Q I live in a condo community where owners tend to be apathetic and not get involved. The board consists of three people who serve because no one els e will. At issue is the property manager, who does not believe in communication or follow-up. When he does respond via voice/email, they tend to be quite hostile. He says, "I will get to something when I get to it." I have to call and resend emails on every unresolved issue. A few others complain privately but no one gets involved to confront this manager or notify the board. Recently, a contractor asked me what was wrong with something so it would help him to fix it. The property manager accused me of tortious interference for speaking to the guy. A former associate said he was fired once for not being a people person and he wants people to be scared of him. Any suggestions as to how I can deal with this individual?
—Frustrated in Fort Myers
A “This is an unfortunate situation,” states attorney David G. Muller, a shareholder with the law offices of Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale. “Let me begin by stating that, in my opinion, the vast majority of community association managers are hard-working professionals that work tirelessly for their communities. That being said, when a community association manager is not doing their job, and they are acting unprofessionally, the board of directors should be notified and should take action. It is important to remember that community association managers are providing a service to the community, a service for which they receive compensation. There is no place or excuse for hostility or a lack of professionalism. I recommend you communicate directly with the board regarding your concerns.
“Once the board learns of this behavior, it will be up to the board to determine what action to take. The board has several options, including the option to reprimand the manager or (if the circumstances warrant) terminate the services of the manager pursuant to the terms of the contract.
“Also remember that you have certain rights under Florida as an owner within a condominium association. You may want to consider attending future board meetings so that you can communicate with the board directly. As an ow ner, you have the right to attend board meetings and ask questions about agenda items. You also have the right to submit a “certified inquiry” to the association (i.e. a letter sent via certified mail asking certain questions of the Association) and have your specific questions answered. There are deadlines contained within the Condominium Act for the association to respond to an owner’s certified inquiry. If you submit a certified inquiry to the association, the board will be obligated under Florida law to respond to you. In other words, if you send a certified inquiry to the association, the manager would not be able to simply respond to you by saying “I will get to you when I get to you.”