Legal Matters – David G. Muller, Esq.
Q: The new board at my condominium removed the carpet in the clubhouse and had luxury vinyl flooring installed in its place. Weren’t they required to get owner approval before making this type of change? D.M.
A: Maybe. Replacing carpet with vinyl flooring in the clubhouse will be considered a material alteration. The Florida Condominium Act requires 75% unit owner approval for material alterations unless the governing documents state otherwise. Assuming your condominium association’s governing documents require unit owner approval for material alterations of this type, the new board was likely not permitted to make this flooring change without first seeking and obtaining unit owner approval. I use the term “likely” here because any material alteration analysis is very dependent on the given facts, as there are several “exceptions” which could come into play.
Q: The board of my condominium association raised the regular assessments for this new year by twenty percent and didn’t ask the owners for approval. I thought the condominium act required a board to get unit owner approval if the new budget was 15% higher than the previous budget? T.G.
A: There is a provision in the Florida Condominium Act which addresses budget increases above a certain percentage, but the language is different than your recollection. The statute states that if a board adopts an annual budget which requires assessments against unit owners which exceed 115 percent of assessments for the preceding fiscal year, the board shall conduct a special meeting of the unit owners to consider a substitute budget if the board receives (within 21 days after adoption of the annual budget) a written request for a special meeting from at least 10 percent of all voting interests. The special meeting shall be conducted within 60 days after adoption of the annual budget. The statute goes on to state that at least 14 days prior to such special meeting, the board shall hand deliver to each unit owner, or mail to each unit owner at the address last furnished to the association, a notice of the meeting.
Unit owners may consider and adopt a substitute budget at the special meeting. A substitute budget is adopted if approved by a majority of all voting interests unless the bylaws require adoption by a greater percentage of voting interests. If there is not a quorum at the special meeting or a substitute budget is not adopted, the annual budget previously adopted by the board shall take effect as scheduled.
As you can see, these procedural steps are quite onerous. As such, it has been my experience that this procedural remedy is rarely utilized.
David G. Muller is a Board-Certified Attorney in Condominium and Planned Development Law with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. in Naples. Send questions to Attorney Muller by e-mail to [email protected].