Using employees for private work unwise
Q: Some of our condominium residents have been paying one condominium employee, a janitor, to do repairs in their units after hours. I remember that you once said that it was not recommended to do that. Can you remind me why?
A: No employee should enter a home or unit without specific reasons and if the employee is not engaged in association business during hours; it opens up too much liability and hard-to-control unauthorized entry.
From my past observations: In one case, an employee was accused of stealing valuables that resulted in a claim of several thousands of dollars that the association's insurance had to pay. In another example, the employee was injured and filed a workers' compensation claim for the work done after hours. One owner asked the employee to repair a toilet. This resulted in the employee taking the association's parts and tools. He misappropriated parts to make the repairs and then had the owner pay him for the stolen parts. Shortly after, the toilet leaked and the owner had water damage and sued the association for the faulty work. In most cases, the employee is neither licensed nor insured. Owners accept that it is easy to use employees, but often something goes wrong, resulting in lawsuits.
Jurisdiction over parking matters
Q: Can the board vote to eliminate or change a rule or regulation or must the owners approve changes? At our last meeting the board voted to eliminate a long-standing rule that all owners' cars needed a decal and all visitors needed a guest pass. Owners at the meeting voiced strong opinions to keep the pass, but the board voted to eliminate the decal. Was this their right?
A: Most rule changes would require approval of the members. However, the situation you describe is a board's decision, in my opinion. One reason would be the cost to administer the decal program. Such a program may not be effective to restrict unauthorized vehicles. The board may have discovered that they have no powers to enforce the program. Many associations have found that decals flag the vehicle in a way that criminals can use.
I suggest that you write the board and ask why they want to end the decal program. You may find that the program is not working to secure the community.
Board typically can buy, rent, sell units
Q: I reside in an adult condominium community. During these economic times our condominium has had its share of delinquencies, foreclosures and bankruptcies. At a recent board meeting, it was announced that the board had purchased one of the units at auction. The board was prepared to fix up the unit for rental. But owners in our condominium cannot rent without board approval. Can the board of directors do this?
A: You would need to read the articles as part of your documents. Normally the articles allow the board to buy, rent and sell property. In addition, FS 718.111(7) allows the association to acquire title to property for the benefit of the members. Many times my column urges boards to take fast action with delinquent accounts and in most situations attempt to acquire title to these delinquent units. The ultimate goal is to have the property generate income or start paying fees. It sounds as if the board is trying to follow my advice.
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.