Q&A: A Stonewalling Board

Q. Our association recently hired a new management company. An announcement was sent to the homeowners announcing the change. A new board initiated this action with no input from homeowners and no discussion. I have specifically requested information concerning our budget and if they are being paid more than our previous company. This stonewalling of my direct questions is very disconcerting to me. What recourse do I have to get honest answers from the board?

                      —Waiting in Winter Haven

A. “Typically a board does not need to obtain the owners’ approval to hire management. To the extent that you may have questions concerning the amount that is being paid, contract terms, etc., it is my suggestion that you send a written demand to the association asking to see the management agreement,” says Susan P. Bakalar, a shareholder attorney at Bakalar & Associates, P.A. in Coral Springs.

“Florida law deems the management agreement to be an official record of the association, which, upon request, must be made available to an owner for inspection or photocopying. The demand should be sent by certified mail return receipt requested.

“The association generally has ten (10) working days from the date the request is received to make available said record(s) for review. Failure of the association to allow access to such records could entitle the owner to statutory damages not to exceed $500.00.

“There is nothing in the statute that requires an association’s board to answer written questions posed by a unit owner.” 

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  • Allow me to tell you that your statement “There is nothing in the statute that requires an association’s board to answer written questions posed by a unit owner.” is incorrect. Florida Statute 718.112(2)(a)2 reads "When a unit owner of a residential condominium files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board of administration, the board shall respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days after receipt of the inquiry." Said paragraph also states "The failure to provide a substantive response to the inquiry as provided herein precludes the board from recovering attorney fees and costs in any subsequent litigation, administrative proceeding, or arbitration arising out of the inquiry."