Where does the board begin? In my last article I suggested that community leaders start with their association documents: the bylaws and CCRs if you are not a condo or a declaration of condominium. The Board must understand what is required as community leaders and these documents define your roles, duties, obligation, and administrative responsibilities. I also suggested a review of the Florida Statutes relevant to your association: Florida Statute 720 pertains to homeowner associations, FS 718 regulates condominiums, FS 723 applies to mobile homes, and FS 719 pertains to cooperatives.
One needs resources to manage their community. Examples are technology, methods of communication, community volunteers…, and the list goes on. This article will discuss human resources who are often referred to as volunteers.
Successful administration of a community requires sufficient volunteers. The categories below relate to specific duties and responsibilities of volunteers:
- Property inspector
- Covenant enforcement officer (rules and violations)
- Architectural or exterior modification committee
- Accountant or treasurer to oversee payment of bills and collection of assessments
- Administrative person
- Coordinator to ensure volunteers are performing (President typically)
- Fining committee chair
- Grounds committee chair
- Rules committee chair
The responsibilities of the property inspector will vary depending upon the complexity of the community. A small community with only signage and landscaping at their entries will require little time. A community with a clubhouse, pools, gates, and other facilities may be too much for one inspector. If so, the assignment of an assistant would be required.
One of the duties of the property inspector is to oversee the service providers. This requires the inspector to be familiar with all contracts relating to the amenities: Lawn Maintenance, Gate Maintenance, Pool, Pool Deck Cleaning and Maintenance, Retention Pond/Lake Treatments, and the list goes on. Familiarity is required to ensure that the services contracted are timely and properly executed. With respect to the grounds, the inspector should be aware of the less frequent services such as once or twice a year. Trimming palms usually occurs twice a year where as oaks once a year. What about mulching – is it provided or is it an additional cost, if so when and if not where is it needed and how much is needed? Landscapers typically maintain a common area tree height or sidewalk clearance of 8-12 feet; how about yours? Does turf appear dry or stressed? Is it bugs, malnourishment, or irrigation? Who checks the zones and how often? Are irrigation repair visits included or extra? These concerns are some of the considerations that deal with the mechanical aspect of grounds maintenance; the chemical application for weed, pest, and fertilization will bring you additional unique challenges.
A final word on the property inspector: an understanding of costs for included and excluded services is critical. If you have the authority to handle expenditures, you will affect the association’s budget and bottom line. This does not mean that you should limit services. You may recognize shortcomings in the current contracts. Revisit these as needed or when budgeting. It is better in my opinion to pay a little more to preserve and enhance your property than to keep fees the same, which ensure its gradual decline.
You are the financial eyes and ears of the association. To perform in this capacity, you must understand the association’s operations and its costs. Your primary duty will be the payment of association expenses and the administration of delinquencies.
Payment of Association Expenses
Whereas the property inspector needs a familiarity with asset related contracts, you have an understanding of all association contracts. If there are many, keep them handy to refer to them when you pay bills. Many invoices will be recurring monthly such as grounds maintenance or perhaps street lighting. Those are no brainers. The others will vex you. There are systems that you can put in place to make your life easier. For example, if your association has a property inspector that authorizes expenditures, have the inspector approve the invoice and provide the budget line item for that expense. Otherwise, you will be chasing someone, which will increase your frustration and throw off the routine cycle of paying bills.
Watching the bank balance will be a necessity if your association is hand to mouth. The consequences are overdrafts, angry service providers, delays, and loss of service. There is software and other technology that will alert you, but that is a topic for another day.
Watching delinquencies requires first that the association adopt a delinquency policy. Share that policy with the owners each year when you mail coupons/statements. This arms the Treasurer with the authority of the board to handle the collections with delinquency notices and penalties as well as work with counsel to advance properties to lien and foreclosure.
In an upcoming article we will review the duties of the other volunteer positions. Until then, when you think of assigning a volunteer to a position consider the capabilities, personality, and skill set of each volunteer.
Bob Moyer is the President of Vanguard Management Group, Inc. in Tampa Florida and a principal of U-Manage Online, a subsidiary of Vanguard Management Group, Inc.v