Richard White: Internet has all the ‘confidential’ details of your home sale

Q. When I bought my home, the association asked for a copy of the sales contract and the purchase information. I did not want to provide the details of the sale because I thought it was personal business. Is it right to give them the purchase price and other information? Is it proper for the association to ask for that type of information? F.C. — Port St. Lucie

A. Some documents require the association to collect information concerning sales. In most associations, they collect a copy of the deed to confirm the correct owner names. Unless your association has a valid reason to the information you describe, I would be concerned. However, simply from the information you sent me on your letterhead, I took the time to research information on your home. I was able to source your county tax roll and view a picture of your home and other personal information. I know what you paid for your home and when it closed. It tells me the names of sellers, when they purchased the home, what they paid, and all the buyers in your family. There is a lot of personal information and the site can be accessed by almost anyone. When you buy real estate, there is very little that is confidential. As the manager of a HOA several years back, an owner abandoned his property. The property went into foreclosure to the bank, but he failed to maintain the property. It became a problem with the tall grass and other debris. By searching the Internet and the county sites, I was able to locate him. To his surprise, I was able to charge him with the requirements to maintain the home even though he had abandoned it. To a perceptive person, there is nothing confidential on the Internet. Maybe the board did not have a right to ask for a copy of the contract to purchase, but in truth you did not give them anything they could not obtain on the county tax rolls.

Q. We live in a small homeowners association. I am a director. With the other directors, we wanted to schedule a meeting with the newly-elected president to discuss association issues. We also wanted the new president to explain what he wants us to do as directors. Fifteen minutes before the meeting, he canceled the meeting because he did not post a meeting notice as required in the Sunshine Law. The meeting was scheduled to be held in the small office in the clubhouse, but 25 members showed up, and they could not fit into the small room. How do we get together to discuss the agenda for the next board meeting?

A. Over the past few days, I have received dozens of questions on the Sunshine Law for associations. The Sunshine Law, FS 286.011, is for government agencies. It does not apply to associations as FS 718, FS 719, and FS 720 define open meeting requirements. The statutes say that any meeting with a quorum of directors is a board meeting and needs to be open to the members. To avoid a conflict when scheduling and planning a board meeting, the directors submit written reports and questions, and the officers plan the agenda and produce a meeting package. A meeting package with the reports, agenda and other information should be delivered to the directors well in advance of the meeting. The directors should read the information, and if they have questions, they can call or contact other members of the board to find out answers before the meeting. If the package is delivered a few days before the meeting, then they can have input before the 48-hour notice is posted for the members. In most associations I manage, I suggest that the directors deliver to the office all reports and information one week in advance of the meeting. I copy and deliver all reports to all the directors the same day. They must read and submit any changes or suggestions five days before the meeting. On the fourth day before the meeting, I meet with the president and another officer to finalize the meeting package to include the agenda and all reports. That final package is then delivered to the directors before the end of third day and the meeting notice and agenda is posted more than 48 hours before the board meeting. This gives the directors ample time to read and study the information to be discussed at the meeting. Owners know that if they have a request for the board to discuss, they must submit a written request before the seventh day, and this will be sent to the directors with the first draft package. Using this system, items that are not in the first package will not be discussed at the meeting because the board and the directors will not have time to study the question.

Q. We are an over-55 community. When renting or buying, one is asked to submit a photo ID with birth date. Is it legal to ask for a photo ID prior to purchasing or renting? C.D. — Ft. Lauderdale

A. Yes. The Federal Act for Adult Communities requires the association to take a census every two years to confirm that at least 80 percent of the homes are occupied by one resident who is 55 years of age or older. With that census, they are required to have an affidavit from each home that one person is 55 years of age or older. In addition, they must supply a copy of some identification with their age. To complete the association’s records, it appears that your association is properly conducting the requirements by completing the unit records with the identification. In addition, each adult community must submit to the state a signed letter that the association has completed the necessary requirement for an adult community. The president must sign the letter. Since the president must sign the letter, he/she must truthfully have the documents available. If the records are falsely signed, then the president and the association could be held responsible. For more information contact the Florida Commission on Human Relations, 2009 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 100, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

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Richard White is a licensed community association manager in Florida. Questions should be mailed to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd. # 201, Winter Haven, Fl. 33884-4415; e-mail To be considered, questions and comments should include the author’s name and city. Questions should be about association operations, not legal matters.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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