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Legal Tools at Your Disposal to Make Your Responsibilities as a Board Member Easier

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I often find that there is an over-complication that some people believe goes hand-in-hand with their responsibilities in operating a condominium. Most forget that the statute and administrative code provide boards with some basic tools to assist in day to day operations.  This article will review some of these tools.

Unit owner participation at meetings.   The Condominium Act gives unit owners the right to attend board meetings and the right to speak on any topic on the agenda.  But what do you do about the disruptive owner?  The association may adopt written reasonable rules governing the frequency, duration, and manner of unit owner statements.  For example, if you want to allow a unit owner to speak for no longer than three minutes on any topic on the agenda, the board could create such a rule as well as others.

Unit owner audio and videotaping meetings. The Florida Administrative Code provides that any unit owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the board of administration, committee meetings, or unit owner meetings, subject to the following restrictions: The only audio and video equipment and devices which unit owners are authorized to utilize at any such meeting is equipment which does not produce distracting sound or light emissions.  The Administrative Code also permits associations to adopt the following as written rules in advance of the meeting: audio and video equipment shall be assembled and placed in position in advance of the commencement of the meeting;  anyone videotaping or recording a meeting shall not be permitted to move about the meeting room in order to facilitate the recording; advance notice shall be given to the board by any unit owner desiring to utilize any audio or video equipment.

Requests for official records. The association may adopt reasonable rules regarding the frequency, time, location, notice, and manner of record inspections and copying.  The key to this type of rule is to ensure that the rule is reasonable and permits access. There are a number of arbitration decisions dealing with condominium associations attempting to create rules that were too strict and unenforceable. Therefore, I recommend that you consult with your attorney before finalizing such a rule. You can also charge a reasonable amount for photocopies. That amount should be in the rule as well.

Written inquiries by unit owners.  On occasion you will have a unit owner send a list of questions to the board. The association can also control these inquiries. The board may adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding the frequency and manner of responding to unit owner inquiries, one of which may be that the association is only obligated to respond to one written inquiry per unit in any given 30-day period. In such a case, any additional inquiry or inquiries must be responded to in the subsequent 30-day period, or periods, as applicable.  You may also limit the number of questions.

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