By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM / Published February 2019
Once upon a time there was a 206-unit well-run condominium association with a busy but competent board of directors who knew their management limitations and hired a CAM (community association manager) to perform the corporate duties and oversee maintenance and daily operations. The community had the usual amenities—clubhouse, swimming pool, covered parking, driveways/roads, stucco building with barrel tile roof, and entrance wall and access gate.
As time went by, these busy but competent board members were replaced by others who were not so busy and not so competent. Their goal was to save money! So, of course, the first thing they did was terminate the CAM. After all, that was money they could save, and it couldn’t be that hard to manage this community! They could compensate themselves for all the work they were doing, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much as they were paying the CAM. They contracted with a board member’s brother to perform the lawn maintenance and lawn pest control and saved some money by doing so.
They saved more money by deferring the deferred maintenance on the stairwells and railings, roof, and elevators. They didn’t know they were supposed to keep the operating funds separate from the reserve funds and failed to make the monthly transfers of those reserve dollars out of the operating account. Eventually, they were really pleased with the big bank balance.
They seem to have held the records hostage and wouldn’t let owners have access to the accounting records without intimidating them and charging them “access” fees. This board has not proposed a budget for the past two years, and there has been no evidence of the required reserve schedule and calculations.
They chose not to pay the insurance premiums for the property and casualty, general liability, directors’ and officers’ liability, and fidelity bond. Not knowing this insurance coverage was required by the statutes and their Declaration of Condominium, they thought these expenses had been optional. After all, the owners have their own insurance! Eventually, the association insurance was cancelled just before Hurricane Matthew struck and took off a good portion of the roof.
Now they have placed the community in a very unfortunate position with no roof, no insurance, and insufficient reserves.
A special assessment is imminent as are formal complaints filed by owners against the board members with the DBPR/Division of Condominiums. One owner has described this board as thieves, thugs, pirates, and jackals.
It would seem the Florida Administrative Code new penalty guidelines in Rule 61B-21.003 were written for the thieves, thugs, pirates, and jackals among this community association board.
The newly minted Rule provides for a penalty range between $10 to $30 per unit for each violation. If the Division imposed a penalty on this association for just one violation, the amount could be as much as $6,180.
Below are some of the descriptions from the Rule that could describe thieves, thugs, pirates, and jackals.
Thief—a person who steals, especially secretly or without open force.
Thug—a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
Pirate—any plunderer or predator; a person who uses or reproduces the work or invention of another without authorization.
Jackal—a person who performs dishonest or base deeds as the follower or accomplice of another.
Chapters 718, 719, and 720 and the corresponding Rules found in the Florida Administrative Code take the misdeeds of thieves, thugs, pirates, and jackals seriously. Don’t be one!
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM
Florida CAM Schools