A good and honest management company or manager can be an excellent asset for any community. But a bad one can be very costly for the owners. 

Florida Statutes 468.431-438 regulate that profession, but it's obvious that the rules are not strict enough.  Lack of enforcement of these rules jeopardizes association management.  Investigations of complaints are obviously far behind schedule and some managers are well aware of this opportunity to just play the system to their financial advantage.  If a complaint filed in 2002 has not been completed and dealt with by 2007, it's obvious that the system has serious flaws, especially if complaints against the same manager keep piling up.

Managers who take over the community from weak and inexperienced board members pose the greatest danger to the community’s welfare.  Plainly, a manager can totally run the show, while working to fill his own pockets.  Some managers have gone to extremes to prevent owners from taking back their communities.  Please see the latest example from CAM Ray McDonald in the FONTAINEBLEAU TERRACE OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC. in Panama City Beach.

Some tips for board members and owners

For owners it is important to always control the actions of the manager. Never forget: Managers are hired hands who should always be closely supervised by the board. Managers are hired to help the board members perform the tasks necessary to run the association! Not to give orders to the board members!

Managers are usually not attorneys, so avoid getting legal advice from them -- including the often used phrase, "Our attorney said so!" 

As a board member, you have to keep a close eye on managers, because any mistake made by the manager will come back to haunt the owners.  Owners pay the bills for these mistakes -- or owners pay for lawsuits caused by overeager “management.”

And beware of managers that take over the elections.  Managers have a definite interest in keeping in office certain board members who will support renewal of their contracts. Costly election disputes can be the result!

Board members working as CAMs

We see more and more board members that make money on the side, despite Florida Statutes clearly stating that board members cannot be compensated for their positions as CAMs unless otherwise stated in the “governing documents.” We see examples of board presidents that receive compensation as a CAM , without even having the necessary license. In an extreme case a board president even ignored a "cease and desist" order from the DBPR, only to be finally arrested by a police detective who charged her with practicing community association management without a license. 

Managers can do a lot of good for communities, but they can as well create lots of havoc. For board members it's important to supervise the managers closely and don't let them take off on their own. See below how CAMs are regulated, what to watch out for, and read about some extreme cases. As long as the DBPR cannot properly regulate this profession, it's up to board members and owners to keep a close eye on them!

Never forget, many boards have been recalled by owners that were unhappy with the actions of managers and attorneys.  When the board is recalled, then the managers and attorneys can be removed as well.