An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published August 26, 2010


I think in the meanwhile we are getting used to seeing weird interpretations of statutes, rules and regulations dished out by our "expert" Community Association Managers -- in short,CAMs. 


Here is one of these weird opinions that caught my eye, coming from CAM Gina Cotto [License # 27982], who is the CAM for the VILLAS ON THE GREEN CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION INC. in Jupiter. Not that there is a lack of experts in this condominium: The president and registered agent of the association is Catherine Deborah Bain, a Florida BAR licensed attorney, and the law firm on retainer is Becker & Poliakoff, with Martha Platts Esq. being the attorney on record.


Experts aside, one of the condo owners received this e-mail from CAM Cotto, explaining the association policy on taping board meetings.


Especially the last sentence (below in bold letters) can be easily interpreted as follows: "The association will not take any action if you are taping the meeting, but we sure will not prevent any owner from destroying your recording device if they feel inclined to do so, due to the fact that you didn't get their specific permission to tape them."


Pursuant to the Condominium Act, a unit owner is permitted to audio tape a meeting.  However, as you were advised, people have a right under federal and/or state law to not be taped surreptiously or without their consent. 


We have communicated with the Association lawyers and the Department of Professional and Business Regulation regarding this conflict.  According to the Department of Professional and Business Regulation, there are several sections of the Condominium Act that may conflict with other laws and sometimes those conflicts are challenged.  However, the Department of Professional and Business Regulation could not provide guidance regarding this particular conflict. 


Please be advised that neither the Association nor Management will prevent you from taping meetings, but please be aware that residents may choose to assert their rights not to be recorded without their consent. 



Gina Cotto


Gina Cotto
Property Manager
MMI of the Palm Beaches, Inc.


By the way, it's definitely not surreptitiously -- and I guess that's the word CAM COTTO wanted to use -- if you announce to CAM and board that you are taping the meeting. What's the owner supposed to do? Hold up a big cardboard sign saying: "YOU ARE BEING TAPED"!


Let's make one thing very clear: We are talking here about a public board meeting, where none of the participants has any expectancy of privacy. The only way to avoid being taped: LEAVE THE ROOM!


But what makes this e-mail from CAM Cotto even more dangerous are the references to DBPR and association attorney. It gives her opinion a falsely official touch and makes owners believe that they are absolutely in their rights if they stop other owners from taping the meeting. That's how fights are created -- courtesy of a CAM who doesn't know what she is talking about.


Here is the actual answer from the DBPR, an answer I received from Division Chief Mike Cochran, only one hour after I sent my e-mail with the question about the rules and guidelines about taping a board meeting. Thank you, Mike Cochran!


The Condominium Act provides at section 718.112(2)(c), that “any unit owner may tape record or videotape meetings…” of the board.  Rule 61B-23.002(10), Florida Administrative Code establishes certain requirements when videotaping or recording meetings.  They are:


  1. The equipment used must not produce distracting sound or light emissions.

  2. If adopted in advance by the board or unit owners as a written rule, video equipment must be assembled and placed in position in advance of the beginning of the meeting.

  3. If adopted in advance by the board or unit owners as a written rule, anyone videotaping or recording a meeting cannot move about the meeting room in order to facilitate the recording.

  4. If adopted in advance by the board or unit owners as a written rule, advance notice must be given to the board by any unit owner desiring to utilize audio or video equipment.

Based on the foregoing, when attending a noticed meeting, under the above rules, there is no expectation of privacy and unit owner consent is not required.  I do not know whether this conflicts with other State or Federal Privacy laws.  However, given that it is an open meeting I would think not.  I would add that “surreptitious” taping as used in the answer below would not be allowed.




Michael Cochran, Director

Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes

Department of Business and Professional Regulation


Attorney Martha Platts didn't respond to an e-mail I sent to her a week ago at the same time I e-mailed Mike Cochran. Honestly, I didn't expect an answer from her.

What should Platts have said in her response? That the CAM she is working with is totally wrong and has no clue what she is talking about?


Let's face it, we have many licensed CAMs who write their own rules -- or are plainly incompetent. The few hours of CAM training don't make them experts -- even if they often want to give board members and owners this impression. And that's how fights get started!