Published February 2022
Editor’s Note: The role of board member is essential to community association living. The role can be satisfying when the community is thriving, and residents are mostly content. But serving on the board is a serious responsibility, and there are many areas to be occupied with. With that in mind a variety of professionals have provided sound counsel in their responsibilities of expertise to assist board members in carrying out their responsibilities well. Thank you for your service, board members!
Congratulations on being elected to the board. We appreciate the time and energy you’ll devote in the coming year. Here are our best tips on having positive and productive board meetings.
Serving your community can be one of the most enjoyable, rewarding, educational, and frustrating positions you’ll ever take. Enjoy your time and be proud of yourself for giving your time and energy for the benefit of your neighbors.
For more information on Allied Property Group, call (305) 232-1579 or (239) 241-6499 or visit www.alliedpropertygroup.net.
Does your association management company use modern software? If not, then you should consider asking them to implement a system that can make life easier for you and the rest of the board. Technology will help keep you connected to each other and your management company. Here are four reasons to embrace technology:
For more information on AppFolio, call (866) 648-1536 or visit appfolio.com/associations.
Welcome to the board. Life as you know it will no longer exist! Things you were oblivious to on your drive home and never noticed are now looked at as a line item on a reserve study or a new expense that was overlooked. As an integral part of the success of your community, take the time to see what your reserve study says about your parking lots and roadways and other expenditures on the property. Prices are going up in every direction, and asphalt didn’t get out of it unscathed! Between insurance increases, driver shortages, fuel increases, supplier increases, and labor increases, prices for pavement maintenance have increased drastically, and you will need to update your reserves and budgets to reflect these increases. Asphalt Restoration Technology can help you with not only your asphalt maintenance programs but also projected budgets as well with free evaluations, and if it’s something out of our scope of work, we happily provide you with a reputable contractor in your area!
For more information on Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems, call (800) 254-4PDC (4732) or visit www.asphaltnews.com.
Welcome to the board! We hope you enjoy the challenge of responsibility and decision-making that comes with helping to run your community association. While they may not always show it, your fellow residents will surely appreciate your efforts on their behalf. In our experience, one of the best things a new board of directors can do is to surround themselves with a supportive team of experts who can help provide guidance and insight, making your experience easier and more valuable to your association. Think of these individuals as your community’s “All-Star Team,” who can draw on a wealth of experience and expertise in helping you with your new role. A reliable property manager, accountant, and attorney are three of the most important positions to fill for any association. Of course, when it comes time to bring in a reserve specialist to help you with your reserve study and annual budget, we hope you’ll keep us in mind! Good luck!
Homebuyers are often attracted to communities where the HOA takes charge in safeguarding their community, either through active security programs or leveraging advanced technology. Every board should be aware of the different ways they can protect their residents while still maintaining a pleasurable resident experience.
Communities can limit who comes in and out of their community using access control. This can include vehicular gates with separate resident and visitor access. Condominiums can take advantage of an access system to limit access into the building and their amenities.
HOAs can leverage security camera systems with built-in analytics to get a complete security system around their property. Many hi-tech camera systems can notify the HOA of unusual activity and even blacklisted individuals.
Communities will often pair security cameras and access control with an active security guard to bring a peace of mind.
For more information on AT&I Systems, please call (866) 691-4499 or visit www.ATISecuritySystems.com.
Lawyers are often asked whether multiple owners of the same parcel may serve on a board of directors together. Whether simultaneous service by co-owners is permissible depends on whether the association is a condominium and how many units are in the condominium or whether the association is one governed by the Homeowners Association Act.
The Condominium Act provides that, in a residential condominium of more than 10 units or in a residential condominium association that does not include timeshare units or timeshare interests, co-owners of a unit may not serve on the board of directors at the same time unless they own more than one unit or unless there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the vacancies on the board at the time of the vacancy.
The Homeowners Association Act does not include the same limitation on the ability of co-owners to serve together on a board. In fact, the Homeowners Association Act (§720.306, Fla. Stat.) provides that all members are eligible to serve on the board except as otherwise specifically prohibited (those who are delinquent in the payment of any fee, fine, or other monetary obligation to the association on the day that he or she could last nominate himself or herself or be nominated for the board may not seek election to the board, and those who have been convicted of any felony in Florida or in a United States District or Territorial Court, or convicted of any offense in another jurisdiction which would be considered a felony if committed in Florida ). Since all members are eligible to serve and there is no limitation on co-owners serving together, multiple owners of the same parcel in a homeowners association may run for the board and may serve if elected.
If there are specific questions about whether a particular person is eligible to serve on your association’s board, contact your association’s legal counsel.
Consult experts on the condition of the property and repair needs. The board members, the manager, the attorney, and the accountant are not experts on evaluating the condition of the building or making repair recommendations. That is why the board must hire an engineer or other construction expert and follow that expert’s advice.
Familiarize yourselves with the condition of the property. Determine what maintenance and repair projects are in process and make sure they are properly supervised. Determine what maintenance and repair projects are planned for the next few years.
Gain an understanding of the fiscal operation. Review the current and prior budgets and financial statements. Make sure the budget is sufficient to cover operating expenses. Evaluate the need for reserves based upon the funds on hand and the upcoming projects that should be funded from reserves.
Understand that process matters. This is a legal issue, a public relations issue with your members, and an operational efficiency issue. Make sure meetings are properly noticed and conducted according to the law and your governing documents. Understand what technology is available to streamline notice to your owners, unit owner voting, and attendance at membership meetings.
Finally, understand that there will always be people who support the board, people who never participate, and people who disagree with the board. You took a seat on the board to represent the interests of the entire community and to exercise your judgment to fulfill the board’s obligations.
For more information about Becker, visit beckerlawyers.com.
Do you find yourself constantly hearing that fiber optic internet is better, faster, and stronger than traditional cable internet? And then do you wonder what exactly that means for your community? What difference will it make?
If the answer to the above is, yes, read below. Fiber brings a variety of benefits that will not only future-proof your community but also ensure your residents have the world-class experience they deserve, and you have peace of mind.
For higher needs of data transmission such as entire communities, fiber-optic bandwidth is significantly stronger, and speed does not decrease as high demands are put on the network.
Fiber is much stronger than copper. Fiber-optic internet is not susceptible to inclement weather conditions, which is a huge benefit in a state like Florida.
Fiber-optic internet is one powerful way to increase your community’s protection against cybercrime.
To learn more about Blue Stream Fiber and services available, please visit www.bluestreamfiber.com/communities/new-bulk-services/.
Congratulations on joining your board of directors. Community association boards are quite different in form and function than corporate boards, school boards, etc. Why?
No matter how successful you may have been in another career, you can never be fully prepared for your experience on a community association board.
Board members are responsible for the administration of the association. The association is responsible for the maintenance, management, and operation of the association property.
Some of the duties of board members include, but are not limited to, the following:
Being on the board is a thankless job, but someone must do it. Thank you for stepping up! Hopefully, your neighbors will recognize that you are investing your time and energy for the benefit of your community.
For more information about Campbell Property Management, call (954) 427-8770 or visit www.CampbellMGT.com.
Welcome (or welcome back) to the board! 2021 was a defining year for the property management industry in Florida, and as we enter this new era of caution and quality, it is key for board members to understand what they may encounter in the new year. Here’s what to expect when it’s time to conduct structural inspections.
First, you will contract with a structural engineer to run an initial inspection of your property. This engineer will provide a report to the board outlining compulsory actions, recommendations, and suggestions. With this report, you’ll begin the request for proposal (RFP) process to obtain pricing for the work… and while it may seem like an extensive task, don’t feel overwhelmed. With the support of your management firm, you will find all the right people for this project.
For more information on Castle Group, call (844) 815-5321 or visit www.castlegroup.com.
As a new board member, it’s important to become familiar with your association’s reserve funds. Reserve funds contribute to a stable community and are crucial for implementing timely repairs and replacements.
The board is responsible for ensuring the association has adequate reserve funds. If your reserve study is more than three years old, consider having it updated or a new study completed.
Remember these key elements when reviewing reserve funds:
For more information about CIT Bank, visit www.cit.com/CABReserves.
As a new board member, you will be faced with a lot of decisions right away. Hope-fully, this brief article will give you enough information that you can ask questions to learn more. One of the largest expenses most condominiums face is roof replacement. So, obviously it is best if this particular asset can be made to last as long as possible. Has your association carried out an annual inspection of the roof? These inspections can provide a lot of information to the board, such as the condition and the life expectancy of the current roof. This information can then be correlated to the adequacy of the reserves. Reserves for large expenditures can prevent emergency assessments, which nobody likes. Think of roof damage like a cancer. Left untreated, it will spread. Early detection is key to long-term success.
To learn more about Ed Williams Registered Roof Consultant, visit EdWilliamsRegisteredRoofConsultant.com or call (772) 335-5832.
Don’t forget to tell your community’s service providers if you are new to the board or have new members. Many vendors don’t automatically know if there are new board members, and providing updated names and contact information is helpful for a few reasons.
For more information on Envera Systems, call (855) 380-1274 or visit www.EnveraSystems.com.
A reserve study is a long-term budgeting tool utilized by common interest communities that provides a long-term timeline (usually 30 years funding) of costs and dates for replacement of common area components. Common areas such as roofing, paint, asphalt/paving, and anything with a replacement cost of $10,000 or more all have limited useful life expectancies, and a reserve study provides a community the necessary information to adequately save for the expected replacement of these items over time. A professional reserve study would lay out the funding plan to avoid such problems as special assessments. A reserve study is not a budget. It is also not written in stone. Reserve studies are living documents that change from year to year and project to project. Replacement costs, historical maintenance, weather, location, and accessibility all play a part in a reserve study. And then the question arises, “What do we do with the study once it is done?” As of late, this has become a more concerning question. Expert Inspectors is now offering a Reserve Roundtable which started in January 2022, a private two-hour class on the ins and outs of the reserve study and how to best utilize it. Contact us for more information. In the meantime, schedule your reserve study appointment and get the answers you need about your association’s financial health.
For more information on Expert Inspectors, call (866) 480-8236 or visit www.flinsurancevaluations.com.
As high season in Florida starts up and residents are returning to their winter homes, many will find small animal droppings scattered around the outside of the building. While these droppings can potentially come from just about any kind of mammal, reptile, or amphibian, it is very easy to rule in or rule out the bat population. This is because most types of pests produce droppings that have a white tip on them. This whiteness comes from uric acid and accumulates on the droppings because birds, rodents, etc., use the same orifice through which to get rid of all bodily waste. Bats do not—their physiology is almost identical to humans and like us they have two separate channels for this process. Bat droppings are exclusively dark/blackish brown. So the easiest and best practice recommendation for identifying bat guano is to look for the absence of a white tip (and yes, they can go to the bathroom upside down)!
For more information about Friends of Bats, call (888) 758-2287 or visit www.FriendsofBats.com.
The New Year is a great opportunity for board members to reflect upon the prior year and set goals for the year to come. Follow these basic steps to start your year off strong:
For more information about Haber Law, call (305) 379-2400 or visit www.haber.law.
Streets in Florida experience piercing UV rays and excessive water exposure that leads to pavement deterioration. However, the damage may not be visible if your streets are newer. Too often boards delay addressing maintenance because they don’t see cracking or other signs of distress. This delay will significantly increase the cost of pavement ownership for the association.
Once distresses are visible, you are now managing a more brittle pavement with permanent issues. The goal is to keep the asphalt pavement flexible to avoid costly pavement repairs and the need for replacement. Proactive measures need to be implemented while the pavement is still in good condition. Treatment options such as slurry, high-density mineral bond, chip seal, etc., all have pros and cons that board members need to become aware of along with what’s best based upon the condition of the pavement.
For access to a free training session for “lowering pavement ownership costs” approved by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, email email@example.com.
For more information about Holbrook Asphalt, call (321) 430-2232 or visit www.HolbrookAsphalt.com.
Choosing the right telecommunications partner is one of the most impactful decisions a board can make. Congratulations on being elected to the board! We appreciate the time and energy you’ll devote in the coming year.
The telecommunications choices you make now will impact your residents and community for years to come. Choosing a provider that utilizes technologies that keep up with the pace of innovation taking place in all aspects of telecommunications is essential.
As you review your options, we hope you will invite Hotwire to meet with your leadership team to provide details on all the benefits of our 100 percent fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) solutions. Hotwire excels in providing advanced television solutions, gigabit speed internet, telephone service, and home security and automation via this FTTH technology and serves hundreds of communities all across Florida and beyond.
Hotwire consults closely with your board, providing customized bulk solutions delivering premiere services and substantial savings to your community. We look forward to meeting with you soon.
As everyone is aware of the Surfside condominium collapse, the State of Florida and other local governing agencies are working to prevent such a sad catastrophe from reoccurring. If your association has not already hired the services of an engineer, I would strongly recommend all condominium associations order a structural engineering report. How often you order one of these reports will vary depending upon the size, number of floors, and location of your building. Along with ordering safety reports, reserves should be analyzed on an annual basis. It takes money to run any operation, including a non-profit association. Without adequate funding, there is a great risk of cutting corners and passing on expensive projects to the next set of board members. Not dealing with the problem now could be much more costly in the future.
You were just elected to the board. Naturally you may have many issues you want to address. Before you begin, read your association’s governing documents from cover to cover, and be sure to read all amendments, too. Each association is different and governed by its unique governing documents. Become familiar with your physical plant. Walk the property and investigate. Do your own research but remember you do not have to run the association alone, nor should you. Your support system is your fellow board members and your professional consultants; respect and consider their talents and expertise. Prioritize short- and long-term goals for building repairs and capital improvements. Review the existing contracts and contemplate technological improvements. Transparency will always be demanded. Carefully communicate the status of operations to the owners. Above all, do your best to attempt to ensure your property is safe and property values are protected. Always do what you know is right.
For more information about Kaye Bender Rembaum, call (800) 974-0680 or visit www.KBRLegal.com.
As associations and community managers help new board members get acclimated, it is important to focus on the top priority items boards are counted on to handle. Association boards set a clear vision and direction for their communities, make informed decisions, and keep members and residents abreast of actions being taken and the reasoning behind each action.
Your community is also relying on you for the following:
Emphasizing these key points will help new board members get up to speed quickly and contribute to an optimal living experience for their residents.
Congratulations on joining or rejoining the board—resident involvement is key in helping the community thrive!
A successful association requires a dedicated board, one with extensive knowledge and a commitment to teamwork. The goal as a board member is to work together in the best interest of the association. The following tips below may help in this role:
For more information on Leland Management, call (407) 447-9955 or visit www.lelandmanagement.com.
The focus for a new board of directors is to have people who have the best interests in mind for the association community and work together as a team.
It is important that previous board members who have stepped down have meetings and workshops with the new board members to bring them up to speed with the work that has been done and any pending work. For the most successful board transitions that I have been involved with, the board of directors wrote a summary to provide to the new board members and also created a board member information binder. This binder includes a current copy of the association documents, an explanation of each director’s role, and summary pages for new projects as well as budgets, financials, and insurance coverages.
During the first month of the board appointment, they should invest time to get acquainted with the community so that they can be prepared for the new task and be successful at it. They should take a board certification course to acquaint themselves with the Florida Statutes and requirements of the board and the association.
For more information on LJ Services Group, call (305) 864-2790 or visit www.ljservicesgroup.com.
Staggering terms limits can be key to continuity of a board. It ensures that there will be experienced board members available to help new members get comfortable. The current board should have a list of ongoing projects and upcoming projects as well as any issues being dealt with. This could help new members to become fully informed regarding board issues. Knowing the new members’ professional background, personal interests, and hobbies is an advantage to see where their experience could help with current needs or projects. Non-board-member volunteers (committee members) can be a great aid to the board, and they should always be thanked and recognized.
Reliable internet connectivity is essential for every residential community. But choosing the right provider and structuring the best deal on behalf of your HOA isn’t always easy. To select the best network provider and manage the process for a BSA—or bulk services agreement—for your community’s internet, TV, and phone services, planning makes perfect.
Educate yourself about the BSA process, timeframe, and deadlines. Because a BSA is a legal contract, it’s important to understand all terms and conditions up front. Your research should include the following:
With proper planning, your community’s network BSA process and installation can run smoothly, giving you the best service, user experience, and price. To get our free network transition guide, reach out to QXC.
Congratulations on being elected (or re-elected) to serve your community! Sitting on the board can be challenging, yet a very rewarding way to protect the physical and financial health of your community now and well into the future.
Whether it be as simple as mailboxes or as complex as building mechanicals, your community has common property that requires maintenance, repair, and future replacement. A professional reserve study helps your board anticipate and prepare for the repair and replacement of such common property.
The reserve study presents the following:
As a fiduciary, a professional reserve study provides the guidance you need to maintain your community’s common property with complete confidence.
To learn more about Reserve Advisors, visit www.reserveadvisors.com, or contact us at (800) 980-9881.
Whether a new volunteer or a returning member, welcome to the board. Every community and board enjoy a distinct and unique personality. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Effective communication has proven to be one of the most valuable assets to a board. Returning board members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience new members can utilize. Conversely, new members may bring a fresh perspective and ideas the board may want to address.
The best way forward may be in both returning and new members understanding each other’s reasons for serving the community and then developing a strategy that best meets the residents’ needs.
Establishing respectful communication at the onset, along with adhering to the governing documents, will set the tone for a well-run community.
For more information about Seacrest Services Inc., call (561) 697-4990 or visit www.SeacrestServices.com.
As of the deadline for this issue of the magazine in December, several major organizations have developed a number of high-rise condominium safety reforms and recommendations after the horrific tragedy of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. However, most Florida counties and municipalities appear to be holding off in expectation of statewide changes to legislation during the next legislative session.
The Community Associations Institute has issued a report with a number of public policy recommendations aimed at providing solutions for legislators addressing high-rise building safety. In addition, seven of Florida’s top architecture and engineering trade groups created a task force that has recommended re-inspections after 30 years with follow-ups every 10 years, and the Florida Bar has also completed the report and recommendations from its Condominium Law Life Safety Task Force.
Federal mortgage under-writer Fannie Mae has released new project requirements for condominiums and housing cooperatives that place a heavy focus on structural and financial stability and meticulous documentation of all financial statements, engineering reports, inspection reports, and reserve studies.
Now is the time for community associations to review their current and future reserve funding as well as the status of any structural and life-safety elements that may require attention. Reforms are sure to come, and the best tactic is to get ahead of them by working with highly qualified engineering, construction, insurance, and legal professionals to avoid failed building inspections and the potential for forced evacuations and emergency repairs.
Damaged and eroded shorelines not only are an unsightly distraction but also can endanger residents and reduce property values. Community association boards must remember that the health of their lakes and ponds goes hand in hand with the health of the land that surrounds them.
There are many ways to manage and reverse shoreline erosion in your community:
To learn more about SOLitude Lake Management, visit www.solitudelakemanagement.com.
This is a challenging time to be a board member! Between constantly changing COVID-19 mandates and increased official scrutiny following Surfside, you are to be commended for volunteering your time!
Board members cannot be experts on everything. Whatever your life experience or education, you are not a licensed property manager. Do not be afraid to say you are not familiar with an aspect of the property. Ask for information!
Any good vendor is happy to share their knowledge with the BOD. When you have a board meeting, consider devoting 10 minutes to having an invited vendor in to give a brief education on their product or service. This way, you develop a relationship with your vendors, and you learn something that will help you make sound decisions as you serve your community. Let the vendor know this is not a sales pitch; it is to be educational only.
Good luck during your time on the board.
For more information on Southern Chute, call (866) 475-9191 or visit www.SouthernChute.com.
Associations are sometimes faced with unexpected repairs that are necessary but were not planned for during the budgeting process. Loans to the association provide individual unit owners a comfortable monthly payment and allow associations to complete projects immediately, without depleting association reserves.
It is important to find a bank that specializes in the needs of community associations and has experience meeting their financial goals. Banks vary on loan terms such as interest rates, repayment terms, and closing costs. Working with an experienced bank loan officer will ease the loan process and benefit your association.
For more information, regarding loans to your association, please call Truist Association Services at (888) 722-6669.
All loans subject to credit approval. Truist Bank, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.
As we’re all aware, we’re currently in a time where Florida properties are in high demand and selling at a frantic pace. In this booming market, we are seeing a new demographic of people entering community associations at a pace not previously observed—those with little to no experience with community association living. Many of these owners are also younger, possibly with children.
It is crucial now more than ever to educate your membership on association rules and regulations. Although many associations will issue copies of governing documents or rules and regulations after a property sells, these items are easily lost in the shuffle or on the piles of other paperwork associated with purchasing a new home. Consider issuing a stand-alone rules and regulations summary or quick-reference sheet. Providing easy to digest guidance to your membership can help prevent more burdensome (and sometimes costly) issues down the road.
Welcome to the board! As a new or returning board member, you may know that communicating efficiently is not always an easy task. According to a recent survey Vinteum conducted, 95 percent of the respondents confirmed that communication is a key issue in their communities.
When it comes to maintenance activities, keeping your residents informed is essential to increase transparency and to build trust. Keeping in touch with members and service providers frequently is also a form of preventive maintenance.
Here are a few ways you
can improve your maintenance-communication process:
For more information about Vinteum and their launch of an all-in-on inspection software, visit http://vinteum.io/ or call (844) 900-0910.