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Community living: To collect back dues, board should first have policy in place

To collect back dues, first draft policy

Q: A while back, I recall reading an article by you showing how condominium and homeowners associations might be able to legally collect dues in arrears.

Our condominium association has several owners whose dues are woefully in arrears, resulting in budget shortfalls for us and limiting the maintenance we can do without raising monthly assessments on those who are not in arrears.

A: I am sure that your documents provide information on how to proceed against delinquent owners.

In addition, FS 719.116 instructs the directions to place liens and foreclosure action against delinquent condominium units. HOA statutes have similar instructions (FS 720.3085).

My recommendations are to have the association attorney help draft a collections policy and the board approve the policy. That policy would include delinquent letters being sent for nonpayments; have the attorney lien the units after the letters are sent, sometime shortly after the account has not been paid in 60 days; and then have the attorney start foreclosure action sometime after the next 30 to 60 days.

I would inform the owners of the policy and then take action to follow the policy. If the board does not take action as described, it can result in loss of funds to be collected. Above all, the board must seek guidance from an attorney.

Boards should create, direct committees

Q: What rules or statutes govern grievance committees appointed by boards of directors? Can I find any regulations in Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes?

A: Committees are usually not statute regulated. There is a section in FS 617.0825 that allows the board to create committees. Unless the articles of incorporation or the bylaws otherwise provide for committees, the board of directors by resolution may adopt or create committees by a majority of the full board of directors.

Members of the committee may designate the members of one or more committees.

Each of the committees shall have duties assigned, to the extent provided in such resolution or in the articles of incorporation or the bylaws of the corporation.

Committees shall have and may exercise all the authority of the board of directors. No committee can exercise any decision or policy making without the board of directors' approval.

Committee meetings may be in private except when association finances or budgets are discussed or if the committee will be making a final decision. However, I strongly suggest that members be allowed to attend most committee meetings.

When a committee is needed and the board approves such committees, it should establish a policy or guidelines for the committee to work and perform. All committees should report to the board, usually in a written report.

Manager shouldn't get involved in election

Q: I am a resident in a condominium and would like to know the following: Prior to the annual election for the board of directors, the manager of the building makes phone calls to residents and requests that they do not vote for someone on the ballot. Is this cause for immediate termination of the manager and also is this a legal issue?

A: Managers should not become involved in the political actions or the association's elections. It is not necessarily a violation of law, but it can be a contract or employment agreement violation. It may also be a breach of their duties.

Anything that the manager has to say about a candidate should be included in a written manager's report best given at a board meeting.

I estimate that when the manager — at the instructions of the board — attempts to enforce the rules, there is a small percentage of the owners who take the enforcement personally. That means over the years, the manager creates a high percentage of enemies.

With such a threat of losing his/her job, the manager may have overreacted to protect himself or herself.

Two wrongs do not make a right, and in becoming involved in the election, the manager stepped over the line.

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.

Community living: To collect back dues, board should first have policy in place 01/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 3:30am]

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