Pros & Cons Of Self-Managed Homeowners’ Associations
A homeowners’ association (HOA) is a body that makes and enforces regulations for condominiums, townhouses, and other so-called planned communities. Many of them engage a property management company to handle day-to-day operations like collecting rent, dealing with resident complaints, and managing staff, but others choose to manage themselves. There are positives and negatives to this choice, both for the association members and the tenants of the community.
Keeping Costs Down
The immediate positive stemming from choosing to self-manage one’s HOA is the money saved, which can particularly matter in a small association. In addition, a smaller HOA may find self-management more convenient than having to go through a property management company, especially in matters of money like rent collection. Conversely, bigger HOAs tend to self-manage more in gaps between professional managers – for example, if the board experiences massive turnover, or if the previous management company went bankrupt or was otherwise abruptly removed from day-to-day operations.
In terms of costs, self-management may save the extra expense of paying a management company – but it may also mean that they wind up paying more in fees for maintenance and repairs, or wind up indirectly bearing the cost for expenses that a professional property manager might have been able to avoid. The board of an HOA has a fiduciary duty to ensure that the association is run in an appropriate way, and that includes balancing the issue of cost efficiency with proper upkeep of the HOA. Given that many HOA boards are comprised of volunteers, there may simply not be enough experience and knowledge there to appropriately balance the factors.
Compliance With Law
The other issue that many HOAs experience is running afoul of Florida law, whether unintentionally or recklessly. No one intends to break the law, but too many associations that attempt to self-manage will often slip up. For example, Florida law requires a quorum of at least 30 percent of the total voting interests in order to constitute a valid meeting (unless your association by-laws stipulate a lower amount). If an HOA board attempts to conduct business with only 20 percent of the voting interest there, any resolution passed at that meeting is invalid and cannot be relied on. But a board may try, not knowing that they are in violation of the law.
If an HOA does prove to be noncompliant with Florida condo law, you have the right to file suit and seek redress, though this may come in many possible forms. For example, if the board is trying to enforce one of the resolutions passed without a quorum, you may seek either an injunction (a declaratory judgment from a court that restricts the HOA from enforcing it), or monetary or non-monetary damages if you believe the board has injured you personally. A HOA board has quite a lot of freedom in how it acts, but there is a limit, and it is easier for a self-managed HOA to make legal mistakes than one who is advised by a professional management company.
Call A Florida HOA Attorney Today For Assistance
It is understandable that an HOA, especially a small one, may try to save money and time by managing its own affairs. However, this is not a choice to be taken lightly, and if your board is interested in doing this, it is crucial that you have appropriate legal advice going forward. The Tampa HOA & condo association attorneys at the Seward Law Office, P.A. have experience in this area of law, and we can sit down with you to try and make certain that your questions are answered. Contact us today at (813) 672-1900 to set up a consultation. We are ready and willing to try and help.