Question: Our association has a manager. He does a great job and we have very few problems. A friend of mine lives in an association that is managed by a fellow who doesn't seem to know how to get the job done. He talks a lot about his "guidelines" and "ethics" but keeps information from the residents. He's even bounced some association checks. Are there ethics for community association managers? Are they trained?
Answer: Community Association Managers (CAMs) are required to be licensed in the state of Florida. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age; file a complete application with a fingerprint card; complete 18 hours of council approved pre-licensure education; pay the appropriate fees; be of good moral character; and pass the state examination. They are required to satisfactorily complete a minimum of 18 classroom hours of pre-license education within 12 months prior to the date of examination. They must also complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years.
Although ethics is not a part of the required coursework for licensure or for renewal, there are guidelines. The Community Association Institute (CAI), a national organization dedicated to fostering vibrant, competent, harmonious community associations for more than 30 years, has been a leader in providing education and resources to the volunteer homeowners who govern community associations and the professionals who supported them. CAI has published ethical standards for CAMs, including the following: A manager shall:
1. Comply with current bylaws, standards and practices ... subject to all federal, state and local laws, ordinances, and regulations in effect where the manager practices.
2. Act in the best interests of the client; refrain from making inaccurate or misleading representations or statements; not knowingly misrepresent facts to benefit the Manager.
3. Undertake only those engagements that they can reasonably expect to perform with professional competence.
4. Disclose all relationships in writing to the client regarding any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest between the Manager and other vendors.
5. See that the funds held for the client by the Manager are in separate accounts, are not misappropriated, and are returned to the client at the end of the Manager's engagement.
6. Prepare and furnish accurate and timely financial reports in accordance with the terms of the management agreement, job description or duly adopted Board policies.
7. Conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times when acting in the scope of their employment.
Additional guidelines can be found at www.CAI.org. It may be a good idea for your friend's board to review the behavior of this CAM. He may actually be breaking the law regarding condo management as set forth in the statutes.
Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a certified specialist in real estate law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar St., in Cape Coral.
This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.