By Robyn Severs, Esq. / Published February 2022
Managers and directors are faced with many decisions while operating and managing community associations. To be effective, it is important to prioritize which issues must be addressed and in what order, and to be able to determine which matters need to be referred to legal counsel for further direction. Below is a list of “dos and don’ts” that will aid both managers and directors in making such decisions.
DO open and tally limited proxies as they come in so there is a running tally on the association’s roster as the meeting opens and others sign in.
DO NOT wait until the membership meeting is called in order to open limited proxies.
DO address every violation uniformly and send a letter to the violator; if a tenant or occupant, the letter should be addressed to the owner and copied to the tenant or occupant.
DO NOT address violations by speaking with the violator while on property.
DO NOT send violation notices via email or place notices on or under doors. The association needs a written record that the violator was provided notice of the violation and an opportunity to cure.
DO have the association attorney draft and prepare all amendments to governing documents.
DO NOT have directors or managers draft amendments to governing documents as the Florida Supreme Court has determined that such actions constitute the unauthorized practice of law. While it may be helpful to the attorney for the director or manager to give some thoughts on proposed language, the actual drafting should be done by an attorney.
DO send all requests for the association to make a reasonable accommodation that are received from a disabled resident or guest to the association attorney for review.
DO NOT have directors or managers decide whether a request for a reasonable accommodation from a disabled resident or guest is adequate. The Federal and Florida Fair Housing Act has specific guidance on what can be asked/done and what cannot, and the association could face severe consequences if it is not done correctly.
DO have the association adopt a formal, written policy for the issuance of fines and hearings before the fining committee.
DO NOT issue fines and/or conduct fining hearings without formally adopted policies that were prepared by the association attorney.
DO have the association establish written polices concerning access to official records, response to written inquiries, and owner participation at meetings.
DO NOT attempt to enforce any restrictions regarding access to official records, response to written inquiries, and owner participation at meetings without formal written policies prepared by the association attorney and approved by the board.
DO have the association attorney review contracts for non-business/legal terms. The board and/or the manager can review contracts for business terms.
DO NOT have the manager or board review contracts for non-business/legal terms. DO NOT have managers sign contracts; only directors should sign contracts.
DO submit any letter of intent to the association attorney for review.
DO NOT allow the association to execute any letter of intent without being first reviewed by the association attorney.
DO make sure the board has adopted a rule as to where meeting notices will be posted; post notice of all meetings, including closed board meetings; post notice of budget and architectural committee meetings inHOAs; post notice of all committee meetings in condominiums, unless such meetings are specifically excluded from such posting in the bylaws.
DO NOT change meeting notice locations without a board meeting.
DO NOT prepare annual meeting notices, budget meeting notices, or other meeting notices that require fourteen-day notice without attorney consultation/review.
DO place ballot envelopes in unit/lot numerical order before meeting.
DO have sign-in sheets prepared in unit/lot order and owner last name order for use at meeting.
DO have voting certificates in numerical order.
DO NOT open outer envelopes for a condominium election or for an HOA following the condominium style election before commencement of the annual meeting.
DO NOT disqualify election ballots without consulting with an attorney.
Robyn M. Severs
Robyn M. Severs represents community association clients throughout Florida’s northeast region. She has significant experience representing and assisting condominium and homeowners associations in a wide variety of legal areas, including document review, document drafting, turnover of association control, reserve funding, and maintenance issues. Robyn also handles community association bankruptcy cases and appellate cases that include some notable decisions. Ms. Severs is one of only 190 attorneys statewide who is a board certified specialist in condominium and planned development law.
For more information, visit www.beckerlawyers.com.