Q: In a homeowners’ association, can residents request items be added to the agenda for board meetings, or can only directors do this? If so, is there a deadline by which items must be placed on the agenda in order to give residents adequate notice about the items to be discussed? (S.R. via e-mail)
A: Yes. With a number of notable exceptions, all of the powers and duties of an association are typically vested in the board of directors. These decisions usually include the association’s management arrangement, if any, the selection of vendors, and the scheduling and manner of maintenance.
In 2004, a Task Force was appointed by the Governor to take public input on issues affecting homeowners’ associations. I was privileged to have been appointed to that group.
One complaint the Task Force heard with some frequency was that association members might want a particular issue addressed, but because it was solely within the control of the board, nothing would happen. That is why the statute was amended to provide that if 20 percent of the total voting interests petition the board to address an item of business, the board shall at its next regular board meeting or at a special meeting of the board, but not later than 60 days after the receipt of the petition, take the petitioned item up on an agenda. There is usually one “voting interest” per home.
The board must give all members 14 days mailed and posted notice of the meeting at which the petitioned item shall be addressed. Each member shall have the right to speak for at least 3 minutes on each matter placed on the agenda by petition, provided that the member signs the sign-up sheet, if one is provided, or submits a written request to speak prior to the meeting. Other than addressing the petitioned item at the meeting, the board is not obligated to take any other action requested by the petition.
Q: Are there limits on what records I can inspect, as a member of a homeowners’ association? (M.W. via e-mail)
A: Yes. Section 720.303(4) of the Homeowners’ Association Act, defines the official records that must be maintained by homeowners’ associations and essentially includes all written records in the association’s possession. The Act provides that after the board receives a member’s written request, the official records must be made available for inspection or photocopying within ten business days.
The Act also provides that certain records are not open to members inspection. These records include: any record protected by attorney-client privilege or work-product privilege; information obtained in connection with the approval of a lease, sale, or other transfer; personnel records of association or management company employees; medical records; social security numbers, driver license numbers, credit card numbers, e-mail addresses, and other personal identifying addresses; and any electronic security measure that is used by the association to safeguard data, including passwords.
Q: The board of directors of my condominium association recently adopted a rule that stated the only type of hurricane shutters that may be installed are white roll-down shutters. I was planning on purchasing different shutters which are cheaper but have been told that I will not be allowed to install any shutters other than the approved shutters. Can the board make me buy a more expensive hurricane shutters? (B.C. via e-mail)
A: Probably. Section 718.113(5) of the Florida Condominium Act states that the board of every condominium association must adopt hurricane shutter specifications. The statute goes on to state that the specifications shall include “color, style and other factors deemed relevant by the board.” Further, the board’s specifications must comply with the applicable building code. Therefore, such a requirement as you describe is likely enforceable, as long as the required installation meets the current building code.
Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.