By: Harris B. Katz, Esq. Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Q: We recently had a new board elected at my homeowners association (HOA) community and an issue has arisen in that they are now attempting to limit a resident from speaking to only two items on the agenda—unfinished business and new business—and are not allowing any other resident comments. They justify this by stating in their Resolution that Florida Statute 720 allows for the adoption of written rules governing frequency, duration and other manner of member statements. I am not an attorney, but I believe this in violation of the law. Am I correct?
D.K., Boca Raton
A: Confusion regarding the number of times and the length of time that a member of an HOA can speak is very common. Florida Statute 720.303(2) (a) of the Florida Homeowner’s Association Act (the Act) grants each member of the HOA the right to speak at board meetings and at certain types of committee meetings with reference to all designated items. However, the statute also grants the board the option to adopt reasonable written rules related to the right of members to speak at meetings as well as the duration of the comments. Significantly, while that section of the Act is silent on the topic of setting a minimum time period for members to speak at board meetings, there are two other provisions of the Act which specially grant the members a minimum amount of time to speak at board meetings, neither of which relates to speaking at regular board meetings. Specifically, if the meeting of the board was convened pursuant to the board’s receipt of a petition signed by 20 percent of the total membership designating specific items to be discussed, then Statute 720.303(2)(d) grants the members the right to speak for at least three minutes. In addition, if the meeting is considered a members meeting, such as an annual meeting, then Statute 720.306(6) also grants the members the right to speak for a minimum of three minutes on items opened for discussion or included on the agenda.
Thus, it appears that the Legislature intended to give a board discretion as to setting time limits on members’ comments at regular or special meetings of the board, but limited discretion relating to other specific types of meetings as outlined above. You should speak to an attorney who is experienced in community association law if you have concerns about your HOA board’s adherence to the rules and/or Florida law.
Harris B. Katz, Esq.., is Managing Partner, Boca Raton, of the Law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Visit www.gadclaw.com or to ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.