Lowest bid isn't always the best bid
Q: Recently our board accepted a landscaping bid — the highest one — from a company that has been in business for more than 60 years. We do not understand why the board selected the highest bid. The company they selected has been the landscape company in our community for more than 15 years. In my opinion, they are overcharging us and we need to change companies to save money. Is there anything the members can do to force the board to accept the lowest bid?
A: They've apparently been doing a good job maintaining your community for 15 years. A board's primary duty is to maintain the community and common areas — not necessarily saving money by accepting lowest bids. Although it seems that accepting the lowest bid is the prudent thing to do, you may find that the new company may not perform the services as well. Maybe the lowest bidder is nothing more than an opening to get your business and then increase the fees later. Or maybe they will cut corners and will not do the same work to maintain your community. There is more to a bid than the lowest price.
You have an annual election and that would be the time to voice your opinion by electing directors who will consider all bids. For now, maybe the board can talk to the current landscape company about reducing the contracted costs. There is always a point of negotiation to modify the current contract.
Last English speaker needs translator
Q: I am the only English-speaking resident in my condominium. An upcoming meeting will be held in Spanish. Can I can request a translator? Signs are also posted in Spanish and I must write down the wording and go to the Internet for a translation. I have lived here for more than 35 years and it has gradually become Hispanic.
A: There are no regulations on language. It is more appropriate for the board to provide someone in the association to explain the business conducted, maybe a neighbor. I am sure that one of the members speaks English. It should not be a major problem. Write the board a letter and explain you need help in understanding the business of the association. Even if you write your letter in English, I am sure that they will have someone to translate your letter.
Unit owners typically responsible for AC
Q: I think you said the condominium was responsible for air-conditioning systems. I have a system that does not work and I do not have the money to replace it. Is the condominium responsible for my AC system?
A: A few years ago the condominium act was changed to require that association insurance would cover AC systems that were damaged. They are not responsible for the repair of failed systems. Owners would still be responsible for system operations. The change was caused by the 2004 hurricane season where many condominium buildings and units were damaged. Some owners failed to provide their own insurance and the units were not repaired and in a few cases open to the elements. The state recognized that such unrepaired units were a hazard for the condominium building. Their action created several changes to the condominium act. My answer is not to be interpreted as a legal answer and you should contact an attorney as your situation may be different for your association.
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.