Don't take action without an attorney
Q: A member of our community has been approached by a property manager, not the association manager, who says she can help the HOA "take over" the properties in our neighborhood of single-family homes that are in foreclosure. She says she will get the houses cleaned up and rented; the HOA will not have to pay a mortgage payment but will receive all the rent. The board is split between enthusiasm and suspicion. Are you familiar with services such as this?
A: Think for a second. Does the association own the private property? Whose name is on the title of the private property? Be very careful about such agreements as you may be venturing into an area where the association does not have rights.
There are some rights that the association may have about collecting rent of homes in foreclosure. However, I would caution that to attempt to collect any rent, the association attorney should review the situation and make recommendations. A property manager and an association manager cannot render legal advice. You should listen to her suggestions but have your attorney render guidance.
Do-nothing board is a common problem
Q: My HOA is about eight years old. The first few years the board followed the documents and statutes. We had financial reports, meetings and annual elections. Rules were enforced, delinquent accounts collected, and all members received current communications. Three years ago a new board was elected and since then there has been limited business conducted.
We have not had an annual meeting nor any financial information provided. The board is failing to enforce the rules or collect delinquent accounts. How can we reclaim our association?
A: The task is something you cannot do alone but you can get it started. The trap is something that many associations find. Too few owners accept the responsibility of volunteering to serve the community. It is not a case of the cream floating to the top. The best people are too involved in personal things. They may need nudging.
Not becoming involved is the key to why a few boards fail in their responsibilities. Those that do step up may not be the best qualified or they have a hidden agenda.
You find this in all walks of life. A leader is one who will encourage others that have some skills or qualities to act and serve. Your task is to persuade the best in your neighborhood to step up and become the leaders in your community. It will require you to talk to your neighbors and find those that have concerns and talents to be leaders.
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.