Your Florida Condominium Board Member Electronic Voting and Communication Policy
One the one hand, using no electronic communication in this day and age is completely unreasonable. On the other hand, if a Board chooses to conduct all business electronically, the unit owners are denied their right to be present during Board meetings, which violates the law and leads to unit owner distrust of the Board. Given this, all associations can do is comply with the spirit of the Florida condominium statutes (Chapter 718) and use good judgment when conducting association business via email or other electronic communication. In order to ensure all Board members act consistently, I recommend that each association draft and approve a Board Member Electronic Voting and Communication Policy.
Florida Statute Chapter 718.112(2)(c) is clear that all unit owners have the right to attend any meeting of the Board at which a quorum of the Board is present. This means that any gathering of a quorum of the Board, whether at the standard meeting location, in a Board member’s home, or at a local restaurant, is considered a Board meeting if association-related topics are being discussed. It is a common misconception that in order for a gathering of the Board to be considered an official meeting, the Board has to be voting on something. This is not the case.
There are two notable types of meetings that are not open to unit owners:
1. Meetings between the Board and the association’s attorney to discuss litigation and obtain legal advice
2. Board meetings held for the purpose of discussing personnel matters (e.g., employee issues)
The Statute also states that notice of Board meetings (including date, time and location) along with a meeting agenda must be posted conspicuously around the condominium property at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. This requirement also applies to the two types of meeting mentioned above that are not open to unit owners.
So, given the rules just discussed, what is a Board to do? My recommendation is to use electronic communication (e.g., email, group texting) but do so in a responsible and considerate way. Remember, Board meeting rules are established to ensure unit owners may remain up-to-date on association issues. Unit owners are only going to become concerned if they feel their rights are being violated and/ or if the Board is acting secretively or unethically. Given this, when considering a Board Member Electronic Voting and Communication Policy, the Board should worry less about complying with the exact letter of the law and more about ensuring the Board is acting in a way that unit owners would consider appropriate.
NOTE: If a unit owner files a complaint against the association to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the DBPR finds the complaint warranted, the association may be fined pursuant to the Florida Administrative Code.