Question: I live on the second floor of my condominium building and want to replace the original flooring. There is currently a mixture of carpet and laminate. I asked the Association to approve new tile flooring, but the Association denied my request because the neighbor underneath my unit objected right away.
Can the Association take orders from my neighbor? – A.D., Stuart
Answer: The answer to this question requires a thorough review of the Association’s Declaration of Condominium and Rules. First, the Declaration of Condominium generally includes provisions on unit alterations and will generally discuss flooring requirements. I have seen some documents that require carpet in certain rooms with no alternate flooring materials. I have also seen documents that authorize hard surface flooring to cover only a certain percentage of the total floor area. I have also seen documents that allow the Board to approve alternate flooring materials provided the Owner complies with sound barrier requirements.
Assuming the Declaration allows you to install alternative flooring, the next question is whether the Board has adopted a standard sound absorbing underlayment. Florida Statutes section 718.112(2)(c) provides that any rule concerning the use of a unit must be adopted by the Board after providing at least 14 days mailed and posted notice.
At the end of the day, an underlayment requirement is a rule which involves the use of a unit. Most condominiums do not realize that this is a rule and that it requires special notice requirements. If the Board never properly adopted a specific underlayment, there would be very little objective measure to determine whether your proposed underlayment is adequate.
More broadly, I also do not believe that the Board can make a decision solely based on the subjective desires or objections of a neighbor. If the condominium documents provide that you have the right to make alterations, and assuming you comply with duly adopted underlayment requirements, any decision based on a neighbor’s objection would be arbitrary and therefore unenforceable.
I would highly recommend that you have the documents reviewed by a licensed Florida attorney and the attorney would then likely request to inspect the condominium documents, rules, meeting minutes and meeting notices to determine whether any flooring rule was appropriately adopted, and if so, whether you comply with the requirements.
Question: Our condominium association Board has three directors. We have an election every year because a number of people always want to serve on the Board, but it is very difficult for us to conduct business because two of us can never meet due to meeting rules. What can we do? – P.T., Fort Pierce
Answer: This is a common question. A Board meeting is any time a quorum of the Board is together conducting business. So yes, for a Board of three, all of your conversations would need to occur at duly noticed meetings with proper notice because any conversation would mean a quorum of the Board is conducting business.
One option is to increase the size of the Board. Some documents allow the Board alone to increase the size of the Board and it appears you have enough participation to justify an increase in the size of the Board. I would recommend you have the Bylaws reviewed by a Florida attorney to determine the mechanism, if appropriate, to increase the size of the Board to five or more.
Next, the statute prohibits voting by email, but it does not preclude conversing by email. Thus, the Board could pass information around via email without the communication violating the meeting requirements. There is a bigger discussion here with respect to email usage, but this is an option.
My recommendation is to pursue an increase in the number of Directors based on the fact that you can likely fill all five seats with volunteers and it allows for two Board members to discuss Association business without violating the meeting requirements.
Steven J. Adamczyk Esq., is a shareholder of the law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.
Editor’s note: Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC, respond to questions about Florida community association law. The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.
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