Q: My wife and I have been owner residents in our condominium for more than 20 years. During the past year, a rental tenant has constantly violated a number of rules, including having unregistered vehicles in the assigned parking spaces, keeping more than two vehicles on the property, parking illegally, illegal carport storage and oil leaks in parking areas. Recently my wife and I again brought this to the attention of the management company and board. The tenant now knows that we have reported these violations. We know who violated our confidentiality but cannot prove it. In retaliation, in the past two weeks the rental tenant has vandalized our two cars, made obscene gestures and shouted profanity at both of us. Last week when I was out of town, he threatened my wife. Both the board and management company are aware of this situation but refuse to take any action. He has made a very uncomfortable environment for my wife and me. Do we have any recourse against the board or management company?
Answer: Since you suffered vandalism to your car, you should file a police report. I also would report the harassment and ask the police to include it in the report. The owner of the rental unit has a responsibility to ensure that the tenants comply with the rules and regulations. Once you file a police report, I would notify the board of directors by certified mail of the vandalism and harassment and your police report. Request that the board notify the owner of the problems you have had. If the board takes no further action, engage an attorney to protect your property, and your wife and yourself, against further harassment. In your letter, explain to the board members that they have a responsibility to enforce the rules and, in the case where a tenant is violating these rules, they need to enforce against the owner. You can contact the manager as well.
Q: I am a board member of an FS 617 nonprofit master and recreation association that four local communities pay to belong to through HOA dues. I have been serving on the board for four years and, up until last night, enjoyed it. Last night’s meeting ended in a shouting and shoving match with folks ending up on the floor. The duty of this board is basically to run the facility and make decisions on keeping it going. Our building, grounds and facilities are in very good order and condition. We run a 10-year budget plan and finances look very good. As I understand it, years ago these meetings were closed to members, but they aren’t any longer. After last night, one of the members suggested that these meetings should be closed again. Can we have this meeting behind closed doors and keep it legal? If yes, can we close our meetings to members? What happened last night was pretty frightening and I am not keen on sitting through another one of these episodes.
Answer: I am confused by your question referring to operating under FS 617. That statute includes the laws for Corporations Not-for-Profit. Most Florida associations fall under this statute. You’ll need to review the articles of incorporation found in your documents to see the statute under which you operate. They could be FS 718, FS 719, FS 720 or FS 723. Regardless, they all have similar meeting requirements. Board meetings must be noticed 48 hours in advance. Condominiums require that the meeting agenda also be posted. HOAs fall under similar limited requirements. Members attending meetings may address agenda items only. They are allowed by statute to speak for a minimum of three minutes on those agenda items. Remember, it is critical that boards keep members posted on actions of the association and the board. I would not suggest that you close your meetings.
Richard White is a licensed community association manager. He does not offer legal opinions; any other questions and comments concerning association operations can be sent to Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven FL 33884-4115; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.