FCAP Community—February 2024

FCAP Community

Published February 2024

     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 https://www.fcapgroup.com/managers-2/.   

Betsy Barbieux

Because You Asked
By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

     Is this the new normal, where we raise the monthly dues every year by an outlandish number? This is really getting out of hand. I’m sick to my stomach.
– Matthew

     I can appreciate that some owners will have difficulty with the increased monthly assessment. However, the state law expects the owners to pay all the expenses for the operations and maintenance of the community. When inflation hits hard like it has, repair and construction costs go up, insurance premiums triple, and gas prices keep escalating, then the cost to operate the community goes up. Hence, the owner’s contribution goes up.
– Betsy

     Please define the duties and responsibilities of the secretary of a condominium association. Do those duties include things like keeping accurate records for the association other than budget, keeping accurate records of unit owners, preparing and issuing notices of meetings, and preparing and issuing meeting minutes?
– Frank

     Most likely your bylaws will give a brief description of the role of the secretary. The secretary has the fiduciary responsibility for keeping all the official records of the association that are listed in the statutes as well as responding to owners’ requests to access records and written inquiries. See Florida Statutes, Sections 718.111(12) and 718.112(2)(a)(2).
     The secretary’s duties could include preparation of the notices and agendas, affidavits of mailing, and minutes. However, most all the secretary tasks are delegated to a CAM based on a contract. The secretary and treasurer tasks are overwhelming because of all the complicated laws. Most owners who fill those roles are not qualified to do so, and that is why there are professionals to help you.
     It might be easier to solicit owners for board seats and officer positons if they know those tasks are delegated to your CAM or management firm.
– Betsy

     My HOA has buildings with attached townhomes. One of the end townhomes has termites, and it will be tented. The recorded documents say all shared-wall units must be tented even though no termites were found in those shared-wall units. However, one of the owners of a shared-wall unit says it is discriminatory action to force a unit to be treated when the inspection revealed no termites. I cannot find any case law. What do you think?
– Evelyn

Photo by iStockphoto.com/AndreyPopov

     This is interesting because I had the same townhouse/termite question from someone named Hal. People use the word “discrimination” for things that are not discrimination. Discrimination is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, and familial status.
     My understanding is a termite company will not treat or warrant the treatment if the whole building is not treated. If the documents require termite treatment of the buildings, the owners have all pre-agreed to the treatment when they bought their unit and signed their closing documents. If the documents do not require treatment, I’m not sure the owners can be compelled to submit to the request. So, the building will just have to go untreated and be susceptible to termites.
     There may be case law about an HOA suing an owner to compel treatment, but it would be best to ask an attorney about that.
– Betsy

     The State of Florida allows any member of your HOA association to run for the board of directors. However, in our bylaws, we have stated that they must be a full-time resident, not a snowbird.  Which is correct?
– Cathie

     All owners of record are eligible to run for the board (with the exceptions of being delinquent or a convicted felon whose civil rights have not been restored for at least five years). The attorneys I’ve talked to say you cannot restrict board members to any type of residency.
– Betsy

     In recent months, there have been several outcries of profanity and intimidation between board members as well as the treasurer, who tells owners to “sit down and shut up.” The result is that members are starting to NOT show up at meetings.  Many are past retirement age and simply want to avoid confrontation.
     I would like to propose a “Code of Ethics” for the board as well as owners and association management.  This would be a three-strikes-and-you’re-out approach.  The idea would be to fine someone $100 for the first incident of profanity or intimidation; the second incident would result in a fine of $500 to the general fund; and for the third offense there would be $1,000 fine and removal from the board (lifetime).  The president should also be allowed to close down the board meeting at any time after the incident.
     I realize there are things like the First Amendment to work around, but I would like to understand if this is a viable option and if you know of any other associations adopting this type of management strategy.  Likely an attorney is needed to craft the language so that things are legal.
– Thomas

     It sounds like a regular board meeting to me. If you watch my last CAM Matters™ show, “Budget Meeting Gone Wild”, you’ll see my solution is to call 911 and empty the room.
     Society has indeed gotten worse, and I am disappointed to see that senior citizens have forgotten their manners. I kind of expect it from the younger generations, but the Baby Boomers were taught better.
     No, you cannot fine board members and remove them from the board for their behavior. I have a Code of Ethics in my Boardmanship manual and Florida Board Education Course manuals and hope it sets a standard for everyone; however, it is unenforceable.
     The board meeting is for the board members to get their business taken care of. It is not for the owners, nor is it an informational meeting for the owners. Once board members have the proper training and understanding of the statutory purpose for the board meeting and begin to implement correct meeting procedures, and owners are informed of the actual purpose of the board meeting, meetings should be less eventful.
– Betsy

Marcy L. Kravit

Taming the Titans
Strategies for Dealing with Big Egos on Community Association Boards in Florida

By Marcy Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM, CSM
Director of Community Association Relations, Hotwire Communications
FCAP Program Coordinator

     Community association boards play a critical role in ensuring that neighborhoods and communities run smoothly. However, when members of boards let their egos get the best of them, it can lead to conflicts and chaos that can derail the entire association. 

     In Florida, where community associations are widespread, these conflicts can be particularly challenging to manage. Here are some effective strategies for handling big egos on community association boards in Florida.

Set Clear Expectations

     One of the most important strategies for dealing with big egos on community association boards is to establish clear expectations and guidelines from the outset. This means outlining the roles and responsibilities of each board member as well as the expectations for their behavior and conduct during board meetings.

     By setting clear expectations, you can help to prevent misunderstandings, chaos, and conflicts from arising. 

Encourage Open Communication

     Another effective strategy for dealing with big egos on community association boards is to encourage open and honest communication among board members. Create an environment where board members feel comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas, even if they don’t always agree with one another. When communication is open and respectful, conflicts are less likely to escalate into bigger issues.

Foster a Culture of Collaboration

     Collaboration is key to the success of any community association board. By fostering a culture of collaboration, you can encourage board members to work together and to find common ground on issues that may have previously caused conflict.

     Encourage board members to listen to one another’s opinions and to be respectful of different views. When board members feel that their opinions are valued and respected, they are more likely to work collaboratively towards common goals.

Focus on the Common Goal

     It’s easy for board members to get caught up in their own egos and agendas, but it’s essential to remember that the ultimate goal of any community association is to serve the best interests of the community.

     By focusing on the common goal, you can help to shift the focus away from individual egos and toward the greater good of the community. Remind board members that their decisions should always be made with the community’s best interests in mind.

Photo by iStockphoto.com/CreativaImages

Bring in a Mediator

     Sometimes conflicts on community association boards can become so heated that it’s difficult for board members to find common ground on their own. In these situations, bringing in a mediator can be an effective strategy.

     A mediator is an impartial third party who can help to facilitate discussions and find common ground between board members. A mediator can help to defuse tensions and find solutions that everyone can agree on, even in the most challenging

Hold Board Members Accountable

     Finally, it’s essential to hold board members accountable for their behavior and actions. This means enforcing the rules and regulations of the community association as well as addressing any violations of ethical standards. When board members know that they will be held accountable for their actions, they are more likely to behave in a professional and respectful manner.

      with big egos on community association boards in Florida can be a challenging task, but it’s essential to remember that these conflicts can be managed effectively with the right strategies in place.

      setting clear expectations, encouraging open communication, fostering a culture of collaboration, focusing on the common goal, bringing in a mediator when necessary, and holding board members accountable, you can help to defuse big egos on community association boards and promote a more productive and positive working environment for all members.

     With these strategies in place, you can tame the titans and ensure that your community association runs smoothly for years to come.