If you are new to your community’s board of directors, thank you for agreeing to serve in this capacity. You will learn that the “job” can be both thankless and fulfilling at different times and for different reasons.
The first thing you will need to do is to ensure that you have submitted your director certification form within 90 days after being newly elected or appointed to the board of directors. If you fail to comply in a timely manner with the statutory certification requirement, you will be automatically removed from the board until you comply. You can fulfill this requirement either by attending a class that has been approved by the state or by signing a form attesting that you have read, understood, and agree to uphold the association’s governing documents. As a new board member, attending a board certification class should be a priority. These classes cover a wide variety of issues that you will confront as a member of your board, and having context and background on which to base your decisions will be crucial to making the best decisions for your community. Becker & Poliakoff taught approximately 300 classes at no charge for board members and managers throughout Florida last year. For the current calendar of these free classes, please visit www.floridacondohoalawblog.com/classes .
As a new member on your community’s board of directors, when you are being asked to vote on an association matter, please make sure to inquire about the source of authority for the subject matter. Whether the issue involves parking assignments, fees related to the common areas, limits on guest occupancy, screening and move-in procedures, or other restrictions, you should feel comfortable knowing that the board can do what it is considering doing. Don’t take anyone’s word for it that “it has always been done this way” because sometimes you will discover that it’s been handled incorrectly and, even, illegally for years. If you find out that there is a problem in terms of the association’s operations, remember that there is a right way and wrong way to pursue change. Hurling accusations prematurely is not nearly as effective as being respectful but persistent after you have gathered all the necessary facts. Discussing privileged information you learn as a board member with owners or third parties is not appropriate, nor is expecting special access to documents, which do not pertain to your role on the board.
Remember, you are part of a team, and you should act like a team player. Now go out there and make your community association a highly functioning one!
Donna DiMaggio Berger is a Shareholder at the community association law firm of Becker & Poliakoff and has represented all types of shared ownership communities throughout Florida. Ms. Berger is a member of the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), a prestigious national organization, which acknowledges community association attorneys who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the evolution or practice of community association law and who have committed themselves to high standards of professional and ethical conduct in the practice of community association law. Ms. Berger can be reached at (954) 364-6031 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.