Tampa, Florida
Tampa, Florida

Frequently Asked Questions

Self Managed

What is a "management company," what do they do, and how do I reach them?

A management company is contracted by the Board of Directors to provide such services as Collection of assessments, supervision of subcontractors, obtaining bids for subcontracted services, providing financial statements and collection reports, as well as a general clearing house for problem-solving, communications with homeowners and the Board of Directors and to serve in an advisor capacity. The management company reports directly to the Board and all decisions are made by a majority vote of the Board of Directors. The management company may be reached online through the Management Office page on this website or by phone from the numbers listed on the Important Numbers page on this site.

What is a homeowner's association?

It is a non-profit corporation registered with the State and managed by a duly elected Board of Directors. Its purpose is to maintain all common areas and to govern the community in accordance with the provision of the legal documents: CC&R's, Bylaws, and Articles of Incorporation. The corporation is financially supported by all members of the homeowners association. Membership is both automatic and mandatory.

What is a condominium?

A Condominium is one form of common interest ownership. In a condominium, the owner typically has a fee simple interest in their home or unit which they alone own. They have a common interest in all other areas such as roofs, exterior walls, gates, roadways and recreation areas. Condominiums are a legal entity, typically a corporation, that in Florida is governed by Florida Statute 718. This statute is the authority for governing your community. Next in authority is the Declaration of Condominium, the Articles of Incorporation, the By-laws, and possibly rules. These documents are to be provided to a new owner by the old owner or developer at the time of closing

What is a master association?

A master association is responsible for common areas and amenities such as recreation centers that are shared by more than one condominium or homeowner association. The master association receives its funding either directly from all owners in a master community via a coupon or from each individual association.

What are the CC&R'S?

The Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R's) are the governing legal documents that set up the guidelines for the operation of the planned community as a non-profit corporation. The CC&R's were recorded by the County recorder's office of the County in which the property is located and are included in the title to your property. Failure to abide by the CC&R's may result in a fine to a homeowner by the Association.

What are the Bylaws?

The Bylaws are the guidelines for the operation of the non-profit corporation. The Bylaws define the duties of the various offices of the Board of Directors, the terms of the Directors, the membership's voting rights, required meetings and notices of meetings, and the principal office of the Association, as well as other specific items that are necessary to run the Association as a business.

What is the Board of Directors?

The Homeowner's Association again is a corporation and therefore a governing body is required to oversee its business. The Board of Directors is elected by the homeowners, or as otherwise specified in the bylaws. The limitation and restrictions of the powers of the Board of Directors are outlined in the Association's governing documents.

Are there any other rules?

Most associations have developed Rules and Regulations as provided for in the CC&R's and adopted by the Board of Directors. Rules are established to provide direction to the homeowners for common courtesies with regard to parking, vehicles, pets and pool use hours, etc. In addition, your Association will adopt Architectural Guidelines with procedures for submitting requests to make exterior changes to your home. Such changes may include patio covers, decks, landscaping, exterior color changes, or extensive interior changes and additions. These rules and guidelines are set up to maintain the aesthetic value and integrity of the community on behalf of all owners, and hopefully, protect the market value of your investment as well. Violations of these rules may result in action by the Board of Directors and a fine. In addition, if you proceed with an exterior improvement or change, without the written approval of the Board of Directors, or Architectural Committee, as applicable, you will be required to remove or correct the alteration and/or be fined for the violation.

If I am having a problem with a neighbor for a violation of the Policies and Guidelines, what can I do?

If residents cannot resolve a situation between themselves, then turn to your Association. Should you have a situation that does not appear to be resolved through neighborly means, and you are willing to actively participate in the enforcement provided by the Policies and Guidelines, you may complete a violation report form and forward it to our association's manager. If the situation is deemed in violation of the Policies and Guidelines, the Board of Directors will institute the enforcement policy. Your continued assistance may be required.

To understand the process of reporting a violation and your required participation, link to this information.

If you understand the process and would like to report a violation, link to this Enforcement Request

Are Board Meetings open to all residents? If so, where and when are they held?

Yes. Notice of the time and place of any regular board meeting will be noted in the community newsletter, or accessed online on the Calendar page.

If I want to serve on a committee, how do I find out what committees are active and how I can get involved?

The Important Numbers page of this website will inform you of the status of current committees organized and committee contact information. If you are interested in volunteering, please link to this form.

What is my assessment?

The assessment is the quarterly amount due from each homeowner to cover the operating expenses of the common area and provide reserve funds for the replacement of common facilities in future years. Your assessments are due on the first of the month. Statements will be sent for assessments as a reminder of the amount due.

How is the amount of my assessment determined?

The Department of Real Estate typically requires a budget from the developer for each community that a developer proposes to build. This budget is set upon specific guidelines for utilities, landscaping, administration, etc. Reserve funds are monies set aside for future expenses due to the life expectancy of certain items: lighting, street resurfacing, pool equipment, etc. These amounts are then divided by the number of units built in a given phase of the development. Subsequent budgets are developed by the Board of Directors.

Will my assessment go up?

There is no concrete answer to this. Typically the Civil Code provides for annual increases, but not to exceed 20 percent per year without the vote of the membership. The Board of Directors may approve an increased budget, increasing your assessment up to this percentage in order to cover increased costs of operating and maintaining the common area and sufficient reserve funds.

What happens if I don't pay my assessment?

The maintenance and management services incurred by the Association are dependent upon the timely receipt of the assessments due from each homeowner. Late payments will result in a late charge as assessments are due on the first of the month. In addition, the CC&R's allows the Association to charge late charges and interest and proceed with a lien on your property, or foreclosure proceeding for nonpayment of assessments. Once a matter is turned over to an attorney, the following process will apply.

Is this website stating the gospel?

Management has made its best efforts attempt to maintain factual and accurate information. However, the information on this site should not be relied upon in lieu of actual legal documentation. Please have counsel look over all contracts and documents before you make decisions of consequence.

We have a limited budget; can we afford the services you provide?

Our services are less expensive than other management companies because your volunteers are doing for free what other communities pay a manager. Furthermore, we allow you to choose from our services to stay within your budget.

We do not want a management company running every aspect of our association; do we have to subscribe to all of your services?

No, our solutions and services can be tailored to provide the level of services that you need today with the flexibility of adding or removing services as your needs change.

If we are or become self-managed, does that mean we have to stay self-managed?

No, we recognize that there may be times when a community finds itself without volunteers. We are ready to step in and provide the support that your community needs. Our solutions and services can be tailored to provide the level of services that you need today with the flexibility of adding or removing services as your needs change.

Why do we need a management company if we choose to self-manage?

Who will prepare the budgets and monthly financial reports, or sign off on resale documents for prospective buyers? Who will act as a monthly-fee debt collector? Who will keep the association files and ensure they are up-to-date and accessible? Who knows what the appropriate insurance coverage is for the association and how new state laws will affect the covenants governing the community?

There are numerous aspects to running an association that requires much attention. It can be a full-time job keeping up with all of the tasks required of the board. An experienced management company can take care of these tasks providing the board with valuable time to attend to community matters.

Can we save money by self-managing our community?

Yes, by utilizing volunteers in your community to handle violation enforcement, architectural requests, and work orders you can typically cut your management expenses by up to half.

Can volunteers share duties?

Certainly, one may be responsible for keeping up with architectural requests. Another is for handling the violation process. Repairs, bidding, and projects could be handled by a committee.

Do we have to buy software to run your self-managed programs?

No, all you need is a computer with high-speed internet access to use our service.

Are the web-based self-management applications difficult to use?

They are very easy to use, if you can navigate a webpage on the internet, then you can use our applications. Also, we provide both written and instructor-led training to your board.

How do we know if self-management will work for us?

Self-management will only work if you have volunteers that: Have and take the time to provide consistent services. Are fair and objective Take the time to understand what their functions are. Are accountable in keeping deadlines.

We have been self-managed and affairs are a mess. Where do we begin?

Our review of your collections policies and delinquency status comes first. Recommendations are offered both as to policy and counsel as needed. We will review your docs with respect to enforcement and architectural requests. After our assessment, we will provide you with recommendations and processes. Recommendations are just that. The Board is the boss. Once you decide how you want your community run, we handle the setup, schedule your training and provide you with all of the tools you need. We will even prepare letters to the owners so that they have all that they need to know.

If we become self managed how will we keep up with changes to the law?

When a change occurs, Vanguard will email one or more summaries of those changes to all Board Members. Most of the changes to the statutes typically affect the accounting, administrative and collections services for which Vanguard is responsible.

Is there a fee for these updates and what if I do not understand them?

There is no fee for the information. However if your board requires the time of a professional to understand them, expect a fee. You may schedule a meeting with association counsel or schedule some time with our support staff. We can address your entire Board in person or conference call. Furthermore, there is typically a good deal of information available on line that will help clarification. We and other industry specialists also hold free seminars on such matters.

If we become a self-managed association, will we have to handle our own accounting?

No, we provide coupons and direct debit to process payments to your bank daily. We send out violation notices based on your community's collection policy. We keep you legal, keep your insurance active, and stay on top of your state and federal reports and filings. To ensure continuity to your association our self-managed solution includes all of your day-to-day accounting and assessment collection needs.

If Vanguard will do our accounting and collections, can't we just use QuickBooks?

Of course, you could track repairs in QuickBooks, but the program is complicated. However, what software would you use to track violations and architectural requests? Will you start a website too? With our solution, anyone in your community can logon to check their payment history or architectural request and/or reply to a violation letter.

Who do we turn to if we need advice or guidance using your self-management system?

The system is very easy to follow. Your volunteers are provided with a very detailed manual with many screen shots making it an easy read. Furthermore, training is provided online and regularly. Custom training is also available.

How are our owners allowed to pay?

Typically we issue coupons. Direct-debit, credit card, and e-check are acceptable. There is a fee paid by those who choose to pay by credit card and e-check.

We have had full service with Vanguard for years. Why have you never offered us the option of self-management before?

In a perfect world, full-service management is a community's best form of protection and will typically provide better service. However, changes to our economy have had a significant effect on many communities. Furthermore, there have been advances in technology that now make such a service possible. Three years ago this was not an option. Finally, unemployment has provided many communities with qualified volunteers. Our self-management solution offers any community the opportunity to achieve a level of service comparable to that offered by full-service management.

Can we keep our current bank account?

Yes, you may keep your current bank account. However, your bank does not have the software to integrate your daily deposits into our accounting system. An account will be needed for this purpose. You will likely be pleasantly surprised at some of the banking benefits that we are able to offer you.

How do we become self-managed?

Contact us to schedule an appointment to learn more!

Our documents call for a 50% quorum to hold our membership meeting. However, the board held the meeting anyway even though we did not have 50%. They claimed that they were allowed to do so because of Florida statute 720 overrode our docs. Can you please explain as I did not understand their explanation.

The answer is “it depends” on what kind of business your association was conducting. The 50% or whatever quorum called for in your docs for a meeting of the members is necessary for association business other than elections. For example, amending the bylaws would require the association to meet the quorum requirements of their documents. However, most associations have very little business to come before the members and their annual meeting is primarily for the purpose of an election or introduction of the new board members. If you had business other than the election or filling of board positions, then you are correct in stating that the quorum per association documents, 50%, should have been followed. However, if there was no business other than the election or appointment for the introduction of the new board, then Florida statute 720 allows a 30% quorum for homeowner associations and a 20% quorum for condominiums.

My attorney is recommending that we foreclose against a couple of homes that owners have abandoned. It may cost us as much as $1500 per home to do that. How will the association benefit?

The association will benefit if the board is amenable to leasing out the home once they take title to the home. In case you don’t know, the association will be able to take possession of the home and use it to lease out until the lender forecloses against the association.

We have been given the choice of foreclosing against a home or just keeping our lien on it. What considerations should we be giving to the matter.

First, ask your attorney if the bank/lender has begun a foreclosure process also. If the bank has, ask him to look into how long their FC has been in effect. If the association puts out the money for the foreclosure process and the bank takes title to the property first, you will lose the funds you advanced as well as most of your past-due assessments. However, if the bank/lender has not started a foreclosure, and you are able to expedite yours, the association will benefit if the board is amenable to leasing out once you take title to it.

What is involved if I want to rent a property that we recently foreclosed against?

Actually, very little. First, you have to draft some sort of leaves which will protect my association. You’ll probably want your attorney to look at it unless you have an attorney on the board.

Does our association need to get insurance for a foreclosed home that we intend to lease out?

It is probably a prudent thing to do. The board has a fiduciary duty to act wisely with the resources of others. Association funds are certainly a resource. So, the conservative thing to do is to protect the assets of the association and the proper insurance will do that.

Our association has recently taken title to a foreclosed home. Can we sell it?

You can attempt to sell the property, but your success will depend upon a clear title. If there is no mortgage holder, it may have a clear title and will be easier to sell. If there is a mortgage on the property, then the lender will eventually come for it and this makes attempting to purchase it impractical. However, you do have possession of the property, and if it is inhabitable, you can lease it and your association keeps the proceeds until such time that the lender forecloses against you.

If I am renting our association foreclosed home, what happens when a bank forecloses against us?

The association will receive a notice well in advance of the upcoming court date that the bank foreclosure will take place. Assuming that the FC goes through on that date, the tenant will have approximately 90 days to vacate the property. This may vary from state to state, and there may be legal notifications or actions required. The easiest approach to leasing association property is to find a good leasing agent. They’ll provide the application, screen, show the property, get you the best dollar, and will know your rights with regard to tenancy and termination of lease. Their commission is small compared to the amount of service and convenience that they provide.

Our board understands that the law has changed and even though our documents do not give us the authority to fine, and now, with the change of the law, we can now do so. What is the advantage of fining and what advice can you give us?

First, you will have to find three people other than board members, the manager, and board spouses to serve on the fining committee. If you get that far, next, you will need to or should do, depending upon state statute, would be for the board to announce their intention to fine to the members in writing, hold a board meeting to approve the action, and appoint a committee. At that time, it would be a great idea to go over the rule rules that the association intends to enforce and stress to the membership that, the purpose of a fine is to encourage compliance with association rules and covenants.

We have just created a new finding committee. The board cannot agree on how much to fine people. Some board members want different levels of fines depending on the severity of the infraction. We understand that per Florida statute, we can find more. What do you suggest?

First, let’s take a look at the purpose of the fine. It isn’t to generate revenue as much as it is to encourage compliance with the covenants. Having said that, it surely makes sense to consider the amount of the fine. $10 a day might motivate some folks to take action, however, I have never heard of an association charging this low of a fine. Whatever the fine board agrees on, will require the time and energy of the fining committee to assess and monitor. It will be up to the committee to document the period of noncompliance, say with date-stamped pictures of the violation. At $10 a day, the committee would be very busy for 100 days because $1000 is the maximum amount of fine for anyone's offense.

What about different amounts of fines depending on the severity of noncompliance?

This process makes it difficult for the volunteers. Not only will they have to track the time that the violation is in non-compliance, but the rule is complicated in that they will also have to compute various fines. Furthermore, it could get very confusing if the levels are too detailed and there are gray areas.

What amount do you recommend for assessing fines?

We recommend a minimum amount of $50 per day per violation, but typically, I recommend the allowable legal limit of $100 per day. Bare in mind that you want to shock someone into compliance and get results quickly. By the time they get served with a fine, they have had at least two lettters and a month, ample opportunity, to either cure the problem or request an extension of time from the board. Bear in mind that the committee can always waive some or all portions of a fine once compliance is achieved.

We have recently turned over from the developer. There is a lot of language pertaining to the developer in our bylaws, articles, and such. How do we go about changing the documents to remove this unnecessary language?

First, since you indicate that the developer is no longer active, then none of those portions or provisions apply and they can just be ignored. Some board members still want to remove them and if you are one of those associations, then here is the process. Your attorney will go through the documents and delete the provisions pertaining to the developer and any other provisions that no longer apply. The association will then mail this red-lined set of documents to the members along with a proxy which will allow folks to vote for the changes (amended documents). The board will then hold a meeting and determine if they have adequate membership support to make the changes based on the percentage of ownership required in the docs.

What if we do not have enough votes?

Proxies are good for 90 days in the state of Florida. I cannot attest to other states. Therefore, what you would do at the end of the initial meeting would be to reconvene rather than adjourn. You pick a date somewhere no more than 90 days out to meet again on this matter. This is called reconvening. Then you post that meeting properly and this will give the community volunteers more time to come up with additional support and proxies. When the next meeting is called to order, the minutes should state that you are reconvening the meeting of xxxdate.

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