by Donna DiMaggio Berger / Published December 2014
QWe had a resident who needed an emotional support animal for the last five years. Despite the fact that we are a no-pet community, we granted the support animal request for this individual. He recently died. The dog is only five-years old, and its expected lifespan is at least five more years. Are we required to allow the dog to remain in the unit with the deceased man’s wife even though the person for whom it was filling an emotional need is no longer here?
AFederal and state fair housing laws require housing providers, which includes condominium, cooperative, and homeowners associations, to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with verifiable disabilities. If the individual for whom the animal provided emotional support is no longer alive, there would be no reason to allow the animal to remain in the community. However, it is likely that the widow may now claim an emotional need for the animal to remain. In that case, the same criteria used to evaluate the initial request would be applied to this request.
QWe understand that owners are entitled to videotape board meetings, but we have an individual who has been taping meetings and putting them up on YouTube for the entire world to see. Since we require a roll call at the start of our meetings, our faces and names are out there for strangers to see. Some of our board members are concerned not only about their privacy being invaded but also about security problems related to these tapes being seen. One member mentioned she was leaving town and would not be present at the next meeting. Now people know her name, her community name, and when she will be out of town. Can we prevent people from posting videotapes of our meetings on public forums?
AFlorida condominium and HOA members are entitled to videotape board and membership meetings (cooperative owners can only videotape board meetings), but that taping is subject to reasonable board rules and regulations. The statutes unfortunately do not currently limit the use or distribution of those tapes by owners, but the board can pass a rule limiting such use. However, it would be preferable if this loophole were closed statutorily by clarifying that videotapes made of association meetings cannot be posted in public forums for all the reasons that concern you. In the interim, there is certainly an argument to be made that prohibiting the posting of such videotapes in a public forum would constitute a reasonable board rule.
QOur Screening Committee was recently asked by a potential purchaser how long we intended to keep her application after our decision was made as it contains sensitive information such as her Social Security number, date of birth, etc. We currently don’t have a policy on this and tend to keep these applications for years—even the ones we reject. Should we consider implementing a policy on this?
AWhile information contained on potential purchaser and potential renter applications are considered privileged and thus not open to inspection by association members, your applicant raised a legitimate concern in this day and age of prevalent identity theft. These kinds of applications contain all of the necessary information for someone to open a credit card and undertake all sorts of financial mischief. If you leave this kind of information in an unsecured location where association employees and others could access it, your board very well may be leaving itself open to potential liability. Speak to your association attorney about creating a reasonable policy, which will allow you to retain this information for the statutorily-required time period while still safeguarding the informa-tion from prying eyes.
QA few of our board members attended your “Anatomy of a Water Leak” class a few months back. This is a particularly important topic in our high-rise building as we have had more than our fair share of water damage from a variety of sources. What other classes do you offer and are they offered statewide?
AWe offer more than three dozen courses throughout our 13 fully-staffed, Florida offices as well as in other venues around the state. Our classes cover a wide variety of topics and provide board certification as well as continuing education credits for association managers.
We prefer to keep most of our classes small in size so our class attendees really have a chance to ask questions and get the answers they need in a comfortable environment. A well-educated board and highly-trained manager can fend off most of the problems that plague far too many shared ownership communities. For our full course listings, please visit www.bplegal.com/events. Hope to see you at one of our classes soon!