Associations Can’t Stop Owners From Taping Meetings
Condo Q&A: While statutes say unit owners have the right to record or videotape meetings with a quorum, the association can adopt reasonable rules about it.
STUART, Fla. – Question: Our condominium association has monthly meetings of the board of directors. At the last several meetings, a member who is not a fan of the board has started filming the board meetings and is threatening to post the videos on his personal website where this member routinely complains about the board. Can the association stop this person from filming the meetings or posting these videos on the internet? What if I or any other person do not want to be video recorded? Does this person need my consent to record me? — A.P., Treasure Coast, FL
Answer: No, the Association cannot stop the unit owner from recording association meetings and likely cannot prevent the unit owner from posting the videos on their website or anywhere else on the internet, but the association can adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding the filming at the meetings. Section 718.112(2)(c), Florida Statutes, provides that meetings at which a quorum has been obtained must be open to all unit owners and goes on to state that unit owners have the right to record or videotape meetings. This same provision of the Statute required the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes to adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding a unit owner’s right to record meetings.
The Division has since adopted regulations that state unit owners who record association meetings may only use audio and video equipment and devices that do not produce distracting sounds or light emissions.
Additionally, the Division allows condominiums to adopt their own reasonable rules and regulations. Such rules and regulations may include requiring all recording equipment to be assembled and placed in position in advance of the start of the meeting, preventing the unit owner from moving around the room or meeting area to facilitate the recording or requiring unit owners to provide advanced notice to the board of their intention to record the meeting. Associations may adopt these restrictions as part of the association’s rules and regulations. The Co-Op and Homeowners Acts also provide for the same right to record meetings and allow those types of associations to also adopt reasonable rules regarding recording at meetings.
Both the Statute and Division’s rules are silent regarding what restrictions exist, if any, regarding what a unit owner may do with the recordings they make of association meetings. While an association could try to adopt a rule that states unit owners may not post videos of the association’s meetings online, the enforceability of such a rule is questionable and is likely unenforceable. The best policy for the board and any other individual in attendance at an association meeting that is being recorded is to not say or do anything that you would not want to be posted on the internet for everyone to see.
Finally, while it is true that Florida is a two-party consent state which generally requires both parties’ consent to having the conversation being recorded, this is likely not required for the recording of association meetings. There are general exceptions to the Wire Taping Statute that allows a person to record public events where the person being recorded does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. While I am not aware of any legal cases where a court has applied this standard to the recording of association meetings, I would not be surprised if a court held these types of recordings fell within the exception.
Furthermore, the Legislature has specifically authorized such recordings without requiring the consent of the board of directors or other individuals in attendance. I would suggest that if you do not want to be part of the recording as an audience member, making sure to sit behind the person recording the meeting would likely prevent you from physically appearing in the recording. Another option is to see if virtual attendance is an option in your community as it would allow you to attend and participate without having to be at the meeting in person.
Christopher I. Miller, Esq., is an attorney with the Law Firm Goede, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. 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.
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