In most instances, the board or management team of a condo or HOA is equipped to handle the wide variety of issues that arise day-to-day, from a leaky roof to dealing with municipal bureaucracy. There are other, bigger issues—things like embezzlement and fraud, for example—that require experienced outside professionals to resolve.
“Directors in Florida are held to a standard of care that requires them to seek and rely upon the opinions of trained professionals where appropriate,” says associate attorney Jonathan S. Goldstein of the Miami-based law firm of Haber Slade. “In many instances this includes legal counsel, because there is an element of legal compliance and there are potential risks and liabilities in taking various types of actions.”
The State of Florida provides a number of rights for condominium owners through Chapter 718, Florida Statutes (F.S.), also known as the Condominium Act, notes Chelsea Eagle, the deputy director of communications for the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR). Board members, under this provision, are held to account.
Eagle points to the Act, which states: “A director is expected to carry out his or her powers and duties, as any other ordinarily prudent person would do under reasonably similar circumstances. Directors have a fiduciary relationship with the unit owners, and have the responsibility to act with the highest degree of good faith and to place the interests of the unit owners above the personal interests of the directors.”
She continues that DBPR is a regulatory agency that enforces administrative law, as opposed to criminal law, for more than one million of Florida’s businesses and professionals. “These include community association managers, condominiums and cooperatives,” she says.