I have always said that often times I learn from my audience at our Board Certification seminars just as much as they hopefully learn from me. This week in Miami was no exception. Like always, I was bombarded by complaints and stories. One stuck out……
In a community in Miami-Dade County, a couple of unit owners started a “social club.” The club has several members and collects dues and/or various payments from its members. With these monies, the social club engages in various events at the condominium, including use of the common elements.
Instead of leaving well enough alone, the Board was apparently jealous that the members of this voluntary group were actually enjoying themselves, enjoying the condominium and accumulating a small nest egg for future fun events. It got to be too much for the Board who apparently passed a resolution that said the social club will now be taken over by the Board of Directors of the association, money and all. Needless to say, I couldn’t figure out why in the world the Board thinks it was able to commandeer the social club. Believe it or not, I learned that this is not the first time something like this has happened.
In Jules F. St. Denis, v. Oasis Village of Okeechobee Owners Association, Inc., Case No. 02-5253 (2002) the association through its board had attempted to assume control and dominance over an informal social group formed by certain of the owners. A social group was formed. The group was not incorporated and had no controlling documents. It was composed of owners and other residents including tenants. The Club did not spend common expense monies, but instead spent voluntary contributions donated by its members. The Club was not a committee of the association, but was created as an organization independent of the board of the condominium association.
The arbitrator held that: Notwithstanding the lack of formal organization, the owners certainly have the right to join together in informal association, and have the right to have their activities exist independent from the condominium association that has no right to control the inner workings of the Club or its funds. The members of the Club have the right to utilize the common elements for the purposes intended, and may assemble on the common elements as club members for club functions. They may conduct closed door membership meetings so long as they have properly reserved the meeting facilities, and they have the right to operate without the interfering gaze or hands of the association.
Continuing, the arbitrator declared that: the association shall refrain from further violations of s. 718.112(2)(d), F.S., and further shall not interfere with the associational rights of its members who are also members of the Club. The association shall not interfere with the meetings of the Club and shall make its facilities available to the Club upon reasonable request. The association shall not procure or appropriate the funds of the Club. So……..feel like starting a new club today in your community association?