Q. We paid a special assessment two years ago, and now the board is returning the overpayment. We sold the unit last year. The overpayment is being returned to the new owner. We have understood that the overage should be paid to the person that actually paid the special assessment. Are we wrong? — D.P., Palm Harbor
A. Special assessments are not charged to an owner but to the unit. You may have paid the assessment but you paid it for the unit. When you sold the unit, you sold any fees due or overpayment of the fees. Sorry, but the return of the special assessment would go to the new owner.
Q. We need your advice on the best way to handle a tyrant who has been on the board for years. It is most difficult to deal with this person as he dominates all board meetings and board actions. He is very negative and boisterous on any new ideas. This nasty individual is extremely overbearing and must have it his way. He makes life on the board impossible. How can we remove this person from the board? Can we establish term limits for future board members? — A.N., St. Petersburg
A. Board members cannot remove a director, but they can remove him as an officer. If your documents do not limit terms of directors, only the members can amend the documents, so it would require the members to petition the board to remove him as a director (a recall). Here is what I suggest: In private, have directors (less than quorum) meet with him and talk about the problem. Ask for his help rather than his interference. Tell him that all the directors are responsible for all actions of the association. From my experience, having one or two directors who disagree is good because it will force the board to make better decision. Having a strong meeting chairperson will help.
Q. I live in an adult community where the clubhouse was recently refurbished. The president purchased new exercise equipment that was heavy industrial equipment entirely unsuitable for the older residents. I need the exercise and therapy for my health. Do you have any suggestion on how to get the board to provide better exercise equipment? — K.A., Pinellas Park
A. Send a letter to the board about your problem. Maybe they can have the exercise equipment company send a specialist to explain the proper use. Just because it is industrial equipment does not mean that it is impossible to use. Work with the board and ask for their help.
Q. Our HOA board failed to provide a proper budget. There was no notice sent to the owners and a copy was not provided before the meeting. In fact, the board would not provide a copy of the budget until it was approved. There were several format errors or omissions. What can be done when the manager does not provide the information requested for financial information? We seem to be at an impasse to obtain accounting information from the manager and the board. We know we can recall the board and could consult an attorney. Are there other ways to restore confidence in the community? — K.R., Port Richey
A. From the information in your letter, it appears that you have an inexperienced board that needs help rather than critical action. They do not know how to properly use the manager or understand the statute requirements. Understand that boards are volunteers, and many directors have limited experience. I would suggest that you write a letter to offer your advice to properly operate the association. You need to remember that an HOA budget does not have the same requirements that condominiums have. You seem to be knowledgeable and could provide education rather than taking aggressive legal action. Remember that if the board is sued, the members will pay. I know you are upset the way that the board is performing, but they are volunteering their time and effort. Try to put them in the right direction by moderate action.
Q. My apartment was completely destroyed by a recent hurricane and cannot be occupied. Am I still responsible for my maintenance fee? — D.B., Stuart
A. Yes. It is unfortunate that you cannot live in your unit, but the maintenance fee is budgeted to maintain and repair the common area, not your unit.
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.