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Effective communication requires a combination of open Meetings, frequent Newsletters, an updated Website, Board Correspondence and Direct Owner Contact.


Board of Director & Committee Meetings

Regular open Board Meetings provide one of the best means of assuring effective communication with owners.  A quorum (3) of Board members meeting to discuss Association business constitutes a Board Meeting.  Adequate notice of Board meetings must be posted conspicuously on the condominium property at least 48 continuous hours before the meetings except in an emergency, and the meetings are open to all unit owners.

Committee meetings also fall under this rule, whether or not they are taking final action on behalf of the board or making recommendations to the board.

Notwithstanding any other law, the requirement that board meetings and committee meetings be open to the unit owners does not apply to:

  • Meetings between the board or a committee and the association's attorney, with respect to proposed or pending litigation, if the meeting is held for the purpose of seeking or rendering legal advice; or
  • Board meetings held for the purpose of discussing personnel matters.

Jupiter Bay's Board members must be cognizant of the need to have frequent open Board Meetings to share their agendas and solicit owner input to the decision-making process.

Keys to Effective Condo Committees

Campbell Property Management lists the following 5 keys to effective committee meetings:
  1. Clear Purpose. Clearly define the scope and responsibility. Define the mission, what they are and are not responsible for and declare their goals to the community.
  2. Right People. Fill the committee with people that are qualified and try to appoint a Chairperson that is a good leader, communicator, consensus builder and meeting manager. Assigning a Board Liaison for each committee is always a good idea as well.
  3. Regular Schedule. Setup a regular schedule of meeting dates and times that is widely publicized so that owners can attend.
  4. Plan and Prepare. Treat meetings with the same level of care, planning and preparation as a board meeting.
  5. Recognition. Publicly acknowledge committees and members for a job well done.

Board Voting by Unanimous Written Consent

Condominium associations are governed by multiple laws, including both the Condominium Act (Chapter 718) and the Not-For-Profit Corp oration Act (Chapter 617). Chapter 718 takes precedence over Chapter 617, but if the Condominium Act is silent, then the corporate law controls.

The Condominium Act does not expressly state that all decisions must be made at board meetings. It does say that meetings of the board at which a quorum of directors is present must be noticed and open to all unit owners. It further states that the directors may not vote on an association matter via email.

The Not-For-Profit Corporation Act, at Section 617.0821, Fla. Stat., states that, unless the articles of incorporation or the bylaws provide otherwise, actions required or permitted to be taken at a board meeting maybe taken without a meeting if the action is taken by all members of the board by signed written consents. This process is described as "unanimous" written consent.
 
Since Jupiter Bay's bylaws do not require every decision to be made at a board meeting, then it is likely that the unanimous written consent procedure is legal and valid. Obviously, it is somewhat self-limiting, as, if there is any disagreement among board members, they are not going to get a unanimous result. The written consent procedure to approve board decisions should only be used rarely, and only when those decisions are uncontroversial.

Board Member Email Communications

One of this year’s (effective July 1st 2014) changes in Florida’s condominium statutes involves board member email communications.  Statute 718.112(2)(c), which addresses board of administration meetings, now reads “Meetings of the board of administration at which a quorum of the members is present are open to all unit owners.  Members of the board of administration may use e-mail as a means of communication but may not cast a vote on an association matter via e-mail”.

Although this change acknowledges and authorizes board member communication via e-mail, it leaves a number of unanswered questions:

  1.  Exactly what actions can board members take via email, and where do the statutes draw the line short of “casting a vote on an association matter”?
  2. Can emails be used for obtaining “unanimous written consent” on official board actions?
  3. Are emails between board members considered “official records” of the association?  If so, this opens a multitude of questions, including how they should be retained, whether they can be obtained/viewed by owners, etc.

Item #15 of Florida Statute 718.111(12)(a) includes as Official Records “All other records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association.”  Management office and Board member emails are certainly used in the “operation of the association”.  Therefore board member emails may be considered “official records” making them available for viewing by homeowners who request them.  The only exception would be for those emails protected by the lawyer-client privilege or containing certain confidential personnel information.

Regarding the second question, a Palm Beach Post reader asked the Poliakoff attorneys, in a 7/27/14 posting, whether “the board could use a unanimous written consent, executed in counterparts, to meet the requirements for a traditional meeting?”  Gary & Ryan Poliakoff responded that:

“Not all attorneys agree. Most attorneys have said that, unless expressly barred otherwise by the governing documents, unanimous written consents may be used for official board actions. We do know of some attorneys who feel that the governing documents must expressly provide for action by unanimous written consent, but that seems to be a minority opinion. It’s also important to note that some decisions — such as considering a special assessment or passing a rule regarding unit use in a condominium — require written notice to owners, and for those decisions it is doubtful that a unanimous written consent would suffice.”

Jupiter Bay’s governing condominium documents make no mention of email usage and do not provide for unanimous written consent as an allowed means of taking board actions.  On the other hand, they do not expressly bar the use of this method.  This leaves us with a number of unanswered questions for future statute amendments, or the Association's attorneys, to address.

Owner's Email Address Usage

The email address that you provide becomes part of the Association's "Roster of Unit Owners", and its use is regulated by the Official Records section (12) of Florida Statute 718.111.

Paragraph (a)7 of this section says that the Association shall maintain: "A current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses, unit identifications, voting certifications, and, if known, telephone numbers. The association shall also maintain the electronic mailing addresses and facsimile numbers of unit owners consenting to receive notice by electronic transmission. The electronic mailing addresses and facsimile numbers are not accessible to unit owners if consent to receive notice by electronic transmission is not provided in accordance with subparagraph (c)5. However, the association is not liable for an inadvertent disclosure of the electronic mail address or facsimile number for receiving electronic transmission of notices."

Paragraph (c)5 says that this information is used to fulfill the association's notice requirements.  The paragraph also regulates the printing and distribution of the owners' directory.

Following is a summary of the statutes referenced above:

  • An association may print and distribute to owners a directory containing the name, address and phone number (but not email address) of each owner.  An owner may request in writing to exclude telephone number.
  • Owner email addresses are maintained by the association for those owners who consent to receive notices by electronic transmission.
  • The electronic mailing addresses are not accessible to unit owners if consent to receive notice by electronic transmission is not provided.
  • The association is not liable for an inadvertent disclosure of electronic mail addresses.

To achieve improved email address control, this Owners' Website now contains an "Unsubscribe" option at the bottom of the "Contact Us" page of the website.  Anyone who wishes to no longer receive emails from the Jupiter Bay Viewpoint website can opt out using this feature. However, we have no control over others using the Association maintained email addresses.

Jupiter Bay Website

The Jupiter Bay Condominium Association website provides valuable information regarding the Association and community activities.

It's purpose is "to provide condominium owners helpful information to keep them informed of Association activities, enhance community spirit, increase transparency, and promote inclusiveness of all owners. The content of the website is strictly controlled by the Association.  The website will not contain information that violates generally accepted privacy standards, is political in nature, is offensive to individuals or organizations."

The website needs to be reviewed and updated regularly. Paul St.Clair is the website's developer and is the current webmaster, responsible for continued development and maintenance.  He is supported by office staff. The website has always been an important communication source for our owners.

OwnersAskingQues.jpg

Jupiter Bay Newsletters

Regular and timely Newsletters provide another important official Board communication tool.  Newsletters should clearly communicate factual information to help owners understand the progress and accomplishments of the Association.  They should not be used to promote a particular opinion, agenda, or political position.



Right of Owners to Assemble

Florida Statute 718.123 grants the right of owners to peaceably assemble:

(1).  All common elements, common areas, and recreational facilities serving any condominium shall be available to unit owners in the condominium or condominiums served thereby and their invited guests for the use intended for such common elements, common areas, and recreational facilities, subject to the provisions of s. 718.106(4) (See below). The entity or entities responsible for the operation of the common elements, common areas, and recreational facilities may adopt reasonable rules and regulations pertaining to the use of such common elements, common areas, and recreational facilities. No entity or entities shall unreasonably restrict any unit owner’s right to peaceably assemble or right to invite public officers or candidates for public office to appear and speak in common elements, common areas, and recreational facilities. 

(2).  Any owner prevented from exercising rights guaranteed by subsection (1) may bring an action in the appropriate court of the county in which the alleged infringement occurred, and, upon favorable adjudication, the court shall enjoin the enforcement of any provision contained in any condominium document or rule which operates to deprive the owner of such rights.

FL Statute 718.106(4) says “When a unit is leased, a tenant shall have all use rights in the association property and those common elements otherwise readily available for use generally by unit owners and the unit owner shall not have such rights except as a guest, unless such rights are waived in writing by the tenant. Nothing in this subsection shall interfere with the access rights of the unit owner as a landlord pursuant to chapter 83. The association shall have the right to adopt rules to prohibit dual usage by a unit owner and a tenant of association property and common elements otherwise readily available for use generally by unit owners.”

Owner Access to Association Records

Per Florida Statute 718.111(12)(c), "The official records of the association are open to inspection by any association member or the authorized representative of such member at all reasonable times. The right to inspect the records includes the right to make or obtain copies, at the reasonable expense, if any, of the member."

The Association's Official Records include:

1.

A copy of the plans, permits, warranties, and other items provided by the developer.

2.

Copies of the Condominium Documents, including:
  1. A photocopy of the recorded declaration of condominium of each condominium operated by the association and each amendment to each declaration.

  2. A photocopy of the recorded bylaws of the association and each amendment to the bylaws.

  3. A certified copy of the articles of incorporation of the association, or other documents creating the association, and each amendment thereto.

  4. A copy of the current rules of the association.

3.

A book or books that contain the minutes of all meetings of the association, the board of administration, and the unit owners.

4.

A current roster of all unit owners and their mailing addresses, unit identifications, voting certifications, and, if known, telephone numbers. The electronic mailing addresses and facsimile numbers of unit owners consenting to receive notice by electronic transmission. (These numbers are not accessible to unit owners if consent to receive notice by electronic transmission is not provided.)

5.

All current insurance policies of the association and condominiums operated by the association.

6.

A current copy of any management agreement, lease, or other contract to which the association is a party or under which the association or the unit owners have an obligation or responsibility.

7.

Bills of sale or transfer for all property owned by the association.

8.

Accounting records for the association and separate accounting records for each condominium that the association operates. The accounting records must include, but are not limited to:
  1. Accurate, itemized, and detailed records of all receipts and expenditures.

  2. A current account and a monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly statement of the account for each unit designating the name of the unit owner, the due date and amount of each assessment, the amount paid on the account, and the balance due.

  3. All audits, reviews, accounting statements, and financial reports of the association or condominium.

  4. All contracts for work to be performed and bids for work to be performed.

9.

Ballots, sign-in sheets, voting proxies, and all other papers relating to voting by unit owners, which must be maintained for 1 year from the date of the election, vote, or meeting to which the document relates.

10.

All rental records if the association is acting as agent for the rental of condominium units.

11.

A copy of the Association’s current Question and Answer Sheet.

12.

All other records of the association not specifically included in the foregoing which are related to the operation of the association.

13.

A copy of the developer’s turnover inspection report, attesting to required maintenance, useful life, and replacement costs of the common elements.

The following records are not accessible to unit owners:
  1.  Any record protected by the lawyer-client privilege and any record protected by the work-product privilege, including a record prepared by an association attorney or prepared at the attorney’s express direction, which was prepared exclusively for civil or criminal litigation or for adversarial administrative proceedings, or which was prepared in anticipation of such litigation or proceedings until the conclusion of the litigation or proceeding.

  2. Information obtained by an association in connection with the approval of the lease, sale, or other transfer of a unit.

  3. Personnel records of association or management company employees, including, but not limited to, disciplinary, payroll, health, and insurance records. Personnel records does not include written employment agreements with an association employee or management company, or budgetary or financial records that indicate the compensation paid to an association employee.

  4. Medical records of unit owners.

  5. Social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, facsimile numbers, emergency contact information, addresses of a unit owner other than as provided to fulfill the association’s notice requirements.

  6. Electronic security measures that are used by the association to safeguard data, including passwords.

  7. The software and operating system used by the association which allow the manipulation of data, even if the owner owns a copy of the same software used by the association.

Per Florida Statute 718.111(12)(b), "The official records of the association shall be made available to a unit owner within 45 miles of the condominium property or within the county in which the condominium property is located within 5 working days after receipt of a written request by the board or its designee."

Paragraph (c) of this statute says "The failure of an association to provide the records within 10 working days after receipt of a written request creates a rebuttable presumption that the association willfully failed to comply with this paragraph. A unit owner who is denied access to official records is entitled to the actual damages or minimum damages for the association’s willful failure to comply. Minimum damages are $50 per calendar day for up to 10 days, beginning on the 11th working day after receipt of the written request."

Board/Homeowner Correspondence

Prompt Board response to owner correspondence (emails, letters, etc.) is very important, enabling owners to feel that their input and concerns are valued.

Florida Statute 718.112(2)(a)2 says that "when a unit owner files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board of administration, the board shall respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry. The board’s response shall either give a substantive response to the inquirer, notify the inquirer that a legal opinion has been requested, or notify the inquirer that advice has been requested from the division."

If the board requests advice from the division, the board must respond within 10 days of its receipt of the advice.  If a legal opinion is requested, the board has 60 days to respond.