We are not happy with our property-management company and find its people unprofessional and argumentative. Do you have any suggestions for us?
From your question, it appears that you do not know the difference between a director and an officer. The members elect the directors at an annual meeting except when there is a vacancy, and then the remaining directors appoint someone to fill the vacancy. When a director resigns or a director’s position is vacant for other reasons, the board must appoint or elect a new director as soon as possible to fill the vacancy until the next election.
The officers are elected by the board of directors, who can elect new officers at any board meeting. So the remaining directors must fill the officer’s position until the next election.
As for your property manager, make sure he is qualified as a Community Association Manager and is properly licensed. I would have a meeting with him to tell him what you are dissatisfied with. Ask for his suggestions on how to correct his actions — in other words, a job description. You want to document this meeting and allow him a certain number of days to correct the problems and comply with the job description.
What options does the association have to recoup its money? Filing a lien is expensive. Can we take them to small claims court to get a judgment, or does the association have to go through mediation or arbitration first?
S.S., Boynton Beach
Like delinquent accounts, rules enforcement also requires the guidance of an attorney. Fines for rules enforcement cannot be liened directly. In your case, you could have issued a special assessment to the owner — and that would have allowed the attorney to file a lien.
Most legal costs of the collection of delinquent accounts, as well as rules enforcement, can be charged to the property owner. The statutes and the documents for associations provide directors with the most powerful tools to enforce rules and collect delinquent accounts. If the association does it correctly with legal guidance, owners can lose title to the property and find themselves on the street.
In your case, you need to understand the legal term “self-help.” That is a process that allows the association to enter private property to repair, clean up and replace as necessary. Never refuse to seek legal guidance, as the cost would be considered an expense of doing business.
My advice is to enforce the rules all the way or do not enforce them at all. If you’ve done as much as you can to enforce the rules, then it is time to turn the matter over to the attorney.