Q: Our condominium recently let go off a popular employee. Several residents are upset and want him rehired. They are threatening to withhold their monthly dues until the board of directors gives in to their demands. What is the best way to deal with these maverick owners? -- John
A: There is a right and wrong way for unit owners to address their grievances with their condominium association.
Reaching out to the management company or attending the next board meeting are both excellent ways to comment or ask questions. Withholding their dues in protest is not an appropriate method of protest and can have serious repercussions.
The closest analogy would be not paying your income taxes because you disagree with government policy. It can be done but will end up hurting the protester while not changing the situation.
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The most effective route for a unit owner to make a change is by working within the rules or, if they are serious about it, running for the board at the next election.
Even though the board holds all the cards in your situation, it would be best to soothe things over rather than further inflaming the situation. A quiet conversation with the agitators or announcing the next meeting might help, but make sure to check with the condo's attorney to confirm what you can say about the former employee.
If this does not help, or the board does not feel comfortable doing this, ask the condo attorney to address the issue. A letter explaining the repercussions for not paying their dues and offering an opportunity to have the grievances heard will often do the trick.
If this fails and the unit owners were not bluffing, you will need to turn the matter over for collections.
Missed dues will quickly lead to late fees and attorney costs that the owner will need to pay or face possible foreclosure.
About The Writer
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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