Breaking a lease in West Palm Beach, FL – Know the Laws

break lease

break lease

In terms of the landlord-tenant relationship, breaking the lease would involve breaching a clause of the lease and usually comes with consequences. But if the reason is legally acceptable, then your tenant can break free from their lease obligations without penalty.

In today’s article, we at Jilsa Management will take you through three important things: when a tenant can legally break their lease, when they can’t, and whether you’re required to “mitigate damages” after a tenant moves out.

Instances When a Tenant can Legally Break their Lease in Florida

Florida tenants can break their lease without any legal penalties for any of the following reasons:

leasing agreement

Early Termination Clause

An early termination clause would only exist for one reason: to allow a tenant to break their lease early as long as they meet certain conditions. Usually, the clause requires a tenant to do two things: pay a penalty fee and provide the proper notice.

The penalty fee is normally equal to the rent of two months, while the notice period is 30 days. Once a tenant has met the requirements, you must release them from all further lease obligations as per the agreement.

Active Military Service

Active service members who are either deployed or relocated have a right under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to legally break their lease. This protection starts from the date they enter active duty and ends between thirty and ninety days after discharge.

To terminate the lease, the relief act requires that the tenant meet certain conditions:

  • They must provide the landlord with proof that they didn’t enter active duty before signing the lease.
  • They must prove that they have the intention to remain on active duty for the next 90 days or more.
  • They must provide the landlord with proper written notice, alongside copies of the letters from the commanding officer.

But even with all the requirements above met by the tenant, the lease doesn’t terminate automatically. This occurs 30 days after the next rent period begins.

Habitability Issues

FL Statute Chapter 83 gives landlords certain responsibilities, among which are to ensure they provide their tenants with a habitable rental property.

Every state, Florida included has specific health and safety codes that landlords must meet for rental units. The Implied Warranty of Habitability requires that a landlord provide the following.

  • Hot water
  • Drinkable water
  • Working electricity
  • Heat during the cold months
  • Working toilet and bathroom
  • Adequate ventilating system
  • Up-to-date conformity to building codes
  • Reasonable protection from criminal harm
  • Sanitary premises, including a home free from pest infestation

If you don’t meet these conditions, then your tenant would be considered “constructively evicted.” As a result, they would no longer need to meet their lease obligations.

Landlord Harassment

Harassment is also another legitimate reason your tenant can use to break their lease without penalty. Landlord harassment can occur in a variety of ways. Such as:

  • Changing the unit’s locks without your tenant’s permission.
  • Removing a tenant’s belongings from the unit.
  • Shutting down amenities that were previously available.
  • Making sexual advances toward your tenant.
  • Failing to make required or needed repairs when your tenant requests them from you.
  • Falsifying charges in order to evict them from the property.
  • Refusing to take or acknowledge a rent payment.
  • Hiking their rent without following the proper rent control laws.
  • Discriminating against your tenant on the basis of their race, color, or any other protected class.
  • Retaliating against the tenant after they exercise any of their rights, such as joining or forming a tenants’ union.
  • Entering your tenant’s unit without notifying them first.

When to Penalize your Tenant for Breaking the Lease

You can penalize your tenant for breaking their contractual lease obligation if they do any of the following:

  • Leave the property to live in another one, no matter where it is.
  • Break the lease to move closer to their new place of work.
  • Move out to upgrade or downgrade.
  • Break the lease to move in with their lover.
  • Break the lease as a result of separation or divorce.

As legitimate as these reasons may be, they cannot legally permit a tenant to terminate their lease early under Florida laws. If the lease is broken and you do penalize your tenant, remember that any security deposit issues will need to be resolved

break lease agreement

Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in Florida

Florida landlords are not required to “mitigate damages” should a tenant break their lease. This means that you can leave the unit empty after the tenant leaves and then hold them liable for all the remaining rent.

Bottom Line

At Jilsa Management, we believe the best way to make the most from your investment is to be knowledgeable and proactive. Especially when it comes to your lease agreement. So if you have any questions regarding this or any other aspect of property management please let us know!

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws change, and this content may no longer be updated at the time you read it. For expert legal help, kindly get in touch with Jilsa Management. We’re a leading property management company in West Palm Beach and the surrounding areas!

A Guide to the Eviction Process in West Palm Beach, FL

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The Florida Landlord-Tenant Act gives landlords the right to evict their tenants for lease violations including:

  • Nonpayment of rent.
  • Foreclose of the rental property.
  • Failure to adhere to the terms or break the lease agreement.
  • Refusal to leave after the lease period.
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities under the Florida Landlord-Tenant law.

Regardless of the violation, your tenant has committed, though, you must follow the proper eviction process. Meaning, you must not engage in any illegal eviction actions such as:

  • Terminating the tenancy without a legal cause.
  • Removing the tenant’s belongings from their unit.
  • Locking the tenant out of their rented premises.
  • Interrupting a utility service that the tenant is entitled to.
  • Evicting the tenant because of the race, color, gender, or any other protected characteristic.

eviction notice

What’s the Eviction Process in Florida? Here’s a Guide

Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

To begin an eviction process against a tenant, you must first have a legal ground to do so. Then, you must serve the tenant a proper eviction notice.

  • For tenants who pay rent on a monthly basis, you must serve them a 15-Day Notice to Quit.
  • For tenants who pay rent on a weekly basis, you must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
  • For tenants who pay rent on a yearly basis, you must serve them a 60-Day Notice to Quit.

Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent

As a landlord, you can begin the eviction process against a tenant, for failure to pay rent when the rent is due. For example, if the rent is due on the 1st of the month and your tenant hasn’t paid by the 2nd, then you can begin the eviction process.

Tenants have no right to a legal grace period. But if you offer one, make sure to state it on the lease.

To begin the eviction process, you’ll need to serve your tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This notice will give them two options: to pay the rent due or move out.

But whichever option they take, they must act within three days.

Eviction Process for Refusal to Leave after the Lease Term

You can also end a tenancy at any time in the absence of a lease agreement. This usually happens when a tenant continues to stay after their lease has expired. Such a tenant is referred to as a “tenant at will.”

To end the tenancy, you must serve the tenant with the appropriate notice and the amount of notice varies with the time interval at which rent is paid.

These notices give the tenant only a single option: to move out within the notice period. The tenant has no option to “cure” their violation.

Any security deposit issues will need to be resolved at this point too.

Eviction Process for Failure to Adhere to the Terms of the Lease

When a tenant signs a lease, they agree to abide by the terms of the lease agreement. If they don’t, you can evict them.

Some violations are more severe than others, though. But you must give your tenant a chance to fix the issue. Examples of such violations include:

  • Keeping a pet when there is a “no-pet” policy.
  • Having unauthorized guests or vehicles at the premises.
  • Failing to maintain their unit to a certain level of cleanliness.
  • Parking in an unauthorized area.

In such cases, you must serve the tenant a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This will give them 7 days to either fix the violation or move out. If they continue staying after the 7 days are over, you can continue with the process.

For more serious offenses, tenants don’t get a chance to fix the violation they have committed. You must serve them a 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice to kickstart the eviction process. The following are examples of incurable violations.

  • Causing excessive property damage.
  • Engaging in illegal activity.
  • Committing the same violation over a period of 12 months.

If the tenant doesn’t leave after 7 days, you can continue with the eviction process.

leasing agreement

Eviction Process for Foreclosures

If your property is foreclosed upon and the tenancy isn’t going to continue, you must provide the tenant with a 30 days notice. Specifically, you must serve them the 30-Day Notice to Quit.

If the tenant continues to stay at the property after 30 days, you can continue the eviction process.

Eviction Process for Illegal Activity

To evict a tenant who commits an illegal activity, you must serve them a 7-Day Unconditional Quit Notice.

Summons & Complaint

If the tenant doesn’t move out after the notice period is over, you can move to the next step and file a summons and complaint in court. It goes without saying that the court must be in an applicable county in Florida.

The filing comes at a fee, usually $185. You may also have to pay an additional $10 for every summon that’s issued.

After the sermons are served by a process server, the tenant may choose to contest the eviction. They can do so by alleging any of the following.

  • You used “self-help” eviction procedures.
  • The eviction notice had errors.
  • There was no legal justification for the eviction.
  • You retaliated against the tenant.
  • The eviction was based on discrimination.

Otherwise, if the tenant doesn’t put up a fight, the court will issue a default judgment in your favor.

notice of eviction

Writ of Possession

If the ruling is in your favor, the court will issue you a Writ of Possession. This is the tenant’s final notice to vacate the rented premises. The notice period allows them a chance to remove their belongings before they can be forcefully evicted by a sheriff.

Bottom Line

For expert legal advice, get in touch with Jilsa Management. We specialize in providing residential management services in West Palm Beach and the surrounding areas. Get in touch to learn more!

Disclaimer: This blog is in no way a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws change, and this blog might not be up to date at the time of your reading.

Florida Security Deposit Laws

security deposit header

security deposit header

Security deposits serve an important function in the landlord-tenant relationship and with Florida landlord-tenant law. On one hand, they incentivize a tenant to care for the rental unit so the deposit is refunded back when they leave.

On the other, the Florida statute ensures a landlord against specific kinds of loss caused by a tenant’s negligent or careless behavior.

Florida has statewide landlord-tenant laws which are contained in the FL Statute Chapter 83. Within these laws are the security deposit rules that every landlord within Florida must abide by when charging a security deposit.

Jilsa Management has put together this guide on how Florida landlords should, by law, manage their security deposits:

Defining the Maximum Security Deposit Value

As per the Florida security deposit laws, there are no limits as to how much of the tenant’s security deposit you can charge.

But it is worthwhile to keep the amount reasonable as overcharging will only drive away prospects, whereas undercharging can leave you vulnerable to potential financial losses. So, Florida landlords generally charge the tenant’s security deposit as the equivalent of a single month’s rent.

Charging a Pet Deposit

To protect them against animal damage, the security deposit law allows Florida landlords can charge an additional pet deposit. But you cannot charge a pet deposit for a service animal.

Disabled people who use service animals are entitled to equal access to housing as per the Fair Housing Act. So, charging them an additional deposit would be unlawful.

service dog

Storing a Security Deposit

As per Florida security deposit law, you have three options for storing your tenant’s security deposit:

  • You can store your tenant’s deposit in a non-interest-bearing account. The account must be in a Florida bank and the funds must not be commingled with others.
  • You can store your tenant’s deposit in an interest-bearing bank account in a Florida bank. Additionally, you must give or credit to your tenant the interest accrued annually. Commingling the deposit with other funds is also prohibited.
  • You can also choose to post a surety bond. You must post the bond from a surety company that is licensed to operate as such by the circuit court’s clerk in the county your property is located in. The surety bond you post must be for the security deposit, or $50,000, whichever is less.

Writing A Notice of Receipt

As per the Florida security deposit laws, tenants have the right to an initial written notice after their landlord receives the deposit by certified mail.

Florida landlords have the responsibility to notify their tenants within 30 days of receiving their deposit. The written notice must also bear certain information:

  • Provide the tenant written notice of the name and address of the financial institution holding it.
  • Whether you are storing the tenant’s funds separately or are mixing them with others for your tenant’s benefit.
  • The interest rate the funds are accruing if stored in an interest-bearing account.

Deducting from the Security Deposit

Landlord-tenant laws and Florida’s security deposit laws state that you can only make deductions to a tenant’s deposit for certain reasons at the point of lease termination, such as:

  • If your tenant fails to make timely rent payments or leaves unpaid utilities. But if a landlord fails to keep the rental property in livable condition under the Fair Housing Act, then a tenant may be able to withhold rent legally.
  • To cover damages exceeding normal wear and tear such as broken tiles, pet damage, broken windows, hole in the wall, and missing fixtures. This information should be gained through a walk-through inspection.
  • If your tenant breaks the lease without a legally justifiable reason, you can use the security deposit to recover any losses found through a walk-through inspection.

However, security deposit laws do not state that these funds can be used as advance rent. So, any such agreement would need to be covered in the lease.

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Returning Security Deposits

If you do not make any deductions to the security deposit, Florida security deposit laws state that you have 15 days to return the deposit after the Florida tenant moves out.

If there are deductions to be made, then you must notify your tenant of these deductions within 30 days. It is your tenant’s responsibility to provide you with a forwarding address.

Florida’s security deposit law states that if you fail to notify your tenant of the deductions, you will forfeit your right to withhold any portion of the deposit.

Under Florida security deposit laws, you have another 30 days to return the tenant’s deposit after the initial 30-days notice. But, if the tenant objects to the landlord’s claim, then the matter could go to a small claims court.

In this case, the party that wins in court will then be entitled to the funds, plus court and attorney fees from the losing party. For example, if the tenant wins, the landlord forfeits all rights to the security deposit.

Evictions also raise important questions when considering security deposits.

Selling the Rental Property

If you transfer property ownership, you will have one option to pursue. That is, transfer the deposit (or whatever amount remains of it), plus any accrued interest to the new landlord. You must also create a written receipt indicating the transferred amount.

After doing so, you will then be relieved of any responsibility regarding the storage of the tenant’s security deposit.

selling home

Using the Security Deposit as the Last Month’s Rent

Typically, tenants in Florida cannot use the deposit as rent. The only exception to this blanket rule is if there is a written agreement between both parties to the lease allowing it.

Bottom Line

Understanding Florida security deposit laws are incredibly important for any landlord who chooses to charge a security deposit. These laws give you an understanding of how much you can charge, how to store and how to use the deposit under Florida laws.

If you have any further questions regarding security deposits it’s always good to contact a property management company such as ourselves at Jilsa Management. Contact us today!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have regarding this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.

Florida Rental Laws – An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights in West Palm Beach

As a landlord, it’s important to know that all parties on a written lease have certain rights and responsibilities. In Florida,  as per Florida landlord-tenant law, a rental agreement becomes valid once there is a written or verbal agreement, or when a landlord accepts a rent payment.

To ensure your success as a landlord and improve your landlord-tenant relationship, it’s imperative to adhere to Florida landlord-tenant law. (FL Statute Chapter 83).

Required Landlord Disclosures in Florida

As per Florida law, the following are the disclosures landlords must make, given reasonable notice, to their tenants prior to the renter’s move-in date.

Your Identity

Your Florida tenants have a right to know the name and address of the property owner. In addition, you must also provide the tenant written notice to them of any other individuals certified to act on behalf of the property owner.

Lead-Based Paint 

Federal laws and Florida statutes require landlords to disclose information regarding lead-based paint hazards in the written lease. This law is specific to houses built prior to 1978.

Radon Gas 

When renting out a dwelling unit in Florida, you must also provide your tenants with information regarding radon gas regardless of whether or not it’s present in or nearby. In this disclosure, you must use specific language issued by the state that details the hazards associated with radon gas.

Security Deposit 

As per Florida law Security deposits are only meant for landlords managing at least 5 individual rental units and require a security deposit from their tenants.

Rights and Responsibilities of Tenants in Florida

Both the landlord and tenants have a variety of rights and responsibilities. Under Florida landlord-tenant laws, tenants have a right to

tenant rights in florida

  • Enjoy their rental unit in peace and quiet
  • Live in a habitable rental property
  • Receive proper notice before landlord entry
  • Have repairs made promptly after requesting them
  • Be evicted per the state’s legal eviction processes
  • Be treated fairly and with respect
  • Break the lease for legally justified reasons

In addition to a tenant’s rights, Florida landlord-tenant laws give tenants responsibilities, including:

  • Pay rent on time and in full and only withhold rent for specific reasons
  • Abide by the terms of the lease agreement
  • Keep the property clean and sanitary
  • Notify the landlord of maintenance issues
  • Take care of any damages they cause
  • Notify the landlord before moving out
  • Notify the landlord when they will take an intended absence from the property or leave the premises prior to the lease ending

Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords in Florida

As a landlord, you also have rights and responsibilities when you rent out your property in Florida. 

Florida statutes give Florida landlords have the right to

  • Receive proper written notice from a tenant vacating the premises
  • Evict a tenant for a lease violation 
  • Receive rent payments on time and in full
  • Enforce the terms of the lease agreement, such as having the tenant pay rent or gain the landlord’s permission to make changes during the agreement
  • Make changes to the lease agreement after the lease has ended
  • Require a security deposit

Landlord’s obligations include

  • Ensuring the property is habitable as per health codes
  • Provide reasonable written notice prior to moving in
  • Following the proper eviction procedures when evicting a tenant including giving the tenant notice on the process

florida landlord responsibilities

  • Adhering to the statewide security deposit rules such as if the deposit is kept in a non-interest-bearing account or otherwise.
  • Abiding by all terms of the lease agreement, if the tenant fails to do so then legal action can be taken.

Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Act in Florida

  1. Fair Housing Act

Any form of housing discrimination in Florida is illegal. 

As a landlord, you cannot

  • Refuse to rent your property to a person with a disability such as a blind person with a seeing-eye dog
  • Evict a tenant because they refused your sexual advances
  • Charge a person of color a larger security deposit or higher rent, than white tenants
  • Tell certain prospects that your dwelling unit is no longer available because they belong to a certain socioeconomic class
  • Subject prospective tenants to a varied screening process for any reason
  • As per Florida landlord-tenant law, protected characteristics include race, color, religion, disability, familial status, and national origin.
  1. Lease Termination

A tenant can break their lease for a number of legally justified reasons. 

Renters can break their rental agreement under these reasonable provisions

  • when starting active duty
  • If the unit is no longer habitable
  • As a result of a privacy violation
  • Due to landlord harassment
  • If the landlord violates the written rental agreement

In these cases, your tenant can break the rental agreement without penalty. However, the following reasons have no legal protection against penalties should tenants fail to honor the rental agreement.

  • Relocating to a new house they recently bought
  • Relocating to a new job or school
  • Moving to be closer to family or friends
  • Moving in with a partner
  • If the tenant leaves to upsize or downsize
  1. Small Claims Court

If a tenant fails to perform one of their responsibilities it may result in a claim by the landlord.

Sometimes a landlord’s claim is disputed by the tenants or a landlord fails to perform a responsibility. But when no resolution to the conflict can be agreed upon, the aggrieved party can seek help through a county court of law. 

small claims court

These courts are designed to help individuals resolve disputes quickly and inexpensively. In Florida, the maximum lawsuit you can file with this court is $5,000 plus attorney’s fees.

  1. Withholding Rent

As a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure your rental property is habitable at all times. Among other things, this may mean promptly responding to repair requests from your tenant. If you fail to do so, your tenant may have several legal options to pursue including withholding unpaid rent. 

These include

  • Breaking the lease early without penalties
  • Reporting you to a relevant government agency for health codes or safety code violations
  • Withholding rental payments, paid monthly until repairs are made
  • Repairing the property and subtracting the associated costs from rent payments

A Florida residential landlord must make repairs within 7 days of receiving the repair request from your tenant. Should a tenant have an objection to the repairs, they must send the note in writing to the landlord’s address.

  1. Tenant Eviction

Landlords have a right to evict their tenants for a myriad of reasons. Common reasons a landlord would give a tenant an eviction notice include: when renters stop paying rent or cause excessive property damage. Should you need to evict a tenant, you have a responsibility to follow proper eviction processes.

Illegal eviction processes include locking your tenant out, changing the locks, removing their personal property from the unit, or shutting off their utilities such as water or heat.

  1. Landlord Entry

One right you obtain when you rent out your property is the right to enter the rented premises. 

landlord entry

You may need to do so to perform property inspections or show the unit to prospective renters or buyers. Prior to entry, you must notify your tenant at least twelve hours beforehand.

Bottom Line

As a landlord, it’s important to be familiar with state Landlord-Tenant laws but it can be difficult to ensure the information you have is up-to-date as laws are subject to change.

Our team at Jilsa Management has ample experience in navigating Florida’s Landlord-Tenant laws and fastidiously ensures our property management services comply with state and federal laws. 

For more information, contact us today! 

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws are subject to change and this information may no longer be up to date at the time you read it. For legal advice reach out to a licensed attorney or Property Management Company.

HOA Management in West Palm Beach – Signs You’re Dealing With a Good Property Management Company

Today it’s easier than ever to drag someone’s name in the dirt. From celebrities to restaurants to plumbers, no one is safe from having an unfavorable review of their talents or services plastered on the internet for all to see. Property management companies and HOA’s are no exceptions to the rule. Many communities voice their grievances about the service they receive from lousy property management, but high-quality companies do exist.

Save time, money, and hassle with HOA property management in West Palm Beach. We offer full-service options to provide our clients with only the best service possible. Call us today at (888) 863-1811, or you can also visit our website for more details.

Condo Management Company West Palm Beach – What to Look for When Hiring a Condo Management Company

A condo management company is responsible for handling the day to day needs of the managing property. It goes for small tasks like making sure the landscaping is done routinely to take care of its security needs. They’re also responsible for any issues that arise from the tenants or owners. To get all this work done, a condo management company must have thorough knowledge and experience of how condo buildings work.

Enjoy yourself and watch that rental income bottom line get bigger over time with minimal effort. Let us get the job done! Call us today at (888) 863-1811 for the best condo management company in West Palm Beach. You can also visit our website for more details.

West Palm Beach Property Management – Signs It’s Time to Hire a Property Manager

You might also be struggling to collect rent payments from tenants on time, which could be impacting your bottom line. It can take a significant toll on you and could end up hurting you financially in the not-too-distant future. Rather than continuing to try and manage your rental properties on your own, you should hire a property manager to help you. A good property manager can take care of everything, from collecting rent to making repairs for your tenants.

Get professional property management services in West Palm Beach by coming to Jilsa Management. Call us today at (888) 863-1811, or you can also visit our website for more details.

Why do I have to pay Association fees?

You just moved into a new condo or HOA community, the homes look perfect and the landscaping is pristine. The security guards are nice and the pool is always sparkling. You like the area that you live but you always wonder why you have to pay the high association fees and what they cover. I will go over some of the average things that your fees cover.  A lot of home owners living in HOA and Condo associations always have two main questions. Why is it so high? And what am I getting for what I’m paying? This is a normal question for anyone that is living or has ever lived in an association community. The question becomes more intense when they see the community deteriorating and nothing being done to fix or update it. I will go over a few of the normal things that get covered with the fees being charged by the Condo/HOA community to its homeowners.

First things first!

The first thing to understand when living in a Condo/HOA community is that your fees are a portion of the expenses the association uses to run its day to day operations. These expenses are in place to provide the lifestyle that the community owners are accustomed to or expect.  The expenses for a community are usually broken down by unit type (by bedroom count or sq feet of the unit) or simply divided by the amount of units in the community (10,000 per month  in expenses / 100 units = $100 per month in association fees) .

Do you want to know what your association fees cover?

Its simple to do actually! You can contact your association office or property management company and request whats called the association budget.  Normally every year homeowners receive this budget. This budget outlines the yearly expenses for the community. Using this budget you can understand what your share of the association fees will be and how that pertains to the overall expense of the community.

What if I don’t pay my portion of the fees?

While you may think that not paying association fees has no major impact on the association, you would be wrong. As said before its a portion of the associations total expenses that are shared with you. So you not paying puts a strain on the association to run smoothly and offer the amenities that you have come to expect. The smaller the community, bigger the strain. Condo/HOA fees help maintain the quality of life for the communities residents and protect the property values for the communities owners.

What do I get out of it?

So what are some of the things that are used with the money that you send in every month? Some Condo/HOA communities have big landscaping budgets. I know you may not notice it since your either cutting your own lawn or paying someone $100 or less per month to handle the task before you moved into the community. But most lawn jobs for associations can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 per month! This pricing doesn’t include the extra costs not covered in the regular lawn contract. Next would be electricity and water bills. Some associations pay the water bill for there owners. This is mostly due to the original construction of the community.  All the electricity in the communities common areas also have to be paid by someone. The big lights in the clubhouse or at the entrance have an nice size bill right behind it. What happens when you don’t pay your water or electric bill? Yes, the services do get shut off. The same thing happens in associations, the only difference is the bills and the people affected are on a larger scale. The other bills that your community may be in charge of are insurance coverage for the community, pool maintenance, elevators, clubhouse and clubhouse staff, parking garages, fitness rooms, sidewalks, roads, security gates, roofing, building exteriors, and the overall cleanliness and fixing up of the community.

So should I pay?

While I know everyone’s situation is different paying your fees will help you and the community in the long run. It is also something that is required by your governing documents. So the answer is yes you have to pay them!  If you feel that your fees are being used incorrectly and not for the betterment of the community, you have routes you can take to get your self heard and to verify what is actually being spent. If you cannot pay for other reasons speaking to the association about your situation would be one of the first steps to take to prevent any major issues down the road. They may be able to work with you depending on your situation.

Changing Your Association Management Company

Posted by Shaun Patterson on Aug 19, 2018 12:02:58 PM

I know everyone usually thinks its easy to change management companies that work with your community. Its not as simple as  sending an email and everyone will live happily ever after. Here we have compiled some things to actually look out for when you finally decide that your community wants to make a change. The first thing people have to understand that in Florida in order for a property management company to manage a  HOA or Condo community they need to have the specific licenses and hopefully the proper insurance or bonds. These licenses tell the community that the company or person they have hired understands the changing FL statutes and can professionally manage their association. So before you ever let go or your current manager or management company please make sure that you verify this information with the new company.

Notice:

The first thing you want to do is give notice to your current manager or management company that you will not longer be using their services in the future. Before you do this take a look at the contract that was signed to get a better understanding as to how the notice needs to be sent out and what the time frame would be to relinquishment. Check if you have to give a 60 day notice or a 90 day notice. You may have to give no notice at all depending on how the contract is set up.    Please don’t go through a process of looking for a new management company unless you are sure this is the right choice. Wasting other companies time may hurt your community in the future when you really need the help.

Tip:  If the current management company has no way of receiving feedback for the work that they are doing, alerting them that you are looking to cancel your contract with them may help them see the light and provide the service that you expect from them. If not it may at least open up a channel of communication that can be used to explain your grievances in more detail.

Cancellation Fees:

Does the Contract that was signed have cancellation fees included? If so, what would it cost you to cancel the contract? These are some of the choices that you have to think about when looking to change management companies. How bad do you want to get rid of your current manager? Is the service so bad that you are willing to pay the fee and get someone else? In some situations it might be better for the community to wait till the right time to cancel the contract. Other instances may be dire and the community may want to bite the bullet and get ride of the management company.

Committee or single person search:

Some communities set up a committee to search for prospective management companies to get quotes from. This way frees up the board to handle the day to day operations without having to deal with pushy sales men. This can also weed out the best from the list of prospects. If you don’t have enough people to create a committee then having one person in charge of finding the management companies to get quotes from will help.

Three of a Kind: 

After you find the management companies to get the quotes from you then pick the best 3-4 out of the lot. This is normally done by requesting a RFP (Request For Proposal) from the top 3 or 4 companies that you would like to give you a formal quote. The Request should entail what services you are looking to have and what information your would need from the company. Using a RFP helps streamline the quoting process while also making sure that the quotes are comparable. After that is done then you will hold a meeting with the board that may include the management companies to go over the services and vote on who the board would like to choose.  The time the board spends together going over the different services and the pros and cons of each offer.

Transfer Process:

This usually happens within 30 to 60 days before the termination of the previous company. This is a usually a scary time for most communities because they want to make sure that all of their documents are transferred properly and nothing is missing. By law the management company should transfer all documents that they have over to the new manager. But you have some questions to ask your self. Do they have any documents? For boards who leave everything to the management company they don’t know what the company has kept records of. In some major cases the management company hasn’t kept record of anything at all! For the good management companies that do their job properly they should have everything in a online files or paper format. Also update all bank accounts that the previous management company would have access or control over. This can be as simple closing the account or removing the rights granted to the current manager. Some banks have a simple form that property managers and board members fill out that will transfer and update the account information. This is also a good time to update the signature cards on the bank account if it hasn’t been done in a while.

TIP: Save the major documents that you receive from the management company (monthly reports, budgets, bids from contractors).  If you have an issues come up and you receive nothing from the management company at least you will have the documents that you previously received.

Notices to homeowners: 

One of the last things to make sure of is that all homeowners know of the change in managers or management companies. This helps keep everyone on the same page. You don’t want homeowners still making payments to the wrong company. You also don’t want them calling the management company for issues going on in the community only to be told that they called the wrong place. This is usually done by the new company taking over or the company that is leaving. Notices can be simple and straight to the point. You don’t really need a newspaper sized explanation as to why you are switching. You just need to alert the homeowners of the changes.

Tip: Homeowners that have not updated the association with new addresses can cause them not to know there was a change in management. This is especially true for residents that live out of the country. Make sure to keep and updated email contact list to help with the transition.