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A few tips and reminders with everyone, as associations plan their annual meetings

A few tips and reminders with everyone, as associations plan their annual meetings

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2017
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As associations plan their annual meetings, we thought we would share a few tips and reminders with everyone.

Annual Meetings

RePublished with permission from Our Members:  http://royalemanagement.com/home/

Royale Management Services, Inc.
2319 N. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale FL 33311
Phone: (954) 563-1269 | (800) 382-1040 | Fax: (954) 563-2153 | Email: CAM@rmsaccounting.com

 

The annual meeting is a member meeting, hence every member can participate. Participation is by properly made motions, seconds, taking part in discussion of motions and through voting.

The first order of business is to appoint the chairperson to run the meeting.  The chairperson can be anyone that the members agree should chair the meeting.  In many associations the board president chairs the meeting; however this requires approval of the members. Some associations ask their manager or attorney to chair the meeting which is acceptable as long as this is approved by the membership.  In large associations having a professional chair the meeting can help to keep it on track and see that the required business gets done properly.

A motion can be made by any member of the association as to who shall chair the meeting.  This motion must be seconded and then voted on by the members present. If the motion is approved by a majority of the member’s present, the chairperson is elected for the meeting.

The Second order of business is to determine whether a quorum of the members is present in person or by proxy.  The quorum requirement is spelled out in the association documents or by state statute.  Without a quorum no business can take place at the meeting.  However, ballots must still be collected.

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A Guide to Being Politically Smart for Board Members

A Guide to Being Politically Smart for Board Members

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2017
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A Guide to Being Politically Smart for Board Members

RePublished with permission from Our Members:  http://royalemanagement.com/home/

Royale Management Services, Inc.
2319 N. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale FL 33311
Phone: (954) 563-1269 | (800) 382-1040 | Fax: (954) 563-2153 | Email: CAM@rmsaccounting.com

 

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Rembaum’s Association Roundup: Florida’s Newest Non-Native Invasion – Overnight Rentals

Rembaum’s Association Roundup: Florida’s Newest Non-Native Invasion – Overnight Rentals

  • Posted: May 30, 2017
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With little doubt, purchasing a home is one of the most significant investments you can make. In order to help protect that investment, many purchasers choose to buy homes within community associations that include homeowners’, cooperative and condominium associations. Behavior within community associations is governed by a declaration of condominium or declaration of restrictions, along with the bylaws, articles of incorporation and, importantly, and more often than not, the rules and regulations generated by the board of directors. Those of us living within community associations, for the most part, did not sign up to live in a community with transient overnight housing. Yet, if left to the vices of VRBO and AirBnB that is exactly what can happen in your community. Do you know what to look for? Do you know how to prevent this from occurring? What if it is occurring in your neighborhood? What can your community association do about it?

For a variety of reasons, none which are the subject of today’s column, local governments may have difficulty in promulgating local ordinances prohibiting overnight housing offered by VRBO and AirBnB. Therefore, it is left up to your community association’s board of directors to ensure proper measures are in place to prevent homes in your community from becoming the newest unnamed hotel/motel.

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You don’t get to take a holiday break from condo rules.

You don’t get to take a holiday break from condo rules.

  • Posted: Dec 18, 2016
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If you’re one of the 62 million Americans living in condo and homeowners associations (HOAs), you don’t get to take a holiday break from condo rules. Humbug, you say? Well…

“A hallmark of a shared ownership community is that you give up some of your rights for the good of the community. If there are restrictions involving holiday decorations, including lights and signage, you’re generally bound by them

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ACCORD AND SATISFACTION CASE STUDY BACKGROUND

ACCORD AND SATISFACTION CASE STUDY BACKGROUND

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2016
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ACCORD AND SATISFACTION CASE STUDY BACKGROUND The underlying dispute followed an association’s foreclosure of its assessment lien against a condominium unit. The St. Croix Lane Trust (the “New Owner”) was the third party purchaser of the unit at the Association foreclosure sale. After a certificate of title was issued to the New Owner, the Association demanded that the New Owner pay years of delinquent assessments and related interest, late fees and costs of collection of over $38,000 not paid by the prior, foreclosed, owner – a consistent practice in association collections in Florida. In response, the New Owner’s counsel tendered a check to the Association’s counsel for a small portion of the amount due, $840.00, together with correspondence that provided that “this check is tendered in full and final satisfaction of all claims made against the [New Owner] and the property for the amounts demanded… negotiation of the enclosed check shall be deemed an acceptance of the offer of settlement made herein, and shall be in full and final satisfaction of all claims against the [New Owner] and the property…” The Appellate Court considered this tender to be an “offer of settlement.” In response, the Association’s counsel advised that he had instructed his staff to apply the payment as a partial payment upon receipt (despite the restrictive endorsement). In advising the New Owner of the Association’s intent, the Association’s counsel relied upon the ruling of the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida in Ocean Two Condominium Association, Inc. v. Kliger. In that case the Third District Court of Appeals cited to Section 716.116(3) of the Florida Condominium Act which provides that payments tendered by unit owners shall be applied as specified in the statute notwithstanding any restrictive endorsement, designation or instruction placed on or accompanying a payment. As advised by the Association’s counsel, the Association deposited the $840.00 check, and threatened to sue the New Owner for the remainder the Association claimed due. The New Owner filed suit first, including claims for declaratory relief and lost rental income asserting that seeking lease approval would be futile. The trial court entered a summary judgment finding that the Association’s acceptance of the partial payment did not create an accord and satisfaction. The New Owner appealed this ruling to the Appellate Court….

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Outgoing board members to return all official records

Outgoing board members to return all official records

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2016
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Florida a new law goes into to effect that was legislated under HB 807 to section 718.111(12) of the condominium act.   This new law obligates “outgoing board members to return all official records … to the incoming board.” Now as benign as this may seem it speaks to a greater problem and that issue is: Where are all the association’s records? Why did the legislature have to go out of its way to create a specific law to obligate a proper transition from one board to the other? There must be a problem here.   The problem is that community associations have a lot of records and it goes beyond what a board of directors has control of because managers and management companies also have control of essential documents that very often go missing. Let’s take a few examples to demonstrate the problem. A big wind comes and knocks off a couple of roofs in your association, it happens all the time. Well, the first thing that the insurance company wants are the maintenance records roofs going back seven years before they pay for the claim. No records…claim denied and its lawyer time. Another good one relating to community association collections, is that the board has decided to foreclose on Mister Delequaint for non-payment of assessments for the past five years. Mr. Delequaint arrives in court and his lawyer asks the association’s attorney to provide the proof of mailing for the budgets for said five years and they are nowhere to be found. As a matter of fact even the budgets are stone cold lost. The judge can very well possibly rule in favor of Mr. Delequaint (no association foreclosure) and even award him prevailing attorney fees. All these maladies could have been avoided if the association had a document retention policy and followed the protocol. Let’s face the facts and understand that community associations are volatile environments and calling them dynamic is kind. Boards of Directors change, emotions run high, management companies are dismissed frequently, as are attorneys, vendors and whoever else gets an opportunity to work for an association. In the middle of all of this mess records, contracts, ledgers, insurance policies, minutes, proof of mailings, warranties, governing documents, proof of meeting notices, notes and everything else that can be put on paper fall into a deep dark abyss never to be found again. Sometimes by accident and often by design by disgruntled board members, dismissed employees (managers), or untrained office staff who may feel that the round file is for everything that is over a year old. So now that the problem has been identified what is the solution?   First as mentioned above, the board of directors must establish a record keeping policy and protocol (vote on it and put it in the minutes). Don’t lose those minutes and approve them at the next meeting. Said policy should identify all the records that an association must keep and for how long. This is easy because it’s all in the statutes (for Florida condos 718.111 and Florida HOAs 720.305) and I doubt that any state does not address this issue. The next thing is: HOW can an association keep these records from disappearing never to be found again?   There are many ways to go about this and technology may have the answer. Although it might seem to be expensive it is possible that all documents be kept electronically and not just on paper. Have them scanned and put them away on a remote server. This technology also gives an association a backup just in case that big wind comes and blows away your office or the management office. Once again referring to Florida condo statutes 718.111(12)(b) it is crystal clear that documents can be maintained in digital format. In Florida HOA statutes 720.303(5) the legality of keeping records in digital form is not so clear but it is still a prudent idea. No matter what your board comes up with you should be able to easily get your hands on the minutes of a meeting from five years ago or all the maintenance records for the roofs. Try it and if you cannot put your eyes on them it proves that your community association has a problem that needs to be fixed right away. Read more informative articles on our blog, Written by Industry Professionals, Legal by KBR Legal, and members of SFPMA.com  …

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E-Mails and E-Mail Addresses

E-Mails and E-Mail Addresses

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2016
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Who is entitled to the e-mail addresses of your association’s members? Are e-mails sent between board members part of an association’s official records? What about e-mails sent by a board member to the manager?   Only the e-mail addresses of unit owners who have either consented to receive notice by e-mail or have consented in writing to the disclosure of their e-mail addresses are subject to review during an official record inspection. Section 718.111(12), Florida Statutes, provides, with regard to unit owner e-mail addresses, that “[t]he association shall also maintain the electronic mailing addresses… of unit owners consenting to receive notice by electronic transmission. The electronic mailing addresses… are not accessible to unit owners if consent to receive notice by electronic transmission is not provided in accordance with [this subsection].” This topic was discussed in Cohen v. Harbour House (Bal Harbour) Condominium Association, Inc., Arb. Case No. 2012-02-3139 (Summary Final Order / Lang / June 29, 2012).   In the Cohen case, a unit owner requested a list of all of the e-mail addresses of the members, however did not receive such a list. The unit owner alleged that she was improperly denied the e-mail addresses. However, it was discovered that the association did not have consent from any members to use their e-mail for the purposes of receiving official notices nor did the association have written consent to disclose the protected information from any member. Therefore, the arbitrator held that “[b]ecause, under the statute, no unit owner has submitted his or her email address for notice requirements or consented in writing to disclosure of his or her email address, the [a]ssociation did not improperly deny access by [the unit owner] to its list of email addresses.”   In today’s instant world, e-mail allows us to express our thoughts at anytime, anywhere. It is so convenient that it is unavoidable for board members to use it to discuss association business. As the official records of condominium, homeowner and cooperative associations are subject to inspection with limited exception, the question often asked is whether e-mails, including e-mails between board members and between one or more board members and the association’s manager, constitute part of the association’s official records that are subject to inspection by the members.   Several categories of records, while still constituting a part of the official records, are not subject to a member’s inspection request. For example, attorney-client privileged correspondence, medical records, information obtained by an association in connection with the approval of the lease, sale or other transfer of a unit and social security numbers, just to name a few, are not subject to a member’s inspection request but still constitute a part of the association’s official records.   On March 6 2002, the then Chief Assistant General Counsel of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) issued an opinion which provided that “[c]ondominium owners do have the right to inspect e-mail correspondences between the board of directors and the property manager as long as the correspondence is related to the operation of the association and does not fall within the… statutorily protected exceptions… [The DBPR does not have] regulations expressly requiring archiving e-mails, but… if the e-mail correspondence relates to the operation of the association property, it is required to be maintained by the association, whether on paper or electronically, under chapter 718, Florida Statutes.”   In Humphrey v. Carriage Park Condominium Association, Inc., Arb. Case No. 2008-04-0230 (Final Order / Campbell / March 30, 2009), an arbitrator of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes held that “…e-mails… existing… on the personal computers of individual directors… are not official records of the association… Even if directors communicate among themselves by e-mail strings or chains, about the operation of the association, the status of the electronic communication on their personal computer would not change. Similarly, an e-mail to an individual director or to all directors as a group, addressed only to their personal computers, is not written communication to the association.” The arbitrator reasoned that “this must be so because there is no obligation to turn on [the] personal computer with any regularity, or to open and read emails before deleting them.”   Simply stated, if one was to rely on the guidance cited herein, e-mails solely between board members, even a board majority, are not part of the official records, e-mails between the board and the manager are part of the official records and unit owner e-mail addresses are only subject to inspection where a unit owner has either consented to receive notice by e-mail or has consented in writing to the disclosure of his/her e-mail address. That having been said, it is in my opinion that e-mail communications that involve a board majority are still subject to the board meeting notice requirements already required by Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, more commonly known as the “Condominium Act.”…

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What is “Transition or Turnover?”

What is “Transition or Turnover?”

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2015
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“Transition” is the term of art describing the multi-step process to transfer responsibility for the Community Association to the homeowners/unit owners. Transition is a process, not an event. At the end of that process, control of the Community Association is ultimately turned over to the owners.   For condominiums, the Declaration establishes a “Period of Declarant Control” based upon statute. For property owners’ associations, the Declaration may establish such a period, but currently, the declarant control period is is not addressed by statute. During the Period of Declarant Control, the Developer appoints members of the board of directors for the Association; hires and has contact with the Association’s management company; and is the architectural control committee. At the expiration of the Period of Declarant Control, the Developer resigns its board of director positions. The owners hold a meeting to elect a new board of directors comprised of owners. The Developer turns over the Association’s books and records, and relinquishes control of the Association to the owners.   How do we begin the transition process? As transition nears, it is time for the Declarant and the owners to initiate discussions on the transition process, and for owners to become familiar with the governing documents. There are several suggestions to help get the process started in earnest. For example, owners can propose adding one or more homeowners to the Board prior to transition; can set up a transition committee or advisory committee; can schedule a community meeting to explain that control of the Association will soon be turned over to the owners; and can seek volunteers for the transition committee. Some of the owners may have experience and expertise in the issues the community may face, and these owners can be very helpful druing transition.   Conclusion Transition requires a thorough review and understanding of all aspects of your Association, including knowledge of financial issues; maintenance and engineering needs; the need to transfer common area (in non-condominium associations); insurance policies and needs; management responsibilities; covenant enforcement; and so on. Without knowledgeable guidance from an independent attorney experienced in common interest communities, owners can be overwhelmed with the immense responsibilities. Start early with your transition committee and contact a knowledgeable attorney to begin the process with your association.   Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: You announce an HOA election providing proper notice, yet only a handful of owners show up to vote. You end up short of your quorum requirements, and you have to start all over again with your fingers crossed that next time, your luck will be better, and your election will be successful. Or instead, you hold your election, get definitive results—you think—but then the election gets challenged. We can help you do better!  many community association lawyers who’ve devoted their extensive—and impressive—careers to solving the challenges HOAs face every day. You’ll learn from members valuable, workable tactics you can implement immediately to make your election process smoother, more successful, and less contentious. You’ll learn: 1- How to determine the specific steps your HOA must follow to conduct proper elections 2- Details on the most common mistakes boards make from election start to finish, and the most likely challenges to your election—and how to nip them in the bud 3- Information to help you identify your quorum requirements and creative tactics to ensure you get a quorum 4- Common rules governing who can run for your HOA board, along with insights on the pros and cons of changing your eligibility requirements—and tips on how to do it if you decide you should 5- Suggestions for general rules your board may want to consider passing to make holding elections easier 6- Tips to provide effective notice—and undercut any attempt to unwind your completed election based on claims of insufficient or improper notice 7- What you must know about proxies 8- Techniques you can deploy on the day of the election to avoid on-the-spot glitches Plus much more! It’s just an hour of your time, but you’ll walk away much wiser and better prepared for your HOA’s next election.   If you contact KBRLegal.com They are the experts in Association Law in South Florida. The Courses they give monthly can help you with understanding what is needed as a board member and your community.  …

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Animals and the community.

Animals and the community.

  • Posted: Oct 08, 2015
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Danon Management Article: Animals and the community. South Florida Property Management Service Dog New dialogue about emotional support and service animals has been a hot topic for many communities A hot topic of conversation in the real estate condominium communities in Coral Springs, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Delray Beach is the recent Florida House of Representatives approval of bill HB 849 regarding service animals and emotional support animals. The bill was approved this past week and will become effective July 1st 2014. The senate companion bill, SB 1146, by Sen. Altman, has not been heard in committee yet. The bill is intended to protect residents with service dogs. The piece that is relevant to the South Florida property management industry is it will provide, “…equal access to housing accommodations for individual with disability accompanied by emotional support animal; provides conditions under which landlord may request documentation of qualifying disability…” The concern with the bill is the definition of “service animal”. There has been an unfortunate new trend where residents are fraudulently obtaining service animal status for their pets. There are no strict regulations or specific language giving punishment to persons who assist residents in fraudulently obtaining a service animal or emotional support pet. Fraudulent certifications and animal vests are available online for a small fee without any proof of training. The law requires two things to be considered a “service animal”. Those requirements are to be able to answer two questions; 1. Is the dog trained to perform a task for a disability? 2. What is the task the dog is trained to perform? Establishments, such as housing accommodations in South Florida, cannot ask additional questions without risking a possible lawsuit. The ADA had amended this law back in 2010 to better protect people with disabilities and their service animals, but unfortunately because of the broad scope of the law there may need to be some adjustments made to prevent abuse of the law. Concern about the terminology of the bill will be discussed at the upcoming committee meeting for the senate companion bill SB 1146. For condominium communities with tight pet restrictions, this topic has fostered heated conversations, arguments and even threatened lawsuits for both self managing property owners as well as property management companies in Palm Beach, Coral Springs, Delray Beach and other areas of Broward County. What provisions are currently allowed in your condo building? Does your board of directors need to revisit the allowances for emotional support and service animals? It can be tough to balance between protecting residents with service dogs and following the rules in place. We at Danon Property Management Company in Palm Beach are happy to help discuss ways to properly institute allowances regarding service animals that will protect you and your residents….

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Associations Right to Evict

Associations Right to Evict

  • Posted: Jul 12, 2015
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Associations Right to Evict . . Associations can evict Tenants of property owners. In response to the unreasonable amount of property owners who are renting out their properties and collecting rents but have unpaid Association dues or assessments, the Florida legislature changed added a new weapon for Associations. For Condominium Associations, its Sec. 718.116, Florida Statutes, and for Homeowners Associations, its Sec. 720.3085, Florida Statutes, which allow for the evictions of tenants directly by Associations.     When Can Associations Evict Tenants? A unit owner owes a duty to pay assessments and dues to the Association. If a unit owner has unpaid assessments, dues, or owes any other sums to the Association, the Association can perform an eviction of the tenant as if the Association was the landlord of the tenant.     What Are the Conditions to the Association Evicting a Tenant? The Association must first send a Notice to the unit owner and tenant, informing them that future rents must be paid to the Association until all unpaid sums due the Association are paid.   Is There Specific Language for the Notice? The Notice to be sent to the unit owner and tenant should state, in materially the following form, as follows:     For Condominium Associations: Pursuant to section 718.116(11), Florida Statutes, the association demands that you pay your rent directly to the condominium association and continue doing so until the association notifies you otherwise. Payment due the condominium association may be in the same form as you paid your landlord and must be sent by United States mail or hand delivery to …(full address)…, payable to …(name)… Your obligation to pay your rent to the association begins immediately, unless you have already paid rent to your landlord for the current period before receiving this notice. In that case, you must provide the association written proof of your payment within 14 days after receiving this notice and your obligation to pay rent to the association would then begin with the next rental period. Pursuant to section 718.116(11), Florida Statutes, your payment of rent to the association gives you complete immunity from any claim for the rent by your landlord for all amounts timely paid to the association.     For Homeowners Associations: Pursuant to section 720.3085(8), Florida Statutes, we demand that you make your rent payments directly to the homeowners’ association and continue doing so until the association notifies you otherwise. Payment due the homeowners’ association may be in the same form as you paid your landlord and must be sent by United States mail or hand delivery to (full address), payable to (name) . Your obligation to pay your rent to the association begins immediately, unless you have already paid rent to your landlord for the current period before receiving this notice. In that case, you must provide the association written proof of your payment within 14 days after receiving this notice and your obligation to pay rent to the association would then begin with the next rental period. Pursuant to section 720.3085(8), Florida Statutes, your payment of rent to the association gives you complete immunity from any claim for the rent by your landlord.     Can the Unit Owner Evict the Tenant if they Pay Rent to the Association? Under Florida law, the unit owner complying with the Notice requiring the tenant to pay the rent to the Association is precluded from evicting the tenant for alleged failure to pay the rent to the Association.     THE LANDLORD’S LIEN – LANDLORD IS SEEKING MONEY FOR UNPAID RENT The following procedure can be used when the tenant(s) is evicted and Removed by the Sheriff, but leaves personal property in the rental property and the Landlord wants to sell the personal property to satisfy money owed for accrued rent. Note that the best procedure is to allow the Sheriff to perform the Removal even if the Landlord knows that the tenant(s) has vacated or abandoned the rental property. The lease agreement must be consulted to ensure there are no provisions therein which contradict the procedures allowed a Landlord as to asserting and enforcing a Landlord’s Lien. The process involves filing a new lawsuit against the tenant(s) which includes a count for foreclosure of a Landlord’s Lien. It is commenced after the eviction is concluded, including the Sheriff’s Removal. The starting point is for the Landlord to determine that there is personal property in the rental property after the tenant(s) is evicted. Also, the Landlord does not have a lien on property that is not the tenant(s). The Landlord’s Lien Foreclosure Action is a separate lawsuit, and general rules of court apply. However, the Landlord is allowed expedited proceedings, meaning the Court must move the case along quickly to conclusion, and only the 5 day summons, such as in evictions, is used. However, generally, the evicted tenant(s) must be personally served by a process server with the Landlord’s Lien Foreclosure Action and Summons, as compared to an eviction where the process server can post the notice on the door. Thus, an address to the evicted tenant(s), such as a new residence or work, has to be determined. The conclusion of the case allows the Sheriff to hold a public sale wherein the evicted tenant(s)’ personal property is sold. The Sheriff takes a small fee for the services it provides, and the remainder, up to the amount owed the Landlord for unpaid accrued rent and the Landlord’s attorney’s fees as well as costs, are given to the Landlord.  …

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