Tag Archives: Communications

Informing the State of Newly Elected Board Members

C.W. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I need the form to inform the State of Florida of the newly elected board members. I cannot find it.  Can you help? Very important. Thank you!

Mister Condo replies:

C.W., I am not aware of a requirement of keeping the state informed of the Officers and Board Members of your condominium or a specific form to do so. I am aware of a certification form for newly elected Board members that they must file with the association secretary that they have read the by-laws of the association and that they will fulfill their duties of upholding those by-laws. A sample of that form can be found here: http://www.ccfjfoundation.net/CondoCandForm2010.pdf

Annual corporate filings with the state (tax records and such) may have a place to list officers and/or directors. Those forms are typically filed by the association’s accountant or Treasurer. I am not an expert on Florida community association law as I don’t live in your state but I would ask any of my regular followers to kindly give a more detailed answer if I have overlooked anything. Good luck, C.W.!

Can the Condo Board Require Visitor Sign In?

M.T. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Does a condominium board have the right to make my visitors sign in and out at the concierge desk even when I say I do not want this?

Mister Condo replies:

M.T., yes, the association has the right to know who is on the property. Even though you own your unit, you do not own the common grounds, which are subject to the rules and regulations of the association, which is governed by your Board. Many associations require not only names but also vehicle information of visitors. Condominium associations are not public property. The association has a right, and often a need, to know who is on the property and for what purpose. All the best!

Are All Condominium and HOA Documents the Same Regarding Common Elements?

J.J. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi Bob, I just listened to the podcast about the alligator in the condo fountain (http://askmistercondo.com/alligator-in-the-condo-fountain/)! I have a question that I am hoping you can answer. But, a little on me. I have been involved in the community association maintenance business since 1978, with the last 17 years as a general contractor specializing in condo buildings repair and capital improvements. I have worked for various management companies over the years. Some good and some not good. My question is I understand the laws have changed some years back in regards what the association is responsible for as far as maintenance. When I started, I learned the association covered to the drywall. Now. I am hearing the association covers a lot more inside the unit. I ask managers and no one either knows or won’t give me a straight answer. Can you help so I may service my associations with correct knowledge?

Mister Condo replies:

J.J., the answer literally varies from association to association so there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. Additionally, I know of some associations that have modified their rules based on “how we’ve always done it” situations, regardless of what their governing documents say. Also, we have a few different types of common interest communities operating in our state and each has their own peculiarities. Condominiums are the most common and your explanation of from the walls in is quite common to describe what the unit owner is responsible for. Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are also common in our state and often have the same type of rules. Cooperatives (coops) are also plentiful and have similar but not exactly the same rules. Homeowners or Property Owners Associations (HOAs and POAs) are also common but seldom get into the unit interiors. These groups are typically about architectural conformity and shared common amenities (a clubhouse, pool, beach, etc.) Within each of these groups are additional subsets (Adult Communities, 55 and over, Assisted Living, and so on). As you can imagine, each has their own set of governing documents and each has their own specifics on who owns and maintain which elements.

As a contractor to an association, you are going to handle the work assigned to you by the association. You should ask the association where the association responsibility ends and the unit owner responsibility begins. Short of you taking the time to read all of their governance documents, you would have to operate under the assumption that they know what they are talking about. If you complete their work order, and they pay you for your work, it is of no concern to you if they need to then bill an individual unit owner for work you did on their behalf. If they are asking you to bill a unit owner for work you performed at their request, I would ask them to change that arrangement for the sake of your business relationship with the association. You know the association will pay you for work you have contracted with them. You have no way of knowing if a unit owner is going to pay you for work done to their unit at the association’s request. After all, they didn’t hire you. I know haven’t given you a “cut and dry” answer here but that is the nature of the industry. Keep doing the great work you’ve been doing and I am sure the issues of responsibility for maintenance will work itself out, association by association. Good luck!

What is a “Reasonable” Amount of Time for A Condo Record Request Inspection?

L.L. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How long should I wait to view my condominiums financial records? I requested to see them 6 business days ago.

Mister Condo replies:

L.L., as a unit owner you have the right to inspect just about all of your association’s records, including the financial records. Typically, the records need to be available during normal business hours or within a “reasonable” time. That is where the real answer to your question lies. What you consider “reasonable” and what the keeper of your records considers “reasonable” may vary so the key is likely for you to remain vigilant but patient. If the record keeper fails to provide you with access, your recourse is to sue. I am not an attorney nor do I offer any legal advice in this column. My friendly advice is to ask again and ask what the association considers as a “reasonable” amount of time to honor the request. My guess is you’ll get access to the records when the other party is available to accommodate your request. Keep in mind the records are owned by the association. If you wish photocopies, you may be charged for the service as well as a small fee for the employee’s time for assisting you. Good luck!

Ill Condo Renter Has Car Towed

L.H. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I rent a condo in a complex that has an Association and also a building management company. My car was recently towed without any prior notification to me – no phone call, no email, no letter, no knock on the door. I have not been driving my car since September of 2015 for medical reasons, and in October of 2015, someone from the Association put a note on my car because it hadn’t been moved for a month. I called the building management company and informed them about my medical issue. I never heard back from building management. So yesterday without notice the car was towed. I haven’t yet been told where the car is, who towed it, or what I might need to do to get it back. BTW, I’ve rented this unit for 10 years now, and have NEVER been introduced to ANYONE on the Association and none of the members have ever made it their business to get to know me. What are my legal rights in this issue? Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

L.H., despite your status as a long-term renter in this condo, you are still bound to follow all of the rules of the association as is every other unit owner, renter, and any other resident. That includes the parking rules, which can be quite challenging to enforce. I agree with you that this is an unfortunate situation that could have been handled better but if your car was parked in violation of association rules, the association has the right and the responsibility to enforce the parking rules so that all community members may enjoy the parking area. I am not an attorney so I do not offer legal advice in this column. I do not personally believe you have legal rights in this situation as you violated the parking rules by leaving your vehicle parked on the association-owned parking grounds for far too long a period of time. I am not sure why you would have any expectation to be introduced to anyone on the Board of the association. They represent the unit owners and are elected by the unit owners at unit owner meetings. As a renter, you aren’t a unit owner. Your relationship is with the owner of your unit; not the association. If you feel your legal rights have been violated, by all means, contact an attorney who could better advise you of your options. In the meanwhile, the management company should be able to tell you where your car has been towed. You will likely need to pay for the towing and/or storage fees to get your car back. Once you do, you should make alternate arrangements for the long-term storage of your car. Otherwise, it will likely be towed again in accordance with the rules of parking in your condo. Good luck!

Required Audit for Condo Association

J.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Are condo associations required to get an audit?

Mister Condo replies:

J.B, that is a great question! Very few states have legislated audits for condo associations as state law. That leaves the association’s governance documents. Many call for an audit in some type of timely interval; many do not. Unless the governance documents expressly call for an audit, the association is likely to audit as it sees fit, if at all. For smaller associations, an audit can be too costly or the Board may feel no need as the dollars involved are so small there really isn’t much chance of the money going missing. For larger associations, an audit is almost a requirement as there can be millions of dollars in play. Generally speaking, larger associations are more likely to have audit requirements as part of their governance documents. It is certainly recommended and a best practice to help keep theft and embezzlement at bay. Check your documents and see what they say. If they are silent on audit requirements and you feel they are needed, ask your Board to consider adding an amendment that requires an audit every so many years. You may just be helping your association develop its own best practice. By the way, auditors that specialize in condo and HOA accounting are often members of your local chapter of CAI. Be sure to check there when looking for a qualified and experienced auditor. Good luck!

Role of the HOA Board versus the Property Management Company

E.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Grateful to discover this resource! Looking for material that outlines the role of management versus the role of the HOA board. As president, I’m raising it as a priority for this year to seek balance, lessen frustration and increase communication between the two. We have a hi-rise with 24/7 staff. Our largest budget expense is the management contract and salaries and benefits. It’s also our largest source of waste if people aren’t clear on their roles. Direct me to best practices, please!

Mister Condo replies:

E.P., congratulations on taking charge of this issue. I am glad you found this resource as well. The basic information to impart on your unit owners and residents is that the management company acts as the Board’s agent in enforcing the rules and regulations of the association. The Board is the governing body that is responsible for all aspects of association governance and directs the work of the management company. The Board is solely responsible for the policies and rules that the management company enforces at the Board’s request. It is important to note that the Board is made up of democratically elected volunteer members of the HOA. The Management Company is employed by the Board. The best resource I am aware of discussing these roles is the Board Member Toolkit, a free download from the Community Associations Institute. Get the download here: https://www.caionline.org/_layouts/15/download.aspx?SourceUrl=/HomeownerLeaders/ResourcesforHomeownerLeaders/CAI.BoardMemberToolkit_2014.pdf I think you will find it perfect for what you are looking for! All the best!

Condo Owner with Irregular Personality Disorder Exhibits Disruptive Behavior

S.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What to do when owner refuses to listen to reason due to a psychological disorder that the family has no control over. Aside from an irregular personality disorder, they pay fees on time, just very disruptive daily, due to disorder.

Mister Condo replies:

S.H., this is an interesting question for several reasons. I am certainly sorry that you have a unit owner who is causing daily disruptions. I am sure the person living with the psychological disorder and his family face a daily struggle to manage. The only actions that can be taken by the association are to enforce the association’s rules about peaceful living. The term “disruption”, while polite, really doesn’t tell me too much about what is actually happening. Is the person abusive to other residents? Is association property being damaged? If no rules are being broken, then there isn’t too much the association can or should do. If rules are being broken, then the association has every right to serve notice, have a hearing, issue fines, and so on to enforce the association’s rules. Of course, this individual cannot be singled out as the only person breaking rules. If other unit owners are breaking the same rules, all need to be cited unless the association wishes to face possible discrimination charges from the unit owner or his family. My best advice is to look closely at your rules to determine if any are being broken. If they are, consult with the association’s attorney about the best way to enforce the rules without creating a discriminatory action. If the disruptive behavior ever gets to the point of assault or battery, it is time to call the police. Personality disorder or not, no unit owner has the right to abuse another unit owner. All the best!

Hyper-Local Social Network for Condominiums?

C.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Do you know of any hyper-local social network that’s available for condo buildings? We have NextDoor in this neighborhood, but it’s not possible to concentrate that into just one building, and I don’t think the surrounding area needs to know about our every blocked drain, or squeaky elevator. The ability to post notices, or ask questions of our building-mates would be really beneficial, I think, but so far I haven’t found any system to facilitate the process. Thanks for your help with this.

Mister Condo replies:

C.B., thank you for your question. There are many software tools to assist in condo governance and management. I am not sure that any qualify as NextDoor (https://nextdoor.com) does as a hyper-local social network but I am guessing some will have the features you are looking for. I have been looking at Condo Ally (https://condoally.com) recently and I was quite impressed. Have you looked at any others? I know of associations that take advantage of commonly used social media, like Facebook, and create pages for their communities. Of course, the open dialogue nature of Facebook means folks can pretty much post anything on the page and that can be just as bad as it is good. I would think that a moderator-controlled environment is the best for condo associations. I’m not sure the exact product you are looking for exists but I’d like to hear from you or any of my other readers what is working for them. All the best!

Bay State Condo Owner Questions Sunshine State Condo Laws

S.B. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My husband purchased a condo in Florida. I do not wish to occupy the condo at any time. I may visit for a weekend. However, I don’t see it happening more than once or twice a year.  The condo association is now mandating I complete a background check saying I am an occupant. The docs do not define occupancy so we went to Florida law. It does have a visitor’s policy which I will abide if it happens however they are now threatening legal action if I don’t give them my name, social and birthdate. My husband refused to give them that information. Our only option is to sell or me never visit. This is crazy, isn’t it?

Mister Condo replies:

S.B., you were wise to consult the Florida condo laws because, as you know, condo laws vary from state to state. What flies in Massachusetts doesn’t necessarily apply in Florida and vice versa. Association by-laws are also binding in different ways between states but the bottom line is that you do need to be in compliance with the state law for the state where the condo dwells. Florida has decided on some fairly stringent condo regulations for the simple reason they don’t want to fall victim to short-term rentals or condo units being sublet to “family” members. These laws were enacted to protect the associations, not the unit owners. I can’t honestly see why you would have a problem supplying the association with such basic information as your name, social security number, and birthdate as these are public records anyway. Perhaps you are concerned with identity theft but I think you are more likely to have a problem using a credit card to make a purchase online or at a store than you are in providing this basic info to the association. As winter sets in here in the Northeast, I am betting a visit to the Sunshine State is sounding pretty good. If all they want is your information to allow you to freely use the condo, I think you should offer it. If you find your personal data was mishandled by the association you can always deal with that after the fact. I doubt you will have any problems. All the best!