the problem or suggestion.

I have seen meetings where members want to ambush the board. They asked embarrassing questions and didn’t allow the board a chance to study their questions. Sending a letter well in advance allows the board to answer concerns with the best information available.

A board meeting should be a business meeting where board members can make decisions after they have had time to study the issues. It is not a meeting for members to air their problems or make suggestions.

The statutes do allow members to talk on an agenda item. They would be allowed up to three minutes to present their concerns or information. I would suggest that the member write a letter about a particular agenda item and present their ideas or concerns. Standing or interrupting in a meeting is not a proper way to present new information. If you’re concerned that the board will not address your problem, send a letter by certified mail.

Q: I am the president of a small condominium. Two unit owners have rented their units several times and they refuse to follow the approval process for tenants and give the board copies of the leases. What action can we take?

D.W., Miami

A: If your documents require a screening process for new residents, then you must treat it as a rules violation. I recommend sending a letter to the owner explaining the violation. If he does not reply, send a certified letter explaining that if he does not provide the necessary information you will turn the matter over to an attorney. Contact an association attorney and have the attorney send the rules violation letter.

It does not matter that you are a small association and “cannot afford” the legal cost. The statutes state that the board has the responsibility to enforce the rules. If it’s done correctly, the violator may be forced to pay the legal cost. If the legal cost faults to the association, it would be considered a cost of doing business and the expense budget could be increased.

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