On September 17, 2009, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation – Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes (“Arbitrator”) found in favor of petitioning condominium owners, who argued that their condominium association, the Hallmark of Hollywood Condominium Association (“Association”), had improperly conducted an election of board members dated February 10, 2009 when it counted 37 votes for which a voting certificate was required, but was not on file.
During the arbitration proceeding, the Arbitrator examined the Association’s By-Laws, which provided in relevant part that “if [a condo unit] is owned by a corporation, partnership, fiduciary, or more than one person, the person entitled to cast the vote for the unit shall be designated by a certificate signed by all the record owners or the unit and filed with the Secretary of the Association prior to the meeting,” and, further, that “if a certificate designating the person entitled to cast a vote for a unit for which such a certificate is required is not on file…, the vote of the owners of such units shall not be considered…”
It is undisputed that the units for which the 37 votes in question were cast are owned by more than one person or a business entity, and that no voting certificates were on file for them at the time of the election. But the Association argued that the 37 votes should nonetheless be counted because it was unfair to enforce the By-Laws in this instance, when it had not done so in the past. The Arbitrator rejected this argument and asserted, quite simply, that two wrongs don’t make a right.
So, why should you care? Simple: This Order has far-reaching consequences for you if you own a condominium in South Florida. I’ve come across many such situations in recent years, especially since the economy and the housing market have taken a downturn. I’ve found that my clients either take for granted the rules written into their condominium associations’ by-laws and suffer when such rules are enforced, or are unaware of their rights to redress the wrongs perpetrated against them by their condo board members. Both are unfortunate. To ensure you’re not caught in either predicament, I strongly suggest that you peruse your condominium association’s by-laws and participate in its governance. And if you feel your rights are being violated, contact an experienced Florida real estate attorney immediately.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can either post a comment to this blog, contact me by email, or call me at (954) 458-8655 and I will be happy to answer your questions. I offer a free initial consultation.
RE: IMPLEMENTATION OF VOTING CERTIFICATES
Our condominium association has never implement the use of voting certificates at election time although it is clearly stated in our bylaws. Due to questionable election results in recent years, about 18 unit owners filled in, signed and submitted a binder at last year’s annual meeting. An argument followed because the President of the Board rejected the binder and cancelled the meeting. Another date was set to count the ballots, and they were counted without voting certificates. What are our options for this year’s election? It is coming up in April and we would like to resubmit the binder. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.