Q: I live in a retirement condominium that is about 40 years old. Our county notified us that we must be inspected by an engineer to determine if we have construction deficiencies. The report indicated that our main problem was the roof. We recently started a fund to replace the roof but we do not have enough and our board is discussing borrowing the money. The added expense to replace the roof is far beyond some of our residents' ability to pay. Why can't there be some kind of compromise for seniors? Can you help us?
A: As a senior, you are old enough to remember the advertisement that said pay me now or pay me later. Well now is later. As long as I can remember, the condominium statutes have required that condominium boards must include reserves for roofing, paving and painting in the annual budget. Did your past boards fail to comply with the statutes or did the members vote out the reserves? If you had been paying reserves, you would have the necessary funds and your fees would be lower. I have no answer for your board's or members' failure not to have a reserve for roofing. Now we are in a bad financial market and real estate market and you will have a problem finding outside funds. I print your question in my column as a warning to other associations that their failure to properly reserve will cause extreme hardships on future members. I have compassion for you and your neighbors but in truth, you and your fellow members must now pay the piper. Your association failed to properly prepare for the future expenses as our statutes required. One idea: Maybe the board can find a roofing company that will let you pay on time.
Hiring a manager isn't mandatory
Q: I am a director on our board. We are a small community of 37 units with a tight budget so we run our business for ourselves. We received a report of the changes to Florida Statues 468 Part VIII, Community Association Managers. The first sentence stated "Changes the threshold for employing a licensed Community Association Manager (CAM) from 50 units to 10 units." What does it mean? Are we required by this law to hire a Community Association Manager?
A: In the past, associations of 50 units and smaller were exempted from certain sections of the statutes. The change lowers this exemption to 10 units or smaller. No association is required to hire a licensed manager. However if you pay someone, then that person must be licensed as a CAM. Since your board now performs management duties, as long as they do not receive compensation, they can continue to serve on a volunteer basis.
Overdue maintenance fees call for lien
Q: One of our residents is five months behind in maintenance fees. One of the benefits is free cable paid by the association. Cable is not a necessity. Why can't the board cancel cable?
A: It is a good idea but condominium statutes do not allow the board to terminate common area usage or services. The board will need to engage an attorney and instruct him/her to begin collections by placing a lien and following with foreclosure. Most times any legal expenses will be added to the amount due in the legal action. In other words, it usually will not cost the association any legal fees.
No penalty for going over term limits
Q: We are a homeowners association that was turned over from the developer a year ago. Our bylaws say that the annual meeting to elect directors should be held this month and that the directors have a one-year term. There has been confusion on the board and it looks like the annual meeting will be held in a couple of months. Such an arrangement would extend the board's time in office beyond the one-year term for which they were elected. Are they automatically out of office because of the one year and no election? What are the legal ramifications and does this leave our association in limbo?
A: I assume that the directors are inexperienced and the date slipped up on them. As new directors, my guess is that they have little experience in serving and fail to understand all the duties. I urge the members to work with the board in the learning experience rather than throwing stones at their mistakes. Nothing will happen to the association for this mistake as the directors should serve until the next election and they retain all the responsibilities of the operations. Your letter indicates your concern to properly operate the association. I recommend that you think about becoming a candidate and then help the directors to understand the statutes, your documents, and the duties of operations.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Sorry, he can't take phone calls or provide personal replies by mail, but you can e-mail him at CAMquestions@cfl.rr.com. Please include your name and city. Online: talkwithcam.com.