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Getting a straight answer from the condo board

February 8, 2013
By SYLVIA HELDRETH - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Question: I live in a condominium and my neighbors and I are very concerned about the quality and appearance of our landscaping. Plants are dead or dying. The lawn is weedy and has bare spots.

I have asked several board members what our plans are for improving the aesthetics of the common areas. One board member told me that the management company is in a legal squabble with the landscaping company and the board is trying to find out what to do. Another board member told me that all is well and we are going to re-landscape soon. A third board member said that the landscaping, "Is what it is," and will remain as it is because of budgetary constraints. How do I get a straight answer?

Answer: Preserving the assets of the association, including the aesthetics of the common areas, an important asset of the association, is the fundamental responsibility of the board. You have a right to know what is going on. The best way to get a straight answer is to ask a formal question.

Florida Statutes provide that when a unit owner files a written inquiry, a formal question, with the board of administration by certified mail, the board shall respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry (Section 718.112 (2)(a)2). So put your question in writing and send it to the board president via certified mail. Try to make the question or questions as specific as possible.

The board must give a substantive response to you, the inquirer. It can notify you that a legal opinion has been requested or notify you that advice has been requested from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes. If the board requests advice from the division, the board shall, within 10 days of its receipt of the advice, provide a substantive written response to the inquirer. If a legal opinion is requested, the board shall, within 60 days after receipt of the inquiry, provide in writing a substantive response to the inquiry.

Or, it can simply answer the question with an overview of what the plans for landscaping are, if any, and when the plans will be executed.

The failure to provide a substantive response to the inquiry precludes the board from recovering attorneys' fees and other costs in any subsequent litigation, administrative proceeding or arbitration arising out of the inquiry. Hopefully, this won't go far but obtaining the advice of an attorney is always a good option.

Sylvia Heldreth is a certified specialist in real estate law. 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.



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