Question: Our condominium association is relatively small but we have two big problems. Our treasurer thinks that it is wise money management to hold off paying bills until the bill collector is at the door and the chair of the Landscape Committee thinks the grounds should look like the Sahara Desert. My neighbors and I have talked about how to solve the problem but we believe it will take a 50 percent vote of the members to remove these two. Is there anything else we can do?
Answer: First, let's review the structure of an association. The board of directors is elected by the unit owners who are the members of the association. It is the board's job to make policy and abide by all the guidelines set forth in Florida statutes. It does take a recall vote of at least 50 percent of the membership to recall a member of the board before a term is expired.
The board elects the officers, including the president. If the board agrees that the treasurer is not acting in the best interest of the members, especially if he or she is jeopardizing the credit rating of the association and damaging the association's relationship with vendors, it is fairly easy to remove him or her from the position. The board can simply vote to do this.
The same is true for a committee head or committee member. The board has the authority to make changes in committees simply by voting to do so. If a committee is not following the guidelines and directions given to it by the board, they can be changed. Sometimes there is the misunderstanding that the role of the committee is to tell the board what to do relative to the committee's function. This mistaken notion is usually easy to clarify, especially if the association's documents are well written.
Board members have a responsibility to the association members to protect the association. Have any of the members had a conversation with the board? If not, that should be the first step. The board should not hesitate to take action, first by having conversations with the treasurer and Landscape Committee chair to clarify the association's policies and their duties. If that doesn't work and the wishes of the board are not being followed, they should not hesitate to act to remove the officer or chair from their roles.
This does not mean that the treasurer would be automatically removed from the board. That action would indeed require the vote you mentioned but it is probably not necessary to solve the problems you described.
As with any question like this, it is best for a board representative to have a discussion with the association's legal counsel before taking aggressive action.
Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a certified real estate specialist. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar St., in Cape Coral.
This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.