THE FUNCTION OF THE PRESIDENT OF A COMMUNITY
The president must be an owner or the appointment will be null and void. A limited company can be appointed. The president is the person or body who represents the community externally, and its most important individual, such that the other members of the community especially the secretary and administrator, are required to carry out his/her administrative orders and instructions, though this does not empower him to dismiss anyone, nor to take legal action or file claims, sack employees and approve works, without approval of the community.
The president does, however, have full power to represent the community and to carry out everything agreed by the community, and to make any urgent decisions as might be necessary.
THE FUNCTION OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF ACOMMUNITY
The Vice-president’s mission is to help the president and substitute for him or her. It is correct that the Vice-president
chairs a general meeting if the president is absent, as it would be for any member of the community with agreement
from those attending since there is no rule preventing a general meeting being held for that reason.
The law does not, however, require the appointment of oneor more Vice-presidents. The literal expression of the Law establishes that it is optional, which means a community can have a Vice-president or not depending on what might be established in the Statutes or, if these don’t exist, according to decisions made at any point by the community with a simple majority vote to appoint one, two, three or simply none.
THE FUNCTION OF THE SECRETARY
The secretary is responsible for writing up minutes, certifying agreements and keeping documentation, as well as other
matters that the Law assigns. The secretary’s function is very important, especially since Law 8/1999 came into force.
THE FUNCTION OF THE ADMINISTRATOR
The administrator has more direct powers, as established by articles 20 and 21 to take action against debtors, and who, when professionally qualified, is the real motor and advisor of the Community even though being best known for preparing, presenting and executing accounts and budgets, and charging and paying for other financial matters, as well as receiving complaints and suggestions, attending to the operation of services and common elements, etc.
CAN MORE POSTS BE APPOINTED?
According to the Law, the Statutes should establish whether there is an obligation for more positions like Vice-presidents, committee members, etc. Where a community does not have Statutes, the community as a whole has the power to decide what it considers the best means to organize itself, as is often the case.
What should be clear, and this rule is specifically stated, is that these appointees cannot, under any circumstances, undermine the functions and responsibility, in relation to third
parties, of the President, the Vice-presidents and, if applicable, the Secretary and Administrator. That is to say, such community agreements are effective only in respect of internal community matters, a provision completely correct in
terms of legal security. This means that individuals and businesses unconnected with the Community (maintenance, contracted technicians, works, etc.) who sign a document or make a commitment with someone other than the President, or the Vice President if he or she is acting in lieu of the president, should know that except in exceptional cases they
will not have the necessary and sufficient legal backing for any claims against the Community, even if the contract has been approved by the Community at a General Meeting.
OTHER PRACTICAL QUESTIONS
• The office of president must be accepted unless the appointee can show good reason or practical impossibility as to why he or she should be able accept it. If a resignation is not accepted on these grounds, legal steps can be taken.
Can a limited company be president? the Law does not mention them specifically, the owner, who is a legal entity, has the same rights and obligations, so when appointed, it must fall on the corresponding business as such and not on whoever might be president, chief executive or power of attorney at that time. In addition, the business should be represented at each moment by whoever has powers to that effect, which could change day to day. Thus it will be recorded that general meetings will be chaired by the given business with Mr or Mrs X acting on its behalf after accrediting their representation. As indicated, that does not mean that it would always be the same person, though it would be advisable so that they would know how things operated.
• The term of these offices is one year. The period does not have to be considered as a fixed annual date so that the AGM must be called on the same date every year. There may be a difference of days, weeks or even months if the circumstances warrant it.
• The Vice President cannot act on his or her own initiative if not previously agreed, and naturally, he or she will stop acting
immediately when the President resumes office.
• In any case, it should be noted that it is a good idea to combine the positions of Secretary and Administrator because the
functions must be coordinated since most of the occasions when the Law requires the Secretary’s certification, theAdministrator’s collaboration will be needed in order to confirm accounts, works, debts, etc.
• What happens if there are four or fewer owners? In this situation, the owners can decide to be an ordinary community in
line with article 398 of the Civil Code, which means that all of them have the same powers and functions without other intermediaries. They meet and take decisions as they consider appropriate, some unanimously, others by majority, as appropriate depending on whether they relate to internal rules or management issues. In the next article we will consider the controversial topics of “Works in the community” and “converting locales and storage rooms into dwellings”: