Q. I live in a town home association of fewer than 50 units. Our documents are on file at the county courthouse. We just had some work done on our retention ponds and stormwater system. The water management district said the association would have to submit our articles of incorporation to the Department of State in Tallahassee in order to receive proper permitting. Why do we have to file with Tallahassee with the articles of incorporation on the stormwater system? The articles are recorded in our county but have not been filed with the Department of State in Tallahassee. E.C. — Cape Canaveral
A. Every corporation in Florida needs to register with the state each year. Apparently, sometime over the past few years, your boards neglected to register. Your documents contain three main parts, the declaration or covenants, the articles and the bylaws. Each serves a different purpose. The articles form the basis of the corporation and must be registered with the state. Once registered with the state, they will issue a certificate of incorporation. I would look in your documents in the articles to see if there is an old certificate. You can check on the state Internet site to see if your association’s name is listed as current. The site is http://www.sunbiz.org/corpweb/inquiry/search.html. If your association is not current, you will need to register again. There are fees and back fees that will be due. To avoid problems, contact an attorney to help register again.
Q. I am president of the board of directors of a condominium association. The board has been discussing doing an assessment for some major repair work. We have not had a meeting with the owners as of yet to make them aware of the board’s intentions as we have been waiting for estimates to get back to us so we would be able to give the owners the proper dollar amount of the assessment. Here is the issue at hand. We do not currently have a pending assessment and I have an owner who is going to be closing on her condominium at the end of this month. The board had planned to have a meeting with all of the owners regarding the assessment in the near future, which would be before the closing. We would not be starting the assessment for 60 to 90 days. Do I need to let her make the purchaser aware of this before the closing, and who would be held responsible for the assessment, the current owner or the new owner? I returned paperwork back to the title company stating we do not have any current assessment. The board is going to interview the buyer and I would like to know what I need to do as not to end up with any legal issues for the association.
A. Whenever you have a possible assessment regardless of the approval or not, you should let the prospective buyers know about the likelihood of a special assessment. You should have inserted a notice in the estoppel letter that repairs are under discussion by the board and a special assessment may be approved within the next few months. You know about the problem and you need to communicate it to the prospective owner. It is always better to disclose any information of pending work or any changes under discussion. The special assessment is charged against the unit and not the owner. That means if the assessment were due after the closing, the new owner would be responsible to pay. If you tell them first, they will accept the news. If you fail to notice them in advance, you may find that you may end up in court. Disclosure is always better to avoid legal action later.
Q. We are a small condominium association and have just had election of new officers and directors. The owner of one of the units nominated the tenant who rents the unit to be a director and she was elected. Some of us do not think this is permissible. However, the articles of incorporation were quoted wherein it says that a board member does not have to be an owner. These articles were written by the developer when he was trying to raise money to pay for the construction. Are we still bound by these rules, which were written for the benefit of the developer and not the owners? S.L. — Tampa
A. Renters are looked on by many as sub-human. Renters are people and many have skills that qualify them to serve on the board. The renter was elected and it must be assumed that she has some skills. In a small association, you have fewer members that qualify to serve on the board. When you can elect non-owners, it broadens the qualified numbers that can serve on the board. No, I would not eliminate her just because she is a renter.
Q. We live in a mobile home park homeowners association. Where would I find information on the requirements for paying sales tax on tickets for events? Do we have to pay sales tax on these tickets? If we have an event, not open to the public, it does not seem like we should need to pay tax. Can you point me in the right direction to find information? A.A. — Sebring
A. Chances are extremely high that you need to collect sales tax. You should contact the Department of Revenue. There are service centers located throughout the state. You can go to the state Web page: www.myflorida.com/dor for information or call 800-352-3671. The Department of Revenue hosts educational seminars about tax forms, collecting taxes and what to pay. To get information on the schedule of upcoming seminars, contact your nearest service center. Just because you are not open to the public, does not necessarily exempt your sales.
Q. I was told that the law changed and associations can no longer put liens on properties for deed restriction violations. Is this correct, can they lien my property? R.S. — Stuart
A. Several people have asked the same question. I am not sure just where this rumor started. The association has power to lien and foreclose on delinquent properties. Placing liens for fines or rules violations does require that the matter be taken to court first to establish a judgment.
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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 CAMquestion@cfl.rr.com. To be considered, questions and comments should include the author’s name and city. Questions should be about association operations, not legal matters.