You may have seen notices about board elections around your community and asked yourself, “Could I run for the position?”, “What criteria must be met to qualify to be a board member?”
First, let’s explain what an association board is and does. In Florida, the developer initially appoints an association’s board of directors, and then homeowners elect all the following open positions. The board is responsible for maintaining the property, running the business side of the property, enacting any bylaws or regulations governing the association, and helping foster a sense of community among members.
The requirements to become a Board Member in Florida are minimal. This article will answer this question from both a legal and a practical standpoint.
A few basic legal requirements are needed to serve on a homeowner association or condominium board of directors. According to Florida Statutes, board members must meet the following criteria:
Be 18 years or older.
Pretty simple to understand this requirement. Minors are not eligible for board membership in homeowner or condominium associations.
Be a member of the association.
This is also another easy requirement to explain. You have to own a home or condo in the association to serve on the board of that association. There are also limits on which members can serve, but they are broad. For example, anyone delinquent with a past due balance to the association cannot join the board. Another limitation is for people who jointly own a property. Co-owners cannot both serve on the board simultaneously. The one loop-hole to this is if they own more than one property in the association.
Pass a background check.
Individuals with a criminal background are largely disqualified from holding a position on an association board. If you’ve had your voting rights reinstated for more than five years, you may be allowed to run for a seat on the board.
Additionally, those previously removed from a board within the state are disqualified. Suppose the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) previously removed you from another board of directors. In that case, you are ineligible to serve on any future association boards in the state. Anyone on the board charged with a felony theft or embezzlement with the association’s funds or property is promptly removed from office.
Complete a certification course within 90 days of being elected or appointed.
One of the most critical steps in Florida is for board member to obtain a certification. This ensures that all board members are up to speed on applicable regulations. The course is a mix of in-person and online material and remains valid as long as you are a continuous member of your board. If you leave and become re-elected, you’ll have to retake the course.
If you are not one for taking educational courses, you have an alternative option. You must submit a letter to the board’s secretary stating that you have read all community governing documents, agree to uphold them, and honor the fiduciary responsibility to all association members. Understanding the rules and regulations regarding meetings and membership access to records is critical for newly appointed board members, so while it is your choice, we suggest that our board members invest their time in completing the course.
In addition to these legal requirements, some skills and expertise will contribute to a high-performing board member. These include leadership and communication experience, business acumen, organization, and an unbiased concern for the well-being of the community as a whole.”
As a board member, you’ll make critical decisions that affect your community and plan the property’s future. It may help to understand the strengths and struggles of the association through its history and the immediate next steps to be accomplished. Some decisions may be challenging, and leadership skills will help win-over members to a particular vision.
Board members oversee the business aspects of the community. Business savvy or at least competence is helpful for individual members. Some of the duties include: selecting an attorney, an auditor, and insurance agent; meeting required insurance coverage laws; reviewing local laws to make sure new rules and bylaws abide by them; enforcing the documents, rules, and penalties; drawing up a budget; determining assessment rates and collecting them. The board also establishes fiscal policies and reserve funds, so it needs to keep precise records.
Effective, clear, and transparent communication is key to serving on a board. You will need to approach others with your ideas and opinions in good faith, serving the community’s needs above single interests. Solid communication skills are also critical to resolving conflicts in the needs and desires of different association members.
There’s no end to the organizational needs of an effective board member. Consider the property’s accounting, keeping track of the association’s governing documents and related bylaws, and not to mention the state and federal laws dictating what is legal for the association. It’s a lot of data to process, so organizational skills are a necessity.
You should have a concern for the community as a whole. Ideal board members have the best interest of the entire association in mind, rather than personal gain. You will need to approach others with good faith and dutifully serve the community’s needs above personal interests. There are laws limiting contracts or transactions with other entities tied to board members. These include letting all voting members know of any potential conflicts of interest and a two-third majority vote of the others present. Another rule forbids compensation to board members of nearly any sort (one exception is food at business meetings, which may not exceed $25 per person.)
Being fair and transparent is a cornerstone of this approach. As there are competing desires among association members, conflict resolution may also come into play.
A healthy condo or homeowners association can help create a thriving community. The association board is running the association to provide the best living situation possible for members. So choosing board members becomes crucial, and knowing the Florida board member requirements and necessary attributes is the first step to accomplishing that goal.