Richard White: How can I recover my loss due to my ceiling being flooded?

Q. I had a flood from the unit above me and I suffered a total loss of my ceiling. The condominium had a vote to opt out of insurance coverage for drywall for storm or condominium piping breakage or flooding. Is there a law that allows such a vote? Even though the board conducted this vote, I do not believe that the members clearly understood the responsibility of such an event where there is a flood and damage. Our buildings are three stories high and one-third will not experience this damage. The board reported that this would reduce our insurance $200,000 plus. Was this a wise decision? What can I do to recover my loss and how we can change the members vote to provide insurance coverage for this area.— R.E.

NaplesA. I publish this question to point out imprudent decisions that people will make to try to save money. The members voted not to have insurance coverage; however, the condominium is still responsible for drywall repairs. Now the members must pay from the general funds. What I mean by this is that the failure to have insurance coverage does not eliminate the condominium's responsibility to repair damaged drywall. The cost must be paid by the condominium funds. Just because a unit is on the top floor, does not mean that they will never have a flood and damage to their drywalls. My guess is that an owner cannot insure for the loss of drywall without paying a much higher premium. If the condominium does not pay for the drywall, I suggest that you engage an attorney to sue the condominium board. I would also suggest that the board discuss the matter with their insurance agent and their attorney. I further suggest that the matter be discussed at the next annual meeting as well as at board meetings.

Q. How can we get the state to investigate our homeowner association (HOA)? Our board and manager conduct meetings with impunity. The meetings are irregular and with little notice, they are sporadic. The items on the agenda are without consideration during the meeting and rarely have a resolution. The board and manager are not accountable. Last year a member filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Regulations and the State Attorney's office but they would not take action. Who can we turn to for help?— L.M.

MiamiA. There is no state agency for HOAs to help with this situation. You must take action to correct the issues yourself, or you and your neighbors must correct the issues. It means you must seek neighbors that will volunteer to become candidates and then vote out the current board. It is the simplest answer but it does require work. This problem is a result of members not volunteering to become active members. The other side of the picture is you can engage an attorney and sue the board. But this is not only expensive but has lots of dirt that will be difficult to clean. As for the manager, usually they are following the guidance and orders of the board. You must get rid of the idea of letting others do the work and become part of the task of managing your community. You do this by voting in the right people.

Q. We had our annual meeting last week. Immediately after the members meeting, the new board members met to elect the officers. While they elected the vice president, secretary, and treasurer, no one wanted to be president. They asked the manager to act as the president. I did not think this was very good but there was no alternative. She has agreed to run the meetings but the CEO of the management company would be appointed as president. This situation really has me concerned. Can you help ease my mind?— P.E.

Vero BeachA. You must file a report with the state each year. In that report you must report the officers for your association. The report is called an Annual Report and can be filed on line at www.sunbiz.org. It concerns me that no one in your community will volunteer to serve the members and be a decision maker. Keep in mind that the members elect the directors to operate and maintain the association. The directors elect the officers to do the day-to-day operations. In your situation, which is the same for many boards, a manager is engaged to do the day to day business for the members and the board. Let me briefly explain what I have said in the past. The directors are responsible and the officers only have duties. Thus, almost anyone can sever as an officer and they do not need to be a director. Officers do not vote at board meetings, but the directors do vote. This may be a confusing situation, but most officers are first a director and at board of director meetings, they are present as a director and not officers. While they can present reports as an officer, they sit as directors. It is possible for almost anyone to serve as an officer, thus the manager or her CEO can be listed as the president. I have on several occasions as a manger been listed as an officer for an association.

Q. Your column said that whenever there is a quorum of directors meeting, it is considered a board meeting requiring meeting notice, minutes and open to members. It seems to me that you wrote that as long as there were no decisions made that the directors could meet. It seems that there is a conflict between the two articles?— R.P.

OrlandoA. The statutes say that anytime a quorum of directors meet to discuss association business it is a board meeting. There are a couple of exceptions of which one is when they meet to discuss a pending lawsuit with the attorney and the other is when they meet to discuss employee action. What I think you read was the question that the board met for a workshop. In the eyes of the state, there is no legal workshop meeting. The key is quorum and business discussed. It has nothing to do with approval or not, it is simply a discussion of business.

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Comments » 3

mr_1_term_proposition writes:

Simple, do not pay for community dwellings. Pony up and pay the few extra bucks to live in your own home, why would anyone want to live so close to someone you can hear them poop and why would you want to share the same plumbing? Sick.

Here4Now writes:

So the answer is always "get an attorney and sue 'em".

There should be a law that every HOA MUST have a contracted HOA-experienced attorney for advisement, and MUST hire a professional property manager to run things. These old farts who think they can run an HOA by sitting around the coffee table once a month, have no clue about the illegality of their actions.

RichMKing writes:

in response to SNOWBIRD27:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Elephanttamer droppings!Suggest removal!

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