Who Regulates Property Management Companies in Florida?
If you own property in a condominium or townhome development, or are a part of a single-family home community, chances are that your community is governed by an association. Whether it’s a homeowners association, commonly known as an HOA, condominium association or cooperative association, the one thing they have in common is that they are all led by a Board of Directors.
For the most part, Boards are comprised of homeowners who have run for a position on the Board and volunteered to make decisions and take actions for the greater good of the community. Because this can often translate into a full-time job, many Boards will hire a professional property management company or community association management company to manage the day-to-day operations of its building or community, and ultimately carry out the decisions made by the Board.
Though they have shared goals, namely to do what is in the best interest of the association and its members, Board members and property management companies have very different roles and responsibilities. Here’s a brief overview of each of their duties.
Board Member Responsibilities
The primary role that Board members play is as stewards of your association. In this role they are responsible for setting policy, overseeing the proper maintenance of your community’s common areas, and making decisions on behalf of the association and its members. These decisions may include appointing committees to carry out special functions and selecting professionals who will work with the association, such as lawyers and insurance agents.
Board members also have fiduciary duties, such as developing and approving the association’s annual budget, establishing fiscal policy and making sound financial decisions for the association and its members. As the governing body of the association, the Board must also ensure that the association’s governing documents are consistently enforced. An association’s governing documents include rules and policies designed to protect the community’s property values, enhance the quality of life of its residents and make it a desirable place to live. The Board is authorized to take legal action against owners who do not comply.
Property Management Company Responsibilities
The management company typically oversees the day-to-day functions of running the community, including maintenance and repair of the community’s common areas, equipment and systems. This includes handling resident communications and other related management tasks, in accordance with the association’s budget and available resources.
They are also tasked with implementing and executing the decisions of the Board and carrying out its policies and enforcing its rules, which means property managers have to be knowledgeable in finance, governance and compliance. The management company also provides dedicated service and care to its residents, as well as programs and services that fall within the association’s budget. All of these activities are performed per the direction of the Board.
It bears repeating that the rules and policies that govern your building or community are set by your association, not your property or community association management company. This is sometimes a source of confusion for homeowners, who believe that the management company sets its own agenda for community rule enforcement, and determines penalties for non-compliance. This is simply not the case. It is the association that makes the rules, decides the penalties for violations and then hires the management company to administer them if homeowners do not comply.
While it is true that associations may come with their share of rules and restrictions, their purpose is to ensure the best possible quality of life for current and future residents. This will always be the priority of an association Board, but in order to ensure that, the property management company will do what must be done to provide service, increase property values and enhance the lifestyle of the residents. It is only when the two entities work closely together that they can create a well-run, harmonious community that you’ll be proud to call home.
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