Q: My two sisters and I own a condominium unit together. We each own 1/3 of the condominium unit. The Association is trying to force us to choose a “primary” owner and we want to be treated equally. Can the Board do this?
-P.R., Delray Beach
A: The answer depends on the language in your governing documents, but the answer is probably yes, the Board can do this. When you have multiple owners of a unit, most governing documents require the owners to select a “primary occupant”. This is for multiple reasons, but the first is to prevent a time-share situation where you could theoretically have 52 owners of a condominium unit and each of the 52 owners could claim a separate “week” of ownership and therefore create a motel atmosphere. Most governing documents allow you to change the primary occupant a few times during a calendar year to provide some flexibility for your situation, but the purpose is to avoid timeshare transiency.
Next, the primary occupant mechanism is helpful for voting purposes. If you voted yes for an amendment, and your sister votes no for the same amendment, the Board would not have any basis to accept one over the other. When there is a primary occupant, that individual generally has voting rights on behalf of all co-owners.
Finally, because it is possible to have 10 co-owners of a unit, the primary occupant mechanism reduces the over-taxation of the common elements. If a condominium has 100 units, the amenities and capacity levels are built for 100 families. If each condominium unit had multiple families, and each family claimed equal and full use of the amenities, the result would be a shortage of amenities.
This analysis really requires an interpretation of your specific governing documents to determine the rights of multiple owners, and thus the recommendation is to have the documents reviewed by a licensed Florida attorney.
Q: I have been experiencing hearing loss and can’t hear the Board discussions at Board meetings. I have asked that the Board purchase microphones and speakers so that I can understand the discussion. Can I force the Board to do this?
-A.B., Treasure Coast
A: The statute does not specifically address this issue. The statute provides that the members are allowed to speak to the Board on agenda items and that most Board meetings are open to membership attendance, but there is no requirement to record Board meetings or to provide amplification.
If an owner requests the Board grant an accommodation due to a disability, the Board would likely need to provide that reasonable accommodation if necessary for participation and enjoyment of the home, but that is different from forcing the Board to use common funds to purchase equipment. In other words, you may be able to compel the Board to utilize equipment that you provide so that you can hear the meetings, but I am not aware of a law that would require the Board to purchase this equipment for your benefit.
The law does permit you to record meetings, so you could record the meeting and then play back through an amplification system after the meeting, or you could purchase a microphone so that you can listen through headphones during a meeting.
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.