Q. I would appreciate information on the duties of the association cleaning common areas. For years I have hired workers to clean the dirt and mildew from my front walk and walls of my front doorway. Recently, a neighbor informed me that my association board is responsible for the cost of such cleaning. She said it should be automatically done before the snowbirds return. Who is responsible for cleaning this area?
A. This is a document driven question. The duties of an association to clean the walks and entryway could vary from association to association. It should not have any connection to snowbirds returning. While there can be exceptions, most HOAs do not have the responsibility to clean the entrance and walks to homes. I know of one HOA that does the landscape services to each home and will blow the walkways and streets after the grass has been cut. That same association will notify the owner from time to time to pressure wash the walks and homes to remove the mildew. You should read your documents and write the board about the policy of cleaning the areas.
Q. Our HOA has more than 1,000 homes. We have a board of nine directors that does all the work for the association. We follow FS 720 but we do not have a management company. Our documents say that our directors are not allowed to receive compensation. One of our directors works as a handyman and is paid for his services by a vendor on an hourly basis. This same director solicits bids for other work to be performed at our HOA on other projects. If the employer he works for receives the job, then the director is paid by the employer and not as a director. What is your opinion of this arrangement?
A. You need to understand that he is not being paid for his director’s duties but as a contractor’s employee and this is not a breach of the document requirements. The two are different and do not appear to be a conflict of the documents. However, there are other possible problems. He should not be part of the bid process that could involve his employer. This would be a conflict of interest. In addition, the board needs to require proper license, insurance and permits from the employer as well as all other contractors and vendors. In addition, the association may be responsible for filing IRS payment documents each year. This is the type question the board should be consulting about with the board’s attorney and CPA. As for not having professional management, that is the board’s choice but they should have professionals to provide legal and accounting guidance and not try to do it all themselves.
Q. What can be done to board members who continually violate the condominium rules, documents and statutes? I understand that they can be recalled, but most owners are snowbirds and really do not care.
A. There are two fundamental actions to remove problematic directors — recall or vote them out at the next annual meeting. It seems from your question that most of the owners are apathetic and avoid becoming involved with association business. You can start by knocking on doors and asking for their support. Write letters to the board explaining their errors and ask them to discuss the problems at the next board meeting. Have your neighbors write letters with the same information. Without the neighbors help, you stand a fraction of chance to be heard. If the infractions are a violation of the statutes, you can file a written complaint with the state at the Department of Business and Professional Regulations. This would really be your last choice. You cannot just sit back and let others do the work for you. Unless you become active, the board will continue making mistakes.
Q. In the late 1970s we purchased a condominium. All parking was assigned and some units had better locations than others. Over the years, several owners switched parking to better locations. Our documents do not allow us to rent or reassign the spaces. Last year an owner went into foreclosure. I talked to him about switching our spaces. After contacting the president, he was advised to go to the courthouse and correct the records. In addition, the president said it would be in the minutes of the next board meeting. There are all sorts of problems and major complaints about the change. The matter was only discussed at the next board meeting but there was no approval of the switch. What is my next step to resolve the parking exchange?
A. Parking is one of the biggest problems in condominiums. Sometimes the board is in control of assigning parking spaces. Sometimes the documents establish the parking locations and policies. In your situation, my guess is that the space is recorded on your deed. In the first two of these situations, it is a procedural situation of the board approving the transfer. If the parking space is recorded on the deed, then it is an appurtenant to the unit and requires a modification to the deed or a new deed and sometimes an amendment to the documents. I suggest that you study your documents and search your deed to see which type of parking assignment is used in your association. Above all, make sure that you document all actions in writing. You should send a letter to the board and have them provide written documents back to you. There is nothing wrong in talking to the board, but for long-term information, you may need written proof of any change of parking assignments.
Richard White is a licensed community association manager in Florida. Questions should be mailed to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd. # 201, Winter Haven, Fl. 33884-4415; e-mail CAMquestion@cfl.rr.com. To be considered, questions and comments should include the author’s name and city. Questions should be about association operations, not legal matters.