Condominium Management ArticlesThe Human Equation prepares all risk management and insurance content with the professional guidance of Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk.
Keep Conflicts of Interest Out of the Condominium Association Board Room
Condominium board members are required by law to act in the best interests of the association and the unit owners. Unfortunately, this duty of loyalty can be compromised by conflicts of interest. Even the appearance of conflicting interests can cause unit owners to lose faith and trust in the board. This cannot happen.More...
Rental Applications and Servicemembers: New Rules for Condominium Associations
Why has July 1st become an important date for condominium associations? It's the date legislative changes to Florida's Condominium Act typically take effect. This year, no significant statutory amendments were passed, so instead of preparing for statutory changes, condominium associations can start planning Fourth of July celebrations. Well, not every condominium association.
If your association requires prospective tenants to complete rental applications, there is a new law that imposes specific processing requirements for applications submitted by servicemembers. These new requirements, which were added to Florida's Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, become effective, wait for it...July 1, 2016.More...
New White Collar FLSA Overtime Rules Are Here! Will You Be Ready By The Effective Date?
They're heeeere. No, not a poltergeist, though for many they may be just as unsettling. We're talking about the new minimum wage and overtime exemption regulations for white collar employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The long-awaited Final Rule has been released and is scheduled for publication on May 23, 2016.
The Final Rule focuses primarily on salary and compensation levels for the executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employee exemptions, which are the FLSA's so-called white collar exemptions. Since the Final Rule is not identical to the proposed rule published on July 16, 2015, let's look at some of the differences.More...
Condominium Associations Cannot Afford to Mishandle Service Animals
Condominium associations are often approached by unit owners or tenants requesting an accommodation to have a service animal, even though the animal itself, either because of its species or size, violates an association's pet policy. Though it's not always easy to tell the difference between a service animal and a pet, condominium associations cannot afford to make this kind of mistake. Since the law does not treat service animals like pets, neither can condominium associations.
The rights of an individual with disability to use a service animal is protected by federal and Florida law. For example, Florida's Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental or availability of a dwelling, including any associated services or facilities, because of a person's disability. Discrimination includes the refusal to make reasonable accommodations to rules, policies, practices or services that may be necessary to give a disabled person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Cases involving service animals typical allege a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation.More...
Finding the Right Manager for Your Condominium Association
Condominium boards often hire community association managers to help manage and oversee their association's affairs. However, since community association managers often handle critical and complex matters, it's important to choose the right one. The first step to confirming the qualifications and experience of a community association manager is to make sure they are properly licensed.
In Florida, community association managers must be licensed to perform specific functions for condominium associations with more than 10 units or with an annual budget of over $100,000. Importantly, a 2014 statutory amendment expanded the types of functions that can only be provided by a licensed community association manager. In addition to controlling or disbursing association funds, preparing financial documents and assisting in the meeting process, a license is required if a community association manager:More...
A New Right of Access for Condominium Associations
Sometimes a condominium association needs to enter an owner's unit, which is why Florida's Condominium Act gives associations an irrevocable right of access. This right of access may only be used during reasonable hours to perform needed maintenance and repairs or to prevent damage to the common elements or to other units. However, Florida's Condominium Act was amended on July 1, 2014 to expand an association's right to access units that have been abandoned.
Under the new law, an association may enter an abandoned unit to:
- inspect a unit and adjoining common elements;
- make necessary repairs to a unit or to the common elements serving the unit;
- repair a unit if there is mold or deterioration;
- turn on utilities for a unit; or
- otherwise maintain, preserve or protect a unit and adjoining common elements.
Preparing an Association's Financial Reports
For many condominium and homeowners' associations, the end of the calendar year is also the end of the fiscal year. This means that associations should be well on their way to completing their statutorily required financial reports.
Unless a different date is specified in the bylaws, Florida condominium and homeowners' associations have 90 days after the end of their fiscal year to prepare and complete, or hire someone else to prepare and complete the association's financial report for the preceding fiscal year. Once completed, associations have 21 days to either provide a copy of the financial report to unit owners and members or notify them that they can request a copy free of charge. This entire process must be completed no later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year.
Though all financial reports must be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the manner in which a financial report is prepared usually depends on the association's total annual revenues. Financial reporting requirements are determined by statutory revenue thresholds, which were changed in 2013. These thresholds are the same for both condominium and homeowners' associations.
Condominium Association 2013 Legislative Update
The 2013 legislative session saw relatively little activity involving Florida's Condominium Act. Nevertheless, laws have changed, and that's always important. Here is a brief summary of some of the statutory amendments.
The Condominium Act identifies property that must be insured by the association and property that is the responsibility of each unit owner. Unfortunately, the statute was not clear in distinguishing insurance obligations from regular maintenance and repair obligations. As a result, unit owners often believed that their association had an obligation to repair property (usually air conditioning units) because it was covered by the association's insurance. More...
Are You Ready for the 2013 Hurricane Season?
For those living or working in areas at risk of experiencing a tropical storm or hurricane, June 1st rarely passes unnoticed. At Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk, we understand that preparing for Hurricane Season is rarely easy and often stressful. We also understand that a lack of awareness and preparation can make a bad situation worse, and that the best way to limit the risk is to take preventative steps now.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates a 70 percent probability that the 2013 Hurricane Season will bring:
- 12 – 18 Named Storms (winds of 39 mph or higher)
- 6 – 10 Hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher)
- 3 – 6 Major Hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher)
These estimates indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. More...
Condominium Governance: For Emergency Use Only
During an emergency, decisions need to be made fast. There usually isn't time to go "by the book." This is why Florida's Condominium Act authorizes association boards to exercise additional emergency powers More...
9 Tips for a Proactive Approach to Condominium Governance
It is virtually impossible to be effective at Condominium Governance when attention is diverted to 'problem' incidences that require significant resources to resolve. For this reason, proactive Governance is essential to effective Board Leadership and the peaceful coexistence of residents within a community association.
The following tips are a 'must read' for Board Members who want to limit conflict and enjoy their lives as community leaders: More...
Don't Let Service Animals Take a Bite Out of the Condominium Association's Bank Account
Many condominium associations have policies that prohibit or regulate the ownership of pets. For the most part, associations have become adept at dealing with those having pets and those requesting permission to have a pet. However, as a recent lawsuit filed by the Justice Department in Utah shows, things are very different when the pet in question is a service animal. More...
Is Fear of Liability Why Your Condominium Community Does Not Have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 785,000 Americans suffer their first heart attack every year, while another 470,000 experience their second. Unfortunately, the number of those who die from sudden cardiac arrest is equally disturbing. More...
Rules Governing Condominium Association Contracts for Products and Services
Florida’s Condominium Act confers broad authority upon condominium associations to manage and maintain the communities they serve. Included within an association’s authority is the significant power to enter into contracts. This power, however, does have its limits. More...
Condominium Associations Are Not Powerless Against Rule-Breaking Tenants
A consequence of the struggling real estate market is the increased number of condominium units occupied by tenants rather than unit owners. Not surprisingly, many tenants do not have the same commitment--financial or emotional--to the condominium community as owners. As a result, condominium associations have to deal with non-owner tenants who fail to observe the association's rules more frequently than before. More...
Condominium Governance: Guiding Unit Owners through Financial Struggles
The overall health and stability of a condominium community is often viewed as a function of the whole rather than the sum of its parts. As such, those choosing to make their home in a condominium community understand the manner and extent to which their standard of living is dependent upon one another. This is particularly true in the context of a condominium community's financial situation. More...
Maximizing Coverage for Multi-Building Condominium Associations in the Event of Insurer Insolvency
If an admitted insurance company becomes insolvent, the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) generally becomes obligated to pay up to $300,000 for each covered claim. However, for multi-building condominiums, the manner in which the association’s property insurance is structured could affect the amount FIGA will pay if the association’s admitted insurer becomes insolvent. More...
Collecting Unpaid Assessments: Options for Proactively Pursuing Delinquent Unit Owners
Today, condominium residents are feeling the pain of their neighbors' financial struggles, particularly in the form of budgetary shortfalls created by unit owners defaulting on their obligation to pay assessments. Assessments, which represent each unit owner’s share of the funds required to pay the association’s common expenses, are the life-blood of an association. The revenue generated by assessments enables the condominium association to undertake the maintenance, management, and operation of the condominium community. Unfortunately, the current slump in the housing market, particularly in Florida, has hit condominium communities especially hard. More...
The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same: Condominium Associations Must Still Review their Insurance Policies
Condominium associations can be sizeable organizations responsible for overseeing and managing hundreds of residents, possibly thousands. This responsibility often involves hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions of dollars worth of property and revenue. A for-profit organization dealing with similar figures will commit significant resources to protecting its assets. For some reason, however, many condominium associations fail to take the same precautions. Perhaps the most common oversight, and often the costliest, is an association’s failure to review and understand their insurance coverages More...
Supreme Court Adopts "Cat's Paw" Theory of Liability in Staub v. Proctor Hospital
No more are the princes, by flattery paid
For furnishing help in a different trade,
And burning their fingers to bring
More power to some mightier king.
Some time ago, we posed the following question to our readers: Can an employer be held liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) for racial discrimination even though the actual decision-maker did not know that the employee was being fired because he was African American More...
Does an Employee have to File a Written Complaint to be Protected by the FLSA's Anti-Retaliation Provision?
Like many employment-related laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is the federal law governing minimum wages, maximum hours, and overtime pay, includes an anti-retaliation provision. In Katsen v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., Case No. No. 09-834, the United States Supreme Court was called upon to decide whether the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision protects only those employees submitting written complaints of FLSA violations in their workplace More...
The State of Florida Approves The Human Equation's Condominium Management Suite
Those choosing to serve on their condominium board undertake a significant responsibility. Their decision puts them in charge of steering the course of not only their homes, but those of their neighbors. More...
The Need for Directors & Officers Insurance for the Condominium Association Board
May I Install Hurricane Shutters? A Loaded Question for Condominium Association Boards
In the State of Florida, what right does a condominium board have to prohibit a unit owner from installing hurricane shutters? More...
Condominium Boards Going Red Over Unit Owners Going Green
Did you know that the earth receives more energy from the sun in one hour than the world uses in an entire year? In the past, such a fact was considered trivial. Today, however, it is fueling (pardon the pun) the Going Green movement that has found prominence in local and national political debates and news productions. More...
Regulating Religious Displays: A Trap for the Unwary
The holiday season brings with it a flurry of activity. From wish lists and shopping lists to recipes and reservations, this time of year often has the effect of raising spirits more than any other. And, while people express their holiday spirit in different ways, many choose to do so by decorating their homes; inside and out. More...
Is It a "Grand Old Flag" or a Community Eyesore?
Those choosing to live in a condominium community voluntarily concede a measure of their autonomy as homeowners to their condominium association, whose governing board has the power to enact and enforce restrictions on the manner in which unit owners occupy and use their property. More...
Enforcing Condo Use Restrictions: A Potential Legal Minefield for Board Members
Condominium communities offer unique benefits to their residents that may not be otherwise available to those opting for "traditional" home ownership. However, in exchange for these benefits, unit owners must give up a certain degree of freedom of choice that they might otherwise enjoy in separate, privately owned homes. More...
Rising Costs, Falling Revenues: When Condominium Boards Must Raise Annual Assessments
Condominium unit owners have common interests that go beyond just the use of the pool and the clubhouse. Because residents share the expenses associated with condominium living, they have a vested interest in the financial health of their fellow unit owners, specifically their ability to pay their share of those expenses. More...
"Young People Need Not Apply": The Legality of Adult-Only Condominium Communities
As a country of laws, the United States has gone to great lengths to ferret out and eliminate discrimination, having deemed it antithetical to a free and fair society. More...