Q: Your column often refers to condominium and homeowner associations. Where do we as a property owners association stand as to Florida laws? R.H., Sebastian
Answer: The title to your property is the key to the answer. There are three types of association titles: condominium, cooperative and homeowner.
But an association can be called by a host of other names, including master deed association, deed restricted community, resident owned community, town home community, zero lot line community and property owners association. Most documents include the Articles of Incorporation, and usually in the first paragraph of the articles you will find the statute that governs the association.
Also, your deed would have certain key phrases or words that define the type of title you hold. The condominium statute is FS 718. The title to the property is held jointly by all who own an undivided interest in the common elements. The key words you will find in your deed are undivided percentage of ownership. Cooperatives fall under statute FS 719, and the property title is held by a corporation. The owners own a share of stock as proof of ownership and receive a proprietary lease to occupy the unit.
Homeowner associations have a different type of title. A corporation owns the common elements, and each owner has title to a lot and a required membership to the association. The homeowner association statute is FS 720.
These are the three primary statutes under which associations fall; however, there are other Florida statutes that involve the operations of the association. POA usually is just another name for HOA. To confirm the type of association you fall under, read the articles in your documents and see what your deed says about title.
Q: I was disappointed in your response about motorcycles being allowed on condominium property. Our original documents exclude motorcycle trailers in advance from parking on the property for good reasons: space and noise. Recently, one of our directors used his position on the board to change the documents to allow his motorcycle to be parked on the property. He sneaked the document change into a not-so-obvious section to be voted on by the owners. It just happens to allow motorcycle parking next to master bedrooms in a stack of units in one building.
I hoped he would be considerate when entering and leaving the property, but he has now opened up our parking area for anyone with a motorcycle. We have 96 units and this affects five units directly. I do not foresee another vote to undo this change. Do you have any suggestions? B.A., Indian Shores
Answer: There are three potential problems: the legal drafting of the amendment, the process of voting and the total neglect of the owners who didn’t read what they were voting on. From the information provided, it appears the director did not use an attorney to draft the change to the documents. And was it recorded?
I suggest you send a letter to the board asking to have the association attorney render an opinion letter addressing whether the modification and voting were done correctly. Some changes to the documents would require 100 percent approval. This may not fall under that 100 percent, but maybe one of the five affected units could challenge this change in court.
To me, the most disturbing situation is that the members voted for a change they did not read or understand.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.