FCAP Community—May 2021

FCAP Community

Published May 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/.

Betsy Barbieux

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

     Do special assessment meetings require an affidavit? This doesn’t have to be a membership meeting, correct? Per my Peter Dunbar book, The Condominium Concept, it states it is needed for membership meetings and adoption of budgets.
– Jerilyn

     You don’t say if your documents require special assessments to be voted on by the membership or if the board of directors has the sole decision. Whether it is a membership meeting or a board meeting to approve a special assessment, you need a 14-day written notice to the owners with an agenda specifically stating that a special assessment will be considered and how much. You always use the Affidavit of Mailing (Proof of Mailing) when there is a 14-day written notice, whether it is a board meeting or owners’ meeting.
– Betsy

     The verbal history of my community says that somewhere in the long past, in a membership meeting, all members voted that every Lot (12) will have one director. However, I’ve not seen the minutes to such a meeting. So, we keep electing 12 directors! But the governing documents were not updated/amended to specifically say the number of directors is 12 or that every lot had a director. The documents still say three directors with the officers being the president, secretary, and treasurer.
     So, which do we follow? Twelve directors or three?
– Evelyn

     First, I recall you are self-managed, and I would encourage you to seek professional management on a part-time basis. A CAM would have straightened this out for you a long time ago.
     I would say that without written documentation in the declaration or bylaws or formal amendments recorded in the public records, you cannot go on hearsay. It would appear to me you should have three directors, not twelve.
– Betsy

     There are no words for my gratitude regarding your assistance with our HOA. As a homeowner and now a board member, your expertise has been invaluable to me. 
     I have been reviewing your online videos for anything regarding committees. I would like your opinion on the use of committees appointed by the board to assist with the needs of the HOA.
     Also, we will need your assistance in being properly educated, so we will be in touch to schedule a session with you. It is also becoming obvious we will need a referral to a CPA who can assess our financial status.
– Alicia

     Wow, you have had to learn and get up to speed quickly! Except for two instances, committees are not really addressed in the statutes; they are document driven or the decision of the board if/when/how to use them.
     If they are set up properly with written guidelines and accountability to the board and defined limits on scope of duty and specifics on how committee members are selected and exactly how long they serve, they can be useful. However, without a defined structure in place, they can run amuck.
     To be clear, when I say “committee,” I am distinguishing it from a “club.” A committee is an extension of the board of directors and makes recommendations to the board on certain aspects of community management or maintenance. A committee might be the budget committee, the ARC committee, violations committee, or a personnel committee. These committees should report to the board. Clubs are social or common interest in nature, such as the bingo club, the Michigander club, the book club, or the social club. Clubs should be autonomous organizations, whether formally organized or not, with their own money, bank accounts, and tax ID numbers. Their funds should not be included in the association’s budget. 
     P.S. And I can refer you to a CPA in your area.
– Betsy

     I have had some residents ask me if there is a way to dissolve our HOA. I’m not sure why they are asking or even if that is the proper thing to do considering the HOA provides irrigation to all of the homes and maintains all of the common areas, lake maintenance, etc. Please advise if this is even possible and/or feasible. 
– Michael 

     It may be possible to terminate a homeowners association, but this is an attorney question!
     My thoughts would be a termination will likely involve the banks that hold mortgages on the homes. The banks that hold owners’ mortgages will not be happy and will likely have to sign off on it.
     There are statutes for termination of condominiums but not HOAs. Some HOA documents might address termination. If you have wetlands or other areas of refuge, this will significantly complicate the process.
     Just know, there would be no deed restrictions on what owners can do to their homes/lots. This would leave no maintenance of the common entrance or lake (which will smell), and everyone would have to put in their own irrigation (or not), etc.
     Then you run into contract issues and don’t have an entity to contract for liability insurance, lawn service, lake maintenance, etc. Are there streetlights or roads or irrigation wells that belong to the association?
     Likely, your neighborhood will become rundown, and banks will not look favorably on purchasers seeking mortgages. This is a question for your attorney!
– Betsy

Marcy L. Kravit

Best Practices for Managing Bullying in Your Association
Marcy L. Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM

     The American Psychological Association defines bullying as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions.” 

     Unfortunately, it is all too common that bullying occurs in community associations. Managers need support and guidance to handle these types of situations. The 16-hour Florida CAM licensing course does not prepare managers on how to take control of bullies. Bullying is a form of workplace harassment and violence. This conduct not only is unhealthy but also adds unnecessary stress and related health effects, which can be both physical and mental. If the bullying is directed at an employee, it can increase the use of sick leave, increase medical costs, and cause employees to quit their jobs or request a transfer. 

     Disgruntled homeowners who challenge the board’s decisions, harass board members, chastise the manager, and fight with residents have their own agenda and may be considered bullies.  

     There are many types of bullying—physical, verbal, cyber, and gesture. I have personally witnessed physical bullying at a board meeting. A member had thrown a chair at another member, and the police were called out. 

     Verbal abuse is the most common and is extremely demeaning and degrading. The bully feels powerful and strong. It is like children name calling. These actions are dangerous to one’s self esteem, causing anxiety, depression, and emotional and psychological harm. 

     Cyberbullying can occur over emails, social media, and digital platforms and is a damaging and destructive way to attack others and spread gossip and rumors, which can harm the association’s reputation and present potential liability. 

     Gesture bullying occurs when a bully stares and looks at you in an intimidating way and uses threatening gestures towards you. 

     Board bullies can cause a threat to the association, especially if they abuse their power. Resident bullies can disrupt the entire operation. Employee bullies can interfere with the performance and productivity of others. 

     What is the best way to address a bully? It can be difficult to handle someone who seems to know everything, is rude, ridicules, is aggressive, sabotages others, has an abrasive personality, and/or is passive/aggressive in intimidating others. 

  • Talk with the bully privately. A face-to-face conversation is always best rather than over the phone. It is always better to take a positive approach and reinforce by communicating to that person specific occurrences of the bad behavior and how it has adversely affected an employee, fellow board member, and/or resident. Explain how it has impacted the association’s operations.
  • Criticize the behavior and not the person.
  • Discuss and stick to the facts.
  • Try not to get emotional.
  • Ask questions. Find out why the individual is so critical and condescending. Ask why he or she is attacking and belittling. 
  • Get to the bottom of why he is acting that way.
  • Make sure you have a witness to support you.
  • Stay calm, maintain your composure, take a deep breath, and address the behavior in a friendly, professional manner.
  • Explain that the board, residents, and management are all on the same team. All parties are working toward a common goal.
  • Create and adopt a Code of Ethics and/or Board Code of Conduct. Require all to sign it and refer to it when the individual gets out of hand.
  • Review the governing documents, HR policies, and state laws that govern the association. The board may have the power to remove the member as an officer and reassign to a director… or a committee chair to a committee member. If the bully is an employee, speak with the employee, document the conversation, and review the HR Employment Manual for policies regarding bullying.

     Board and resident bullies need to understand how their behavior affects the entire association. 

     Homeowners have the right to complain; however, they should never disrespect the manager and the board. The board meetings should be run according to Robert’s Rules of Order. If a resident in the audience makes any obscene gestures, is disruptive, or uses profanity or foul language, then the resident should be subject to removal and issued a letter for violating the governing documents subject to potential fines. A resolution should be adopted if the governing documents do not outline any provisions regarding this bad behavior. 

     Contact your association attorney to assist with drafting the language for a Board Code of Conduct and /or adopting a resolution. If things are out of control, consider a cease-and-desist order. 

     I have read the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradbury and Jean Graves, and it helps to understand what makes people tick and how they are wired. 

     It is important to respect differences of opinion and agree to disagree; however, it does not give a person the right to be tough on others, be disruptive, disrespectful, and difficult. You may not be able to totally change their behavior; however, you can set boundaries in creating a better environment that does not reward their bad behavior or disrupt the association.