Q&A: Where Are Our Rights?

Q. What do you do when the president of the board, property manager, and super are all from the same family? I tried waking up our shareholders with memos and flyers about the conflict of interest to no avail. Our beautiful Garden of Eden has become ridden with drugs and more renters than actual shareholders residing here. A real estate owner who doesn’t live here but serves on the board has been selling and renting out apartments. The parking list is a big secret, and not seen by shareholders to verify that seniority is followed (which it isn’t). The management company attached a hold harmless clause to their contract due to the conflict of interest to protect themselves. But what about us? Who has the real shareholders’ backs when it comes to following laws, policy and procedures?

                      —Frustrated Shareholder

A. “As per Florida condominium law,” says Jane Bolin, an attorney and managing member with the firm PeytonBolin, which has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa Bay, “a board member cannot take an action that provides a direct or indirect personal benefit. This is a violation of statute, and the board member may be liable for monetary damages. There are mechanisms to handle the conflicts that a Florida attorney can explain.

“It also sounds like this concerned unit owner is unable to gain access to records, and is bothered by the amount of rentals. Florida law provides for access to records in the form of an official records request. The activities of the board are not meant to be secret, but rather, transparent. As for the rentals, the owner needs to look to the governing documents to see what restrictions, if any, exist for rentals. Certainly this is a consideration, as it may mean that the association will not qualify as FHA certified. That limits buying power, and ultimately affects property value.”

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