Homeowners associations across the United States have surely experienced the occasional argument between a board member and a local homeowner. Unfortunately, one Florida community has taken their dispute to the authorities: a group of homeowners have asked the Broward Circuit Court to help remove four members of their HOA board, after claiming that the alleged offenders were writing unapproved checks.
Mainlands 3 is a neighborhood in Tamarac, Florida for homeowners aged 55 and older. Like many neighborhoods in the state, the community is managed by a 10-member community board that runs the local HOA. Four of those board members, William and Linda Villela and Earl and Arlene Ostrander, have been accused of mismanagement and disregarding check-writing protocols. Now, 75 homeowners from the 256-home community have asked a judge from the Broward Circuit Court to forbid the accused from writing checks and to create a special meeting within 48 hours to allow a removal vote.
The current Mainlands 3 HOA board has served since December 2013. The homeowner’s lawsuit claims that residents attempted to force a recall election in September, only to have the meeting adjourned. They report that there have been no HOA meetings since. However, William Villela, the board president and one of the members named in the suit, has stated that there was no need for a recall election. He also described the lawsuit as a “vindictive vendetta” against the current board.
The homeowners’ lawyer has correctly called the case an “exotic” occurrence: few HOA disputes ever go to court. Instead, communities are typically able to resolve problems through meetings and negotiations within the neighborhood.
“Board members of homeowner associations have a fiduciary duty to all members to exercise ordinary care in the daily operations of their association. They are responsible to stay within the annual budgets they adopt and should never act without the overall good of all owners in mind. Community managers play an important role in making sure proper procedures are in place to insure the funds of the association are secure and board adheres to the procedures. Transparency in board actions at properly noticed board meetings keeps owners informed and not feeling excluded,” says Anne Calarco, DCAL, CMCA, AMS, PCAM President and Managing Partner of Level Property.
Circuit Court Judge Dale Ross has scheduled a hearing for the case on Wednesday, November 19. If the homeowners are successful, this would be the second recall for Earl Ostrander, who made headlines across the U.S. in 1984 after he became the first mayor to be recalled in Wildwood, New Jersey’s history.