So unfortunately we seem to be ending the year with the Covid numbers just creeping up — and that vaccine just can’t get here fast enough. I’m getting calls and e-mails every day, every hour, from communities that are simply scared to have their meetings in person – even if it’s the annual meeting or the budget meeting —- and I tell them at this point —– as long as Florida is still under a State of Emergency by the Governor, the emergency powers statutes are still in play, and if you’re nervous about having gatherings of people in a room — don’t do it. Cancel the meetings entirely or utilize technology. If it’s your annual meeting, allow owners the ability to drop off their ballots before the meeting, allow owners to vote just prior to the meeting by having the ballots and envelopes available, but that’s it. Tell the owners they can see the rest of the meeting by ZOOMING in or tuning in on whatever video platform you choose to use from home. And if you’re not utilizing this technology in your community yet— you should start and you’re already behind the 8 ball — but it’s never too late.
The State of Emergency is expected to expire the first week in January – but there is no doubt in my mind that by then, being right after Christmas, the Covid numbers will probably be even worse, and the state of emergency will no doubt be extended another 60 days or longer. So for the foreseeable future – zoom, zoom, zoom.
You should know that I know of no arbitration case or lawsuit that has provided any guidance on what is allowed and what isn’t. So in the absence of guidance, other than the emergency powers statute itself – here is a good rule of thumb. Err on the side of staying alive. Remember that Florida law provides that directors can be individually liable they act in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property.
Take precautions to keep yourselves, your families and your owners safe. Worse comes to worse, maybe an arbitrator will say you need to do a meeting over. In the grand scheme of things —- so what?
And when this is all over — and it will be sooner than later ——keeping zooming and keep using technology, because it is keeping people involved in their community affairs like never before. Sometimes good things we can learn from tragic events