Wiseman: Losing candidate looks to correct vote process


Q: I recently lost an election to become a member of the board of directors in a West Palm Beach condominium.

There may have been some irregularities in the process. I am gathering information.

Do Florida statutes or administrative rules provide guidance for an aggrieved candidate? Thanks for your help.

– N.S., West Palm Beach

A: Yes. The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares & Mobile Homes of the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation controls condo and cooperative elections and even governs arbitration for HOA election disputes.

Check out www.MyFloridalicense.com/dbpr/ for information, or call the customer care center at (800) 488-1122.

If your association has a history of election disputes, the agency offers an election monitoring service. It is expensive because the association has to absorb all associated costs, but it could help to keep the election process clean going forward.

I wish you well. Who would have ever thought of an election dispute on the east coast of Florida?

Who can walk where?

Q: We are a homeowners association for houses, not condos, in which 3.5 acres of common areas are reserved to the HOA as “landscape area” on our final recorded plat. The plat states that the HOA has maintenance responsibility for this area.

Our declaration defines “common areas” to include the “landscape area” and provides that all common areas are subject to the HOA’s rules and regulations.

Most of the community’s homes border the landscape area. Some owners wish to use the area, which is typically 10 to 15 feet wide, to walk from one place to another, which raises concerns of the owners adjacent to the area who are uncomfortable with other owners walking on property adjacent to their homes.

The argument is that owners should not walk on a landscape area that is not designated for that purpose.

My question is that I cannot find any definition of “landscape” or “landscape area” that governs which activities are permitted or prohibited simply by the designation. I have searched Florida Statutes and find nothing even close.

Even if no definition applies, could not the board control activities under our rules? – B.K., via email

A: I printed your question, not because I could definitively answer it, but because I could not. I appreciate the effort you have made to find an answer to your dilemma, but that would mean someone contemplated your issue when the subdivision was platted and the documents recorded; probably no one did.

It would be unusual if the plat of your subdivision provided an answer, and just as unlikely if the governing documents ruled conclusively as to who could walk behind properties with impunity. A legal opinion probably is needed, even if such an opinion is just that — an opinion. One attorney may count the heads on the pin slightly differently.

The governing documents may need to be amended to clarify the issue, but it may be within the board’s purview to control the activity, if, in fact, it needs to be controlled.

Can’t everyone get along, or just walk along, provided no azalea is harmed along the way?

Tamela Eady

Tamela Eady is a Florida Bar board-certified real estate attorney with more than 25 years experience, concentrating her practice on community association and real estate legal matters. The subjects discussed in her columns are not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and are subject to principles that may change from time to time. Questions may be modified for clarity or for brevity. Email questions for possible inclusion in a future column to tke@eadylaw.com.
Last modified: December 30, 2012
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