Published February 2021
Florida Community Association Professionals’ (FCAP) training is offered on two levels. Level one consists of courses meeting Florida’s continuing education requirements for CAMs, and level two is the Florida Advanced CAM Studies (FACS) course. For further information about the more than 38 online continuing education classes available or to pursue the Certified Florida Community Association Manager (CFCAM) designation, please visit www.fcapgroup.com/membership/education-training/.
2020 was a tough year for managing community associations, and many are eager for a fresh start. The clock has turned and 2021 is into its second month, and we can all agree that we are ready for the new beginnings!
Did you have to put off your 2020 goals due to COVID-19? Has the pandemic given you a new perspective of what you need to do to get things done and how you plan to achieve them? How have your goals for the future changed now that we are in this “new normal”?
Here are eight recommended tips that can help guide you and your board in building a better community in 2021.
Evaluate and assess the needs for capital improvements, repairs, and replacements. Reviewing funding and what is scheduled for replacement on your reserve study is essential. Draft a budget for scheduled repairs and maintenance items listed on your preventive maintenance plan and evaluate and assess for the larger projects. Outlining and prioritizing the needs and action items and listing them in order (1–10) will assist in staying on track and on budget. Keep in mind COVID-19-related expenses, sanitization, supplies, and other items that may impact your budget.
By now, you should have reviewed pending invoices and outstanding fees that were incurred in 2020 and requested vendors to forward all outstanding invoices for services rendered in 2020. Review uncleared bank transactions, bank statements, and delinquent accounts. Year-end financial reviews are important, but they do not replace oversight by management and the CPA prior to delivering financial reports to the individual board members. Establish whether you will have a surplus or a deficit. Review return on investment accounts such as CDs, maturity dates, money market accounts, and lines of credit; determine whether the association is receiving maximum ROI and make the necessary recommendations for changes.
Ensure that all contracts are up to date and certificates of insurance are as well. You may wish to consider asking service providers to eliminate an auto-renew clause that includes a percentage increase and/or a right to cure clause. It is advised that contracts include a 30 day with or without cause cancellation/termination clause. Review the contract for any changes in service and determine if the verbiage needs to be modified. For instance, you may have lost trees in a storm and reduced the number of trees that require tree trimming. It is also a good idea to review the length of the contract. A long-term contract locking in a price may be a great option for a service provider that has been with you for a long time. Always consult with your association attorney prior to signing any contracts.
Be consistent with your collections policy. Send a friendly reminder or call and email residents who have not paid their fines or assessments. Then follow up with a letter. Turn over unpaid assessments to the association attorney to aggressively seek collection of the money due to the association and proceed with a lien or foreclosure. Delinquency rates may have increased as a result of the pandemic.
Draft a newsletter to communicate the past year’s accomplishments and a list of proposed projects for the new year. Highlight committee accomplishments and recognize volunteers’ contributions. You may wish to consider establishing a resolution for electronic voting in 2021. Communications regarding the ongoing status of the amenities during the pandemic should be considered.
Encourage others to participate, get involved, and attend meetings. Educate them and welcome their support and assistance. Increasing homeowner engagement is vital in building a strong community. Resident involvement gives residents a chance to voice their opinions and board members a better perspective on issues facing the community. Increases in resident participation may lighten the workload by delegation of tasks to volunteers serving on committees.
The association has responsibility for its common elements as well as the management and operation of the association’s business.
Members of the board of directors serve without compensation unless the bylaws of the association provide otherwise. The board’s authority includes all of the powers and duties outlined in state statutes and the provisions of the documents governing the association.
Management’s role is to run the daily operations of the association. The board acts as an advisory group. Hiring professional management and professionals to provide the services required for running the operations will alleviate the stress of serving on the board. For an effective board of directors, they must have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the association, its history, and what is to be accomplished. Every association should have responsibility for its assets as well as its operation in accordance with standards established by state and federal law, local ordinances, and the governing documents. It is the board of directors that is responsible that these are fulfilled by the hired professionals.
Propose virtual themed events for the association to bring people together. Meetings go a long way toward building homeowner relationships and boosting the reputation of the community. During the pandemic, plan virtual happy hours and include music and other informative seminars that can engage residents in adding some fun!
Community association board members and managers should consult with their professional partners, including their association attorney, on how best to handle operations related to COVID-19 and adopting proposed resolutions for 2021.
Following these tips will help you in drafting those resolutions and maintaining the motivation to succeed. Meet with your board to make suggestions, establish your wish list, educate others, and communicate for a successful year in 2021!