A condo or homeowners association is the cornerstone of a building community. The condominium or HOA maintains order and continuity by preserving architectural integrity, maintaining the common elements, protecting property values, and often providing for recreation and community engagement among neighbors. To be effective, a condo or HOA needs a strong board of directors or managers, who both individually and collectively understand the role and mission of the association. Operating a condo or HOA involves many of the same responsibilities as any other business, although board members are volunteers and generally serve without compensation.
While some board members may have pertinent experiences from their personal lives—accountants, attorneys, brokers, and managers—most are only armed with a desire to serve their building communities. A newly elected board member will need solid instruction and training to fully understand their role and fiduciary duties. Serving as a board member can be a valuable service and a rewarding experience, but like any other position, proper training and instruction is a must.
While in many states board member training is merely a suggestion, in 2010, the Florida legislature passed a law (see Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes) requiring board members of condominium associations to get certified by the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) within a year of getting elected, or within 90 days after accepting the position. The same law for HOAs (Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes) was passed in 2013.
According to Eric Glazer, an attorney and owner of Glazer & Associates, P.A., which has offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, there are two ways to receive this certification. The first, which Glazer recommends, is to complete an educational course certified by the DBPR. He points out that free courses abound that will certify directors (he has taught over 12,000 Floridians himself), and that oftentimes, new board members leave exclaiming “‘’Wow! I had no idea I had to know all of that stuff!’”
The second route to certification is for the board member to sign an affidavit stating that he or she has read Florida Statutes Chapter 718, as well as his or her association’s declaration of condominium, articles of incorporation, bylaws and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability; and that he or she will faithfully discharge his or her fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members.