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Community Living: Accurate owner records a must for every association

Q: Maybe you can give an opinion without me having to reading the 350 pages of our condominium documents! I have an exhaust pipe that has rusted and is not venting air out of my apartment. The association says it is not their problem because it is venting my unit only.

A: Since all associations have different documents and thereby have different requirements, you must read your documents and understand their requirements. Most say that each owner is responsible for utility lines that serve one apartment and the association is responsible for a line that serves two or more units. But your association may have different requirements. It is irresponsible to not read your documents. Here is an assignment: Turn off the TV for one week and sit down and read your documents. It is the only way you can understanding the duties of the association — and your property rights.

Listless board member

Q: I am the president of an association. Could you recommend published state regulatory information that encompasses what autonomous authority the president of an association has, if any, in removing a board member who has demonstrated a consistent lack of initiative?

A: There are two primary sources for the duties of the president: the association's documents and the policies approved by the board of directors. The directors are responsible for the operations of the association. The members elect the directors, and only the members can remove a director. The directors elect the officers, including president, and the directors can remove an officer at any board meeting, but that person would remain as a director. As a member, you can start a recall, but this is time consuming and you must follow the statute to the last period. I suggest you have a talk with the board member in question and ask him or her to resign or start providing support and effort. You have three choices: recall, ignore their support (or lack of) or use management skills to evoke support.

Changing the rules

Q: The board of my homeowners association has voted to change the rules and regulations listed in our documents. They said they had the right to change the rules. They included that a violator can be fined. Since it affects me, I am concerned. Does the board have the right to change the rules?

A: Boards can do anything they want, but their actions may not be valid or enforceable. In some situations, the board may be forced to act by outside agencies that require new rules. For example, the fire inspector may require the removal of items in halls or stairs, or the association's insurance company may require safety changes. In most situations, the board does not have the right or power to create such rules as you describe as it involves the approval of members. I strongly suggest the board seek legal guidance about creating enforceable new rules and policies.

Management options

Q: For the past 11 years I have lived in a wonderful over-55 community. It is about 30 years old and has more than 2,000 units. We are financially sound, have a good reserve and our monthly assessment is reasonable. For the past few years newcomers have been agitating for many changes, and they have just been elected to the board. There seems to be lots of discussion about hiring a management company rather than replacing the long-term manager who just left. Many fear that this would be more costly. I would be interested in the pros and cons of this situation.

A: I have worked as an employee manager, an off-site manager with a management company and an on-site manager with a management company. The cost and services can vary depending on your requirements.

With an employee manager, you have more control, but that situation also requires more supervision by the board. In the event of illness and vacation, you will not have coverage, and many times an employee manager lacks backup support to solve new problems. You may have limited actions in 24-hour emergency situations. With a management company, you have backup and support for your manager. Most management companies also will have phone numbers for after-hour emergencies.

I wrote a report defining the duties of the types of management. For a copy, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope marked "Management."

Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115 or e-mail him at CAMquestions @cfl.rr.com. Please include your name and city.

Community Living: Accurate owner records a must for every association 05/08/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 8, 2009 6:08pm]
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