Unless you’ve purchased a Florida condominium or lived in one as a tenant, you’ve likely never had to deal with the condominium association and their board of directors.
It can be a bit of an eye-opener for people who have lived in a single-family home, specifically one that is not governed by a Homeowners Association, commonly called the HOA.
Don’t Learn About Florida Condo Boards the Hard Way
Many people who are relocation to Florida – particularly those of retirement age – will find out what a Condominium Association and their Board of Directors is the hard way, and that means by not following one or more of the many rules and regulations that govern the condo buildings and community.
It may even start before you move in, if the Board of Directors does not approve you for membership, especially if you are planning on renting one of the condominium units.
Of course, the rules are meant to ensure the betterment and enjoyment of the condo and the common areas within the community.
But there are often times when the resident or tenant comes to a disagreement with the condo Board, and the results can mean a stressful situation that can last for months and even result in legal action or eviction from the condo unit.
In most condominium developments, an owner must agree to mandatory governance by the Association and its Board of Directors. In Florida, all condominium associations are regulated by state statutes and the state requires they submit their governing documents to be filed by the appropriate county governmental office.
An association’s Board of Directors are required by state statute to serve in a fiduciary capacity, meaning they are mandated to undertake all management and operational duties under their governing documents with the best interests of the residents of the condominium association members in mind, not their own personal beliefs or intentions.
The Board of Directors are a group of owners and association members who are elected by the general membership to operate the condo community per the terms spelled out in their governing documents.
The Board is required to meet on a regular basis to review and make decisions that effect the association, and those meetings require public announcement to allow interested association members to attend or express their views to the Board.
Almost all issues taken into consideration by a condo Board ultimately effect the legal and financial status of the association, and the Board votes on things like whether to replace the roofs on a specific condo building, resurface the parking areas or which landscaping or pool service company to hire.
In most cases, the Board is a cohesive group with like-minded intentions regarding the best decisions to maintain and improve their buildings.
But occasionally, the Board will be at odds either within its own ranks or opposed by one or more association members, the owners of the individual condominium residences.
What About My Condo’s Management Company?
If you live in or are buying a Florida condominium, you may find that the property is managed by a third-party entity called a property management company.
A condo Board of Directors is allowed to run the associations under their own management, but the majority hire a management company to take care of certain operational duties like handling the general maintenance of the grounds, amenities and other common property, processing the payments of the association members’ Board dues and fees, keeping the members informed of the association’s actions or intentions in a timely manner and ensuring that residents and tenants are in compliance with all association rules and regulations.
A management company answers directly to the association’s Board of Directors and may not instigate or enforce any rules or regulations that are not spelled out in writing by the Board.
In Florida, property managers or management companies are required to be licensed by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation as either a Community Association Management Firm or Community Association Manager.
But hiring a condominium property management firm does not negate the fiduciary and ethical obligations of the Board to its association membership.
The Board is responsible for keeping close tabs on the management firm they hire to make sure there are no mismanagement issues or instances of them overstepping their authority in the operation of the condominium.
If you’re considering purchasing a Florida condominium, you owe it to yourself to carefully read all the condominium’s governing documents, the rules, regulations and bylaws of the association and its Board of Directors and other pertinent documents to ensure you fully understand your duties and rights.
Everyone has heard the stories about a condo owner who is upset with the association rules about things like washing their car in unauthorized areas or the time of day they can use the pool.
But there are far more serious matters that fall under the Board of Directors’ authority that can lead to headaches if you’re not completely clear about how the building or development are to be operated.
If you’d like to learn about a specific condominium association’s Board of Directors, just ask people who live there – you’ll find no shortage of input.