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Not all owners are eligible to serve on a condominium board
by: Rob Samouce
Many condominium associations will soon be sending out their first notice for their annual meeting and annual election for 2009, along with the call for candidates who wish to run for board.

Included within the massive legislative changes to Condominium Act (Chapter 718, Florida Statutes) that became effective on Oct. 1, 2008 are the new qualification requirements for owners who may serve on a condominium board.

It is first interesting to point out that if a director’s term expires and no one runs for the director’s seat, the director is automatically reappointed to the board.

In the past, the new board would appoint the expiring director’s replacement. Now, the expiring director remains on the board after the annual election. If he or she does not want to continue serving, he or she will now have to resign after the annual meeting and a replacement will then be appointed by the new board.

In condominiums containing more than 10 units, co-owners of a unit may not serve as members of the board at the same time. This applies even if the co-owners own more than one unit. It looks like there will probably be no more husbands and wives sitting on a board at the same time in larger condominiums.

A person, who has been suspended or removed from the board by the Divisions of Condominiums or who is delinquent in the payment of any fee or assessment, is not eligible for board membership.

According to the Division, an owner delinquent at the time of putting his name in as a candidate for the board could go ahead and run for the board, but if elected, would then be immediately off the board if the owner was still delinquent at the time of the election.

Convicted felons must wait at least five years after their civil rights have been restored before being eligible to be a candidate for the board.

In order to be eligible to be a candidate for the board, a candidate must now sign a certification form provided by the Division of Condominiums attesting that he or she has read and understands, to the best of his or her ability, the governing documents of the association and the provisions of Chapter 718 and any applicable rules.

Once on a board, a director or officer is deemed to have abandoned their office if they become 90 days delinquent in payment of regular assessments.

Also, a director or officer charged with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving the association’s funds or property shall be removed from office and cannot be appointed or elected while charges are pending. If there is no finding of guilt, the director or officer shall be reinstated for the remainder of his or her term of office.

It appears these new board qualification requirements resulted from problems with some association boards on Florida’s East Coast, as this is where all this new legislation came from. Apparently, some boards there must have been filled with, or there was a fear that they may become filled, with less than upstanding citizens.

Although we have rarely experienced such board problems in Southwest Florida, the new “East Coast laws” apply to all of Florida, so it is important that local condominium associations become aware of and follow the new qualification requirements for board members.
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.