Licensed professions in Florida each have their own set of rules that licensees are required to follow. For example, lawyers are required to abide by The Rules Regulating the Florida Bar. Community association managers also have rules to abide by and can be subject to discipline for doing any of the following:
1. Violating Florida Statute 468..
2. Violation of any lawful order or rule rendered or adopted by the department or the council.
3. Being convicted of or pleading nolo contendere to a felony in any court in the United States.
4. Obtaining a license or certification or any other order, ruling, or authorization by means of fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment of material facts.
5. Committing acts of gross misconduct or gross negligence in connection with the profession.
6. Contracting, on behalf of an association, with any entity in which the licensee has a financial interest that is not disclosed.
7. Violating any provision of chapter 718, chapter 719, or chapter 720 during the course of performing community association management services pursuant to a contract with a community association as defined in s. 468.431(1).
The first six provisions are pretty self explanatory. It’s item 7 that deserves additional discussion. Read it again.
In other words for example, if you know that your declaration does not allow for interest and late fees, don’t charge them to the unit owners because by doing so you violate the statute. Don’t send out letters demanding the payment of a fine when the unit owner has not had the opportunity for a hearing. Don’t charge for access to records if an owner decides to use their own camera to take pictures of those records. I can go on with examples, but don’t take an action that violates the statute despite any perceived pressure from any board members, unit owners or even the company you may be working for. It’s your license on the line and you will be held to answer for your actions. If you haven’t heard, the “I was only following orders” defense doesn’t work either.
As if the above statute wasn’t enough for CAMs to worry about, The Florida Supreme Court is again deciding what CAMs can and cannot do and which of their actions constitute the unauthorized practice of law, which is a violation of the criminal law. For example, the preparation of a claim of lien is considered the practice of law and can only be drafted by an attorney.
Experienced CAMs know exactly what I’m talking about when I speak of being placed in uncomfortable positions. Most are wise enough to say “NO” when asked to do something that they are not allowed to do. If as a CAM you ever find yourself in a position where you are unsure if your conduct will violate the law, pick up the phone and get some legal advice first. It’s much better than having that lawyer defend you at a future disciplinary proceeding.
By the way…….our Condo Craze 2014 Legal Update Course for community association managers has just been approved by the DBPR. Give us a call at 855-4-condocraze if you’re interested in taking the course.