TC Palm Q&A Column, November 5, 2017

By November 5, 2017News, Questions & Answers

Editor’s noteAttorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC, respond to questions about Florida community association law.  The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.

Q: Our condominium only hires licensed contractors.  We always ask to see their license, but is there any way to confirm the license?

RT, Port St. Lucie

A: This is a good practice.  That being said, we routinely review contracts where the license number is not on the contract and the client never asks for it.  The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has a website (www.myfloridalicense.com) that has a very helpful search engine to verify most licenses.  

Because general contracting licenses are difficult to obtain, many licensed contractors will “qualify” a business where the business does not have its own independent license.  While this is common practice and legal, it is often not done correctly and the result is that you may be contracting with an unlicensed contractor.   Also, note that the licensing requirement is not based on the name of the contract, but rather the nature of the work under the contract.  If you are considering a contract to re-design a common space but the contract includes hiring subcontractors to perform construction work, you may be signing a construction contract even though it is labelled a design contract.  It is important that the licenses match the work being done.

Q: Our condominium issued a $500 special assessment for hurricane Irma damage.  My neighbor said his assessment was covered by insurance.  How can you insure that?

ED, Fort Pierce

A: In a condominium, Florida law requires every HO6 insurance policy covering the inside of the unit to include at least $2,000 of loss assessment coverage with a maximum deductible of $250.  Generally, this means that if the Board levies a $500 special assessment to repair damage caused by a single hurricane event (such as Irma), every owner with a policy will likely have coverage for reimbursement minus their specific deductible.  Note, however, that the statute does open the door for each carrier to craft various exclusions to coverage, so there is a potential that the claim will not be covered depending on the specific language of each policy.

Q: Our manager is being bombarded with emails from a single resident.  The resident is never satisfied and keeps emailing with new questions and complaints.  Our manager is doing his best to respond, but we believe he is spending too much time responding to this resident.  What can we do?

TD, Stuart

A: In both a condominium and homeowners association, there is no legal requirement to respond to email questions.  As you correctly mention, there is often an owner that monopolizes the manager’s time through emails, questions, and requests to inspect records.  In a condominium, the statute does require the condominium to respond to “written inquiries” when submitted by certified mail, but the statute also authorizes the Board to limit the number of inquiries to prevent your problem.

It is understandable that the manager wants to timely and sufficiently respond, but the Board also needs to make sure the manager is able to do his or her job effectively and that may require a limit on the number of responses or asking the owner to ask these questions at Board meetings.

Steven J. Adamczyk Esq., is a shareholder of the law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: question@gadclaw.com.  The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, or any of our attorneys.  Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein.  The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.