Transition involves maintained facility
Q: Our development is partially sold out, and the developer is still in control of the association. As we are getting closer to the point of transition, we understand that we should engage an attorney to represent us at turnover. At the point that the builder transfers to us the clubhouse and other common areas, in exactly what condition do these assets have to be for the transfer? Should we expect that they have exhausted part of the useful life or should we expect all new items? Is it sufficient that the equipment simply be working or should we expect a higher standard?
A: Not only should you have an attorney assist in the turnover, you also should have an engineer inspect the property. You will also need two other professionals, CPA and an insurance agent to provide additional advice. Some communities will want to have a licensed manager or management company on the turnover team as well. Your association has been in existence since the developer started. That means that the owners have had the use of the common areas and paid fees to maintain the facilities. It should be expected that these have some usage but have been maintained. You should not expect new systems or new equipment. It would not be the best situation for the developer to turn over poorly maintained systems. The statute requires that the primary responsibility of a board of directors is to maintain the common areas. The developer has been wearing two hats: that of the developer and one as the president of the board of directors. The answer you are looking for is that all property, systems and common areas should be in the same condition as when the association was formed.
Let attorney handle foreclosure, renter
Q: Should the board notify renters that the owner is not paying the HOA fee?
A: The first thing the board should do is lien the unit and then follow by starting foreclosure. Since you need an attorney to take these actions, have the attorney send a letter to the renter. Follow the attorney's instructions to require the renter to pay the association. In other words, you want to take necessary legal actions to protect your rights, and that requires an attorney.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.