What If a Fellow HOA Board Member or Candidate Seems Shady?

October 14, 2011
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This week's tip is a must if you've got a sneaking suspicion that a candidate for your board isn't what she seems. Or maybe your HOA is considering adopting rules governing who can and can't be on the board.

In some states, statutes restrict certain people from becoming HOA board members.

Here's one example. "Under Florida law for both condos and HOAs, if you're more than 90 days delinquent on any fee, fine, or other monetary obligation, you're deemed to have abandoned your board post," says Ben Solomon, an attorney and founder of the Association Law Group in Miami Beach, Fla., who advises more than 500 associations and represents developers through his second law firm, Solomon & Furshman LLP.

"Also under HOA law in Florida," adds Solomon, "there's one that's interesting in regard to turnover. Let's say there's a developer, and a builder bought 50 parcels to build a subsection of the project. The developer is turning over the association, and that 50–unit builder, who has 50 votes, may run for only one seat. He's excluded under Florida law from taking a majority of the board."

HOAs can create additional rules governing who can serve on their board. "If people in a particular association are concerned," says Steven Daniels, coordinating partner of Arnstein & Lehr's West Palm Beach, Fla., office, who has advised hundreds of HOAs, "so long as they're not discriminating on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or another protected class, they can create their own restrictions."

Solomon agrees. "As long as your regulations are applied uniformly, aren't a violation of the law, and are expressly authorized—such as barring convicted felons—you can set criteria," says Solomon. "And that does occur."

Examples? "Many associations require that you be a resident for so many months or years," says Daniels. "Some have requirements that you can't have more than one family member on the board. They don't want a husband and wife dominating a community."

OK, so it's easy for the board to double–check whether a candidate is overdue on fees to the association. What about the harder–to–suss–out restrictions like bans on convicted felons? When should your HOA investigate candidates and board members? Find out in our new article, Should You Investigate HOA Board Candidates?

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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