QUESTION: Can a board add Wi-Fi to the clubhouse and charge homeowners for the monthly fees without a vote of the owners?
ANSWER: Depending on the cost, yes. Wi-Fi stands for "Wireless Fidelity." It is a user friendly term for "IEEE 802.11b direct sequence," the specifications used for establishing wireless local area networks. People have become so dependent on the internet that coffee shops offer it for free to lure people into their stores. So it's no surprise that associations are now installing Wi-Fi in their clubhouses. Unless the governing documents state otherwise, boards have the authority to provide Wi-Fi service if funding does not exceed a 5% special assessment or increase dues over 20%. If members believe Wi-Fi to be a complete waste of money, they should make their feelings known to the board. They also have the option of running for the board on a platform of pulling the plug on Wi-Fi.
Precautions. If the association installs an "open" or unsecured Wi-Fi system, there are risks. First, anyone can piggyback onto the wireless signal to commit crimes. A hacker can access other users' passwords, bank accounts, emails, etc. Or they can use it to download child porn (which will bring federal agents knocking).
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.