Q: One resident in our community has obtained the email addresses for all owners. This owner attends all Board meetings, and then twists the actual discussion and sends an email to the community with a creative summary of the meeting. The summaries are inaccurate. What can we do to stop this?
A: The Association cannot prevent a private owner from sending communications to his or her neighbors. That being said, there are a few recommendations, which are also applicable to owner publications on social media and other platforms.
First, the Association can send a notification to the residents that describes the Association’s official communication policy. You can acknowledge that an owner is circulating unofficial narratives and that all communications are unofficial unless they come through the official communication channel.
Second, owners can block the emails. For most recipients, these unofficial narratives and summaries are unwelcomed. The owners in your communication can block his or her communications in the same manner as any other email.
Third, the Association should determine whether this owner is defaming the Association or its Directors. When an owner publishes an email to the entire community, if the email includes false statements and accusations, it is possible that the Association has a cause of action for defamation. If you believe the owner is defaming the Board or the Association, you should consult a licensed Florida attorney because a) there are certain privileges that can insulate this owner from liability; and b) the individual Directors may need to obtain independent counsel depending on the nature of the claims.
Q: My condominium association is demanding that I hire a pest control vendor to spray for insects and termites. The condominium is demanding that I provide proof of payment and proof that the contractor sprayed treatment behind the walls. I am hesitant to spray behind the walls because that is a common element. What am I supposed to do?
-H.T., Treasure Coast
A: The Association is most likely acting outside of its authority. First, we would need to assume that the area behind this particular wall is a common element as opposed to an interior wall. Second, we would need to assume that the governing documents do not contractually require you to perform this maintenance. Thus, to provide a full answer, I recommend you have your condominium documents reviewed by a licensed Florida attorney.
Assuming the Association is responsible to treat the common elements, the Association is effectively forcing you to spend money and incur expenses for the obligation of someone else. Here, the Association should be assessing you to do the work, and the Association should engage the contractor to perform the work. The result would be one contract between the Association and the vendor as opposed to many contracts between many vendors and all the unit owners.
If there is a pest or termite problem, obviously someone needs to address the required maintenance, but the Association should not be forcing its maintenance obligations on the owners when the cost should be incurred as a common expense.
Steven J. Adamczyk Esq., is a shareholder of the law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.