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Requiring Licensed Contractors is Valid

Q:        My homeowners’ association requires contractors to be licensed and insured as part of the approval process for architectural review. Are they allowed to do this? (K.L. via e-mail)

A:        The Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, found at Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, sets forth the process by which homeowners’ associations can perform architectural review. The Act limits the Association’s authority to that which is specifically granted or reasonably inferred from the declaration, or other published standards authorized by the declaration.

Therefore, it would depend on the language contained in the governing documents. Many homeowners’ associations governing documents contain provisions that require properly licensed and insured contractors. In my opinion, such a provision, if properly enacted, is valid.

Q:        I recently purchased a unit in a condominium association and have learned that my association does not have a website. Is this common?? (T.I. via e-mail)

A:        Although I have no statistics on point, I would guess that a majority of associations do not have websites. There is no legal requirement that a condominium association have a website or other online resources for unit owners.

However, as of July 1, 2018, condominium associations with 150 or more units will be required to maintain an association website that contains certain information that is accessible only to unit owners. The information that must be maintained on such websites includes the condominium documents, budgets, financial reports, certain contracts, as well as meeting notices.

Q:        I own condominium units in the same condominium. Can I send in my ballots to elect the board together, or do I have to send them separately? (K.G. via e-mail)

A:        You can send in the ballots for your units together, however separate “inner envelopes” must be used for each ballot, and the “outer envelope” must identify your units.

The Florida Condominium Act requires members to vote by “secret ballot,” sent in inner and outer envelopes. The inner envelope (sometimes called the ballot envelope) contains the ballot, and should have no markings or signatures. The outer envelope is pre-addressed to the association and must contain the voter’s name, voter’s signature, and voter’s unit number(s).

The Florida Administrative Code permits several inner envelopes to be contained within one single outer envelope sent by an owner with multiple units. However each inner envelope can only have one ballot.

Q:        Is it legal for a manager to prepare and sign a certificate of amendment verifying that amendments to our condominium documents were approved? (A.L. via e-mail)

A:        No. According to the Florida Supreme Court, the preparation of documents related to amendments is the “practice of law” and must be done by a Florida-licensed attorney.

As to signing the document, the law requires certificates of amendment to be executed with the “formalities of a deed.” This generally requires signature by either the president or a vice-president, with adherence to certain other formalities, depending upon the manner, generally including a requirement for witnesses and notarization. Although not required by law, some documents also require “attestation” by the corporate secretary, and this should also be followed where required.

Q:        My community has a “villas association” for my neighborhood and a “master association” for the entire development. Is it permissible for a villa owner to serve as a member of the board of both our neighborhood association and the master association at the same time? This would seem to be a conflict of interest to me. (T.C. via e-mail)

A:        There is no legal prohibition against serving on multiple boards governing different aspects of the same community, and it is not uncommon. There may be times when the interests of the “master association” and the “neighborhood association” are at direct odds, and in such cases the individual serving on both boards should recuse himself or herself from both matters.

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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