Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published October 3, 2007
in condo and homeowner association communities are doing more than just
complaining about their directors.
They are making the effort to dump them.
State laws allow a majority of owners to remove a director or an entire
board with or without a reason. When boards won't accept the decision, the
state Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums & Mobile Homes
arbitrates. It decides only if the vote was legal, not the truthfulness of
to the state's latest figures, 114 recalls were arbitrated during the year
ending July 1, compared with 101 the previous year. The state doesn't keep
track of undisputed recalls.
Matthew Zifrony, an attorney who has represented many owners seeking to
recall their boards, said the move is often a result of frustration,
especially "when you have a board in place for a number of
"Residents say they need a new set of eyes and ears," he said.
Owners seeking recalls often cite more serious allegations, which they are
not required to prove.
In the Ridges, a 1,498-unit homeowner association in Weston, the recall
committee accused the board of taking kickbacks, conflict of interest,
changing bylaws to favor the board and not holding elections. The board
denied all allegations. The state arbitrator Aug. 27 decided the recall
vote was legal and ousted the five members. Feelings continue to run hot.
"The old board is instigating and provoking the new board," said
Jose Navarro, one of the leaders of the recall movement who is now vice
Steve Clein, one of the recalled directors, said, "the people who ran
the recall twisted the truth and other people believed what they were
Although unhappy owners can wait for an election to get rid of a director,
a recall is often seen as easier. Elections have limits on proxies, while
recalls don't. And if directors have staggered terms, they can't be voted
out all at once. But they can be ousted as a group in a recall.
Dissatisfied owners recently gave their board the boot at the Lakes of
Boca Barwood near Boca Raton. But at Imagination Farms in Davie, a similar
recall effort failed.
However, when the directors tried to make the dissatisfied owners pay the
board's attorney's fees, the board lost.
"Arbitrators don't want to do anything to punish people for taking
advantage of their right to seek a recall," said Zifrony, who has
been president of his own homeowner association, Savanna in Weston, for
six years. "If they did, boards would be able to wave in front of
owners the threat that 'You better be careful, if you lose you'll have to
pay our costs.'"
Associations, he noted, can raise whatever money they need by assessing
everyone, including those who sought their ouster. Owners, on the other
hand, must dig into their own pockets.
"In the past, when real estate taxes weren't so much an issue, people
moved around more frequently so the makeup of boards changed,"
Zifrony said. "Now, people are staying in their houses longer so you
don't have that natural transition."
more on recalls:
Guide to recall procedures for homeowner associations: www.myflorida/com/dbpr/lsc/LSCMHHOAprocedures.html
Recall arbitration for homeowner associations: www.myflorida.com/dbpr/lsc/homeowners.html
Recall arbitration for condos and co-ops: www.myflorida.com/dbpr/lsc/arbitration.html
Q. Owners of units in townhouse and villa communities don't want
to pay twice for a roof. Several report that their individual roofs, which
are common property, had to be replaced immediately. Time was crucial
because water was entering their homes. Later, the boards decided to
replace all roofs and assessed all owners. Those whose roofs were repaired
don't want to pay again and want to know if they have any recourse.
A. Lindsay E. Raphael, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, said that
generally, "special assessments must be applied equally to all unit
owners based on the percentage of ownership as set forth in the
condominium documents, unless the condominium documents provide
Exceptions may be made, but only if allowed by the
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