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Count on other board members for help

February 25, 2011
By Sylvia Heldreth, Real Estate Law

Q: It is time for board elections at our condominium. One of the people running this year is a sort of cranky guy who always complains about how much money the board spends. He believes the property shouldn't be kept up to our current standards. He says that we pay so much to have the lawn mowed that he can't afford to pay his association dues. Surprising-ly, he may get enough votes to win. This is in spite of the fact that he clearly doesn't understand the legalities of serving on a board. Is there anything we can do?

A: It sounds like this person meets the basic requirements to serve on the board. He must be at least 18 years of age. He is clearly a natural person, not a legal entity. On the other hand, he must be able to hold the public's trust and confidence. (A convicted felon must have had their civil rights restored by the court of jurisdiction for at least five yeats.) If he is indeed overly cranky, he may not be elected and your problem will be solved.

Unit owners have a variety of ideas about property upkeep, funding reserves and just about anything that has to do with association management. You could start by speaking with your fellow unit owners about the responsibilities of the board to protect the association's assets and the need to have board members who are astute in decision making, not just overly frugal. If they don't trust him to be so, he may not be elected in the first place.

If he is elected, the statutes may protect you from his doing too much damage. The best protection, of course, will be the action of the other members of the board and if he is too off beat, he'll be outvoted in board decisions.

If he continues to ignore paying his association dues, there is a simple remedy In 2008, a change to the statute was made providing that if a director was delinquent by more than 90 days in the payment of regular assessments he/she is disqualified from further board service. A director is also disqualified from continuing on the board if he/she is delinquent in the payment of a fine, fee,or any type of special assessment.

Also, directors are now required within 90 days of their election to either certify in writing that they have read the condominium documents and will uphold them to the best of their ability or they are permitted to submit a certificate of completion of an educational program approved by the State. Like paying his association fees,this is a retirement that this director may ignore. In that case, he will not be permitted to serve.

The requirements for serving on the board are very clear. The important thing is that the intent of the service is upheld, to protect the assets financial and real, of the association. If things get out of hand, consider consulting an attorney who is knowledgeable about association management.

Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a Certified Specialist in Real Estate Law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar St. in Cape Coral.

This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.



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