Compiled By Megan McMurray / Published Oct 2015
As the snowbirds return to Florida, FLCAJ sought out several community association service providers to find out what sage advice they have for the returning residents. The counsel touches on many important topics, so read, learn, make changes to community operations, and enjoy your stay in the Sunshine State!
By Ben Solomon, Esq.
Boards frequently ask their managers to handle many important tasks for their associations. CAMs need to be careful that the same does not constitute the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). Recently, the Supreme Court of Florida issued an Opinion regarding the types of conduct that would be UPL if performed by CAMs who should not: participate in drafting amendments, be substantially involved in the preparation/execution of contracts, or participate in any activity that requires statutory or case law analysis to reach a legal conclusion. Other areas that could constitute UPL include determining the number of days to be provided in a statutory notice (such as an election package) and identifying, through review of title instruments, owners to receive pre-lien letters. Potential repercussions may include: denial of an application for licensure, revocation or suspension of license, imposition of an administrative fine of up to $5,000 for each separate offense, issuance of a reprimand, probation, and potentially be found guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. Association boards and their CAMs should be mindful of the activities discussed in the Opinion that could constitute UPL if performed by CAMs.
For more information, visit www.algpl.com.
By Donna DiMaggio Berger
Since most new Florida laws take effect on July 1 or October 1 each year, it is important for our snowbird friends to catch up on the legislative changes, which have occurred during their absence. A new Section 718.128 of the Condominium Act was created, which now allows online voting for elections and other matters. This legislative change triggers the following action items:
For more information, visit www.bplegal.com/events.
By Russell Halsted
Bats of all kinds are protected in Florida, because they are essential to our ecosystem. According to Florida-based Friends of Bats President Dan Bozone, “Without bats, life would be unbearable for residents and tourists alike. Each bat can consume its own body weight in small flying insects (especially mosquitoes) in a single evening. Imagine if hundreds of millions of mosquitoes were not being eaten by bats … daily.”
Beneficial, but be aware of the facts:
For more information, call (888) 758-2287 or visit www.FriendsofBats.com.
By Michael Chapnick
Snowbirds, a lot has happened while you have been gone. Our Florida Legislature had a very active session and has adopted a number of changes to the laws effecting community associations. Some of the more interesting changes are:
For more information, visit www.srhl-law.com.
By Donald Kipnis
Whether your high-rise property needs major repairs or it is time for certification, it’s important to start the scope of work analysis and costs prior to or at the time of notification with the right construction consulting management team. Taking this crucial approach can save millions on a complex project. Working with the board and property management team if needed, DSS Condo ensures a top quality outcome for every project. Some key areas of focus are:
Many times the boards and property management companies rely solely on the engineers approach, which can lead to more costs as the engineer doesn’t look at the whole picture. DSS Condo gets the job done right from the start so there is no reason to go back later.
For more information, visit www.dsscondo.com.
By Karen Shawdee
Are your facilities and your association prepared for the winter season? If you are looking to make repairs, undergo a major renovation, or considering an upgrade to your facilities, it’s important that your board members and management company have an understanding of the options available for financing these improvements. Speak with your banker about the pros and cons of obtaining a loan versus dipping in to your cash reserves. Ask about financing vehicles, repayment terms, and even interest-only payment options.
Another thing to review on a routine basis is FDIC insurance for your association’s funds. Despite insurance limits, there are ways to receive unlimited FDIC coverage through Insured Cash Sweep (ICS) accounts and the CDARs (CD) program. These accounts offer a simple and easy way to insure your funds while earning interest at no cost to the association.
For more information, visit www.iberiabank.com.
By Scott Harvey-Lewis
While you were gone this summer, a new Florida Building Code (FBC) went into effect. This new edition of the code not only applies to new construction, but it also governs existing buildings undergoing repair, alterations, or additions. Any construction documents submitted for a permit after June 30, 2015, must comply with the provisions of the FBC 2014. Revisions and additions to this new edition include significant changes that affect common capital improvement projects such as re-roofing, window and door replacement, and re-waterproofing of recreation decks. Therefore, any building-related work planned for the upcoming season needs to be checked and validated under the provisions of the new Code if not already permitted. A registered design professional (registered architect (RA) or a licensed engineer (PE)) should be consulted if more information is needed on the requirements of the FBC 5th Edition.
For more information, visit www.falconengineering.com.
By Marc Rodriguez, LCAM, CMCA, AMS
In community living, you get what you put in. Below are some suggestions for making the best of your time.
Participate in the community
Keep up-to-date on association affairs
Cast your vote in board of director elections and on community association matters
For more information, please visit www.associaonline.com.
By Matthew Malerba
Did you know 30 hurricanes have made landfall in Florida in October? It is important to stay informed and prepared until the end. Should a hurricane head our way, be sure to: remove all furniture and satellite dishes from your balconies and patios, remove/secure all outside items that might become missiles during a storm, and place towels on window sills and on the bottom of all sliding glass doors. Plan for a safe destination inland or completely out of the anticipated hurricane strike zone, and be sure to purchase supplies you may need just in case, such as water, non-perishable food, vitamins, food for infants, batteries, paper goods, non-electric can opener, plastic storage containers, toiletries, personal hygiene items, disinfectants, absorbent towels, a first-aid kit, and some games and books for entertainment.
For more information, visit www.akam.com.
By Lisa D’Addio
Welcome snowbirds! You are possibly returning while the hurricane season drags into the fall. Most likely, your condominium association has taken proactive steps to maintain your building in the event of a serious storm. There are a few things you can do to protect the inside of your unit.
For more information, call (954) 540-2692 or visit www.trcww.com.
By City National Bank
Community associations are often faced with a challenge when they receive the annual renewal of the association’s master insurance policy. Unlike personal insurance policies where the premiums can be paid over monthly installments, this premium is tens of thousands of dollars, and many associations do not have that large of a reserve to cover the premium in full.
The solution is insurance premium financing, which coming from a bank or finance company allows associations to finance the large premium over the course of the year, typically allowing the association to pay the premium over 11 months. This improves the association’s cash flow and maintains its liquidity levels, while at the same time making sure the insurance carrier is paid in full as required.
While interest rates vary, typical insurance premium financing rates are between two and six percent. Look for a vendor with an in-depth understanding of the factors affecting community associations. Keep in mind that these premiums, while financed, will still need to be paid off within the year.
For more information, visit www.citynational.com.
By Tammy Leeman
Condominiums, country clubs, and HOAs with old and worn patio furniture should consider a powder coating restoration process instead of taking on the greater expense of furniture replacement. If the finish on the frames is still in great condition, then simply re-strapping or re-slinging is also an option. You can update the look of your furniture and save your property a lot of money!
The restoration process involves completely stripping off the old, dull finish by sandblasting with aluminum oxide. The metal surface is then pretreated with a five stage chemical pretreatment process. This properly prepares the patio furniture for the powder coating application. The powder is sprayed onto the metal surface of the furniture that is then baked in an industrial oven to cure the powder to a beautiful, long-lasting, final finish. Once the powder coating process is completed, the new straps or sling materials are installed along with any protective foot glides to protect flooring.
For more information, call (954) 917-2715 or visit www.absolutepowdercoat.com.
By Mitch Drimmer
Snowbirds, we are glad you are back for another season in Florida. No doubt a lot of issues were placed on the back burner while you were gone, and there are problems that need your attention as soon as possible. Ask your manager or treasurer to give you a review of your delinquencies and aging, and let’s see how much money is past due. I would not be surprised if it’s a lot more than you expected. Yes, our nation has experienced a great economic recovery, but in every community association, there will always be those who just cannot understand their obligations. It’s time you consider a new strategy and utilize the services of a performance-based collection agency to get those fees in. Call me anytime for a no cost and no obligation review of your outstanding balances and delinquencies. Welcome home.
For more information, visit www.snapcollections.com.
By John Bodin
Florida HOAs and co-ops may now legally accept online ballots in any election if a unit owner consents in writing to vote over the Internet. This is welcome news for many associations, but any move toward online voting should be done with caution. Make sure your election services provider:
We look forward to the opportunity to move your association’s elections into
the 21st Century!
For more information, please visit www.electiontrust.com.
By Alvaro Mendoza
Up north, pool winterization means draining, covering, or otherwise hibernating your pool until spring. In Florida, it means completely the opposite, like preparing
for the heaviest bather loads, keeping the pool temperature 15 F above where nature wants it, and modernizing your systems. Here are
For more information, visit www.ceswaterquality.com.
By Connie Lorenz
Welcome Home! You might have noticed that it has been quite “wet” while you were gone! The floods and heavy rains wreaked havoc on roadways and parking lots. Community roadways are full of pot holes as it hasn’t been dry enough to even attempt to correct these problem areas!
As budget season begins, keep in mind that out-of-state contractors will begin to offer their services at what may be a better price than your local contractor. Be aware that you are not protected if the business is not registered with the state! Recently, customers informed us that a contractor is using our properties, which have been rejuvenated with Pavement Dressing Conditioner (PDC) as their references and stating it’s their product! Beware! Not all rejuvenators are the same and some are even dangerous! Always refer to Sunbiz.org, the Better Business Bureau, and the Internet when researching your contractors!
For more information, please visit www.asphaltnews.com.
By Will Simons, RS
The months of September and October are the heart of budget season for most Florida associations. As part of the budgeting process, you may be obtaining a reserve study for the first time, or conducting an update to a prior one. To ensure that it’s an accurate reflection of the association’s financial picture, make sure that all projects you’ve done since your last update are correctly documented in the information you provide to your reserve specialist, and that all component life expectancies and replacement costs used in the analysis are based on the mostrecent figures. This is especially true for those associations who are deciding to do it themselves. Using outdated or inaccurate information could result in a flawed funding plan and therefore a bad budget. As we move into 2016, make sure that you continue to keep good records, ensuring that next year’s budget process will be as smooth as possible!
For more information, please visit www.reservestudy.com.
By Stella Amador
As you return back to life in Florida, you may find yourself with a laundry list of things to tackle, among them a leaky or old roof. Roofing issues don’t go away; they get worse. But there’s good news. Repairs don’t have to entail a new roof. Here are a couple of tips to getting the job done right:
For more information call (305) 306-7663 or visit www.floridaqualityroofing.com.
By Elizabeth Bessette
As a snowbird, there are several items to include on your checklist before making the trip to your winter residence. The guidelines established in Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) help residents deter crime by altering the area around the home. Examples include making sure hedges are trimmed around windows and ornamental rocks are removed; eliminating opportunities for burglars to hide around or break into the residence. Another consideration is the implementation of home automation using Z-Wave technology, which allows homeowners to control items such as locks, lights, thermostats, and cameras from their smartphone. Home automation is often connected to the home’s burglar alarm system and can provide alerts and updates when events occur within the home. Additionally, snowbirds should have mail forwarded to their winter address and notify utility companies to make arrangements during their Florida stay.
For more information, please visit www.enverasystems.com.
By Judi Monisera
After you unpack, step outside and take a deep breath, feel the Florida sunshine, gaze up into the sky… and look at your roof. When was your roof inspected last? Is damage lurking unseen?
Your roof is a lot like the brakes on your car—designed to stop things. When it fails, everything else is at risk—including the safety of the occupants. Fortunately, you have options other than a costly roof replacement.
For more information, visit www.rhinoroofprotection.com.
By Doug Harrier, PCAM, AMS, CMCA
For HOAs, the snowbirds’ return has the potential to cause some tense moments between the year-round and seasonal residents. It is important to remember that seasonal owners have not experienced the day-to-day community challenges that the year-round residents have. To help ease the transition for both permanent and seasonal residents:
Keep community websites up-to-date with the latest policies, documents, and current events or try posting in a common area of the community or sending out a seasonal community update.
Remember that many snowbirds want to be engaged in the community while they are here. Take advantage of this time to get reacquainted with your part-time neighbors through community events or open home nights. Rally your events committee and ramp up the community social calendar.
Ensure mailing addresses are up to date and important documents are not being sent to their winter homes.
Expect an increase in architectural review applications as well as attendance at the monthly board meetings.
Communication and preparation are key to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the community while respecting their fellow residents.
For more information, please visit www.lelandmanagement.com.
By Adam Grayson
Things have been busy while you were gone. We have been in a drought and water levels are lower than normal, but now the seasonal rains have started and are mixing with the hot summer days, this is a recipefor algae and plant growth! Now that you’re back in town don’t be surprised if the plants and algae are continuing to grow. Keep in mind that your lake management company is hard at work keeping the balance in check through the use of EPA-approved herbicides, state-licensed aquatic technicians, and understanding Florida’s unique waterways and their biology. Things should start slowing down by the end of October, and we can truly enjoy the winter months!
For more information, please visit www.lakeandwetland.com.