Richard White: State website or telephone call will provide copy of statutes

Q. I rent the land in my mobile home park. The rent is $600 per month and each year I am sent a bill for the taxes on the lot. This year was an extra $200 and included an extra charge of $500 for repairs to the clubhouse and pool area. I cannot find a statute or law that covers these charges. Is it legal to send us a bill for these charges? Where do I find these statutes or laws that allow these costs?

— M.A.

Naples

A. You can call the state at 850-488-1122 to obtain a copy of the statutes or go on the Web page www.leg.state.fl.us and download the statute. The statute for condominiums is FS 718, for cooperatives is FS 719, for homeowner associations FS 720, for timeshares FS 721, and mobile home rental parks FS 723. My guess is that you would fall under FS 723. As to the charges, more than likely that would be a section covered in your lease. As a renter, you signed a lease and must comply with the terms. However, your specific costs should be allowed in FS 723. I am often asked for opinions on a specific association and that is a question I cannot answer as I am not familiar with your association or the documents or the rules and in your case the lease.

Q. I live in a town home association and recently had damage to my home by lightning. While there was no fire, I did have a hole in my roof. The next morning I called the president to report the problem. He told me to call our manager. Our manager provided me with the name of a roofer and came to inspect the hole. Our manager then told me that the association would not help due to the information contained in the documents. The manager refused my suggestion to inspect the inside to view the hole. I am a widow and live alone and need help. Is this all I’ll receive from my homeowner community association? How simple is it to help to repair the hole? A friend advised me to send a letter to the management’s insurance to repair the damage. Why do they not do anything to help?

— S.C.

New Port Richey

A. This is a document requirement. If the documents say that the association is responsible for such damage, then you would file a claim with the association’s insurance company. If the documents say the roof is the owner’s responsibility, then you must file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance. Management has no responsibility to make such repairs as that decision would be the board of directors if the documents so state. I assume that your manager gave you the name of the roofer because that roofer had worked in your community and knew the buildings and their roofs. Your homeowner community association is responsible for the common areas and those areas so designated in the documents. If the documents do not place the responsibility for this damage under the association, then you must make the repairs yourself. Lightning is an act of God and no one has liability for the accident. The responsibility for the repairs in your community for this event should be found in your documents.

Q. My question involves conflict of interest with our management. We have multiple condominiums that fall under one recreation board that services all of the condominium buildings recreation centers. One of the presidents of a building also serves on the recreation board. He also serves as manager of the recreation areas as a representative of the management company. Members of our condominium question whether this is a conflict of interest.

­— D.A.

Dunedin

A. The definition of conflict of interest can be actual or potential. It is where the party has a personal financial interest that may be a conflict with their client. Conflict of interest is a philosophic idea that implies personal gain or advancements for oneself with the loss or suffering of others. It is more of a violation of ethics and professional codes rather than a legal violation. FS 112.313(7)(a) prohibits a public officer from having any contractual relationship which would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his/her private interests and the performance of his/her public duties, or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. However, this covers public officials and not non-government employees or agents. The question should imply that the manager is profiteering from his/her position at the loss of the members. Normally, this is not a valid situation but the final answer would depend on the actions of the manager in which there are violations of the members’ trust and values.

Q. Seven years ago, the association was turned over to the members by the developer. Our covenants and documents have yet to be changed to eliminate any and all references to the developer. While two attempts have been made to revise these documents, none have been approved and we are still operating under the original documents. Are the board of directors and our association operating legally with these outdated documents?

— K.E.

Oldsmar

A. I do not recommend modifying documents even if they have references to the developer. Your documents are deed restrictions. Each purchaser has certain rights and obligations under these original rules and these were the requirements when purchased. If you change your documents it could be possible to take rights away or impose restrictions where there were none before the change. No, the original documents still require the board and members to continue to operate within the rules and regulations. They are legal documents as they are part of the title that each owner is required to uphold. Never attempt to modify the documents without legal guidance. The reference to the developer or a class that refers to the developer is really a mute problem. The legality of the original document, covenants, or rules and regulations are as valid as published when the first purchaser became an owner and the last buyer took title.

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.

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