By Eric Glazer, Esq.
It seems like no matter how early, or on what day of the week we hold our Board Certification seminars for both condominium and HOA members, the classes are packed to the rafters. There’s often times complaints about communities going to hell because of unit owner apathy. When you see a room full of hundreds of owners at 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday attending an educational course, you realize that while there certainly are people out there who would never participate in the affairs of their community, there are countless others who do care and who care about becoming educated and striving to be the best board member they can be. For me, it is truly inspirational every time I address a crowded audience. What an honor!
And then there’s the flip side. For those of you that have attended my seminar, you know how angry I am that the law still allows Board members to get certified by signing what I call a silly self-serving affidavit that certifies :
in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members.
The same ridiculous affidavit can be signed by condo board members and HOA Board members. Simply by signing this affidavit, the person is certified to the same extent as anyone else who bothered to attend a class.
The affidavit does not even require a director to acknowledge that they read or even know that Florida Statutes 718 or 720 exist. Moreover, many of you have illegal provisions in your governing documents (for example – no children allowed even though you’re not a 55 and over community). Yet, this affidavit requires the director “to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability.” You’re actually swearing to uphold illegal provisions.
Some of you are disappointed that The Florida Legislature won’t allow the DBPR to assist homeowner associations in our state. You’re upset that there’s little to no protection against fraud or theft in your community. You’re upset that even when fraud or theft is found, nothing is done about it. Unfortunately, to correct much of these problems would require legislative change which is somewhat out of your hands.
There is one way to help yourselves. There is one option that lies exclusively in your hands and one way to immediately bring change to your community. This same law allows owners to get certified within one year before getting on the Board of Directors. If someone cares about your community and is serious about doing a good job, they should only get your vote only if they have already become certified by participating in an approved class. Countless people have taken the course I teach before getting on the Board, because they care enough to learn something before taking over the awesome responsibility of running your community. On the contrary, shame on any director who is too lazy to learn something for a few hours while sipping coffee and eating breakfast or who won’t attend a class because they think they already know everything, having been on the board for decades. How about…….No vote for you if you’re not interested enough to take a class and learn something?