Real estate Q&A: Unruly homeowner interrupts board meetings

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Dec. 6, 2013 – Question: We have an unruly owner who attends every association meeting. The owner heckles, laughs inappropriately and answers questions that are posed to board members. We are told by the board president that as an owner, she has a right to be there and we should just ignore her. Many owners no longer come to the meetings and others leave early because of this woman’s behavior. Now we can’t obtain a quorum because of lack of attendance. Is there anything that can be done? – Richard

Answer: This is a fairly common problem for many associations. I’ll recommend several possible fixes, ranging from easy and free to difficult and expensive.

Try to have a board member speak to the homeowner and explain that she’s being disruptive. While it may seem obvious to you, she may think she’s being helpful and not realize her behavior is driving people away. If that doesn’t work, have the association’s attorney or manager let her know she is interrupting the meetings and needs to behave appropriately.

If that still does not change things, consider having a police officer attend the meeting. An officer’s presence often mellows people. Check to see if your city will send an officer to give a community report at the association meeting. If not, pay an off-duty officer to attend.

If nothing else works, the board can take her to court and try to get a restraining order. The owner’s behavior must really be bad for a judge to grant this, and it can be expensive, so I recommend this only as a last resort.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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