Q: The speed limit in our community is 25 mph. We received numerous reports of speeding in excess of 50 mph. I personally witnessed a car almost hit a resident and her dog at a very high speed. The worst offenders appear to be vendors and high school kids. What can be done?
A: To properly answer the question, we would first need to determine whether the roads are public roads or private roads, and whether your association in particular has jurisdiction over the speed rules. In some communities, for example, a master association or recreation association has jurisdiction over the roads. In other communities, road governance changes as you go from neighborhood to neighborhood. For purposes of this question, I will assume that your community has jurisdiction over the roads.
The speed limit is a rule. Just like you can adopt a rule closing the clubhouse at 10:00 PM, you can have a rule that cars may not exceed 25 mph on the roads.
Often times, the local Sheriff’s Office will not provide speeding enforcement within a private community with private roads. That being said, many will contract with the Association to provide speeding enforcement or will contract to provide radar signs. Both are deterrents to speeding and can be very effective.
If you want to keep it “in house”, remember that the owner of the lot is generally responsible for the acts of his/her tenants, guests, and contractors. In other words, if the owner invites them in the neighborhood, the owner is responsible for their conduct in the neighborhood – including speeding. Thus, if a contractor, guest, child or tenant is speeding, the Association can levy fines or suspensions against the owner as if the owner were speeding. There are other options, such as injunctive relief, but the fines and suspensions are most common.
To levy a fine or suspension for a rules violation, the Association must provide at least 14 days’ notice and an opportunity before an impartial fine committee. The notice and hearing requirement has been interpreted many different ways by attorneys, but our opinion is that the Association should conservatively notice and conduct a hearing whether or not requested by the owner. If the committee approves a speeding fine imposed by the Board, the fine is due and payable.
How do you prove a speeding violation? Many communities will install radar signs that will take a picture of a speeding vehicle’s license while passing the speed sign. Other communities will purchase a radar gun or other speed detection device. If you are going to acquire either of these products, the Association should have a detailed and routine process to confirm and test the accuracy and settings.
Q: Does our property manager need Board approval for every purchase? We only have 4 Board meetings a year and can’t vote on every expenditure.
-T.H., Vero Beach
A: The manager is the agent for the Association, so the question really is whether the Association has authorized the purchase or delegated authority to the manager to incur expenses on behalf of the Association. Often times, the management agreement will expressly provide that the manager can spend up to a certain dollar amount without Board approval. Other communities will draft and approve a resolution authorizing the manager to spend up to a dollar amount without Board approval. In both situations, there should be sufficient financial safeguards to review all expenditures, but this type of resolution can provide significant efficiency for low cost expenditures.