In my many travels in condo world I have seen some pretty poor practices by boards of directors and management companies but the prize for the most egregious acts I have ever seen has to go to a nice luxury building in Aventura, Florida of which I am very familiar with.
The question you may want to ask is: What did they do wrong? But a more appropriate question would be: What did they do right? Here is their tale of woe:
Building board President is elected shortly after turnover about 7 years ago and she likes being the President of the association. She likes it so much that for 7 years she makes sure that the annual elections never see a 20% quorum and she gets to stay “in charge” of the building. She manages to rig the election by having the onsite community association manager illegally disqualify ballots by requiring everybody to produce a voting certificate (governing documents do not require everybody to produce voting certificates). The manager was only too happy to oblige because in return this condo President signed up her management company to a 3 and a half year renewal with no out at all.
Next, this board President does not conduct the buildings business according to the law of the land but rather discusses issues and takes votes via email. No meeting notification, no agenda, no motions made, no discussions had, no vote taken and above all no minutes to be approved at a subsequent meeting. Rendering almost every decision taken defective in one way or another. In short this building was being run illegally and what surprises and hurts me the most is that the management company (a first tier management company) never warned her that she was out of compliance because…well, I guess they liked the money and all of their vendors got plenty of work.
The result after 7 years of mismanagement is a building very low on reserves, major air conditioner units needing a replacement, a condo defect case that the building has no resources to litigate, a very poor job done on condo collections, illegal write offs to the master association, defective service by the management company (because they can’t get fired) and a luxury building slowly but surely going from an A property to a B property. All because one woman wanted to be President and be sure that the maintenance fees never got raised.
Finally, some owners had had enough and called in an expert on condo matters to make sure that the elections was not rigged and the “President For Life” was voted out. After she was out of office all of the misdoings came to light. There were NO minutes for any meetings (except budget and annual meetings) and the new board was completely in the dark as to the status of the building. It took four months for the board to get a handle on what had happened and every day a new transgression from the previous administration floats to the top. Don’t let this happen to your condo and attend meetings, ask for financial reports, get copies of minutes and make the management company & board of directors govern your building in a transparent manner. If they don’t then do not hesitate to put in a complaint to the DBPR. I’m quite sure that this condominium is NOT special and other communities are suffering from the same management style.
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