Q&A: Should My Board Hire an Unlicensed Contractor?

Q. We had some gutter and minor roof repairs scheduled. The budget is tight for some other reasons and the president stated that her husband was qualified and would do the work for free. He is not licensed or insured and will be working on 9 of our 24 units. Although we agreed to use only licensed and insured contractors, the other board members agreed to use her husband to avoid doing an assessment. They have also agreed that we should always try to have members of the association do work for free if they volunteer. I am not at all comfortable with this - should I be worried?

                  —Worried About Liabilities

A. “This type of situation makes me uncomfortable as well,” says Russell Robbins, an attorney with the Miami Lakes firm Basulto Robbins & Associates. “The association should always utilize licensed, bonded and insured vendors who perform work on the association property to minimize liability and ensure that the work is properly performed. The association can contract with a vendor that is owned by a unit owner or a board member. If a board member is an owner of the vendor, a disclosure must be made at the board meeting to hire the vendor, and the board member must abstain from the vote to hire (or fire) the vendor.

“There is risk of a homeowner ‘volunteering’ to help the association because that homeowner could be injured in the process. Should that occur, does the association have adequate workers compensation insurance to cover such an injury? If that homeowner is being paid (or reimbursed for his expenses) that could incur greater liability to the association than hiring a licensed, bonded and insured vendor in the first place.

“No good deed goes unpunished, and should the association contract with a vendor owned by a board member or unit owner, great lengths should be made to retain bids to ensure that an appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest is avoided.”

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