Sharply Refused Exercise Equipment in New Clubhouse. Is this Fair?

Q: My wife and I recently purchased a home from a resident in a new development. The clubhouse construction was delayed due to the economic downturn of the past few years, but is now under construction and will be finished by the end of the year. I recently suggested some equipment be included in the exercise facility but was told we will not have it. Apparently there was a meeting several months before we purchased that spelled out the changes. I was quite upset and sent a complaint to our management company. I was contacted by an employee of the builder who informed me that he was the President of our homeowners association. Does he have any obligation to the homeowners? Are meetings required? Do we have recourse for decisions that he makes?

A: The board members appointed by the developer do have a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the homeowners. This creates a potential conflict of interest since the president in this case is also an employee of the developer, but it is absolutely the norm for developer employees to serve on the board until turnover. In most cases, the turnover process is smooth because these developer-appointed directors have been through many turnovers and are familiar with the developer’s duties under Florida law. In your case, the decision not to install certain exercise equipment is not typically a decision that is made by the homeowners. The board members make those decisions based on budget restrictions and what they believe is in your best financial interests as a homeowner. That being said, board decisions should be made at a properly noticed meeting. You do have recourse against board members who violate their duties, but you do not likely have “extra” recourse against this president merely because he is also a developer employee. My advice on this issue is to be patient until turnover and then the homeowners will have the ability to manage the association’s money and property.

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