By Attorney S. Kyla Thomson
Q. I am running for the Board of my condominium association. I heard that, if elected, I have to take a class about my responsibilities as a Board member. Is this accurate? – J.W., Naples
A: The Condominium Act (Chapter 718, Florida Statutes), the Cooperative Act (Chapter 719, Florida Statutes), and the HOA Act (Chapter 720, Florida Statutes) all require that, within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the Board of Directors, each new director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s bylaws, articles of incorporation, declaration of condominium (condominiums), declaration of covenants (HOAs), proprietary lease (cooperatives), and the association’s rules, regulations, and policies. Further, he or she will work to uphold the documents and policies to the best of his or her ability and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary duty to the association’s members. I strongly recommend that all Board members review their governing documents so that they are familiar with the Board’s and the owners’ rights and responsibilities. That being said, after reviewing these documents, most Board members are still left with questions on how to properly carry out their responsibilities.
Chapters 718, 719, and 720, Florida Statutes provides that, in the alternative to the written certification above, newly elected or appointed Board members, within 90 days of election or appointment, may submit a certificate of having satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved education provider within 1 year before or 90 days after the date of election or appointment. Further, a certificate is valid for the uninterrupted tenure of the director on the board.
If a director does not comply with the requirements within the time periods provided, he/she shall be suspended from the Board until he/she complies with the requirement. The Board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension.
For those local to the Southwest Florida region, we are hosting several in-person Board Certification Courses. Currently, the scheduled dates for these courses are February 28, 2022, March 29, 2022, April 14, 2022, and April 27, 2022. If you are interested in registering for the course, please visit our website: www.gadclaw.com, click on the Classes tab, and register under the desired date and program. We also offer webinars of these Board Certification courses. Please follow the same instructions for registering and the webinars are listed on the same page.
I do want to reiterate that although these courses are provided as an alternative to the written certification that Board members have reviewed their governing documents, I still strongly encourage Board members to review the governing documents for their own associations so that they are aware regarding any specific provisions that apply to their own communities.
Q. My condominium association allows for owners to replace their carpeting with hard-surface flooring like tile, marble, wood, etc. but only after obtaining approval from the Board of Directors. The problem is that the Board does not have a consistent policy regarding hard-surface flooring installations and some requirements are different from one request to another. Do you see an issue with this? – S.B., Naples
A: Yes, there are definitely issues with the fact that the association does not have a consistent policy regarding hard-surface flooring installations. Without these requirements, the association will likely run into selective enforcement claims from owners if the association requires certain installation parameters for one unit but not for another. Some associations will have the same parameters for hard-surface flooring installations regarding of the flooring type. Others will have different parameters depending on the flooring type. I have no issues with either one of these approaches as long as they are consistently applied from one unit to another.
In my opinion, your Board needs to consult with a professional in the hard-surface flooring industry to determine the appropriate sound-deadening material that needs to be installed before the hard-surface flooring installation. Then, it needs to set a consistent policy for the associations so the owners are aware regarding what is required if they want to install hard-surface flooring. Because this policy is considered a rule affecting the use of a unit, the Board will need to mail or email (for those who have consented to receive notices electronically) and post the notice of the Board meeting at least 14 continuous days prior to the Board meeting.
For more information regarding hard-surface flooring policies as well as rules regarding the use of a unit, your Board should consult the association’s legal counsel.
Q. I’d like to see a copy of all the owners who are delinquent in payment of assessments in my homeowner’s association. Can I ask the association to provide me access to these accounts? – M.L., Bonita Springs
A: Yes, you can ask the association to provide you access to these accounts. The association is required to provide access within 10 business days of receipt of your request to review these records. Please note that access to the records does not mean that the association is required to provide you with copies free of charge or to automatically email you these records. The association can require that you review the records within 45 miles of the community or within the county in which the association is located. Usually, the records review occurs at the association clubhouse or the management company’s corporate office.
You are allowed to bring a camera or a scanner to make an electronic copy of the official records. However, if you would like photocopies, then the association may charge you up to $0.25 per page.