Association files for arbitration on recall

Camelot Homeowners Association

Article Courtesy of the Miami Herald

Published November 20, 2005

A happy ending seems hard to come by for the Camelot Homeowners Association.

After residents served their board of directors with a recall petition with forms from 84 out of 140 townhomes in the community, the current board of the community off Southwest 142nd Avenue and 94th Circle Lane filed for state arbitration last week.

''We feel very confident we're going to prevail,'' said Steve Sotnick, a Camelot resident. "The amount of effort we have to go through is phenomenal.''

Sotnick is part of the group seeking to replace the current board of directors using a written recall.

Condominium association boards can be recalled by two methods outlined in Florida statutes: recalling the board at a meeting where a quorum is present or gathering recall ballots from 50 percent plus one of residents, said Dr. Virgil Rizzo, state condo ombudsman.

The recall petition is officially served to the board or a registered agent of the board such as an attorney. The board then has five days to either accept the recall or file for arbitration with the state.

''When unit owners are very unhappy with the management or mismanagement of their boards, [having a recall] is the ultimate way to take over their own destiny,'' Rizzo said.

The board has filed for arbitration in the recall on Nov. 15, said Jonathan Rubin, the association's attorney. Danilo Gallardo, the current president of the association, declined to comment.

Part of the motivation for the recall was the lack of information concerning community-wide roof replacements as well as questions about the association's financial health, Sotnick said. ''All we want is a transparent process of doing things the right way,'' Sotnick said. "[The board is] trying to get me to accept something without information.''

According to Florida statutes, condominium owners have the right to request official documents from the association, such as association rules, minutes from past meetings and contracts for repairs. The board has five days to comply with resident requests. If the board does not comply within 10 days, it can face a fine of $50 per day for 10 days.

''You're buying into this association on good faith and there is no guarantee,'' Sotnick said.

In the Patio Homes of the Crossings, one homeowner is challenging the neighborhood association's fines for noncompliance with neighborhood building codes.

''They're fining us for our fence being a shade off and we still have a tarp on the roof,'' said Crossing resident Patricia Irvine.

Irvine was served with notice that her fence was the wrong color and her garage door should be repainted by Sept. 24. After appearing before the review committee and having the issue delayed, Irvine said she later received a letter from the board of directors saying that they had overturned the committee's decision and decided to levy a fine of $100. But after the active hurricane season, Irvine said she is more concerned about repairing her home first.