Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Four Board Rules That Every Florida Association Needs
Some associations have pamphlets filled with rules covering every aspect of association life that can be considered and others have none. While we can dispute whether or not a rule is really needed requiring lint removal from the common area dryer screens, there are four rules that every Florida association should have on their books and records.
1. There should be a rule on the association books identifying the location where all association notices will be posted. It doesn’t matter whether that location is a well-placed tree on the common areas or a bulletin board near the elevators, members need to know where the official notice location can be found.
2. There should be a rule on the association’s books regarding hurricane shutters. Section 718.113 of the Condominium Act provides that each board shall adopt hurricane shutter specifications for each building within each condominium operated by the association which shall include color, style, and other factors deemed relevant by the board. All specifications adopted by the board shall comply with the applicable building code. Owners must be allowed to install shutters subject to reasonable board rules. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until someone approaches you with a shutter request to start thinking about the style and color that best suits your community’s needs. Your hurricane shutter rule should contemplate installation requirements and removal criteria once a storm has passed.
3. There should be a rule on the association’s books regarding owner participation at meetings. Condominium owners are permitted to speak on every agenda item at board meetings. HOA owners are permitted to speak on agenda items which they petitioned to put ont he board agenda. Owner participation is subject in both condominiums and HOA’s to reasonable board rules. Those rules can include length of time that an owner is permitted to speak, rules regarding location of any audio or video equipment, requiring written submission of quesitons, etc. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until a disgruntled owner is holding your meeting hostage with an extended rant to start thinking about reasonable rules regarding owner participation.
4. There should be a rule on the association’s books regarding owner inspection of books and records. Owners in all types of common interest ownership communities are entitled to inspect their association’s books and records and there are penalties for an association’s failure to timely produce such records. Once again, such inspection is subject to reasonable board rules and regulations. It is reasonable to limit the number of requests the same owner makes in any specific time period. It is also reasonable to require a log to be maintained for owner requests, require a witness to be present to ensure documents are not removed, destroyed or altered and to limit the number of documents requested at any particular setting. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until an owner requests every financial record from the association’s inception in 1967 to present to start thinking about reasonable inspection rules.
Please speak with your association counsel about what rules make sense for your community. No matter what you decide, these four need to be on your books!