By: Jacob A Weil, J.D. candidate at Barry University School of Law
When the Board of a Broward County condominium association failed to grant permission for Leroy Gordon to have a dog in his unit, they were forced to turn to the courts to evict the dog. * Palm Aire Country Club Condominium Association had a rule stating, “there shall be no pets without the permission of the board.” The Board did not grant permission to Gordon, who proceeded to keep a dog in his unit anyway.
The board then sought an injunction requiring a removal of the dog from the associations premises. The trial court granted the injunction to the association. Gordon appealed this finding claiming he should be allowed to keep the dog as the Board illegally passed and enforced, a rule against pets without first amending the declaration which provided that there shall be no pets without the consent of the board. His claim was that the board refused his dog not on the merit of his petition, but rather based on a blanket ban on all pets by the board.
The board of a condominium association may not adopt rules modifying the provisions of a declaration or constitution without following the proper amendment procedures prescribed in both the documents themselves and any applicable law. However, after the appeals court looked at the testimony of the board along with the minutes of the meeting on whether Gordon could have a dog, it was clear that the costs and benefits of the dog were debated by the board. Because it could be shown that the board stuck to what the association documents stated the court upheld the trial courts injunction, and ordered the dog removed.
What it is important to take away here is not that the association was right or wrong in denying the petition by the resident to allow a dog. It is important to understand how the court was able to find that they abided by the rules. Because the association kept good quality minutes the court was able to sort out the dispute and understand how the board made their decision. If these minutes were not available for the court to look to, the court likely would have found in favor of Gordon.
Had the boards minutes failed to show the that the association had abided by the terms of the declaration, and rather then debating whether to allow the dog merely refused it, the board would have failed to get a favorable ruling. However, because the association abided by the association rules and kept clear and understandable records they were able to win their case.
As a board member of a condominium association it is critical that you ensure the board keep accurate minutes of what happens at all meetings. Keeping minutes will serve to protect both the board members and association from the court misinterpreting what was decided at a meeting, and allow for a level of transparency so unit owners know what the board is doing.
At Royale Management Services we ensure that each of your board meetings run smoothly. We make sure board members know the rules. By creating an agenda for each meeting and providing you with ways to keep accurate minutes Royale Management Services can help keep your board out of trouble. https://royalemanagement.com/
* Gordon v. Palm Aire Country Club Condo. Asso. No. 9, Inc., 497 So. 2d 1284 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986)
**This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Nothing in this article should be relied upon in making any legal decisions. Make sure you consult licenced legal council before taking any action as every situation is unique and the law may apply to your situation differently depending on the circumstances.