Dear Central Florida Friends:
I know many of you are trying to navigate the delicate balance of protecting your occupants in the time of COVID-19 and also deal with the normal issues which community associations in our area confront during the summer months. There is no getting around it, this is a tough time for everyone and community association leaders have additional considerations facing them constantly. One of those considerations is what to do about holding membership meetings.
So what do you do about in-person membership meetings in light of COVID-19? Unfortunately, the community associations statutes are not presently drafted in a manner which allows forced participation through video conference or teleconference means. At Becker, we are teaming up with The Florida Bar in order to propose legislation to deal with this issue, but it very likely will not be in effect until mid-2021 due to the Florida Legislature’s session schedule. During this year’s annual meeting season, you will have to use the existing tools the law provides with regard to remote participation at membership meetings.
For most community associations, voting for directors may be done by sending in a ballot. For establishment of quorum and voting on all other non-election issues, limited proxies can be used. Remember, you do not need the original copy of the limited proxy. An executed scanned copy of the limited proxy is fine. While the foregoing are good, there is something that is better. Several years ago, the Florida Legislature approved the use of online voting for membership meetings. Participation through online voting (1) counts towards establishing quorum; (2) may be used in the election of directors; and (3) may be used for other substantive votes (e.g. governing documents amendment, surplus funds rollover, material alterations, etc.). The bottom line is that online participation may be the way of the future for community associations membership participation, and it is especially useful in dealing with pandemic environment.
Becker has teamed up with an integrated online software design team to create BeckerBALLOT. If you are not a first time user of BeckerBALLOT, you know how helpful it is to attack the problem of apathy in membership initiatives. If you would like to implement BeckerBALLOT, we need to discuss the prerequisite resolution and forms required (these are required no matter what online participation platform you use). To learn more about BeckerBALLOT, please visit www.BeckerBALLOT.com. If you decide to sign up, be sure to tell them that your association is a Becker retainer client, as there is a steep discount offered to our Becker clients.
If you have any specific questions related to what can and cannot be done with respect to your association’s membership meetings, please feel free to contact me directly. Until then, please stay safe and be kind to each other my friends.