As Condo Board election season gets underway, it is important for condo owners to understand that they have rights and options for ensuring that elections are fair and that condo board members do not abuse their position of power. From access to election records, to seeking to recall a board member or members, and/or complaining to the state agency that supervises condo operations, Florida condo owners can challenge condo board members who commit fraud or otherwise interfere with the integrity of condo board elections.
Election Fraud by Florida Condo Associations
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), the state agency that regulates condo operations, receives hundreds of complaints of election irregularities each year from South Florida condo owners. In a 2016 story, the Miami Herald revealed that at least thirty (30) percent of the condo communities in Miami-Dade County regulated by the DBPR were the subject of complaints or were actually being investigated for committing some kind of election fraud or administrative irregularity.
Claims against Florida condo boards have included everything from forging signatures on ballots to casting duplicate ballots, intimidating owners to change their proxies, failing to hold elections, and even bribery. Many of the irregularities alleged involved board members using their position to obtain and approve lucrative contracts for the Association that personally benefited those members. These kinds of violations are particularly troubling as they may have serious financial consequences for owners.
What To Do If You Suspect Election Fraud or Other Irregularity
Florida state law provides that condo owners have certain rights. As to elections, owners have a right to receive notice of an election no less than 60 days prior to the election (and then again no less than 14 days prior to the election), by mail or personal delivery. Owners have the right to vote for board members by “written, secret ballot or voting machine if there are more candidates than vacancies.”
Importantly, condo owners also have the right to “inspect the association’s official records.” This includes election documents. Additionally, the right to inspect includes the right to make copies or take photos of the records.
Florida condo owners can also find useful information concerning election requirements in the Association’s governing documents, which may set forth exactly when elections are to be held, such as the first week of a particular month. So be sure to check these as well if you have concerns about the integrity of your board’s elections.
If you suspect an irregularity or illegality in your condo board elections, the first thing to do is submit a written request to inspect the official records from the election. Your Association must make the records available within ten (10) working days of receiving your request.
Should you find proof of an irregularity in the election records, you have several options. You can submit a complaint to the DBPR. As an owner, you also have the right to recall a board member. Florida condo law sets forth the specific procedure and requirements to seek a recall of an offending board member, including:
- 10% of voting interests needed to call special meeting to recall
- 14-day notice of special meeting required
- Email notice may not be used
- Majority of all voting interests (51%) must support recall to be effective
- Within five (5) days of recall, board must notice and hold board meeting to recall member(s)
- Recall must be effectively immediately upon conclusion of board meeting
In lieu of holding a special meeting, a majority of voting interests can agree in writing to a recall. A board meeting is still required with five (5) days.
Importantly, if the board fails to notice the board meeting following a recall, or rejects the recall at the conclusion of the meeting, a unit owner representative may file a challenge petition, which will be reviewed by the DBPR.
We Fight for Condo Owner Rights in South Florida
If you believe your Condo Board has committed election fraud or otherwise abused its power, we can help. Contact us at (954) 966-3909.
We serve the legal needs of individual condominium owners, homeowners and cooperative owners in resolving disputes with their associations throughout Florida, including Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, as well as Hollywood, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura, Miami, North Miami, Brickell, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Naples. We never represent associations.
Please note that free case evaluation is by telephone and does not include legal advice. Office consults with legal advice are available on a flat fee basis.