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Subject: Private Investigations of Board Candidates
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10/20/2005 4:37 AM  
I'm in Florida. Recently a vacancy became available on our Board due to the resignation of one of the Directors. I applied for the vacancy, not really expecting to be appointed because it was not a full election, it was an appointment by the other members of the Board. The reason I did not expect to be appointed is that I have been openly critical of the Board. We have not had elections for many years and our Board is dominated by two people who only appoint directors who are either friends or will "do what they are told".

I attended the meeting. Spoke for my 3 minutes. I have more grass roots support than all the Board put together. At the last Election Meeting I had more support than all the members of the Board put together, but because we could not obtain a quorum no election was allowed to take place. When it came to questions from the Board the President asked me if I was married. I stated that I didn't consider that that was relevant. He replied that I and my partner had been investigated by an PI who had found that I was not married.

I was not clear quite how to reply to this, nor of its relevance to the appointment procedure. The upshot was that my candidacy was disallowed the President shouting at me that "You will never get a seat on the Board".

The other two candidates, both friends of the President and his wife (also a Board member) were put forward for election. One of the candidates was not present, the other openly admitted that he didn't know anything about being asked to be on the Board.

Now for my requests for advice:-

I seem to have read somewhere that to carry out a private investigation of one candidate but not the others had been found to be illegal. I can't remember the case but it was reported on a website. Does anyone know the case or have any experience of such a situation?

Is it legal to deny a candidacy based upon unproven accusations.

Thanks for any advice or comment




10/20/2005 6:29 PM  
Hi Roger,

I'm not an attorney. I do see, what I believe happened.

This is the first for me to hear a Board hiring a PI. Being single has nothing to do with the Board. I'm single and have been on the Board before.

The President deliberately put that spot light back on you when he announced that a PI was hired, which was to cast the shadow of doubt about your character to the other members. I don't believe the hiring of the PI really happened.

If I were in your shoes when the President said a PI was hired to investigate me and my partner, my response would be," You hired a PI and all the PI found that I wasn't married? I'd like to see that bill! Show me the bill!" I would also like to see their minutes at the previous board meeting too. To see if there was a motion to hire the PI and a vote of the members of the Board was taken.

I believe, they denied your candidancy because you are a threat to them. They would want you to comform to their ways, and they already know you won't. That's why "you won't ever get a seat on the Board."

Gee, I thought my Board of Director's were the only one's out of control.

Then again, Roger, count your blessings you don't have to waste your time to sit with these people for an hour or so a month.

Good Luck to you,



10/23/2005 6:28 AM  
Thanks for your response Audrey.

Unfortunately there was very little time given to candidates to say anything at the meeting. Interestingly prior to the meeting we had all been spoken ( There were 9 people in all including four "Board" members. This was because the "Board" had not used our website to advertise the meeting and had hidden the notification on a Notice Board nobody looks at because you need a key to enter the area where the Notice Board is.) to by a local attorney, who I had never seen before. He lectured us on what could and could not be done at Board meetings in the Sunshine state. There was also two security guards in an outer office. I didn't think anything of this at the time but later another person told me that these guards were at the meeting in case I spoke "out of turn" and it was their job to eject me at the nod from the "President" of the "Board".

I have asked to see the minutes of all the "Board" meetings for the past five years. I have been provided with one. Our managers say that they have provided me with all the minutes they they have. I have asked the "directors" to provide me with this information. I have never received any reply from any of the "Board" to any of my correspondence. When other Board vacancies have arisen they do not hold a meeting. They pass a "Motion" (Sorry I could have phrased that better). None of the members know about Board vacancies. We only found out about this one because I have been pressing the "Board" for some time.

Our "Board" has claimed that minutes do not need to be kept if the meeting is not "quorate" i.e. there is not a quorum. Our By-Laws make no reference to this. I have always believed that minutes should be kept at all meetings. That's common sense to me. Certainly the Florida Statutes don't refer to whether the meeting is quorate or not. Does anyone know the answer to this question? Does a meeting have to be quorate for minutes to be kept?


10/24/2005 5:30 PM  
There are lots of ways to legitimise suspect leadership. You need to get something in writing, taking certain cares with wording, and deliver it to every residence, including the Boardmembers' addresses. You may hint that the Board is being operated outside the law and that you are not afraid to check that out. It is the boardmembers, and not the HOA, who should be placed at risk. Certain things they might have done could remove whatever legal protections they think they have.

You could go Ghandi, and have everyone stop paying assessments, then be the first to go to the press, so that you are taking hi-viz action, and the Board will have to re-act. Courts do not like to see Boards riding roughshod over owners the way it sounds for your neighborhood. Boards like these give HOAs a bad name.



10/24/2005 5:34 PM  
Part 2

If the private investigations are done to some but not to others, you have a case. Get neighbors to sign a petition to jointly hire a PI to check out the Boardmembers. These investigations should apply equally to those on or wanting to be on the Board if there are any investigations at all. Take care to maximize your blindsiding of the current board; give no warning. You had none.



10/25/2005 11:12 AM  
Your Board is required to keep meeting minutes from all meetings. The penalty for not doing so varies from state to state. But, be aware that the Board or Association bears the penalty, usually not the individual Board members.

I agree that the 'PI' investigation is out there in left field. It is unclear whether (if in fact it is true) the Board hired the PI or the individual. Anyone can hire a PI for any reason. Heck...if you spend 20 minutes on the internet you can pretty much find out anything about anyone. We have an election coming up and I 'investigated' a candidate online. If the info is accessible,why not use it. Although I agree that your marital status should have no bearing on anything, if for instance you were convicted of embezzlement that would have bearing.

The 'security' guards are a nice twist as well. They would have had not right to remove you. And had they laid a hand on you, it would have been assault. Only the police have the authority to do so in this type of instance.

This Board is afraid of you, your activism, and your views. So don't go away. Do a little research on your rights and options and persevere.

Good luck,


10/26/2005 11:54 AM  
In Arizona, our state statute governs what constitutes a quorum for HOAs. For example, on the board I serve on, if we have more than 3 members meeting (our board has 5 members), it is considered a quorem. For any meetings that may have a quorem, we have to post the meeting date/time and post meeting minutes. This also includes any committee meetings, ie. our social commitee if more than 2 board members participate. Suggest reviwing your governing documents as well as any state statutes that regulate HOAs in your state.


10/26/2005 10:26 PM  
Hi...I'm also in Arizona. Can you tell me what document is considered to supercede the others?....I believe the CC&R's are 1st priority...Then the By-laws, then the Articles of Incorporation....A Board member is telling me different. Can you elaborate on this? Thanks!



10/30/2005 6:48 AM  
I'm not in Arizona, but usually Federal Law takes the lead, followed by State Laws, and the document that legally recorded and is bound to your deed (different associations call it different things- our is the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions). Then, all the peripherals (articles of incorporation creating your association, by-laws created by the association, etc)


11/03/2005 10:22 AM  
You have what I perceive to be, not an uncommon problem involving a lot of HOA's. The perpetuation of incompetent and/or dishonest board members.
I am in Florida also and I think one of your best sources for a resolution to this very serious problem is to download a copy of Chapter 720 Home Owners Associations for Florida which can be found at;

Next, you will need some political clout to see that the statutes are adhered to by the board so you had better do some politicking and get yourself a support group.
I guarantee you can't do it alone!

I can also see you consulting with an attorney in the near future. See that you consult one that is very familiar with HOA's and the state statutes. Good Luck.


11/03/2005 6:26 PM  
I suggest your also talk to an attorney that handles discriminations cases.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Private Investigations of Board Candidates

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