Question: After Hurricane Irma, we made an insurance claim with the association’s insurance carrier for damage to our condominium roofs and other damages. The insurance company valued the claim at below our deductible, so we received no money. The estimates we have now received from contractors value the damage higher than our deductible. What can we do? J.B., Marco Island
Answer: You can still pursue the claim to attempt to obtain insurance proceeds, however, you should put the insurance carrier on notice of your intention as soon as possible but no less than 3 years after Hurricane Irma first made landfall or the windstorm caused damage to the property. As long as you have put the insurance carrier on notice that you intend to pursue your claim, you have 5 years from the date of the loss to sue the insurance carrier if they will not pay. So, you still have time, but you should not wait. We recommend you discuss this with your association’s legal counsel and consider hiring an attorney to place the insurance carrier on notice of your intention to pursue the claim and otherwise advocate on your behalf.
Question: I live in a community with a master association. We have a sub-condominium association. The master homeowners’ association (HOA) is looking to rewrite the HOA’s governing documents. My question is, do the condo owners have a right to vote on the new documents, because they pay the HOA to use the amenities? Or, do only the homes and villas directly under the HOA vote on the changes? S.R., Naples
Answer: Section 720.306(1)(b), Florida Statues which governs HOAs provides that unless the governing documents or law provide otherwise the governing documents may be amended by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the voting interests of the association. So, the answer to your question depends on who the governing documents define as the voting interests. Sometimes the voting interests are the individual owners and sometimes it is a voting representative who casts the sub-association’s votes in a block.
Question: I live in a high-rise condo. At a recent regular 48 hour posted notice board meeting, with an agenda, one of the directors made a motion to adopt a rule about quiet hours that was not listed on the official agenda. The motion was approved by the board and is now a rule in our governing documents. Is this allowed? C.U., Marco Island
Answer: Probably not. First, the Condominium Act requires all board meeting notices to contain an agenda identifying the matters that the board will be considering at the meeting. Unless an item is added to the agenda on an emergency basis, the board cannot take action (vote) on matters not listed on the agenda. So, that is problem number one. Problem number two is that when a board adopts a rule that affects the use of a unit, the meeting requires special 14 days mailed and posted notice to all owners. In this case, not only was the rule not listed on the agenda, but the notice was not sufficient. Thus, the rule was not properly adopted and is not enforceable at this time.
Question: I live in a 66-unit condo association with an outdoor pool. There is a shower area by the pool for rinsing off before using the pool/spa. My question is, are residents allowed to actually shower with soap even when the pool rules state otherwise? There is a unit owner who uses the shower with soap, then leaves the pool area and I would like to know how we can stop him. D.C., Estero
Answer: If the rule expressly prohibits using soap when showering at the pool then the person is violating the rule. The board has an obligation to enforce the rules. If the board does not want to enforce the rule it should change the rule. However, board adopted rules must be reasonable and related to health, safety and welfare so I think it is debatable if a rule against using soap would meet this test.
Attorney Richard D. DeBoest is a shareholder at the law firm of Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.
Editor’s note: Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross respond to questions about Florida community association law. The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.
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