Q: I rent out a condominium unit that I have owned for seven years. I recently put it on the market for sale. I had a buyer who went through the process of qualifying for a loan, and had an inspection and appraisal completed. After getting though the initial process, the bank withdrew from lending the money to the buyer because the condominium hasn't had a budget in the last three years and has no reserve. I understand the reserve was voted on by all the owners as "no reserve," but there is no excuse for not having a budget. Now I suffer for not being more involved in the business of the condominium. But I trusted the association and the board. Now my buyer has walked away as there is no way for the purchase to happen. Is there any recourse for me against the association for not having the property documentation available? Even if I get another buyer, we will be in the same boat. The board is uncooperative and will not filter any information to me. Please just let me know what I can do to correct this problem.
Answer: This is one of the most important questions that I have received over the years. Your question relates directly to why I write this column. It concerns me when too many people let others do the work. Your condominium is no different than most other associations. Look around at the other members in your condominium, and my guess is that very few have ever volunteered or challenged the board. Most members just reelected the same board year after year.
My many years of experience as a manager did not reveal the answer; however, I recently discovered that owners only respond when something personally involves them.
I know the reason is directly related to not wanting to stick their necks out, or they're simply being lazy.
Their education has something to do with the answer, as does their failure to be trained to be leaders. In simple terms, they have been trained to follow.
To answer your question as to how to get the board's attention, you can file a complaint with the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes. Your complaint would say that the board has not created a budget for three years. This may result in the state imposing a fine on the condominium. When this happens, then the members would be responsible to pay their share of the fine. Maybe that would inspire some of the other members to become more involved.
I wrote an article on this topic titled "Let Others Do It!" If you would like a copy, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the above address. The article is four pages, so you can use one stamp.
Richard White is a licensed community association manager. He does not offer legal opinions; any other questions and comments concerning association operations can be sent to Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven FL 33884-4115; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.