QUESTION: Several of my friends have volunteered to run for their condo and HOA boards this season. They are all ethical people but someone suggested that there is more to the ethical behavior of community association boards than just doing what they think is right. What does she mean?
ANSWER: The fundamental component of maintaining the ethics of an association board and board members is to adhere to Florida statute, especially the aspect of Fiduciary Duty. It is a board's primary obligation to protect an association's property including its financial assets. The second component is for a board member to conduct reasonable inquiry and to act in good faith. Acting in good faith involves duties:
- Finances - The board is responsible for managing all the finances of the association including aggressively collecting fees and adhering to the reporting rules prescribed by Florida statute.
- Enforcement - The board is responsible for enforcing the association's governing documents including use restriction violations and delinquent assessment collections. Board members have a responsibility to make and enforce rules for the common good and to intervene to neighbor-to-neighbor nuisance disputes.
- Knowledge - Board members must know the relevant current statutes and the contents/requirements of the association's governing documents (bylaws, articles of incorporation, operating rules, architectural guidelines). The board is also responsible for managing the daily affairs of the association, so the board should be continually reviewing and evaluating association business, transactions and records including reserves.
- Operations - The board is responsible for the management of the common area facilities and amenities, such as pools and clubhouses.
- Maintenance - The board is responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the association's common area components.
Ethical board members put the interests of their community above their own interests and actively protect the association's assets while assuring the safety and well being of the residents. They are very knowledgeable about the differences between the duties and rights of homeowners in private, independents houses and those that are part of a community association. They are the leaders of their community.
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 no 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.