Who Do You Call? Fraud, Mismanagement and Rule-Breaking

In most instances, the board or management team of a condo or HOA is equipped to handle the wide variety of issues that arise day-to-day, from a leaky roof to dealing with municipal bureaucracy. There are other, bigger issues—things like embezzlement and fraud, for example—that require experienced outside professionals to resolve.

“Directors in Florida are held to a standard of care that requires them to seek and rely upon the opinions of trained professionals where appropriate,” says associate attorney Jonathan S. Goldstein of the Miami-based law firm of Haber Slade. “In many instances this includes legal counsel, because there is an element of legal compliance and there are potential risks and liabilities in taking various types of actions.”

The State of Florida provides a number of rights for condominium owners through Chapter 718, Florida Statutes (F.S.), also known as the Condominium Act, notes Chelsea Eagle, the deputy director of communications for the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR). Board members, under this provision, are held to account.

Eagle points to the Act, which states: “A director is expected to carry out his or her powers and duties, as any other ordinarily prudent person would do under reasonably similar circumstances. Directors have a fiduciary relationship with the unit owners, and have the responsibility to act with the highest degree of good faith and to place the interests of the unit owners above the personal interests of the directors.”

She continues that DBPR is a regulatory agency that enforces administrative law, as opposed to criminal law, for more than one million of Florida’s businesses and professionals. “These include community association managers, condominiums and cooperatives,” she says.

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Comments

  • We live in a small coop campground on Big Pine Key with 18 shareholders and 5 BOD. The BOD broke the law. 719.1055 3 (b)The association may change the configuration or size of a unit only if the action is approved by the affected unit owners and by two-thirds of the total voting interests of the cooperative. They took more than 1 foot of lot 15 away with no discussion or vote. This BOD needs to be reprimanded. They are not above the law. Please advise me concerning this matter.