By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published July 2023
The term jurisprudence is derived from the Latin word jurisprudentia, which means either “knowledge of law” or “skill of law.” The word juris means law, and prudentia means knowledge, science, or skill. Thus, jurisprudence is the knowledge or science of law and its application.
In the United States, there are four sources of law—the United States Constitution, federal and state statutes, administrative regulations, and case law. In a country with a constitution, the constitution is the most fundamental of the sources of law.
In a similar way, the “constitution” of our community associations is the declaration (and for cooperatives, the proprietary lease and prospectus). A chart of the hierarchy of our community laws may look like the following:
and Florida Administrative Code
Articles of Incorporation
Proprietary Lease (Prospectus) Articles of Incorporation
Articles of Incorporation
The declaration and cooperative documents create an elaborate set of covenants and restrictions and establish basic rights, responsibilities, and regulations for all owners and guests. These documents assign responsibility for maintenance and operation of the community to the board of directors and define owners’ financial obligations, rights, and responsibilities.
All associations have articles of incorporation, bylaws, rules and regulations, and board minutes that contain the motions and resolutions. Some will have policies and procedures.
Just as the U. S. Constitution gives certain rights and responsibilities to its citizens, so the Florida state law and the declaration or prospectus/proprietary lease give owners certain rights and responsibilities.
Owners have the right to the following:
Have board meeting notices and agendas posted at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting, except in cases of emergencies.
Attend board meetings except when discussing personnel matters or seeking advice from the attorney.
Make comments to board and membership meeting agenda items subject to reasonable restrictions created by the board.
Audio or video tape board and membership meetings subject to reasonable restrictions created by the board.
Receive notices of board meetings at least 14 days in advance and have posted on association property when the board votes on special assessments, rules that affect owners’ use of their units/ parcels, changes to the insurance deductible (condominium and cooperative only), and final vote on the budget. Notices must include an agenda and the reason for the special assessment, a copy of the proposed rules change, or a copy of the proposed budget.
Receive at least 60 days in advance of the election a first notice of election of board members and an opportunity to submit his or her name in writing as a board candidate.
Submit no later than 35 days prior to the election a one-page candidate information sheet.
Receive and have posted on association property notices of the annual meeting and agenda at least 14 days in advance.
Receive no later than 14 days and no more than 34 days before the election a second notice of election, candidates’ information sheets, ballot, ballot envelope, and return envelope. (If there are not more candidates than vacancies, then the association will not conduct an election, no second notice of election is required, and those candidates who nominated themselves will constitute the board of directors at the adjournment of the annual meeting. If all board seats are not filled, the newly constituted board may appoint others to fill the vacancies. All board members serve until their successor is appointed or elected.)
Receive a limited proxy form for all other voting at the annual meeting. The limited proxy form must be completed by the owner and either mailed or electronically delivered before the meeting or brought to the meeting by the owner or proxyholder.
Vote at a special membership meeting or by written agreement to recall one or more sitting board members.
Vote by limited proxy on amendments to the governing documents (declaration, bylaws, articles of incorporation, and master proprietary lease).
Vote by limited proxy to raise or lower the year-end financial reporting requirements.
Vote by limited proxy on material alterations and substantial additions to the common property and areas (condominium and cooperative only).
Receive access to the official records (except as restricted by law) within 10 business days of a written request and make copies with a personal device or have copies made for a reasonable charge. The date, time, and place set for the owner to access the records must be within 45 miles of the association property or within the county. Boards or management may create a policy to make the documents available to owners electronically.
Receive year-end financials within 120 days of the fiscal year end. The type of year-end report is determined by statute and the amount of the association’s annual revenue.
Owners have the following responsibilities:
Read and comply with the governing documents and understand your contractual obligation began when you signed your purchase documents.
Attend board and membership meetings and act with decency and decorum.
Maintain your property according to established standards.
Vote when called upon to do so.
Serve on the board of directors and other committees.
Make timely payments of assessments and sums due.
Keep contact information current. Remove filters or blocks to email that would prohibit electronic notifications.
Ensure that family members, tenants, and guests adhere to all rules and regulations.
Respect board members’ private and leisure time.
Community leaders have the following responsibilities:
Keep up to date with and understand state laws by attending board certification classes.
Fulfill their fiduciary duties and make decisions in the best interests of the community.
Conduct open meetings as required by statute.
Provide owners with statutory meeting notices, accompanying documents, and year-end financials.
Schedule at least one membership meeting a year.
Create and communicate policies and procedures for owners to request access to records and for owners to make comments on agenda items at meetings.
Collect all monies due from homeowners.
Protect the property and its value, maintain the common property, and enforce the restrictions on the owners’ use rights.
Create a realistic budget and fully fund reserves.
Community association jurisprudence does not have to be complicated if you stay informed and educated. But when in doubt, contact your attorney.
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA
Owner, Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999 Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM Matters™ at www.youtube.com/c/cammatters. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, call (352) 326-8365, or visit www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.
Professional Growth Through Learning
FCAP (Florida Community Association Professionals) is a member-based professional organization dedicated to training, equipping and advocating for Florida community association professionals including managers, service providers and community volunteer leaders.