Q: There is a dispute amongst our membership regarding certain large maintenance projects that are soon needed and whether the members need to approve the spending needed to complete these projects. Can you please provide some clarity on the issue of when the members are entitled to vote on these expenditures?
A. Many governing documents for condominiums and homeowners associations limit the Board’s authority to assess the members for “capital improvements.” In addition, Section 718.113(2)(a) of the Florida Statutes provides that a vote of 75% of the owners of a condominium is required to approve expenditures for material changes, alterations, or additions, unless the governing documents specifically state otherwise. On the other hand, the Board has an absolute duty to maintain, repair, and replace the common property owned by the association.
This is not limited by the amount of the expenditure, and any provisions in governing documents that require ownership approval based on the amount of the expenditure are not valid if the expense is a maintenance, repair, or replacement expense. It’s easy to understand that periodic painting of the outside of the buildings is within the Board’s obligation to maintain, repair, and replace, but there are many other expenditures where the issue is not that clear. This has resulted in a large number of court decisions, and thus it is important to consult with your association’s attorney before proceeding with many of these projects.