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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 111526
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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To Whom It May Concern:. I have recently purchased 306

Customer Question

To Whom It May Concern:
. I have recently purchased 306 Meadow Lane and have been waiting for approval for my renovations since the end of June 2016. I spoke with our Elite Management manager, and advised her of my plans. We pulled out the Rules and Regulation By-Laws and she informed me that I need to do the following:
1. Complete the ACC Application that she provided me.
2. Have the window company provided architectural drawings from a Florida state licensed are architect.
3. The windows need to meet state code and be bronze in color on the exterior
Ms. Fasulo stated that since my unit does not back up to another unit, but to conservation land, I was not required to get permission of my fellow building owners. I completed all the requirements and emailed them to Ms. Fasulo on July 12, 2016.
On July 19th, I received a voice mail message from Dave, a member of her staff, stating I now was required to get 75% of the owners in the building. I submitted that on July 26 and July 29; I had sent each owner via email or postal mail a copy of the documents I sent to Ms Fasulo and a copy of the by-law that I was quoted:
Item 5.1(c) Alteration and Improvement.
Except as elsewhere provided, neither a Unit Owner nor the Association shall make any alteration in the portions of a Unit that are to be maintained by the Association, or remove any portion of them, or make any additions to them, or do anything that would jeopardize the safety or soundness of the Building, or impair any easement, without first obtaining approval in writing of owners of all Units in which the work is to be done and the approval of the board of directors of the Association. If the alteration of or improvement to the Unit will change the appearance of any portion of the exterior of the Building, the change in appearance must be approved by the owners of 75% of the Units at a meeting of Unit Owners call for that purpose. A copy of plans for all of the proposed work, prepared by an architect licensed to practice in the State of Florida, shall be filed with the Association prior to the start of the work.
I then in turn forwarded all the original email responses from my community and scanned copy of one letter from the owner stating their approval. I didn’t receive a response, so I contacted my fellow board members and Wendy Fasulo to see when I could get the written approval to proceed with my project. Now they want 75% of 140 unit owners per an email conversation I had with Paul Duignam, board member. There are currently 14 units in our association that received board approval in the past; my current residence is one that was approved in 2003. Per state law, no one can have any windows installed in a condo without HOA approval and all these owners were granted the approval upon providing the documents.
By removing the screens and installing the windows, it makes the unit safer, sound proof, stronger, maintenance free, and has an exit in the rear of my unit to escape in the event of an emergency which the screens do not offer. No one has broken any laws in the past when the other units installed their windows, especially since an attorney was on the board. Since there are 14 other units that have been granted permission to remove the existing screens and install windows, a precedence has been set. All the other owners only had to get the state licensed drawings, fill out the application and present it to the board if they didn’t back up to another unit; ones that did only had to get permission from the owners that backed up to their building in addition to their building as stated in the by-laws “without first obtaining approval in writing of owners of all Units in which the work is to be done”(the work is being done in the 300 building of Meadow Lane only).
I only want to be treated like others in my community. All board members are to treat everyone equal and adhere to the rules; former board members followed the rules much more stringently than our current, but I only want to focus on my issue. Yes, I agree that we must start following the rules and regulations and all board members need to be advised on all issues. I personally know for a fact that some of the owners submitted to the board members in the past for windows being installed that replaced the screens. It was approved by the board through the provision that is outlined in Item 5.1(c) Alteration and Improvement. This is not breaking any law but is following the guidelines that the provision laid out. I would like to just have the same approval that what the other owners in years pass have done.
Based on all the facts above and the information provided, I believe this should afford what is needed to make a definitive decision in my favor as per our Rules and Regulations.
Am I correct legally or can a board deny me yet award others for like work?
Respectfully,
Denise Miller
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
IF they allowed other owners to get the work done without the approvals as specified in the bylaws, you would have to file suit against the association to force them to allow you to do the same thing, since you would argue their failure to abide by the bylaws has voided that provision. However, if they prove they did require compliance with the bylaw of the other members, then you could lose the suit and also could have to pay their attorney's fees. So make sure those who got the same work done did so without complying with that bylaw. It is the duty of the board to enforce the bylaws, so they could deny you if you do not comply with all of those requirements.
If you do comply with the bylaw requirements including getting 75% of the owners to approve at an owner's meeting, then if you are denied, you can file suit to force them to allow the work based on the wording of that bylaw above.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
The management company is saying that -I am being denied because they want 75% of all members of the association even though the by-law states 75% of owners of where the work is being done. Also if I request a special meeting of the members be called for approving my proposed material alteration, the board of directors will need to determine the costs of such meeting (postage, printing, etc) which I will b e responsible for and will need to submit payment for prior to notice of such meeting.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
The bylaws say, " If the alteration of or improvement to the Unit will change the appearance of any portion of the exterior of the Building, the change in appearance must be approved by the owners of 75% of the Units at a meeting of Unit Owners call for that purpose." It does not say of the owners where the work is being done as you are saying. The bylaw simply says of owners of 75% of the units, so you need to get a unit owner meeting called, because that is what that bylaw actually says.

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