Red Flags At Community Association Meetings
One of the requirements of having a community association in Florida is to hold regular meetings, and while Florida’s Homeowners Association Act and Condominium Act do not track identically, the statutory requirements are generally the same. If you are a homeowner or a condo owner, you have the right to speak in most meetings, but you also have the right to hold the board accountable if protocol has been breached. It is important to keep the rules of your association in order and to be aware when there are problems.
Owners Are Not Allowed To Speak
Perhaps the most glaring red flag that all is not well in your association is any situation in which the owners are not permitted to speak, when they normally would be granted that right. Community association meetings must, by law, be open to all owners, and the right to attend automatically confers the right to speak (though ‘reasonable’ restrictions, to minimize chaos, are acceptable). In general, the board functions at the behest of the owners, and preventing the owners from speaking is seen as borderline tyranny in many associations.
Florida law does allow ‘closed’ meetings to be held, meaning meetings where only the board of directors is present – but this is only permissible in two specific situations. One is if the board is discussing matters involving association personnel, and the other is if the board is meeting with an attorney in preparation for litigation. These situations warrant discretion, and particularly in the event of a lawsuit, it is not uncommon for an owner or owners to be on the opposite side of the association board.
Breaches Of Fiduciary Duty
The other major potential issue for a community association with regard to meetings is the failure of the board to uphold its fiduciary duties to the owners. A fiduciary duty is a duty owed by a person or entity to always uphold the best interests of another party – for example, an attorney has a fiduciary duty to their clients, or a corporate officer has a fiduciary duty to their shareholders. Community association board members owe a fiduciary duty to the owners, meaning that they must always act in the owners’ best interests.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether a fiduciary duty has actually been breached or not, but perhaps the most prevalent breach is not providing notice for upcoming meetings. Florida law requires notice be physically posted on the property (for condo associations) and otherwise provided for HOA owners at least 48 hours prior to a meeting occurring, except in emergencies – and while an association may try to claim laziness or refuse to acknowledge the lapse, this is a breach of duty that can be actionable if it is repeated over time.
Contact A Tampa Community Association Attorney
Meetings are an integral part of any Florida community association, but owners must be given the chance to participate in the governing process. If you suspect problems with your community association or its board, it may be a good idea to contact a Tampa HOA attorney from the Seward Law Office for guidance. Attorney Alicia Seward is ready and willing to try and assist you. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.