Homeowners utilize new law to oust board

Article Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel

Published 11 -04 - 2004

By Lois K. Solomon


A Boynton Beach homeowners' association is the first in Palm Beach County to take advantage of a new law that limits the use of attorneys to oust a board of directors.

The law, which became effective Oct. 1, lets homeowners choose a liaison, which can be a fellow homeowner, to represent them in a recall effort. If a majority of homeowners vote for the recall, the liaison presents the ballots to the board, which can dispute the vote. An arbitrator is then appointed by the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
"What we intended to achieve was to avoid lawsuits," said Jan Bergmann of St. Augustine, who served on a statewide committee seeking to reform homeowners' association laws. "Many associations are paying upward of 50 percent of their dues for legal fees and management."

About 65 percent of the 159 homeowners in The Colony at Boynton Beach, a neighborhood off Military Trail, voted to recall three board members on Oct. 18, but the board resigned before it could be recalled, former board member Dana Durrance said. She declined further comment.

Homeowner Raphaella Paternoster said the former board did not allow residents to look at financial records and would only communicate through a Web site.

"No one could speak at board meetings," said Paternoster, who is now vice president of the association. "They were very secretive."

Residents also were angry about a new guard gate that cost $126,000, according to board minutes.

In meetings over the summer, they complained about the cost of the gate; how the board was limiting how many visitors they could have; and that they should not have to show proof of insurance in order to get a gate pass.

Paternoster said the former process for ousting a board required the board to call a special meeting, which the old board had declined to do.

"This new law helps homeowners who have dictatorship boards," she said. "It's a very smooth process and it gives the voice back to the people."

WANT TO RECALL YOUR BOARD? Easy 1-2-3 Instructions