iStock_000015122897XSmall.jpgAssociation boards frequently ask what recourse they have against owners who fall behind on paying assessments, or violate other provisions of an association’s governing documents. While most associations’ governing documents provide for the right to fine owners and place a lien on their property, not all boards are aware that they may also suspend owners’ rights to use common elements or facilities.

What Rights Can Be Suspended?


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In addition to providing legal services, Henderson Franklin attorneys are involved in numerous community organizations throughout Southwest Florida. A few weeks ago you heard about Shannon Puopolo and her significant involvement in the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation. Not long after that post, Shannon and Michael Lehnert served on a Lee County Bar Association Committee that organized and ran a charity golf tournament fundraiser for the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation.  Last week, we shared Molly Maggiano’s passion for the arts and for the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

Today, meet Michael Lehnert. Michael joined Henderson Franklin in September of 2015. Since he began, Michael has been handling residential transaction and association matters. Outside the office, he serves on the boards of two local organizations, namely Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast and Southwest Florida Real Estate Council:

Michael Lehnert and Leah Heinrich

In my capacity as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Michael helped organize and support the Big Brothers Big Sisters Chef’s Cooking For Kids Event. The event was a great success due to the immense support from the local community, including, in particular, fellow board member Ryan Love of Norman Love Confections, and due to the experienced leadership of the Board, especially the current chair, Bryan Blackwell.

Michael is excited to announce that last week he had the good fortune of being matched up with a Little Brother, Dominick. They have only met once thus far, but Michael is excited about the opportunity to be a positive influence in Dominick’s life for years to come.


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In light of the recent death of a 2 year old boy by an alligator attack in the Orlando Walt Disney World Resort, associations who operate water bodies within their communities may be wondering what, if anything, they should do to help prevent such tragedies and to protect themselves from liability in the event a wild animal does attack.

The concept is called “ferae naturae” in legal terms, meaning “wild animals.” The question is whether an association owes a duty to its homeowners to guard them against wild animals. In short, the answer is “no.”

The Law on Wildlife


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Continuing with our series to introduce you to members of our Condo and HOA Team, today meet Molly Maggiano.

Fort Myers Condo and HOA Attorney Molly MaggianoMolly concentrates her practice in real estate matters, more specifically in the areas of community association representation, residential and commercial transactions, real estate development, and other general real estate matters.

Molly has a passion toward photography and the arts, which she expresses through her involvement with the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Here, Molly shares with us a little about why the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is such a valuable resource to Fort Myers:

The arts play an important role in enriching the lives of our community. Not only are they a form of enjoyment and entertainment, but they expose us to different cultures and offer educational opportunities that can increase the quality of our lives.

It is easy to take things such as art and music for granted and forget that such programs haven’t always been available, or may not be available to future generations if they aren’t preserved. For this reason, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center (“SBDAC”), of which I have the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors.


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coffee-desk-notes-workspace“How do you get them to read?” Sterling Jenkins, CEO and Co-Founder at Gladly, who has both lived in and managed community associations, recently posed this question to the Community Associations Institute group on LinkedIn. Mr. Jenkins acknowledged the importance of community association’s governing documents, but that so few people who live in associations actually read them.

Creative Suggestions


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financial flickr courtesy of www.SeniorLiving.orgThis question comes up a lot from our association clients. The short answer to the question is “yes.”

When are they due?

Under Florida law, community associations are required to provide owners with an end-of-year financial report. Specifically, within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year, or annually, as provided for in the bylaws, the association shall prepare and complete a financial report for the preceding fiscal year. The financial report must be mailed or hand delivered to the address last provided to the association, upon written request from an owner.

Are formal audits required?


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In addition to providing legal services, Henderson Franklin attorneys are involved in numerous community organizations throughout Southwest Florida. Over the next few weeks, we will be letting our blog readers get to know the members of our Condominium and Homeowners’ Association group a little better by sharing some of the exciting organizations and events we have been involved in.

PuopoloToday, meet Shannon Puopolo. Not only does Shannon handle association and real estate litigation matters, including collections and foreclosures, and other commercial litigation matters, she serves on boards of several local organizations, including the Guardian Ad Litem Foundation. Shannon gives the highlights of the Foundation’s signature event of the year for us in her latest blog:

Many Americans enjoy the annual tradition of watching the Kentucky Derby. Some even partake in dressing the part, by putting on their finest hats, bowties, and pastel-colored clothing. In Southwest Florida, the community combines this time-honored tradition with a charitable cause – namely, raising money for at-risk youth in our legal system.

On Saturday, May 7th, the Guardian ad Litem Foundation (“GALF”) held its annual Viva La Derby Party, which raises money to support, recruit, and train volunteers who advocate for abused, neglected and abandoned children in the child welfare and court system.


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Photo of Wiggins Pass Beach by Molly Maggiano

As we quickly approach the summer, many homeowners, including board members, will be returning to homes up north for the summer. Boards and association managers should take a few minutes to brush up on the requirements for meetings of executive committees that may be appointed to act on behalf of the Board in the absence of some or all of the directors.

Formation of Executive Committees

Boards have the authority under The Florida Not For Profit Corporation Act, unless otherwise prohibited by the Articles of Incorporation or the Bylaws governing the corporation, to adopt a resolution designating from among its members an executive committee to exercise the authority of the board. With the large number of seasonal owners in many communities throughout Southwest Florida, it is not uncommon for the boards of such communities to appoint an executive committee to assist in the operation and care of the association property during the summer season.


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