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No Cooling Off Period Required After Failed Amendment

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Q: My condominium association recently voted on proposed amendments to our documents. The amendments did not pass and now the board is stating they plan on scheduling a new vote on the amendments again. Can they do this? Doesn’t the Association have to wait some period of time before there is a new vote on failed amendments? (N.G., via e-mail)

A: There is nothing in the Florida Condominium Act or any case decision law that I am aware of which requires a condominium association to wait for any specific period of time before an issue can be voted on again.

If the board calls a special members’ meeting to vote on the proposed amendments again, consistent with the provisions for calling membership meetings in your bylaws, the association would have the legal right to do so. It is not uncommon for associations to either properly adjourn meetings to continue to a future date and time or to schedule a new meeting to vote on issues where there was insufficient member participation to approve a proposed action, whether it involves amendments to the documents or some other issue for which a unit owner vote is required.

I would note that the Florida Condominium Act does require a delay before an association can reconsider a vote involving termination of the condominium. Under the statute, if a plan for optional termination is defeated by a vote of the owners, the plan may not be considered again for 24 months.

While it is conceivable that a “cooling off” requirement could be contained in your condominium documents, I have never seen such a provision.

Q: Can you please speak to the legitimacy of my condominium association’s requirement to fill out a proxy form in case of being unable to attend our annual meetings? I have contended that a voting proxy does not work unless there is certainty that my intent for the voting issue(s) is assured. (H.Y., via e-mail)

A: A condominium unit owner may sign a proxy to establish a quorum and vote on issues when he or she cannot attend an association meeting. The proxy is given to a proxy holder who attends the meeting in the unit owner’s place and acts on the unit owner’s behalf.

There are two types of proxies, limited proxies and general proxies. With a limited proxy, the unit owner checks a box instructing how the proxy holder must vote on a specific issue. A limited proxy is essentially an absentee ballot. By comparison, a general proxy authorizes the proxy holder to exercise his or her own judgment in voting on the issues presented at the meeting.

Prior to 1992, the use of general proxies was common in Florida condominiums, even in the election of directors. Many felt this practice placed too much power in boards, as the board was often the absentee owner’s designated proxy holder. Limited proxies are now required for votes pertaining to waiving reserves or reducing the funding of reserves, amendments to the condominium documents, waiving financial reporting requirements, and any other issue where a vote is specifically required or permitted by the Florida Condominium Act. General proxies can only be counted for the purpose of establishing a quorum and for voting on non-substantive matters, such as procedural motions made at the meeting.

Also, in order to be valid, a proxy must contain the date, time and place of the meeting for which it is given. While I believe it is appropriate to encourage owners to send in proxies for meetings (the owner has the right to attend the meeting and revoke the proxy if they so choose), an open-ended proxy intended to be used at meetings which have not yet been scheduled would likely be invalid.

This article originally appeared on News-Press.

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