What is the legality of video and/or audio recording of board meetings by members of a HOA?

By August 31, 2018News, Questions & Answers

Editor’s note: Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross respond to questions about Florida community association law.  The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, civil litigation, estate planning and commercial transactions. 

Q: What is the legality of video and/or audio recording of board meetings by members of a HOA? The members in my community have offered to record the meetings to share with other members unable to attend, but the board members have refused to allow the board meetings to be recorded, and they have stated it’s not required by law. Many members are seasonal residents and have no way of knowing details of any meetings and the meeting notes are basic and lack any detail, and the notes do not get published until after the next meeting and they are approved. 

-T.G., Wellington

A: Florida law is clear that owners in a HOA have the right to record meetings of the board or meetings of the members.  Specifically, Florida Statutes, Section 720.306(10) provides that “Any parcel owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the board of directors and meetings of the members.  The board of directors of the association may adopt reasonable rules governing the taping of meetings of the board and the membership.” Reasonable rules have been deemed to include (a) prohibiting devices that produce distracting sound or light emissions; (b) requiring the device be positioned in advance of the commencement of the meeting; (c) prohibiting moving about the room in order to facilitate recording; and (d) requiring advance notice of an intent to record.

One big caveat is that the above rules can only be enforced if they were adopted by written rule at a Board meeting with at least 48 hours posted notice. Therefore, if your board waits until the middle of a contentious meeting to try to pass such a rule, it would be too late.  

Please note that the Board is not required to audio record or video record its meetings. Many associations will record meetings to ensure the minutes are accurate, and then discard the recording. I generally advise against keeping recordings because the recording normally can’t be used in court to support your position, so the real result of keeping a recording is to highlight any errors or misstatements. The Board should take extra care to ensure the written minutes reflect the actions at the meeting.

Q: An owner in my condominium association wasn’t elected to the board but wants to volunteer their time and serve as an officer.  Is it possible for someone who isn’t a director to serve as an officer of the board?

-J.Y., Boca Raton

A: It is possible, but it will entirely depend on the language that is in your declaration. For example, if your governing documents provide that the board may appoint “assistant secretaries and assistant treasurers and such other officers as the board deems necessary,” then your board would have the authority to appoint non-directors to serve as officers.  Please note that if this language is in your governing documents, typically there is additional language that any officer elected or appointed by the board may be removed at any time, with or without cause, by a majority of the board. Note that to appoint any such officer, the board must hold a meeting with at least 48 hours posted notice, and the nomination of, discussion of, and appointment of the officer must be stated on the notice as an agenda item.  We recommend that you seek counsel from a qualified Florida Bar licensed attorney so they can review your association’s governing documents and advise whether the board has the right to appoint officers that aren’t directors.

Avi S. Tryson, Esq., is Partner of the Law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross. Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: question@gadclaw.com.  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.