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Condominium Associations can Require Unit Owners’ Keys

Q:        I am a new owner in a condominium. The board has asked me for a key to my unit, but I am hesitant to give it to them. Can they require me to provide a key? (M.R., via e-mail)

A:        Probably. Section 718.111 (5)(a) of the Florida Condominium Act states that an association has the irrevocable right of access to each unit during reasonable hours when access is necessary to maintain, repair, or replace the common elements or any portion of a unit that the association maintains, or if it is necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or another unit.

While the statute does not specifically address a board’s right to obtain keys, numerous rulings from the state agency which regulates condominiums have upheld key requirements if contained in the declaration of condominium or a properly enacted board rule. The association should have a policy addressing appropriate security protocols to secure unit keys when they are not in use.

Q:        I live in a development with a homeowners’ association. I would like to attend the meetings for our association’s architectural review committee. However, I do not know when this committee has meetings and am not sure whether I am permitted to attend. Do committees have to post notice of their meetings? (G.G., via e-mail)

A:        Sometimes. Committee meetings may be subject to the same requirements as board meetings. However, it depends on the type of committee involved.

Section 720.303(2)(a) of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act states that “meetings” of the board of directors occur when a quorum of the board gathers to conduct association business. Board meetings are subject to certain “sunshine” regulations (the Florida Government in the Sunshine law does not apply to homeowners’ associations, so this is a bit of an industry slang term). The sunshine regulations applicable to board meetings also apply to committees where a final decision can be made to spend association funds, as well as committees that approve architectural decisions. These two types of committees are often loosely referred to as “statutory committees.”

Legal requirements include posting 48 hours’ advanced notice of the meeting in a conspicuous place in the community and keeping minutes of the meetings. Members have the right to attend these committee meetings, and can also speak at such meetings with reference to any designated agenda item. Members who wish to speak at such meetings may be subject to reasonable rules governing the frequency, duration, and manner of members’ comments, if the association has adopted such policies. There are no sunshine law regulations applicable to other committees of a homeowners’ association, sometimes called “non-statutory committees.”

The Florida Condominium Act has similar requirements. However, there are different “statutory committees” in the condominium context. For condominiums, statutory committees are those committees empowered to take final action on behalf the board and committees which make budget recommendations to the board. Unlike the law for homeowners’ associations, non-statutory committees in condominiums must also follow the sunshine requirements, unless the association’s bylaws exempt them.

Because the meeting you want to attend is an architectural review meeting, it is a “statutory committee” under the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act. Notice of the meetings must be posted and members are permitted to attend and speak.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to jadams@bplegal.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com

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