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What is an Association? An association is the group that runs and manages the affairs of the condo building. Learn everything you can about the homeowners association before you buy into a development governed by one. The association’s financial, political and legal conditions are very important to your investment and quality of life. When run properly, associations maintain the common grounds and keep civility in the complex. If you follow the rules, the association should not intrude on your privacy or cost you too much in association dues. Poorly managed associations can drag down property values and make living there difficult for residents.
Please define “common elements.” Areas of the property that are to be used by all residents are called common elements. These can include, but are not limited to, laundry rooms, halls, walkways and lawns. Each condo owner has an undivided ownership interest in the common elements.
Who takes care of things around the property? The developer or a professional management firm typically runs the day-to-day operations in and around the property while condo sales are underway. After 75% of the condominiums are sold and closed, the developer turns the reins of the condo association over to the condo owners, who elect directors and officers among themselves to handle the future decision-making and operations. The directors may then choose to manage the property themselves, or they may seek the services of a professional management firm. Arrangements with management firms vary, but services typically do not include maintenance and repair within the individual condo units.
How does the condo association work? The association’s main purpose is to control, regulate and maintain the common elements of the property. Through the bylaws, the association’s board of directors is authorized to regulate and administer the affairs of the property, especially in regard to maintenance and repair of the common elements. The association has the authority to assess and collect sufficient money to maintain the common areas and to ensure the financial stability of the condo property.
What do the directors and officers do? Simply stated, the condo association directors make the major decisions about the property, and the condo association officers implement those decisions. For instance, the directors may meet to decide that the hallway cleaning service is no longer satisfactory and that a new provider needs to be found. One of the officers, typically the president, will then be responsible for gathering bids and bringing this information to the board. The president will then follow the wishes of the board and hire the cleaning service which best suits the needs of the association. In addition to the president, other officers’ positions typically are: vice president, who assists the president; treasurer, who handles the financials; and secretary, who keeps records of the meetings and maintains the association’s important paperwork and files.
What if I don’t want to be involved to that extent? The reality is that most condominium owners do not serve in a director’s or officer’s capacity, simply because there are usually more condos in a property than there are director and officer positions. Every condo owner has a vote, and a say-so, in the running of the property, even if an owner chooses not to serve as an officer or director.
What’s the reserve? As time passes, the necessity arises for repair and/or replacement of items such as the roof, balconies, heating system and the like. Should the condo association wait until these issues actually arise, a large amount of money would have to be collected in a short amount of time from the condo owners, in the form of a “special assessment.” Rather than wait until that time, it is typically more sensible for the association to save a bit of money every month from each condo owner’s assessment fee and put it toward the reserve, where it can grow and earn interest until such time when it is needed.
What are Condo By-Laws?
Bylaws are the rules that govern the internal management of an organization. They are written by the organization’s founders or directors and cover, at minimum, topics such as how directors are elected, how meetings of directors are conducted, and what officers the organization will have and their duties.
Bylaws and the Articles of Incorporation, are the primary official documents for a corporation, whether a business or a nonprofit. The particular requirements for bylaws are set by the state in which the organization incorporates.
How do I file a complaint against a board member?
Make the complaint, put it in writing and send it certified mail. The Board member involved should abstain from voting on any action that is proposed. If necessary, the other board members can consult with an attorney and exclude the board member being complained of from those discussions.
Do Association have to keep record for 7 years for financial record?
Accounting records for the association and separate accounting records for each condominium which the association operates. All accounting records shall be maintained for a period of not less than 7 years. Any person who knowingly or intentionally defaces or destroys accounting records required to be maintained by this chapter, or who knowingly or intentionally fails to create or maintain accounting records required to be maintained by this chapter, is personally subject to a civil penalty
Do I have a right to inspect and make copies of these document?
Yes under the Florida Statue 718.111 The official records of the association are open to inspection by any association member or the authorized representative of such member at all reasonable times. The right to inspect the records includes the right to make or obtain copies, at the reasonable expense, if any, of the association member. The association may adopt reasonable rules regarding the frequency, time, location, notice, and manner of record inspections and copying. The failure of an association to provide the records within 10 working days after receipt of a written request shall create a rebuttable presumption that the association willfully failed to comply with this paragraph. A unit owner who is denied access to official records is entitled to the actual damages or minimum damages for the association’s willful failure to comply with this paragraph. The minimum damages shall be $50 per calendar day up to 10 days, the calculation to begin on the 11th working day after receipt of the written request.
If I am denied access to financial records by the association who can I report my complaint to?
File a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation
FLORIDA STATUTES 718 CONDOMINIUMS
OFFICIAL RECORDS OF CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION GUIDE
CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS EDUCATION
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