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Committees Not Required by Law

Q:  I have served on my condominium association’s landscape committee for the past several years. The committee is responsible for reviewing the association’s landscaping, coordinating with our landscape contractor, and making suggestions to the board.  At a recent board meeting, the new board, which was elected a few months ago, discussed the status of all committees and made a motion to disband all of the committees, including the landscape committee, and stated that the board would be handling all such matters going forward.  The committee members were not advised of this action beforehand or given the opportunity to object.  Don’t we have the right to have this committee? (W.O. by email)

A:  Probably not. There is no legal obligation that a condominium association have committees, though most associations find them to be desirable. If your bylaws create standing committees, then the board would be obligated to set those committees up.

However, the board has the discretion to determine who serves on committees and they serve at the will of the board, again absent contrary provisions in the governing documents. The condominium statute does provide that committees that have the authority to take final action on behalf of the board, or make recommendations to the board regarding the association’s budget, are obligated to hold open and noticed meetings.   All other committees must also hold open and noticed meetings unless the bylaws provide otherwise.

If your association wishes to levy fines or suspend common area use rights for violations of the governing documents, an independent committee is also required by law to review board determinations and accept or reject them before a fine or suspension can be implemented.

If your board of directors, at a properly noticed board meeting, voted to disband all of the committees, that would be a valid action absent a requirement in the bylaws for mandatory standing committees. I don’t recall every seeing bylaws mandate a standing landscape committee.

Q:  I own a single family home as an investment property.  The board of directors of our homeowners’ association recently called a special meeting of the members to vote on an amendment to our documents to make a change to the common areas that I am opposed to. I never received notice of the meeting or got a proxy in the mail, and therefore did not get a chance to vote. What is the rule on this?  (S.G. via e-mail)

A:  Chapter 720.306 of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act was amended effective July 1, 2018 to state that notice of meetings to adopt amendments (as well as other meetings) must  be mailed or delivered to the address identified as the parcel owner’s mailing address on the property appraiser’s website for the county in which the parcel is located.  If the notice was sent there, even if that is not where you regularly receive mail, then the notice was valid.

This change in the law (which does not apply to condominiums) does not make sense to me and I do not know what the Legislature was trying to accomplish. Many people designate an official address with the association which is different than the tax billing address, which especially with investment properties, can be an accountant or other financial caretaker.

If notice of the meeting was not sent to the correct address as required by the new law, you may have a basis for challenging the action. Although I am not aware of any case decisions on point, assuming your notice was bad, but your “no” vote would not have changed the outcome, I believe a challenge would be difficult.

In order to avoid this issue in the future, if your association provides notice of its meetings by e-mail, you can consent in writing to receiving notices by email and specify the address where they should be sent.

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

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