Maintenance-Association Expenses vs Personal Expenses

July 30, 2013

Along the lines of what we discussed here last week regarding the maintenance person, it’s sometimes necessary to enlighten some owners as to what the association pays for and what you are obligated to pay for in terms of work done to your unit.

In most condominium associations, as a unit owner you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the drywall finish coat inward, meaning the association will pay to install and finish the drywall but if your walls have special knock down coatings, you are responsible for that item. For specifics for your condominium, consult your association documents.  But that’s not necessarily what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about is those nit-picky items-broken toilet valves, door handles that are broken, clogged toilets, etc.  Things that you have to call a repairman for in your own home.

If your condominium has a maintenance person it is possible that he or she can do those little “honey-do” things for you.  The important thing however, is that you pay them for their services.  A portion of your monthly maintenance fees goes for the upkeep and maintenance of the common areas, shared by all owners.  Those maintenance fees do not go for changing out your leaky toilet valve or moving your furniture.

Some maintenance people do not like discussing payment for these “honey-do” items. When this is the case, find out if your maintenance person purchased materials for the project and how long it took to make the repair. If they say “don’t worry about it” pay them anyway.  Twenty dollars goes a long way to developing and maintaining a good working relationship.  Even if they’re key holders for your unit and need to let another vendor in or supervise a project for you, always pay them.  Another point, don’t be offended if he/she can’t get to your project, there could be a good reason.  It could be beyond what they’re comfortable with, they could be super busy with other things. One thing’s for sure, always pay your maintenance guy for projects inside your unit, no matter how large or small.

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Board members-Proper Care and Treatment of Vendors

July 23, 2013

The vast majority of homeowner associations and most condominium associations do not have the luxury of having and onsite maintenance person. But finding a quality maintenance person, a “go to” guy for your association needs doesn’t have to be difficult.

Most HOAs and condominiums will have contacts in place for landscape maintenance, pool maintenance and janitorial services.  But what about the other things that tend to fall in that gray area such as exterior fence repairs, playground repairs, lightbulb replacement or pressure washing?  For these items you’ll need a maintenance person or handy man.

If your community is managed by a professional community association management company, your community association manager will probably have contacts for just the right person. Because there are a number of things in HOAs and condos that fall outside of the services of landscape maintenance or pool maintenance, management companies will have three or four different people to take care of your problem.

Maintaining a good, working relationship with a quality vendor will provide your community with a well kept appearance and set you apart from other communities.  Here are some tips on how to develop and preserve a good business relationship with a quality maintenance person.

1. It’s all about the money! Quality maintenance people or companies will charge between $35 and $75 per hour.  They are independent business people with tax and insurance obligations and that’s the cost of doing business.

2. It’s all about the money 2! Nothing will sour a relationship quicker than not paying a vendor in a timely fashion.  Dragging your feet on approving an invoice will also result in a sour relationship as well.  Make sure your vendor knows your community billing protocol prior to performing the work so they can plan accordingly. For instance, if invoices must be submitted by Tuesday for payment on Friday, make sure your vendor knows.  Also, community association managers and Board members, don’t drag your feet in approving invoices. Check the work and approve the invoice.  If a change to the job or addition needs to be made, contact the vendor immediately.

3. Don’t quote every job.  If you require your maintenance person to quote every single job then don’t plan on them hanging around long.  Establish a “do not exceed” price, $300-$500 for work that needs to be done in your community.  If you request quotes for every little item, you may find that the association will end up paying more for it than would be the case if you simply said “just do it”.

4. Don’t add on to a quoted job.  For quoted jobs, don’t add additional items on and expect them to be included in the price.

5. Be as upfront and forthcoming with information as possible.  If you would like your maintenance person to quote a price for painting the condo front doors, tell them how many doors and whether the management company or the owner will be coordinating this.

These are just a few tips on how the proper care and treatment of vendors. If you are in need of professional community association management, contact Property Management Systems, Inc. today for information.


Florida’s Wildlife and what you should know

July 17, 2013

Florida, even along the coast, has its fair share of wildlife, a vast majority of it protected in one way or another by Federal and State law.  In our little corner of northeast Florida, our beaches, dunes and forest hammock areas are home to birds, frogs, salamanders, tortoises and snakes.  All of which you can experience just outside your oceanfront condominium.

If you are staying or own a condominium alongside the ocean, on any given day you may see the following animals; osprey (with or without a fish in its tallons), an eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise in the dunes between the buildings and the beach, a north Atlantic right whale or a leatherback or green back sea turtle.  Trips to the river side of the island could reveal West Indian manatee, Florida alligators or sandhill cranes.

Here are some things to remember when experiencing Florida’s native wildlife in its natural habitat.

1. Predatory birds, including ospreys and bald eagles, have been known to drop their prey.  Occasionally you will see a fish in a parking lot with no explanation how it got there.

file00014342718582. The dunes and sea oats are protected as well as the animals that live there.  Please do not venture into the dune for a closer look or pick the sea oats.  It’s possible to cover up the entrance to a tortoise hole or stumble upon an indigo snake.  Sea oats help to preserve the dune system.

 

3.  Sea turtles come ashore in north Florida and lay their eggs from May to August.  Sea turtle monitoring occurs along all of Florida’s beaches.  If you experience a sea turtle eggSea turtle nest nest, stay clear and remove any beach ware you may have brought to the beach with you.  When the eggs hatch, hatchlings can become entangled in chairs, canopies and towels preventing their return to the ocean. Disturbing sea turtle nests is punishable by up to a year in prison and fines upwards of $50,000.  For specifics, see Florida Statute Chapter 379.

4. Alligators, especially a nesting female, are aggressive.  If you come across an alligator, give him a wide berth.  If the alligator is a possible nuisance, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

5. Manatees, while not aggressive, are protected from harassment from humans.  If you have the unique experience of seeing a manatee, look but please do not touch.

For specifics on all of Florida’s protected species, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website here.


New HOA laws taking effect July 1st in Florida

July 6, 2013

The Florida Legislature passed a bill, signed into law by Governor Rick Scott which tightened up several issues regarding homeowners associations.  The bill covered a myriad of issues related to the governing of HOAs.  One of the big items in the bill Just a billwas the requirement that HOAs now have to report to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.  From what has been reported, this will eventually provide a stronger regulatory voice for homeowners that have complaints about the governing of their HOA.  This is not meant as a sounding board for community grievances but rather offers an ombudsman for HOAs similar to that of condominium associations.

The law firm of Becker-Poliakoff has put together an legislative guide for all of the recent condo, cooperative and homeowner association amendments.  If you are a Board member of an HOA or condo, you should read the guides and become familiar of what is required of Board members, CAMs (association managers) and Developers.

One thing to consider is that these amendments regarding HOAs are separate from the regulations governing CDDs.  Community Development Districts have their own set of guidelines, regulations and governing bodies.

There are a number of professional community association management companies throughout the state of Florida that have loosely abided by these new legislative requirements for a number of years.  There has never been a requirement to register a homeowners association with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation however, all licensed community association managers within the State of Florida have been required to be licensed by DBPR for a number of years.

If you are new to deed restricted communities and the governance of them, take the time to become acquainted with the new (and old) laws and how it will affect your community.