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New condominium directors have 90 days to sign certification papers
by: Rob Samouce
You just got elected to the board at your condominium association’s annual meeting. You are all fired up and ready to give it your best.

Well, under a new law that went into effect July 1 of 2010, just to make sure you don’t get suspended from serving on the board, you must do one of two things within 90 days of when you got elected (or appointed).

The first and easiest thing to do to comply with the new law is to “certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members.”

In lieu of this written certification, the second, and more difficult thing to do to comply, is for the newly-elected or appointed director to submit to the association a certificate of satisfactory completion of the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved condominium education provider.

You can contact the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850-488-1122 to see when such a course may be offered in the area.

A director, who fails to timely file the written certification or educational certificate, is suspended from service on the board until he or she complies with this requirement.

Little did you know that when you volunteered for such a thankless unpaid job as a condo board member that the state would require you jump through this kind of hoop. The board can temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension.

The secretary of the association is supposed to keep the director’s certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for a period of five years after a director’s election.

However, the law goes on to say that failure to have such written certification or education certificate on file does not affect the validity of any action. It does not say what action but we must assume any action by the board.

So you have to fill out the form or go to the class, give the certification or certificate to the association secretary, but if you don’t and no one notices that you were suspended and the form isn’t there later, oh well, no harm or penalty for any action during the time. This does not make much sense but neither does the certification requirement in the first place.

In any event, it is the law at this point. So, if after your annual meeting you are a board member, now you should either take a course or fill out a certification form saying that you have read the association’s governing documents.

If you don’t have a copy of a certification form and would like one, contact me at my website listed below. We can get a copy to you so you can sign and then give it to your association secretary for safe keeping.
Rob Samouce, a principal attorney in the Naples law firm of Samouce, Murrell, & Gal, P.A., concentrates his practice in the areas of community associations including condominium, cooperative and homeowners' associations, real estate transactions, closings and related mortgage law, general business law, estate planning, construction defect litigation and general civil litigation. This column is not based on specific legal advice to anyone and is based on principles subject to change from time to time. Those persons interested in specific legal advice on topics discussed in this column should consult competent legal counsel.