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Condo Q&A: OK to Serve Alcohol at HOA Events?

It’s the holidays. That often means neighborhood parties, and those often include alcohol. Does that create any liability issues for an HOA event?

NAPLES, Fla.: Question: What are your thoughts on alcohol being served at association events? – CPG., Boca Raton

Answer: First, for liability reasons, the association should never purchase or provide alcohol at any event. Second, the community association statutes authorize the collection of assessments from members for the purpose of paying common expenses of the association.

Common expenses are identified in the statutes and the governing documents. The statutes address items primarily concerned with the maintenance, repair, replacement, protection and insurance of the property and improvements. The governing documents will often identify additional common expenses such as sewer and water service.

Thus, purchasing alcohol with association funds is improper as it is not an identified common expense. This does not mean, however, alcohol cannot be consumed at such events, but it should be on a BYOB basis only. In any event, if any form of consideration is paid in order to receive the alcohol, then a temporary liquor license is legally required.

The payment of consideration does not have to be a direct exchange. If, for example, the social committee – whether formal or ad hoc – is holding a St. Patrick’s Day event and the door charge is $5 for all the corned beef and cabbage and green beer you can consume, a temporary liquor license is legally required.

Of course, this type of thing happens all the time and rarely does anyone get in trouble. But, the Florida Department of Tobacco and Alcohol will investigate such activity if it is reported to them.

Question: Our condominium association bylaws provide that in order to qualify to run for the board of directors, the candidate must be a resident of Florida and reside in the community at least seven months out of the year. Is this legal? – A.G., Treasure Coast

Answer: No. The Condominium Act and the Homeowners Association Act provide that every owner has the right to be a candidate for the board if they otherwise meet the qualifications listed in the statutes. The acts require that the candidates be at least 18 years old, not be a convicted felon – unless their civil rights have been completely restored for at least five years – not be delinquent in the payment of any monetary amounts owed to the association and not be under suspension by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The Division of Condominiums has issued several declaratory statements and rulings that hold that residency requirements are not enforceable. While such rulings are not strictly applicable to homeowner associations in my opinion, residency requirements are not enforceable in HOAs either.

The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, DeBoest & Cross, or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.

© 2021 Journal Media Group. Richard D. DeBoest, Esq., is a partner of the law firm Goede, DeBoest & Cross.