Imagine that you’ve just started a new job. The receptionist escorts you to your desk. You sit down and…nothing. You’re just left there. There’s no orientation, no one to tell you what you are responsible for doing or how to do it. You’re expected to know how do to your job or find out how to do it. You might feel lost and confused.
Unfortunately, condo and HOA board members—who are volunteers who live in the building or association and want to help make sure their investment is protected—sometimes enter into their new position feeling just that way, lost and confused. They don’t have the full scope of what their responsibilities are, or who they're answerable to.
Learning is the Law
The good news is that unlike other states, Florida statutes requires a mandatory board training course for all new board members. “If you’re elected to the board, you have 90 days to take a course that gives you all the basics,” says Donald Kates, a property manager with Consolidated Community Management Inc. in Tamarac. “Or they can file an affidavit that they swore they studied the association documents.”
Chapter 718 of the Real and Personal Property Florida Statute, which covers condos, states that newly-elected or appointed directors must complete an educational course certified by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) or sign a statement that they have read Florida Statute 718 and all of their community’s governing documents. “But nothing actually forces them to read the documents even if they sign the form saying that they have,” says Marita Butzbach, vice president of Lang Management Company in Boca Raton.
Even still, having to attend a course or read documents may weed out the members who aren’t serving for the right reasons. “There are board members who want to serve because they want to accomplish something for themselves or because it will benefit them, but that’s serving for the wrong reasons,” says Butzbach. “Entire boards stay for years because they know there are other people who run with their own agendas.”