Condominium Elections are Approaching – Is Your Association Following the Rules?
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The end of the calendar year means that most condominium associations are gearing up for their annual meeting and election of new board members. For many condominiums, this is a routine event, but for others, this may foster heated and contentious lobbying and under-handed tactics resulting in administrative challenges to the election process, and maybe even litigation. The current board and property manager for a condominium association should have a detailed understanding of the condominium election process. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation has published a State of Florida Condominium Election Brochure covering most of the procedural aspects of condominium elections. This blog will summarize important deadlines and considerations for these elections.
At least 60 days before a scheduled election, the association shall mail, deliver, or electronically transmit (by separate association mailing, or included in another association mailing, delivery, or transmission, including regularly published newsletters) to each unit owner entitled to a vote, a first notice of the date of the election. A unit owner or other eligible person desiring to be a candidate for the board must then give written notice of his or her intent to be a candidate to the association at least 40 days before a scheduled election. With the written notice and agenda, the association shall mail, deliver, or electronically transmit a second notice of the election to all unit owners entitled to vote with a ballot that lists all candidates. In order to be a candidate for the election, they must be current on the payment of their assessments and not have a felony conviction on their record.
Upon a candidate’s request, an information sheet, no larger than 8 ½ inches by 11 inches—which must be furnished by the candidate at least 35 days before the election—must be included with the mailing, delivery, or transmission of the ballot. The costs of mailing, delivery or electronic transmission, and copying are to be borne by the association. The association is not liable for the contents of the information sheets prepared by the candidates. In order to reduce costs, the association may print or duplicate the information sheets on both sides of the paper. Then the association shall give a second notice not less than 14 days from the date of the election that contains the annual meeting notice and agenda. Included in the second notice are the printed ballots for the election, along with return envelopes and any candidate information sheets.
Elections shall be decided by a plurality of ballots cast. There is no quorum requirement; however, at least 20 percent of the eligible voters must cast a ballot in order to have a valid election. A unit owner may not permit any other person to vote his or her ballot, and any ballots improperly cast are invalid and must have “disregarded” written across it. A unit owner who needs assistance in casting the ballot for the reasons stated in s. 101.051 may obtain such assistance. The regular election must occur on the date of the annual meeting. Notwithstanding this sub-subparagraph, an election is not required unless more candidates file notices of intent to run or are nominated than board vacancies exist. In the event of a tie, there shall be a run-off election. All envelopes, whether disregarded or not, must be retained by the association for one year. Any challenge to the election process must be commenced within 60 days after the election results are announced.
Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board of an association of a condominium, each newly elected or appointed director shall certify in writing to the secretary of the association that: 1) he or she has read the association’s declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and current written policies; 2) he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and 3) he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members. In lieu of this written certification, the newly elected or appointed director may submit a certificate of having satisfactorily completed the educational curriculum administered by a division-approved condominium education provider. The submission must happen either within 1 year prior to or 90 days after the date of election or appointment.
The written certification or educational certificate is valid and does not have to be resubmitted as long as the director serves on the board without interruption. A director of an association of a condominium who fails to timely file the written certification or educational certificate is suspended from service on the board until he or she complies with this sub-subparagraph. The board may temporarily fill the vacancy during the period of suspension. The secretary shall cause the association to retain a director’s written certification or educational certificate for inspection by the members for 5 years after a director’s election, or the duration of the director’s uninterrupted tenure, whichever is longer. Failure to have such written certification or educational certificate on file does not affect the validity of any board action.
The DBPR Flowchart on Condominium Elections can also be a good resource for the association and its manager for upcoming elections. For more information regarding areas of condominium law, please review our Condominium FAQs.