Tag Archives: Property Management

Property Manager Running Condo Board Meetings

K.M. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can/should a manager chair Board of Directors meetings. The Board of my Condo in Florida asked our manager to chair the meetings because they believe he can do it more efficiently.

Mister Condo replies:

K.M., that is a good question and I could go either way with my response. First and foremost, it is clearly the role and responsibility of the Board President to conduct and preside over the Board meeting. Governance documents require it and it is usually right in the description of duties for the role. However, perhaps the Board president is not familiar or comfortable with Roberts Rules of Order, has no interest in becoming a parliamentarian, or just isn’t comfortable actually chairing the meeting. I can see no reason that the manager could not assist the President by taking on the duties of running the meeting without actually having any authority or ability to cast votes. The authority is granted to the Board. The ability to vote is a Board right, not a Property Manager right. So, while I would be careful to keep a close eye on the situation, I have a hard time telling you the practice should not be allowed. It is quite possible that the Board could not properly carry out its duties without the Property Manager’s assistance and guidance at the Board meeting. However, if there is any sign that the Property Manager is influencing vote outcomes or doing anything else that is preventing the Board from truly functioning independently, I would suggest ceasing the practice. Additionally, I would hope the Board President is learning from the Property Manager’s leading of the meeting and can, at some point, resume the duties of running the meeting. Running a Board meeting is such a rudimentary duty of being Board President that I would have to question the long-term leadership ability of a Board President who wasn’t eventually up to the task. All the best!

Condo Manager Turns Off Unit Owner’s Furnace!

A.H. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can my association manager turn off my working furnace because it makes loud noise when kicking on without notifying me first? This furnace is known for this and we’ve been having this same furnace for over 15 years without any complaints or issues…overall, it’s a working furnace. Please help!

Mister Condo replies:

A.H., I am sorry that your association manager took such a drastic measure as turning off your furnace and gave you no warning. As to whether or not he should have done that and without warning is really a question of who owns the furnace and what the rules say about it. I have to assume someone complained about the loud noise and the manager took action to address that complaint. Now, it’s your tune to complain about the lack of a functioning furnace. You will want to involve the Board as they are the folks responsible for giving the manager his marching orders. Ideally, the furnace will run and the noise will be abated. However, that may require a new furnace to be installed and the Board may not want to do that. Work with all the parties involved. I am sure you can find a happy ending here. Stay warm!

This Condo Repair Job is for the Birds!

L.W. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hi, I’ve had an issue with a bird nest outside on my soffit. My condo is refusing to pay for the removal even though it’s part of the building. This has been going on for several months. I’ve been calling the condo President constantly to no avail. We recently hired a Management company and the President is very rude. I had my cousin talk to both of them and they both told him the birds are gone. Due to this problem, I have copious amounts of bird feces on my balcony. I own a screened in balcony which is the problem. Since their handy man doesn’t know how to take the screen apart they told my cousin I refused service. I have rights as a home owner and not wanting it to be damaged. What recourse do I have?

Mister Condo replies:

L.W., I am sorry that you are facing such an ornery challenge enjoying your condo living experience. Birds, bats, raccoons, rats and other wildlife often find condo dwelling to their liking. You are correct in assuming that the Board is the responsible party for correcting the situation. However, calling the condo President constantly is not a good strategy to have the situation remedied. Since you have a Property Management company to deal with, they are likely going to be the ones who will dispatch the handyman to remove the nest. The complication of the screened porch adds a new wrinkle but it shouldn’t be the end of the process. It sounds like another repairman will be needed to remove the screen without damaging it. Who owns the screen? If it is you, you may have to arrange to have the screen removed at your expense so the association’s handyman can do his work to remove the bird nest. If the screen is association-owned, then they will need to have the screen removed before they can remove the nest and then return the screen to its original position. You asked about recourse. First, you need patience. Coordinating two different repair people may take some time and the Board is not technically under a time constraint. That being said, your only true recourse is to bring action against the Board for not dealing with the problem. That can be costly and time-consuming. My advice is to work with the Board, the Property Management company, and the workers dispatched to deal with the problem. It will take some time but it sounds like they are on the way to getting it done. Good luck!

Inadequate Condo Board Meeting Notice

N.T. from California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am a first-time condo owner in California for a year. I wrote a letter to the board requesting for reimbursement for an expense that my condo insurer and I felt was a responsibility of the HOA to prevent further damage to the interior since the HOA contractor was overwhelmed and was unavailable. I wanted to attend the next board meeting in case my issue comes up on the agenda. The board typically meets on a certain day of the week every other month. The community newsletter typically indicates which day the month prior or it has been rescheduled. However, the past month the date was left empty on the newsletter but there was a meeting and my issue was raised and I was not there to clarify the statement the manager made which was not true. My question, is the board required to publicize the dates of the board meeting? I plan on attending the next board meeting which was publicized in this month newsletter which listed both the prior month meeting date that occurred and the upcoming meeting date. Thank you in advance and will greatly appreciate any information you can provide.

Mister Condo replies:

N.T., I am sorry that your introduction to condo living has been so controversial and that you experienced problems right off the bat. You asked about meeting notice requirements and the short answer is, yes, the Board does need to give advance notice to all unit owners of the association as outlined in either the governing documents or local or state law. Typically, the notice requirement is in writing to the individual unit owners, although other methods may be acceptable as long as they are agreed to by the unit owners. If the newsletter is the standard and medium used then that is how it is done in your community. I will say that a newsletter alone is not typically considered due process for serving notice of a Board meeting and that email would be more common in this day and age. The notice needs to include the agenda as well as the date and time. Board meetings are open for unit owners to attend but unit owners don’t participate unless asked by the Board to do so. In your case, you wanted to clarify your petition to the Board for reimbursement for expenses you made to prevent further damage. Ideally, the Board would have undertaken this expense and you wouldn’t have been out of pocket in the first place. The Board, and only the Board, can make repairs or alterations to common elements even though common sense likely drove you to take the action you took. I hope you are not out a tremendous amount of money. It might be best to write this one off and understand that you need to let the Board take this action if it comes up again. Good luck!

Too Much Condo Surveillance?

R.S. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We just discovered that the Front desk person of the building is recording and typing up every conversation, comment, and who is sitting in the lobby for more than 30 minutes. This “spying” is being done without resident knowledge or communication that their conversation will be written. Residents have been told the front desk is meant to announce visitors, accept packages, sign in visitors…. not security etc. Is this legal??

Mister Condo replies:

R.S., I can see where this “big brother”-like behavior could be disconcerting. However, I do not think it is illegal as the front desk and lobby area are common property of the association. There should not be any expectation of privacy in such a place. The more important question here is why is this behavior going on at all? The Board is responsible for the going’s on of the association and management of the common areas. If you have a management company handling the management of these common areas, it is quite possible that this employee is following orders from them either at the request of the Board or the Management Company. Either way, your next move is to ask the Board why this type of record is necessary and that you and many other residents feel it is not. The Board can then decide to continue or discontinue the practice. Good luck!

Condo Cable Installation Costs Out of Control

C.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My condo association just hired a new management property company. This property company has created rules for the cable company to follow in order to gain access to the electrical room where the cable hook ups are located. The cable tech can get access one of three ways 1) to drive to the management office to pick up the key (20 miles there and back, not to mention having to return the key) – the cable tech said they are not willing to do that 2) the cable tech can send an email to the management property with their employee id, but the techs say they are not allowed to send emails to anyone outside of the company 3) I can pay the management company $40 an hour to come and open the door. If the cable company gives me a 4-hour block and the management company stays until the cable tech is done, that could easily be 5 hours and close to $200 to get my cable fixed. I have tried to ask the board, but the management property states that the board wants everything to go through the management property company and they have not passed this issue to the board. Can the management company do this? The old management wouldn’t charge anything.

Mister Condo replies:

C.B., they absolutely can! The problem is with your Board, not your Management Company. If the Board doesn’t apply pressure to the management company to change their policy, the management company can pretty much do whatever it wants. The management company works for the Board, not you. Your displeasure at having to pay these extra fees is of no concern to the management company. In fact, it is quite profitable from what you describe. You need to complain to the Board and also speak with other unit owners who must be having the same issue as you. If enough you get fed up with the Board, it is time to elect new Board Members who will pressure the management company to change this policy or risk losing the management contract. If those things don’t happen, the policy is likely to remain in place. Enjoy your cable and good luck!

Florida Condo President Facing Multiple Challenges

R.H. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My 24-unit condo by laws say that an audit must be conducted once a year. Florida statutes say every 3 years. In addition, the property manager pushed through a specific contractor and that was 3 times the price but the other directors back her up. I am the president but I can’t get any info from her because she is aggressive and doesn’t let me say a word without attacking me verbally. I am now taping the meetings. A woman is unofficially taking notes but doesn’t sign them. They are not a good synopsis. What do I do?

Mister Condo replies:

R.H., thank you for your service to your community. I am sorry it isn’t a better experience for you. Let’s try and break down a few of the symptoms and see if we can’t get you on the right path. The audit requirement in your governing documents likely override the state requirement as they call for more frequent auditing. If your bylaws called for audits every 5 years, then the state law would supersede your documents and you would need to audit every three years. The contractor performing the audit is hired by the Board. As long as the rest of the Board is OK with this auditor then there may not be too much you can do about it. Ideally, hiring an auditor is no different than any other vendor. Bids should be collected and a contractor selected. If your Board doesn’t function that way, there may not be too much you can do about this particular vendor. Unofficial notes are not the proper method of taking Minutes of meetings. Are there formal Minutes of your meetings? If not, the association is opening itself up to all kinds of troubles. Minutes are the official and legal records of your meetings. The Board Secretary has the responsibility of keeping these vital records. As President, you are functioning as the executive of the association and it is important that you know what needs to be done. If any vital functions are not being handled correctly, you may need to offer assistance or seek new volunteer leaders from within your community to get the job done. Typically, property managers work closely with their Boards to manage the association. The adversarial relationship you have described to me makes me wonder why the association would renew their agreement with the manager. I would encourage you to take a good look at the management company agreement and get competitive bids for when the renewal comes up. There is no reason for the association to continue using a manager that doesn’t work well with the Board. However, if the rest of the Board is satisfied you may find them reluctant to change management companies. I wish you all the best.

Condominiums, Security, and Online Deliveries

J.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m actually a Property Manager looking for some creative ideas. Running into a growing issue of granting building access for home deliveries. With the rapid increase of online shopping and Amazon’s move to sub-contracting delivery to what is similar to an Uber driver (think Postmates or Lasership), leaves me in a dilemma. You can’t arrange access as you might with USPS or FedEx with regular drivers. And some buildings want residents to rely on their keys or fobs and not issue the building door code. Some buildings do allow codes to be issued to residents and then that code is included with delivery instructions. I understand the need for security, but would also like to accommodate residents in buildings that want to restrict the use of access codes. (these are smaller communities with no onsite staff). Much thanks for any ideas.

Mister Condo replies:

J.H., thank you for the question and for your forward thinking. Obviously, security systems in condos are designed to keep undesirables out and residents safe. The idea of allowing unfettered access to buildings and units does not jive with that philosophy so many of these newly created delivery services are, by design, incompatible with condominium safety protocols. In my opinion, one of two things would need to happen. Discontinue the security protocols. Allow anyone who wishes access to the property. This will allow the good in with the bad but it may be the only way to allow delivery of such products without providing security clearance. This is a terrible idea because it removes the security that many unit owners want, expect, and purchased when they bought into the community. The second solution is to disallow the use of these services. This, too seems extreme but it allows for the existing security protocols to be kept in place. This was how the community was designed, it is what owners expect, and there was never any such delivery service to content with when unit owners purchased so they cannot realistically expect any changes to their security service. Effective, but neither adaptive or forward thinking. The final solution may be the most practical and it mimics the current protocols for allowing visitors on the property. The unit owner takes responsibility for the delivery company and allows them on to the property just as they would allow any other guest. If that means they need to be home when the delivery comes, so be it. If they can’t be home then they can’t use the delivery service. No need to restrict the delivery service or the unit owner. And, just like any other guest that is one the property at their request, they are responsible for that guest’s behavior. Delivery companies are notorious for parking in fire lanes, blocking driveways, etc.. If they break rules while they are on the common grounds, the unit owner may decide it just isn’t worth the “convenience”. Condominium and HOAs have rules and regulations and security systems for a reason. It isn’t too make life easier; it is to make it more enjoyable and more secure. Home delivery of groceries and condominiums just may not be a match made in heaven. Good luck!

Condo Developer Transition Turmoil

S.C. from Litchfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our Board does nothing. No communication, they don’t respond to our questions very well, they are not transparent when they communicate among each other (which is not too often) and my biggest beef, they refuse to fix our crumbling infrastructure (roads, outside siding, fascia boards, etc.). It’s one delay, one excuse after another and this has been going on for almost 3 years. Money is tight, they do not properly fund our community yet they are raising the dues and still operating with a negative balance. No one on the board lives here full-time and the president and one other member work for the developer. Clearly, their priorities are not in sync with the homeowners. Most residents will not say a word for fear of being the bad one or simply a case of extreme apathy. I want to round up the troops and have all the board members (well, 3 out of 4) removed. Having been the president of the association and property manager, I have plenty of experience.  I do not know what kind of reaction I will get but I do know there will be some support. Any response from you would be great and I look forward to it. Thank you.

Mister Condo replies:

S.C., I am sorry that your condo Board is not performing to your expectations. However, from what you have told me, the association is still under developer control so the Board truly has limited power during this time period. Once control is handed over to the association, things will change because no one will be beholden to the developer. The association governs itself and many of the items you discuss can be addressed through democratic elections of interested and able volunteers. Now, if the developer has broken covenants with the owners and you think a lawsuit is in order, you might want to discuss your situation with an attorney. However, new owners like you describe may not go along with spending money to sue the developer so you may just need to wait until the developer transition period is complete. If I have misread your letter and the developer transition is already complete, you simply need to elect new leaders for your community. You will need volunteers ready, able, and willing to serve. They will need training and support. You should also consider hiring a community association attorney verse in developer transition, and accountant, and a property manager if needed. The developer’s team was there to support the developer, not the community association. Getting the right folks in place is vitally important to your association’s success. Your local CAI Chapter can help you find the resources you need. Visit http://caict.org to learn more. Good luck!

Condo Reserve Study Reveals Major Shortage

B.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our new condo management company did a projection study. Unit owners received a letter stating that each unit will be assessed $50,000 payable over a 30-year period unless we vote to take over inside and outside of our units. Is this legal?

Mister Condo replies:

B.P., I’ve never heard of such a thing but that doesn’t make it illegal. The whole idea of a condominium association is that the association is responsible for all common elements, which includes the exterior of the buildings. Individual unit owners do not own the building exteriors so they are not directly responsible for the care and upkeep of them. I say “not directly” because unit owners do have to do two things to make sure their properties are well maintained. The first is to pay their common fees on time. Common fees are the lifeblood of the association and include a contribution to the Reserve Fund, which is where the money to maintain the common elements should eventually come from. Second, and equally important is that unit owners need to elect responsible folks to govern their association. The Board is directly responsible for overseeing the upkeep of the association. They typically do so by hiring outside contractors and management companies to implement this duty but they are the ones representing the association in all matters regarding maintenance and preservation of the association’s common elements. Your governance documents clearly spell out the duties of the association with regards to common elements. If I had to guess, I would say that the communication you received is not properly communicating the message of a Reserve Fund contribution. $50K contribution over 30 years is a little less than $140 per month. Without knowing the amount of assets your association needs to maintain, I would say that is not an unreasonable number for monthly Reserve Fund contributions. I would hope that your association is already collecting these Reserves as part of your monthly common fees. If not, this letter may have been meant to serve as a warning that there is going to be an increase to your common fees to cover the necessary Reserve Fund contribution needed to maintain the community. The “projection study” conducted by the management company may have actually been a “Reserve Study” and they are simply conveying the results of the study. Either way, your association needs to build a healthy Reserve Fund so future repairs can be afforded. Every single common element is aging as we speak. Money needs to be collected today for those replacement projects tomorrow. All the best!