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Subject: Video Taping of BOD Meetings (FL)
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WalterB6
(Florida)

Posts:2


07/20/2021 7:46 AM  
We had one rogue BOD member that got together with others in the neighborhood to vote out 2 other members of a 7 person board. They were both female and resigned before the vote was certified. The rogue member then became President and was planning to add 2 of his friends to fill the vacancies. But the planned was tripped up when a 3rd female BOD member resigned because of the way this was done (use of an anonymous letter, false complaints, intimidation tactics- going door to door to bully and fool people). She was stopped by 2 friends of the rogue member while walking her dog and they tried to intimidate her into voting with the gang. She refused and then resigned in disgust so they only added 1 person to the BOD, making it 5 instead of the original 7. The new president now has his 2 nearest neighbors on the BOD and the other 2 are totally disinterested and incompetent. They miss meetings all the time and when they do show up it's 20-30 minutes late. Only 1 member of the BOD really understands HOA BOD duties and the others are either brand new, incompetent, or both. Since the coup, I have began recording all of the meetings for my own review afterwards. At the last meeting I was verbally challenged by the BOD President and a gang of his supporters were all chiming in as well. I stood my ground and continued to record. The BOD President threatened me with court action if I posted it to social media (which I have never done). One member mentioned Robert's Rules and said that only the Secretary can record the meeting. I stated that it was not accurate and that I could record as could anyone else. Note that this meetings was conducted under a public pavilion at a public park at various picnic tables. Other non-members were also using the pavilion for a birthday party at the same time. Half of the BOD members had their backs turned to us because of the picnic table seating.
Also, 2 meetings ago (June 2021), the BOD President stated that he was no longer using RR's to conduct meetings (on video). The BOD members that resigned utilized RR effectively but the new guy doesn't seem to be knowledgeable in this area, so it was easier for him to just say we are not using them. He is making promises to his friends that have water easements/water retention areas on their property that will financially benefit them (himself and his new BOD friends included). WE have rules regarding boats, rv's, parking, etc, like most HOA's do. The BOD President thinks these are just a nuisance and wants to get rid of them. "Whatever the people want", like he's running for political office. There is another meeting in 3 days (5th BOD meeting in the last 36 days). I am guessing they want to establish "rules" in an effort to prohibit or inhibit taping. Any advice is appreciated. *I am not, and never have been an HOA BOD member in this community and I've lived here for 7 years.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/20/2021 9:07 AM  
I didn't read all of it...paragraphs sure are helpful.

However, that is a lot of people interested in being on the board. I lost track how many different people all wanted to join. In our neighborhood, we are lucky to have a full board (we have one now but haven't always) because it is not something a lot of people are interested in.
WalterB6
(Florida)

Posts:2


07/20/2021 9:17 AM  
I’ve made video recordings of the past 3 HOA BOD meetings. HOA President threatened me with legal action if I post to social media. Any advice.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1681


07/20/2021 9:51 AM  
Posted By WalterB6 on 07/20/2021 9:17 AM
I’ve made video recordings of the past 3 HOA BOD meetings. HOA President threatened me with legal action if I post to social media. Any advice.


It's free to threaten legal action, much more expensive to actually pursue. Most threats of legal action are hot air.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/20/2021 10:23 AM  
Recording audio brings up the issue of consent. I am not sure of the law in Flordia but it may not be permissible to video others without their permission.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/20/2021 10:25 AM  
What do the laws in Florida say about recording people without their consent? Or about recording business meetings without the consent of the business, which is probably more appropriate in this case.

Of course, nowadays recordings like this are practically worthless. Tools exist to manipulate audio and video, or to invent it out of nothing, so you can't assume that anything you see is accurate. If it's on social media, it's likely to be BS and should be regarded as such.

On the other hand, if your goal is to stir up sh**, then social media videos are the way to go. You too can be An Influencer, woo-hoo!!!
MaxB4


Posts:1394


07/20/2021 10:26 AM  
Videotaping Board meetings in Florida is legal per Florida Statutes, Section 719.106(1)(c), states: "Any unit owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the board of administration." Accordingly, there is nothing wrong with the owner "covertly" taping the board meeting. Since the director taping the meeting is also an owner, this right extends to the director.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


07/20/2021 10:28 AM  
Personally I say anyone in my HOA can record me while I am doing HOA business. I distrust people who try and stop one from doing such.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/20/2021 11:47 AM  
Even if the law forbids recording the meetings, there's no way to stop it with all the smartphones in use, so there is that.

There are negative consequences, though. Board members may be reluctant to speak "on the record" and you may get poorer quality discussions and decisions a result. As I noted earlier, audio and video can be manipulated and can be used to spread misinformation. Third, statements made during the discussion can be taken out of context - and will be taken out of context by the community troublemakers.

If I were on a board and was concerned about homeowners recording meetings, I'd think about Zooming all meetings and making the video available to homeowners afterwards. I personally don't mind being recorded during Zoom meetings, but a private recording by a person in attendance who is already hearing the entire discussion suggests an agenda of some sort.
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/20/2021 5:06 PM  
Posted By WalterB6 on 07/20/2021 9:17 AM
I’ve made video recordings of the past 3 HOA BOD meetings. HOA President threatened me with legal action if I post to social media. Any advice.
Per FS 718 (Florida Condo Act) and FS 720 (Florida HOA Act), any member may tape or videotape Board meetings, subject to reasonable rules written by either the COA, the HOA, or the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes in the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

From FS 718.112 (2) (c):
A unit owner may tape record or videotape the meetings. The right to attend such meetings includes the right to speak at such meetings with reference to all designated agenda items. The division shall adopt reasonable rules governing the tape recording and videotaping of the meeting.

From FS 720.306 (10):
Any parcel owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the board of directors and meetings of the members. The board of directors of the association may adopt reasonable rules governing the taping of meetings of the board and the membership.

Any HOA/COA prohibition on posting the video to youtube seems appropriate to me. The reason you are not going to put the video on youtube is because you risk someone threatening you with a lawsuit for defamation or possibly, if someone says something stupid, invasion of privacy.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


07/20/2021 5:56 PM  
What do you hope to accomplish with the tapes, Walter? And in general?
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1788


07/21/2021 6:10 AM  
Posted By WalterB6 on 07/20/2021 9:17 AM
I’ve made video recordings of the past 3 HOA BOD meetings. HOA President threatened me with legal action if I post to social media. Any advice.




Posting to social media won't do you any good, but if you proceed, just don't edit the footage in a way that can change what happened in that meeting. An HOA meeting is not a private affair. On the flip side, you're clearly bringing a camera in order to intimidate the board as the world isn't clamoring for video footage of HOA meetings.

It's a "test of wills"
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/21/2021 6:24 AM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 07/21/2021 6:10 AM
An HOA meeting is not a private affair.
I believe bylaws often say HOA meetings are members only. I'd call them entirely or mostly private.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


07/21/2021 8:25 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/20/2021 5:56 PM
What do you hope to accomplish with the tapes, Walter? And in general?



Fair question.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1788


07/21/2021 5:29 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/21/2021 6:24 AM
Posted By KellyM3 on 07/21/2021 6:10 AM
An HOA meeting is not a private affair.
I believe bylaws often say HOA meetings are members only. I'd call them entirely or mostly private.



Nah. They're not confidential meetings.

Private doesn't mean confidential. Film what you want. You'll end up with a whining homeowner who owns a videotape of an HOA meeting that no one cares to see.

That one YouTube viral video of the Florida HOA meeting from five years ago is an exception (and admittedly a true spectacle).
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/21/2021 5:46 PM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 07/21/2021 5:29 PM
They're not confidential meetings.
Uh huh. These meetings are members only. These meetings are not open to the public.

Per the statute quoted, of course the OP can film what he wants.

You may think it's fine to post this videotape to youtube. I continue to advise against it. [shrug]
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/21/2021 5:52 PM  
From https://www.cuevaslaw.com/newsletters/condominium-homeowner-associations-newsletters/condominium-law-does-a-unit-owner-have-the-right-to-record-meetings/ :

"Currently, Florida law does not restrict a unit owner from distributing recordings of meetings or uploading the same to YouTube. However, in addition to the reasonable rules listed above, the board may choose to adopt a rule limiting the posting or distribution of recordings of meetings in public forums such as YouTube. While such a rule is not specifically provided for and/or authorized by Florida law, the board can certainly make the argument that such a rule is reasonable. The adoption of such a rule may promote more unit owner participation at meetings and relieve fears the board may have with regard to speaking or voting at meetings."

June 2019 report about a Florida condo that adopted a rule prohibiting posting of board meeting video on social media, with critics of the rule quoted: http://www.ccfj.net/condoGagRule.html
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/22/2021 4:50 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/21/2021 5:46 PM
Posted By KellyM3 on 07/21/2021 5:29 PM
They're not confidential meetings.
Uh huh. These meetings are members only. These meetings are not open to the public.

Per the statute quoted, of course the OP can film what he wants.

You may think it's fine to post this videotape to youtube. I continue to advise against it. [shrug]



Adding to what Augustin said, our attorney recommended avoiding social media altogether for any association business (and board meetings are "association business" by definition). The reasons included potential liability, misinformation, copyright violations, and defamatory language.

Videoing a board meeting for one's own personal use is fine. But posting on social media suggests an agenda, and agendas can often lead to those things mentioned in the paragraph above - especially when you add in the capabilities of current technology to edit any recording to make it say what you want it to.

(This tech is downright scary and calls into question the value of any audio or video recording as "evidence". For an entertaining look down an OT rabbit hole, check out current discussions of bringing back dead movie stars to "act" in new productions).

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/22/2021 5:08 AM  
Adding onto my current thoughts, people who are itching to put things onto youtube should be very aware of defamation laws since posting is considered "publishing" and may well make the poster liable for the content of what they're posting. Somebody in the video makes some scathing and false remarks about someone else? You, Mr. Poster, may be liable for that.

It's why websites such as this one can have posting rules as long as your arm to shield this site's owner from anything said by one of us. This includes the prohibition on mentioning any community, person, or product by name. Youtube also has terms of service as long as your arm to shield the site owner from liability resulting from what people post (they will also kick the most egregious offenders off the site since terms of service must be enforced to the extent possible).

You can assume that videoed board meeting minutes will identify communities and participants by name, which is why the poster of such content needs to beware. He who lives by tech must take care that he doesn't die by tech.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


07/22/2021 5:27 AM  
Walter

Cathy offers good advice. Do not publicly post the videos as you could open yourself to legal issues. Use them for personal use only.
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/22/2021 6:47 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/20/2021 11:47 AM

There are negative consequences [to posting recordings of board meetings on social media], though. Board members may be reluctant to speak "on the record" and you may get poorer quality discussions and decisions a result.
-- The above is also among my biggest reasons for believing that a board-created rule prohibiting recordings of board meetings is "reasonable" and so a court would enforce the rule.

-- I tend to think that recordings of board meetings being posted on say youtube is even more likely to deter people from running for the board.

-- I do not see any signs that the Key Biscayne, Florida condo cited in the June 2019 link above has either been sued (for its rule prohibiting the posting of recordings to social media) or is suing anyone to take down recordings.

-- People can and do frequently criticize their HOA or COA on social media. I think this is protected speech under the First Amendment, as long as what is posted is not defamatory; creates an environment that is hostile to certain categories and so may be a violation of the Fair Housing Act; or invades someone's privacy in violation of the tort on same. I have seen many online postings and even web sites that allege a certain COA/HOA's policy violates the Fair Housing Act, state statutes, et cetera. As long as the facts are clearly stated, and opinions are qualified as such, I think these are valuable contributions about which the HOA/COA has no legal control.

-- But a court declaring that Florida condo and HOA owners have an absolute First Amendment right to post recordings of board meetings on youtube et cetera somehow does not quite square with my understanding of First Amendment law.

-- I think the first bar to pass is for a court to say that a condo or HOA is a "state actor." The courts certainly have said that condos and HOAs are quasi-governmental for some purposes (but not all purposes).

-- From general reading, I think the courts have also said that corporations and companies have a lot of leeway, and are not violating First Amendment rights, when the company/corporation wants to discipline employees for statements the employees made on social media.

-- Maybe what is most important is the case law on what "reasonable" is when a board exercises its discretion. Where covenants give boards discretionary authority, I think whether this exercise of discretion is "reasonable" is mostly an issue of fact. Trial courts get to decide issues of fact. Appeals courts only hear issues of law.

-- I think the ACLU would not leap in here and take the side of owners wanting to post recordings to youtube, but I could be wrong.

-- Would posting recordings of board meetings to social media help prevent another Champlain Towers South? I think arguments could be made for both points of view. That is, the recordings posted online could have helped. They also could have hurt by deterring people from serving on the board.

-- -- Would a trial court agree that the rule the Key Biscayne condo board created is "reasonable"? Would an appeal of the trial court decision hold up? Would what happened at Florida's Champlain Towers South play a role in a court's decision-making? This remains to be seen.

-- Right now all I have is my layperson's reasons for believing such a HOA/COA board-created rule is "reasonable." If I were on a Florida HOA/COA board, I would vote for a rule prohibiting the posting of recordings of board meetings. Would I, as a HOA/COA director, vote to bring litigation over this, against an owner who had posted video of board meetings to social media? If my sense was that this was deterring people (directors in general and owners alike) from speaking freely at board meetings and serving on the board, and so impacting sound decision-making by the board, then I might very well vote for the HOA/COA corporation to pursue enforcement of this rule in court.

AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/22/2021 7:08 AM  
July 2019 commentary from a Florida law firm at https://www.floridacondohoalawblog.com/2019/07/07/owners-can-record-meetings-free-speech-rights-unclear/ :

=== Start Excerpt ===
[A] 2017 Florida appellate court decision involving a dispute between an owner and his condominium association is instructive.

The association sued the owner claiming he had engaged in a continuous course of conduct designed for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the association. The case was settled by an agreement where the owner agreed to cease certain actions.

Soon thereafter, the parties were back before the judge who found the owner in contempt for violation of the settlement agreement. The court ordered the owner to stop posting any pictures or information about board members (among others) on any website, blog or social media. The owner was also ordered to remove all such information from current postings and to not start any new platforms.

On appeal, the court recited long established First Amendment case law on “prior restraints” of free speech. Though not addressed by that court, it does remain an open question whether free speech and other constitutional rights are applicable in associations, and at least one other Florida appeals court have ruled they are not.

The appeals court overturned the contempt order and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings, instructing the trial court that content based restriction on protected speech must involve “strict scrutiny”. I am not aware of what happened with this dispute after it was sent back to the trial judge.

=== End Excerpt ===
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/22/2021 9:51 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/22/2021 7:08 AM
July 2019 commentary from a Florida law firm at https://www.floridacondohoalawblog.com/2019/07/07/owners-can-record-meetings-free-speech-rights-unclear/ :

=== Start Excerpt ===
[snip]
On appeal, the court recited long established First Amendment case law on “prior restraints” of free speech.
[snip]
=== End Excerpt ===


The Appeals Court Case is Fox v. Hamptons at Metrowest Condo. Ass'n, Inc., Case No. 6:18-cv-1457-Orl-40GJK (M.D. Fla. Sep. 25, 2018). As interested, see Fox v. Hamptons at Metrowest Condo. Ass'n, Inc., Case No. 6:18-cv-1457-Orl-40GJK (M.D. Fla. Sep. 25, 2018). From the appeals court decision:

"[T]he trial court erred when it prohibited Fox from making any statements whatsoever pertaining to the Hamptons or to the Association on his websites, blogs, and social media websites without conducting a proper constitutional inquiry. Accordingly, we reverse the portions of the contempt order prohibiting Fox from posting on any website, blog, or social media, and remand for further proceedings. However, we conclude that the trial court did not err when it enforced the agreed upon terms of the settlement agreement and affirm the contempt order in that respect."

In short, the appeals court decision reinforces the notion that a HOA/COA member has the same rights to publicly criticize, report and speak as the Associated Press or New York Times.

So far, this does not change my opinion about posting recordings of board meetings to social media and a board's right, under the covenants and Florida statutes to prohibit such posting as a "reasonable rule" pertaining to recording board meetings.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/22/2021 10:10 AM  
Directors in communities where homeowners want to record meetings should consider getting out ahead of it, recording the meeting themselves, and making the recording available to owners who want it.

It helps remove the justification of homeowners producing their own recordings. It also provides access to shut-ins, snowbirds, and others who can't attend board meetings in person. It provides a record of what was actually said (assuming no "creative editing" is done afterwards). And it can help make the case that a rule prohibiting recording by homeowners is reasonable.

Unfortunately, it won't remove the disadvantages of recording the event at all, which will include discouraging frank discussions and discouraging some owners for volunteering to serve on the board. Those are (probably unintended) consequences of the state law.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


07/22/2021 10:20 AM  
I think the OP, Walter, is not being altruistic. He is out to hang the BOD.
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/22/2021 10:31 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/22/2021 10:10 AM
Directors in communities where homeowners want to record meetings should consider getting out ahead of it, recording the meeting themselves, and making the recording available to owners who want it.

It helps remove the justification of homeowners producing their own recordings. It also provides access to shut-ins, snowbirds, and others who can't attend board meetings in person. It provides a record of what was actually said (assuming no "creative editing" is done afterwards). And it can help make the case that a rule prohibiting recording by homeowners is reasonable.

Unfortunately, it won't remove the disadvantages of recording the event at all, which will include discouraging frank discussions and discouraging some owners for volunteering to serve on the board. Those are (probably unintended) consequences of the state law.
If the Board recorded and posted its board meetings, then I think the problem of defamation (by either directors or owners) would remain, and the HOA/COA would then be a potential defendant for same. Could HOA/COA Boards redact anything that was "defamatory"? Not without a lot of work and probably challenges from owners that what was redacted should not have been redacted.

Nationwide, while City Council meetings are often broadcast live, I do not see recordings of these meetings being posted online. Instead, the Minutes are posted. The Minutes of course are controllable insofar as defamation is concerned.

I do not know what WalterB6 is up to. He may have some valid criticism of his Board. I have criticism of any HOA/COA board that stupidly does not have its reserves at least 90% funded in accordance with the calculations from the latest Reserve Study (prepared with input from the board, of course).
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1788


07/22/2021 10:50 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/21/2021 5:46 PM
Posted By KellyM3 on 07/21/2021 5:29 PM
They're not confidential meetings.
Uh huh. These meetings are members only. These meetings are not open to the public.

Per the statute quoted, of course the OP can film what he wants.

You may think it's fine to post this videotape to youtube. I continue to advise against it. [shrug]




It's a punk move, no question. But this isn't a top secret meeting and doesn't violate wire tapping laws. Plus, if unedited recording is presented, the behavior of an HOA board - if embarrassing - would not create liability because a clearly visible camera captured it.

I'm not a fan of videoing meetings but HOA boards often think they should enjoy confidentiality when it's not true. Discretion? Yes.

It's good to haggle over over it but the videotaping behavior is reflective of community toxicity and I hope OP doesn't do this.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/22/2021 11:46 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/22/2021 10:31 AM
....snip ....

If the Board recorded and posted its board meetings, then I think the problem of defamation (by either directors or owners) would remain, and the HOA/COA would then be a potential defendant for same. Could HOA/COA Boards redact anything that was "defamatory"? Not without a lot of work and probably challenges from owners that what was redacted should not have been redacted.

... snip ...



Good point.

Posted By KellyM3 on 07/22/2021 10:50 AM
....snip ....

It's good to haggle over over it but the videotaping behavior is reflective of community toxicity and I hope OP doesn't do this.



Also a good point. That's another reason to avoid conducting warfare on social media - prospective buyers find it and think "boy, I sure don't want to live there". Doesn't do much for property values...
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