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Voter Apathy Plagues Florida Community Associations

Question: Our condominium association has been trying to amend our condominium documents since the developer sold out 10 years ago. The documents require 75% of all unit owners for amendment. This has failed several times, primarily due to voter apathy. Is there anything the board can do to amend the documents? (R.M. by e-mail)

Answer: If at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying. I have found that the best way to get this type of project completed is to appoint a committee of enough volunteers so that every owner can be called and asked to vote (either yes or no). While the Association should not bother or harass people, it is not unreasonable to ask them to put in at least enough effort to fill out a proxy form. Some associations also “knock on doors” to get proxy votes. While perhaps a bit aggressive, I don’t think there is a legal concern about doing this (though there might be in an association where members own their land).

There is no provision in the law that allows you to follow a different procedure than what is provided in your documents. If your documents require the approval of 75% of all members, the documents can only be amended if approval is obtained. This can be difficult when members simply do not vote, as these members are considered to have voted “no” on the matter.

The board may wish to propose an amendment only dealing with amendment procedures. To account for voter apathy, the required vote for future amendments can be based on only those members who are present, in person or by proxy, and voting. While you will still need to obtain the approval currently set forth in the documents (75% of all units), if the amendment is approved, future non-voters will no longer count as “no” votes.

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