Friday, July 30, 2010

Who do you want serving on your condominium board?

Bring up the topic of who can and should serve on a community’s board of directors and you are probably in for a heated debate. On the one hand, so few people have the time or inclination to volunteer their service these days that the thought is to keep the pool of eligible directors as broad as possible. On the other hand, directors have the ability to profoundly impact the quality of their members’ lives so the best possible candidates must be chosen. Ultimately, it is up to the members to get involved and cast their votes wisely. It is not realistic, however, to expect association members to do their own due diligence on each candidate which is why the Legislature has set some minimum standards for condominium board member eligibility.

The most recent changes to Florida Statutes (effective on July 1, 2010) which affect board member eligibility and candidate certification requirements in condominium associations include items that impact the information provided in and the contents of your Condominium’s Annual Meeting and Election Packages, such as the following:

o The restrictions upon co-owners serving on the board has been relaxed to allow co-owners to serve where such co-owners own more than one (1) unit, or where there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the vacancies on the board.

o The director delinquency restriction has been expanded to include any person delinquent more than ninety (90) days in the payment of ANY monetary obligation to the association, including fines, fees, and regular or special assessments. Such persons are not eligible for board membership.

o The candidate certification requirement prior to the election has been removed and replaced with a certification required from all directors within ninety (90) days after being elected. Each newly elected or appointed director must certify in writing within 90 days after being elected or appointed that he or she has read the association’s governing documents (declaration, bylaws, articles and current rules/policies), and that he or she will work to uphold these documents to the best of his or her ability, and faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary duty to the association and its members.

o In lieu of such written certification, a director may submit a certificate of satisfactory completion of the educational curriculum from a condominium education provider approved by the Division.

o Directors who do not submit proper certification are suspended from board service until they comply with this requirement, and the board may appoint an interim replacement.

o The Association Secretary must maintain each directors’ certifications for five (5) years after their election.

o Directors charged by information or indictment with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving association funds must be removed from office until the end of the period of the suspension or the end of the director’s term, whichever occurs first.

Please be sure to discuss these changes with your association attorney and manager to ensure that your community’s annual meeting and election package complies with these statutory changes. Of course, the above requirements currently apply only to condominium associations and not to HOA’s or cooperatives. I can’t think of a compelling reason why we should be less concerned about who is serving on HOA and cooperative boards than we are about those serving on condominium boards; can you?

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