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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Changing documents is risky business

Q: I am living in a 10-unit condominium association, and our new board decided to have a lawyer rewrite and amend our documents at a hefty expense. All information can be retrieved via the Internet and the Florida Statutes. Do the Florida Statutes prevail over instructions in the documents? M.M., Naples

Answer: I rarely feel that amending documents is the right thing. Once in a while there may be something that’s in error and needs to be adjusted.

Remember that each owner purchased a condominium unit with an understanding that he or she would be governed by the existing documents. If you amend or change those documents, there is a strong possibility that you will infringe and/or eliminate certain rights of some owners.

This reminds me of what I once overheard a bride say just before her wedding. She was talking to a bridesmaid and I was standing a few feet away. “He does have some faults, but I’ll change them after the wedding,” she said.

What you describe makes me believe these directors purchased their units thinking there might be some faults with the documents but they could change them once they got on the board.

Unless there are critical errors, the expense of amending or changing the documents is many times unnecessary. There is a simple and inexpensive way to make changes, and that is for the board to create policies. These do not require such a huge expense as modifying your documents. Policies are flexible and can be changed or modified from board meeting to board meeting if required.

Yes, you are correct, the statutes in most cases will override the documents. The one good thing that they had an attorney draft, review and work with the board.

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 [email protected]

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