• Legal Matters – Richard DeBoest

    Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross respond to questions about Florida community association law. With offices in Naples, Fort Myers, Coral Gables and Boca Raton, the firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.

    Q: Our governing documents allow pets but prohibit pit bulls. A person has submitted an application to lease a unit and indicated that he has a pit bull but claims it is an emotional support animal.  Can we deny the lease application on the basis that the pit bull violates our rules? P.T., Naples

    A: If the person has provided sufficient documentation supporting the need for an emotional support animal under the Fair Housing Act the association cannot deny the application.  Breed and weight restrictions in governing documents applicable to pets do not apply to emotional support animals because legally, an emotional support animal is not a pet under the Fair Housing Act.  The necessary documentation would be a letter from a treating health care professional (not necessarily a doctor) that opines that the person has a disability that substantially affects one or more major life activities and that the animal will ameliorate the condition caused by the disability.  However, pursuant to a new Florida law, if the health care practitioner is not practicing in Florida, the out-of-state practitioner must indicate that they have provided care or services to the person on at least one prior occasion before issuing the opinion.

    Q: I am the president of the association and want to remove a person from a committee that I think is not properly fulfilling the role. Can I do this without a vote of the whole board?  If not, is it allowable to include this in a consent agenda where all motions are listed, moved and voted on in bulk with one vote of the board?  I want to cause the person being removed from the committee as little public embarrassment as possible.S.S., Marco Island

    A:  First you will need to check your governing documents, typically the Bylaws, and determine what they provide with regard to the authority to create a committee and to remove persons from a committee.  Sometimes, the president has this authority.  More often, the Bylaws provide that the board establishes the committee. Moreover, Chapter 617, Florida Statutes provides that all committees serve at the pleasure of the board, therefore any committee member can be removed by the board. Assuming the governing documents do not authorize the president to remove the committee members, then it must be done by board action at a meeting which means a motion, second and vote.

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