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Can Spouse Serve on Board

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Q: My wife and I live in a condominium unit in Florida. The unit is owned by my wife, in her name only. However, I would like to run for the board of directors. Does Florida law state that a spouse of a unit owner has the right to serve on the board? (E.B., via e-mail)

A: No.

The Florida Condominium Act provides that every unit owner has the right to serve on the board of directors if eligible. Every unit owner is eligible to serve on the board unless they have been suspended or removed from the board by the State of Florida (very rare), if they are delinquent in payment of assessments due to the association, or if they have been convicted of a felony and have not had their civil rights (such as the right to vote) restored for at least five years.

The law also imposes 8-year terms limits for directors, which are counted as of July 1, 2018. Term limits do not apply in cases where there are not enough candidates for a contested election or in a contested election, where a candidate receives more than two thirds of the votes cast.

While the law governs owner rights to serve, it does not limit service on the board of directors to only unit owners. Pursuant to Chapter 617 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Not-For-Profit Corporation Act, any person over the age of 18 is eligible to serve on a board of directors of a corporation unless otherwise provided by the articles of incorporation or bylaws.

Therefore, to determine whether a spouse of a unit owner whose name is not on the deed is permitted to serve on the board of directors of a condominium association, it is necessary to review the language of the condominium documents to determine whether there is any limitation on who may serve on the board of directors. It is not uncommon for the documents to be silent. In such case, any person over 18 and otherwise not ineligible to serve on the board.

It is more common to see language in condominium documents to limit service on the board of directors to unit owners. Many documents also permit spouses to serve on boards as titles are frequently held in the name of one spouse only for various estate, tax planning, or other reasons. Therefore, the association’s documents will contain the answer to your question.

Q: My condominium board is considering raising the fee for when a unit is leased from one hundred dollars to a much higher number. Is there a cap on the fee that can be charged when a unit is rented? (B.K., via e-mail)

A: Section 718.112(2)(k) of the Florida Condominium Act prohibits an association from charging a fee in connection with the lease of a unit.

The only exception is when the association is permitted to approve lease applications, and the condominium documents authorize a fee. The fee may not exceed $150 per applicant. Members of the same family are considered one applicant.

The same statute also authorizes the association to charge a security deposit against damages to the common elements, again if authorized by the condominium documents. Security deposits may not exceed one month’s rent and must be handled under the laws applicable to landlord-tenant relationships.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to jadams@beckerlawyers.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.

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