Q&A: Changing Management Companies Changing Management Companies

Q Our association recently hired a new management company. An announcement was sent to the homeowners announcing the change. A new board initiated this action with no input from the homeowners and no discussion. I have specifically requested information concerning our budget, and if this new company is being paid more than our previous one. It's been over three weeks, and no one will respond directly to my questions. If there was no change in management fee, I'm sure there would have been a quick response. This stonewalling of a clear and concise question is very disconcerting. What recourse do I have to get a truthful answer?

—Secretive in Sarasota

A “Condominiums and homeowners associations are governed by different statutes. Since I cannot ascertain if the owner resides in a condominium or homeowners association, I will answer the question in generality,” says Russell M. Robbins, managing partner in the Coral Springs office of the law firm of Mirza Basulto & Robbins, LLP.

“While a board is generally obligated to obtain competitive bids for contracts, exceptions exist in both statutes that permit a board to engage a management company (or attorney, accountant, architect, timeshare management firm, engineering, and landscape architect services) without obtaining competitive bids (718.3026(2)(a) and 720.3055(2)(a)(1), Florida Statutes).

“Both statutes permit an owner to make a records inspection request for a copy of this agreement (and a copy of the previous management agreement), if the association is a condominium, the aggrieved unit owner can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation’s Bureau of Compliance to ensure access to the official records. Owners in either type of community can also demand arbitration over the refusal to grant access, and may recover up to $500 in statutory damages plus their reasonable attorneys fees and costs.”

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