Q. We own a vacation unit condominium. [Most areas of Florida do not have vacation communities. In Central Florida near the theme parks, developers have built communities where short-term rentals can serve visitors. It is considered to be investment property.] The developer owns most of the units and has hired a property manager who is licensed as a community manager and also a real estate agent to rent the properties. When we received the monthly statement from the manager, we noted that she has been renting the unit at a discounted rate or at a lower rent than we agreed. We sent her a letter instructing her to only rent at the agreed rate but as of this date we have not heard from her. We have filed a complaint with the state Department of Condominiums. What is the next step?
E.R., Winter Haven
You should have a rental agreement with the agent. That formal agreement should state the amount and terms for the agent. If they do not, then you would report the problem to the Real Estate Department. It may take an attorney to take action to enforce the agreement, perhaps in a court case. If you have the rental and property management agreement, read it to find out what terms you have agreed to and also find out how you can cancel the agreement. While you can file a formal complaint, you can try to cancel the agreement or negotiate a new one. The final solution is to sue the real estate agent.
Q. Our management company negotiated for a line of credit to cover necessary roof replacements. I am on the board and none of the directors were included in the negotiations. A special assessment that was a monthly payment over four years was approved to cover this loan. To avoid payment of the loan interest, many owners wanted to pay the full amount less the interest up front. This request has been refused by management. What can we do to pay up front?
There must be more to this situation than addressed in your letter. Most, if not all, lenders will require the board to sign the loan, not the manager. Managers have no right to create obligations such as the one you present. Because of the obligations required by lenders, I only suggest loans as the last option. Most lenders will require the board to sign for the loan and commit the right to collect fees from the owners to protect their loans. If your board did not enter into creation of the loan and did not instruct management to seek a loan, then you need a new board and a new manager.
The board would have the right to appoint the manager to gather loan information but not the right to commit the association. At the same time the board should gather information as how the project will be paid. Your reserve budget should have included roof replacement. If you do not have the funds in reserves, past boards made an error not to include it. I am sure that I do not have the details and cannot provide information to answer the question of advance payments. You need to find out who authorized the loan and the nature of the terms.Q. We have water leaks in our building, as it is over 25 years old. Does the rule of owner’s responsibility still apply to damaged walls? The condominium has always assumed responsibility for leaks in common pipes and the owners take responsibility if the leak comes into an individual unit. Are we correct?
Check your documents to see if they have different requirements. Most do not require the association to do more than replace unfinished drywall. Regardless of the source of the water, each party would be responsible for their own repairs for the loss and damage. A better source for this information would be your association attorney and your insurance agent.
This brings up a point that I have made in previous columns. That is the requirement for an owner to be insured. About seven years past, the state changed the statutes and required each owner to buy property insurance. That law was changed and owners are not required to provide their own insurance. That, however, does not relieve the owner from paying for losses. If water comes from another source but damages a unit, the owner would be responsible for the loss. How much simpler to have insurance to cover it.