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central florida times

WWW.CAICF.ORG | THIRD QUARTER 2020 RECAP


a message from the president Third Quarter 2020 Recap

contact information P.O. Box 941125 Maitland, FL 32794 www.caicf.org exdir@caicf.org 407-913-3777

2020 board of directors Matt Vice, President Chuck Strode, CAM, Vice President Frank Ruggieri, Esq., President Elect Kent Taylor, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, Secretary Leslie Ellis, CPA, MSA, CGMA, Treasurer Jarad Pizzuti Lynne Sadowski

Howdy Y’all, As we enter into the end of year and reflect back on all that we have been through together, I am happy to say that we have not lost a single member to the pandemic. We are blessed with having a strong chapter that continues to bring our members resources and benefits. We were lucky that our annual trade show went off without a hitch and that we are still having in-person meetings. Two of our signature events, Meet the Managers and our Annual Golf Tournament were as successful as ever! It is because of you, our strong members, that we have been able to still bring you quality events and programs. As we move into next year we will welcome your thoughts and suggestions as to what kinds of social events you would like the chapter to host. With the state opening up more fully, we are excited to get back to doing our usual events. Though we still need to be diligent in our social distancing and protecting our health and the health of those around us, we have missed each other. Community Associations have weathered the storm well and seem to have strengthened their communities. Neighbors have reached out to each other, helping each other where they could. The CAMs have been instrumental in helping their communities, renovate and improve their common areas and grounds. Now that more of the lifestyle events are taking place again we are seeing communities re-engaging and coming together. Our business partners have been hard at work providing all the services our communities need. I have enjoyed being your President this year and value all of you. I’m looking forward our Holiday Party which will be on Decemeber 4th at the Ace Café. Thank you all for being our members. Sincerely,

Matt Vice Matt Vice, Vice Painting 2020 President, CAI Central Florida Chapter

Robert L. Taylor, Esq.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Tom Wheir

Kenneth Zook, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, Past President

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November 5th: Monthly Luncheon Meeting - Florida Community Association Pools presented by the Department of Health at Ace Cafe. Registration is at 11:30am. November 18th: Legal Panel Luncheon in the Villages (Free to HOA Board Members & CAMs) December 4th: Annual Meeting & Holiday Party from 6pm-9pm at Harry’s Bar in Ace Cafe (upstairs).


• Over 35 Years of Experience • Over $500 Million Recovered* • No Fees or Costs Unless We Win • Free Continuing Education Courses for Managers and Board Members *Recoveries vary by case. Past recoveries are not necessarily an indication of what you may recover.

Fort Lauderdale (954) 839-6200 Orlando (407) 624-3070 Palm Harbor (727) 474-0200 Paul P. Terry, Jr.*

Stephen M. Hauptman

www.constructiondefectlaw.com

By Appointment: Fort Myers (239) 800-9500 Jacksonville (904) 479-9400 Sarasota (941) 257-0900

* Refers to attorneys that are AV rated

3RD QUART ER 2020 RECAP | CENT RAL F LOR I D A TI M E S

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technology HEATHER KARAMITSOS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/DIRECTOR OF ASSOCIATION BANKING, AMERICAN MOMENTUM BANK

In Case of Emergency: Three Best Practices to Implement Now

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OVID-19 presented many challenges for community association managers (CAMs) and community association board members. The virus prompted closure of community offices and forced people into work-from-home environments. Communities with the technological best practices in place to handle this “new normal” likely adjusted reasonably well. They were able to collect payments remotely, review and approve invoices and easily share updates with homeowners. Communities that weren’t prepared may still be struggling to regain their footing, financial and otherwise. The good news is, it’s never too late to prepare for the next crisis. The following are three best practices to start implementing now to prepare your community for another emergency, whether it be a pandemic, hurricane or other disasters.

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1. INTEGRATED ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE Communities that use integrated accounting software are better positioned to maintain fiscal health during a crisis. Integrated accounting software operates on the cloud, and users can access it from any computer with the internet, making it particularly helpful when employees are working from home. With integrated accounting software, the association’s bank and the software communicate directly and automatically. This integration helps decrease human error for community association managers and their accountants, and it helps prevent fraud. Cybercriminals are particularly active during crises. The right integrated accounting software – like our partner, CINC Systems – is a powerful fraud prevention tool because it reconciles every Continued on page 6


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technology continued bank account every day. When accounts are reconciled daily, accountants can catch and correct errors or potential fraud long before they receive the monthly bank statements.

2. COMMUNITY WEBSITE Dealing with homeowner questions is one of the most timeconsuming activities for property managers and association board members, even when not in a crisis. This issue quickly becomes unmanageable – and frustrating to callers – when no one is in the office to answer the phone because they are all working remotely. A community website can be a valuable outlet for sharing important information during an emergency. CAMs and boards can post news and updates about a wide range of important topics, including closing or re-opening the pool, rules about using common areas and details about bills and assessments. These websites can also be a valuable tool for keeping community finances on track. Password-protected portals on community websites can allow homeowners to view their personal accounts in real-time. Board members can also view financial packages, check account balances, and even approve invoices for their community, no matter where they are physically located.

Seek an email and text/SMS program that allows you to quickly and easily send updates to clients and homeowners. Some programs, like CINC Systems, offers a text and email feature that allows users to segment recipients. For example, a CAM can send a global email with news about the community to all associations in the path of a hurricane; or it could send messages to the members of only one board with an announcement about closing the clubhouse. This flexibility comes in handy when time and clarity of communication is of the essence. Being able to reach your clients and homeowners during an emergency directly is a critical part of a crisis communications plan, and email and text tools will help in achieving that.

NEVER TOO LATE TO START If your community hasn’t already implemented the recommendations above, consider putting them in place now, especially if you have extra time on your hands. Whether it be a COVID-19 resurgence, a hurricane or any other emergency, there will come another crisis. And communities that prepare now will be in a better position to weather it.

3. EMAIL AND MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS TOOL During an emergency, you may need to communicate immediately with your association clients and/or homeowners. While a community website is a great place to post updates, they’re only received if the homeowner visits the site. That’s why email and text messages delivered directly to individuals or groups is so important. 6

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Heather J. Karamitsos is Senior Vice President / Director of Association Banking at American Momentum Bank and is a state-certified continuing education provider for community association managers. She can be reached at hkaramitsos@americanmomentum.bank or by calling 941-806-0755.


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experience between our 6 ISA Certified Arborists on staff. Our biologist has 13 years of agency experience and spent over two years providing commercial environmental consulting services. We currently employ over 60 tree care professionals, heavy equipment operators as well as our biologist and Commercial Applicator. Our scope of work includes tree removals, tree pruning, root pruning & control, palm pruning and planting, cabling and bracing, storm and emergency work, tree surveys, environmental consulting, tree health care services and site clearing and mowing. Enviro Tree Service prides itself in having the most specialized equipment and certifications to complete your job in a safe and efficient manner. Our land clear-

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water heater failure BY STEPHAN WARD-SMITH, VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, AQUAGUARD

WAGS Takes the Worry Out of Water Heater Failure

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ater damage is one of the biggest property risks every homeowner faces. “The water never came out of the drip pan,” says Sid Prothro, a homeowner in Flower Mound, Texas, who’s on his, if we’ve counted correctly, third WAGS valve from AquaGuard. The company’s valve is designed to prevent disastrous floods, expensive damage and the hassles of filing an insurance claim by shutting off the water supply (plus gas supply for gas-fired heaters), if a water heater were to leak. Prothro would have definitely had to contend with all three problems in particular due to an interesting architectural element of the house he’s called home for the past three decades. The 50-gallon water heater that failed that day was above the master bedroom. Bad enough as is, certainly. But the potential would have been even worse considering the master bedroom is sunken – resting about 3 feet below the rest of the second floor. “And it isn’t just 50 gallons that comes out,” Prothro adds. “If no one was home to shut off the water supply, well, that water would have just kept coming.”

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Prothro, however, learned the value of the WAGS valve years earlier due to another water heater failure in his home, this one installed above the garage. (The home is built on a slab so there’s little place else to install the heaters.) After dealing with the mess in his garage, Prothro certainly knew he wasn’t about to face a bigger disaster with the one above that sunken bedroom. So, when he had a new tank installed above the garage, he made sure to add the WAGS valve not only to that one, but also to the existing water heater above the bedroom. From Staten Island, New York, Elizabeth Andrie shared a similar tale. This time the water heater was situated in her laundry room on the second floor. Back in 2006, her original water heater failed and created a disaster as the water spilled into her first floor. “There is a drain in the laundry room, but when you have that much water,” Andrie told us, “that drain could not keep up with the deluge.” Luckily for her, she met plumber Chris Shaffer, who owns Aquatech Mechanical, also in Staten Island, at his booth at a local home show on Long Island after the mishap. Continued on page 10


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water heater failure continued “This is one of those products,” Shaffer says of the WAGS valve, “that has been around awhile and not enough people know about it.”

“If you have a failed water heater,” he said, “it could affect two or three floors. We get a lot of testimonials from happy customers that have avoided those disasters.”

Shaffer, who’s had his business for 15 years and employs 10 techs, adds that recommending the AquaGuard product is a “no brainer” to his clients since so many, like Andrie, live in townhomes or condos that commonly feature the laundry room on a second floor.

The valve can be installed on all styles of water heaters, and is fully mechanical and requires no external power supply. The WAGS valve sits in a drip pan under the water heater and when approximately 1 inch of water accumulates, an internal watersoluble fiber element triggers an industrial-duty, spring-loaded piston in the valve shuts off the water flow.

Andrie said she had Shaffer install the valve on her tank “not really confident in the hype, but what the heck.” But this past January she learned better when after hearing a loud bang from the laundry room she discovered that the valve did the job as promised. “It did exactly as advertised,” she adds. “In my case, it turned off the gas, stopped the intake of water and created a vacuum in the tank so that the 40 gallons stayed in there.” After what she had been through before, Andrie says she was “amazed, elated and ecstatic” with the performance of the valve and, not surprisingly, immediately had another valve installed along with her new water heater. “I would recommend this to every homeowner regardless of where the water heater is located,” she adds. “You will never have to clean up water or worry about water damage. The peace of mind is more than worth the price.”

HOW IT WORKS First off, WAGS stands for “water and gas safety “ valve. The WAGS valve is designed to shut off the water supply (and more recently, also the gas supply for gas-fired heaters) when it detects a water leak from a water heater. Some statistics suggest that a majority of water heaters fail within 7-10 years. “It’s the property owner that is AquaGuard’s prime focus,” Steve Fielding, president of the company told Ruth Mitchell, editor of The Wholesaler, during one of our recent Off the Cuff interviews. “They’re the ones that have to pay the insurance bills. They’re the ones that have all the stress.” He added that a homeowners association in multilevel condo development would be an ideal candidate. 10

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“We keep focusing on the fact that it’s a simple product,” Fielding said. “It doesn’t require electricity. It doesn’t need batteries. It doesn’t need a fancy wireless signal. And most importantly, there’s no maintenance involved.” A red pop-up tab indicates activation. Another WAGS benefit, as Andrie recounts, is that the tank also typically draws a vacuum and stops the water leak. The valve is a single-use, one-time activation water flow shutoff device for gas, oil, or electric water heaters. The company likes to think of it like an airbag in a car, performs a one-time critical function. For the professional installer, a plumber needs to connect the cold-water line in and out of the WAGS valve. The company says installing the valve normally adds 15-20 minutes to a new tank installation. AquaGuard provides the following with the order: • WAGS valve • Installation brochure • Required product sticker for water heater tank • Warranty card & return envelope • Drip pan self-adhesive foam drain dam • Condensation drain tube The company recommends these additional materials for the installation: • Water heater drip pan • Two 3/4”-14 male threaded sweat adapters • Two lengths of copper (or other approved) tubing • Two to four 90-degree copper (or other approved) elbows

Stephan Ward-Smith is the Vice President of Business Development for AquaGuard. For more information, contact Stephan at stephan@ wagsvalve.com or 800-230-8690, ext. 217 or visit wagsvalve.com.


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legal update summary BY SHAYLA JOHNSON MOUNT, ESQ., BECKER

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he Florida Legislature was especially busy this past session filing, debating, and ultimately passing several community association related bills. Below is an outline of those bills and the potential impact on your community association this year.

1. EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS – CHAPTER 2020-76 (SENATE BILL 1084) This long championed and highly anticipated bill managed to make it to the finish line this year to become law on July 1, 2020. This law amends portions of the Florida Fair Housing Act (Chapter 760.20, F.S.) to officially define an “emotional support animal” (“ESA”) and prohibit discrimination in housing against individuals with a disability-related need for an ESA. More specifically, the new law requires a housing provider (which for purposes of the law includes a community association) to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow for the individual’s ESA at no additional cost under certain circumstances. If the person’s disability is not readily apparent, the association can request additional supporting documentation from the person’s health care provider or other proof of disability (i.e.: proof of receipt of federal or state disability benefits). However, an association cannot inquire as to the person’s specific disability. The new law 12

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also makes the individual directly responsible for any personal or property damage the ESA causes and also makes it a seconddegree misdemeanor to falsify or misrepresent information or documentation concerning an individual’s need for an ESA.

2. FIREWORKS - CHAPTER 2020-11 (SENATE BILL 140) The new law prohibits a homeowners association from passing a board-rule banning the use of fireworks on certain “designated holidays,” including New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day. This law does not specifically apply to condominium associations and a homeowners association is still able to amend its Declaration to regulate or limit the use of fireworks within the community.

3. LAW ENFORCEMENT VEHICLES – 2020-5 (SENATE BILL 476) One of the first bills passed and approved by Governor DeSantis this session, is a law that prohibits a condominium, cooperative or homeowners association from prohibiting a law enforcement officer from parking his or her assigned vehicle in an area where the individual would otherwise have the right to park. Continued on page 14


Serving Central Florida’s Communities for More than Three Decades

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legal update continued 8. RENTAL AGREEMENTS - CHAPTER 2020-99 (SENATE BILL 1362) Also known as the “Protecting Tenant at Foreclosure Act,” this law requires a party or entity who obtains a property at foreclosure that is subject to a pending lease agreement to provide to the tenant a 90-day notice to vacate. Thankfully, Senate Bills 295 and 1488 did not pass, both of which would have significantly revised and limited the ability of a condo or homeowners association to bring construction defect claims against developers and builders on behalf of its members. This year, the legislature revisited the controversial issue of regulating short term vacation rental (i.e.: Airbnb) through consideration of Senate Bill 1128 and House Bill 1011. These bills would have prohibited cities and counties from passing ordinances regulating or limiting an owner’s ability to use their home or unit as a short-term vacation rental.

4. STATE REPORTING FOR 55+ COMMUNITIES CHAPTER 2020-153 (SENATE BILL 255) This law removes the requirement that 55+ communities must initially register, and biannually report its compliance status, to the Florida Commission on Human Relations. This bill does not eliminate the need for these communities to comply with federal reporting requirements.

5. HOUSING DISCRIMINATION (SENATE BILL 374) This bill passed the House and Senate but, at the time of this writing, is still pending action by the Governor. If it becomes law, this bill will amend the Marketable Record Title Act (Chapter 712, F.S.), to automatically extinguish and make void as a matter of law any “discriminatory restriction” on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender or physical disability which are contained in an Association’s recorded governing documents. The law would allow the board by majority vote to amend its governing documents to remove any such restrictions.

Although neither bill specifically addressed an association’s ability to pass rules or regulations regarding short-term rentals, it is likely that this issue will return next year for further debate before the Legislature. Prior to next year’s session, associations that are concerned with short-term rentals in their community should seriously consider amending their governing documents now as future versions of this bill may propose to limit an associations ability to regulate short-term rentals as well.

Shayla J. Mount is an Associate Attorney in Becker’s Community Association Practice Group. She focuses her practice on providing counsel and representation to

6. LEASE REQUIREMENTS - CHAPTER 2020-102 (SENATE BILL 469)

homeowner and condominium associations throughout

This law removes the requirement that a lease agreement must be signed by a subscribing witness.

handled collections litigation and served as general

Central Florida. An experienced litigator, she has legal counsel for numerous homeowner and condominium association boards throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Duval, and Sarasota Counties. Shayla

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7. FLORIDA GUARANTY INSURANCE CLAIMS – CHAPTER 2020-155 (HOUSE BILL 529)

regularly advises association boards on issues regarding vendor contracts and

This bill increases the amount of insurance available through the Florida Guaranty Insurance Fund from $100,000 to $200,000 for each condominium or HOA claim, where the association has the responsibility to insure residential units.

substantial experience handling a variety of civil litigation issues including

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disputes, document amendments, and covenant enforcement issues. She also has small business and contracting actions, foreclosure defense, real estate transactions, and insurance disputes.. For more information, visit beckerlawyers. com, email sjmount@beckerlawyers.com, or call 407-875-0955.


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welcome new members! BUSINESS PARTNERS

MANAGEMENT COMPANY

MANAGER MEMBERS

KMI International Mr. Eric Quinn

Mosaic Services LLC Mrs. Jennifer S. Cain, CMCA, AMS

Ms. Marilyn Evette Nieves, CMCA Community Management Professionals-Orlando

Millennium Services of Florida Mr. Terry Cordes

MANAGER MEMBERS

OnCall Patrol, LLC Mr. Maurice Donielle Williams

Mr. Stuart Galkin

PROscape, Inc. Mr. Mark Bradley

Ms. Heather Haas Mr. Robert E. Lloyd, Jr.

Ms. Nicole Elizabeth Arias Leland Management, Inc. Ms. Victoria Berrios-Reyes Leland Management, Inc. Mrs. Adrien Lynn Escalera Leland Management, Inc.

TRT Pressure Washing & Window Cleaning Mr. Bobby Walker

Ms. Ivette Medeiros

American Building Contractors, Inc. Mr. Clay Curran

Mr. Neall Prashad

Mrs. Anita Leddon Bailey NAB Community Management LLC

Ms. Nikea L. Scarbrough

VOLUNTEER LEADER

Bliss Products and Services, Inc Mr. Gregg Bliss PM Plus Reserves, LLC Mr. Mario B. Ginnetti, RS

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Ms. Lacey Coker

Ms. Ana Otero-Pina

Ms. Nubia Thomas Ms. SunDay Louise Wright, CMCA FirstService Residential

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Jose O. Ponton-Torres Leland Management, Inc.

Mrs. Christiane Sanchez


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negotiate to win BY DIANA SADA, ESQ., BURG SIMPSON

E

veryone needs to negotiate at some point in life – whether it is attempting to reduce your apartment rent, winning the argument of who needs to take out the trash, or trying to add a couple more dollars into your salary offer. This article, however, focuses on negotiations from a legal perspective, which is crucial for CAMS and Association board members to understand since many Associations engage in litigation, which will likely result in many negotiations.

approach involves more rational negotiators who understand that even though the wrongdoer may owe them more than the potential settlement, it is best to ignore the desire to make the wrongdoer “lose” and focus on winning something rather than risk everything. Rational negotiators strip emotion out of the process and accept that the wrongdoer may also win something - i.e, paying or doing less than they should. Here is an example of how negotiations could take place:

First, planning for a negotiation is as important as the negotiation itself, if not more. Planning does not need to be onerous. At the very least, it involves determining your overall goal, including what you may be willing to give up in reaching a settlement. It also involves evaluating all parties’ strengths, weaknesses, assets, needs, etc. The more you understand the other parties’ interests, the better you are able to determine the range your goal may realistically lie in. From the planning stage through the negotiation itself, it is important to focus on one negotiation approach. There are several different approaches to negotiations, but the most basic approaches are: “win-lose” and “win-win.” The win-lose approach involves emotional negotiators who believe there should be a winner and a loser. This creates a more adversarial and usually unproductive negotiation. The win-win 18

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Association enters into a contract with a pool service company in which the company promises to maintain the community pool on a weekly basis, including all equipment maintenance, cleanings and safety compliance. In return, Association agrees to pay the company a flat monthly fee of $3,000. Any equipment replacement is in addition to the flat fee and billed on a time and materials basis by the company. The company performs well for several months but then bills the Association for an extra $6,500 saying that the pool heater needed to be replaced ($4,000 is for time and $2,500 is for parts). Association was not advised of the need and believes the heater failed because the company failed to properly maintain it, causing the heater to over-heat. The company admits it did not Continued on page 18


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Is your management company providing the layered support your community needs? Castle Group’s Community Management team provides a complete array of services to operate the administrative, financial, physical, and people aspects of your Community. We have organized our company around supporting the operations of the on-site teams by employing specialists in variety of areas. Some of these areas include: large-scale community management, food & beverage, high-rise management, project management, and financial services. To learn more about how Castle Group can serve your community, please call 844.815.532.

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negotiate to win continued have pre-authorization but claims it was an emergency to keep the pool open. The company mandates you pay immediately or it will stop providing any further services. The contract does not provide for attorney fees but you consult with your general counsel who advises that a settlement is a good idea. Your general counsel bills you $500 for his services. The company then agrees to negotiate. First, you plan! You might initially think that you want to pay none of the $6,500 and you also want the company to pay your $500 in attorney fees because they admitted they did not have preauthorization and, therefore, did the work improperly. You might be right. But if you do not pay and the company sues you, you will incur more attorney fees and have to find a new pool maintenance provider. For these reasons, you need to be realistic about your goal, which means putting emotion to the side and choosing the win-win approach. Next, you perform your due diligence and learn more about the company, such as how many times they have sued clients in the past, how much work they currently have, how badly do they need the money, etc. Depending on what you uncover, you will pick a range you can live with. You can also be creative and have several “ranges.” For example, you might be willing to settle for paying for

the parts ($2,500) because you did get a new heater, after all, but not pay for the company’s time and labor to install it. Or, you might decide to pay $3,500 total but pay it over time. In both situations, you “win” by not having to pay the entire amount or additional attorney fees, and you keep the same pool company until you can find someone else. Additionally, the company wins because they get paid something, will not have to litigate and pay an attorney, and they get the opportunity to earn your trust back and keep the account ongoing. In almost any legal battle you will have to negotiate. When you find yourself doing do, it is always better to be a rational rather than an emotional negotiator and choose the win-win approach.

Diana Sada heads Burg Simpson’s Florida construction defect group where she applies her formidable skills by helping homeowners tackle the challenges they face against builders, developers, and various contractors. For more information, visit burgsimpson.com, email dsada@burgsimpson.com or call 888-895-2080.

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preparation BY GIANNA (DECASTRO) RAHMANI, LCAM, PCAM, CASTLE GROUP

Prepared for the Unprecedented

I

s being prepared for the unprecedented—the anomalous, the abnormal, the unknown—even possible? It has often been said that community association management is a learn-onthe-job type of career and if you ask managers what they like about it, you will frequently hear that there is something new to learn every day. Sure, you can read the HOA and Condominium Acts, take a 16-hour course, pass the State exam, and take pride in the letters that now follow your name as a licensed community association manager. However, being an LCAM—a great LCAM— takes experience. More importantly, it requires the ability to apply what you have learned from overcoming past challenges to tackling the different obstacles you encounter day-to-day. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly has managers in uncharted waters, as outbreaks in the past occurred before homeowner and condominium associations became common. Therefore, it requires taking the experience we have in disaster preparedness, such as dealing with hurricanes, and applying the best practices we have learned to creating plans for managing the different phases of a pandemic. As the old proverb goes, “smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors.” 22

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When developing disaster preparedness plans for this outbreak, we needed to consider the effects the pandemic is having on our communities. COVID-19 resulted in government orders requiring quarantining, social distancing, and the use of masks; it also caused a lot of fear, panic, and worry. These consequences mean more people in our communities at a time and place where people shouldn’t congregate, heightened emotions when interacting with each other, and financial hardships when the costs for extra cleaning and legal advice are causing a rise in association expenses. In true valiant form, Florida communities are overcoming COVID-19 with the strong leadership of their boards of directors and the unwavering dedication of their management teams, legal counsel, and service providers. As always, challenges and solutions depend on the specific association, but examples include the following:

AMENITIES Much to residents’ displeasure, both HOAs and condominiums Continued on page 22


What’s Lurking Beneath the Surface in Your Community We handle claims on a contingent fee basis, advancing all fees and costs We have attorneys Board Certified in Construction Law by The Florida Bar We will partner with your current attorney for your association and solely handle the construction defect claim Do not let your claims expire! Call us at 407.455.5664 for a free inspection and report of any findings of construction defects

BOUTIQUE SERVICE | TOWERING CAPABILITIES Construction Legal Services | www.balljanik.com 3RD QUART ER 2020 RECAP | CENT RAL F LOR I D A TI M E S

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preparation continued MEETINGS Board and community meetings, hearings, as well as elections, were cancelled or postponed. Meetings of an emergency nature were held using remote collaboration and electronic voting platforms. Management offices were closed for walk-ins and meetings with managers were made by appointment only, while maintaining social distance. Live events were replaced by virtual classes and meetups.

SUPPLIES On-site teams and vendors had to wear masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). There were many shortages of highly in-demand products such as disinfectant wipes and sprays, which required proactive and creative ways for finding the necessary supplies.

closed amenities such as pools and restaurants. When pools and gathering rooms were open or re-opened, chairs were positioned six feet apart. Dine-ins were paused, and on-site food and beverage operations were limited to carry-out only. New procedures were implemented, and specialized service providers were engaged for cleaning and sanitization. On-site personnel and vendors were either asked to stay home or stagger their work schedules.

CODE ENFORCEMENT Managers continued performing site inspections; however, boards and committees had to address covenant violations on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether the issue required a vendor coming on site or not. Hearings were affected similarly as the meetings mentioned below.

As a management company providing essential services, it has been business as usual for Castle Group, though in unusual times. With COVID-19 came numerous opportunities to identify and implement various internal measures to best support our communities, including e-blasting daily and weekly communication to our boards from our leadership team and sending video messages; creating dashboards to monitor community progress and to track COVID cases; hosting a multitude of educational webinars; holding virtual meetings; organizing virtual office and property tours; increasing information technology support and expanding bandwidth; coordinating procurement of supplies; lining up financial partners to assist with impending hardships; etc. Moreover, all of our webinars and resources were made available to clients, non-clients, and self-managed communities alike with the goal of sharing as much information as possible to help us all get through this together, including Site Response and ReOpening Plans.

DELIVERIES With many people at home, outside food deliveries and online shopping greatly increased. Condominiums, especially towers, had to implement no-touch procedures for package delivery.

FINANCES Homeowners lost their jobs, making it difficult to pay their maintenance fees. Boards were challenged to sympathize with their neighbors’ extenuating circumstances while ensuring their associations’ needs were met and paid for (this isn’t necessarily a new challenge, of course, and is one of the reasons we owe our boards the utmost respect).

GUESTS/VISITORS Also more prevalent in condominiums, restrictions on visitations were implemented. 24

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Continued on page 24


A TRUSTED PARTNER FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS Sherwin-Williams understands the needs of HOAs and has the products and services to ensure long-lasting curb appeal and easy maintenance. From premium paints that provide performance and protection to color design services, on-site assistance, maintenance manuals and more — we’re here to help throughout the state of Florida.

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preparation continued

As with any disaster preparedness plan, or playbook as we informally refer to them, you need an understanding of your association’s emergency powers, a strategy for the resources (i.e., people, systems, and technology) you need to deploy, access to the organizations that provide updates as events unfold, modes of communication, supply chain management, and much more. For COVID-19, in particular, Castle’s playbooks include the following: • Background information on the novel coronavirus— symptoms, how it spreads, prevention & treatment, and governmental agencies involved • Site activation guidelines » Communication—raising awareness and educating our residents » Use of PPE—requiring the use of masks, gloves, gowns, etc. » Cleaning and sanitization—increasing frequency and establishing procedures » Supply chain management—taking inventory and identifying suppliers » Membership meetings and events—postponing or using virtual devices • Presumptive site case procedures • Confirmed site case procedures • Department of Health contact information • Framework for re-opening—phased approach based on “gating” factors being met (i.e., downward trajectory of COVID-like cases) • Tools and resources » Sample communication » Links to county executive orders » Sample guidelines » Signage templates 26

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These playbooks are then specifically customized for each and every community and reviewed by the association’s legal counsel. As of the writing of this article, government orders are being relaxed and our communities are in different stages of reopening, but it is still unclear what the future holds. Like the aftermath of a hurricane, we will be dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for months and, most likely, years to come. In fact, we must be prepared to embrace a new lifestyle. Nevertheless, we can rest a little easier having solid plans in place, knowing that they are based on time-tested systems that we’ve codified from experience, allowing us to focus on what community management is all about—enriching the lives of our residents and the communities we proudly serve, no matter what the new normal may entail.

Having already been in real estate and property management for five-plus years, Gianna entered the community association sector in 2007, soon earning the designations of Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA®), Association Management Specialist (AMS®), and Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM®). She is active with the Community Associations Institute (CAI), being once named a Rising Star and, most recently, the Northeast Florida Chapter’s 2019 CAM of the Year. Gianna’s principles perfectly match Castle Group’s core values and proudly represents Castle in creating an unparalleled resident experience in communities throughout Florida. For more information, please visit castlegroup.com or contact Gianna at 407-204-1757 or grahamani@castlegroup.com.


Committed to our communities For 30 years, BB&T Association Services has provided solutions specifically designed to meet the needs of property management companies and community associations. You can count on us to be your trusted partner. BBT.com/AssociationServices

Association Services Marianne Brown, CAM VP, Relationship Manager 727-260-5004 Marianne.Brown@BBandT.com

Branch Banking and Trust Company is a Member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender. Loans are subject to credit approval. Only deposit products are FDIC insured. Š 2016, Branch Banking and Trust Company. All rights reserved.

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golf tournament 2020

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photos by J Bricker Photography

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business continuity BY MARK EVANS, REGIONAL ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, CIT

ARE YOU READY?

T

he events of the past few months have prompted many to reevaluate how their business operates. Is all or part of your staff working remotely? What modifications did that require? Did you have the resources needed to make it happen smoothly? Business owners often understand the importance of business continuity but are seldom fully prepared to meet the challenge. In an era when margins are compressed, and competition is increasing, technology is one way companies can adapt. Amid the unfolding pandemic, it’s important that management companies embrace technologies to simplify their back-office operations, lower costs and potentially increase revenue. Industry-specific software can provide a multitude of efficiencies for management companies. One great example is the opportunity to connect business partners by linking your systems with theirs. Integrations with HOA-specific banks include accounts receivable posting, account-to-account transfers, daily reconciliation and much more. Other platforms offer compliance, work order and architectural integrations, which can drastically reduce manual data input and help boards make administrative decisions more quickly. Accounts receivable lockbox integration can process every type of homeowner payment that comes in, whether it is accepting checks, ACH, e-check or credit card payments. The payment information is provided to the management company the very next day, improving association cash flow, and ensuring necessary expenses are being paid promptly and accurately. Similarly, an accounts payable lockbox eliminates the task of manual invoice entry. With accounts payable lockbox, all invoices 30

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are emailed to a centralized location where they are scanned and uploaded to an online dashboard for board and management review and approval. Once approved, payments to vendors are made via check, ACH or merchant card. Accounts payable lockbox software can also automatically assign general ledger codes, further increasing accuracy and saving time. For escrows, most industry-specific accounting software will have some level of integration with the leading providers of online resale documents. This can be a tremendous help to your escrow team by allowing them to process more packages in less time. Integration means owner-specific information, such as balance owed and outstanding violations, can be pre-populated to the demand forms in real time. More escrows completed more quickly means more revenue for the management company! If you are still manually assembling escrow packages, explore technology-based options for optimizing the process, reducing paper and supply consumption and potentially grow your bottom line. As you can see, there are multiple ways to leverage technology to increase accuracy and efficiency, reduce costs and build business volume. The current circumstances may offer the ideal opportunity to upgrade your technology that helps your business work through the challenges of the present and position itself for greater success in the future. Mark Evans is a regional account executive for CIT’s Community Association Banking Division, supporting property management companies and homeowner associations in Central Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIT.


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insurance claims process JOEL W. MESKIN, ESQ., CIRMS, CCAL FELLOW, MLIS, EBP, MANAGING DIRECTOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION PRODUCTS, MCGOWAN PROGRAM ADMINISTRATORS

I. THE CLAIM PROCESS BEGINS BEFORE INSURANCE IS PURCHASED! a. Shop for a Community Association Insurance Professional not the Policy. b. Purchase the best Coverage; avoid the seduction of the cheapest price. c. Beware of the Insurance professional selling price and not coverage. d. Require the Insurance Professional to explain their claim role. e. Insist that you receive complete copies of every policy and a schedule of Insurance.

II. WHEN DO YOU TENDER (SUBMIT) A MATTER TO AN INSURER(S) FOR DEFENSE AND INDEMNITY? a. Tip: If you are asking the question, you have answered the question. b. The “CAM” or the Insured(s) should submit it to the Association’s insurance professional. If you have no CAM, designate a single board member to be the contact with the Insurance Professional? c. The Insurance Professional should advise if a matter should be submitted to the insurer, and if so, which insurer(s). d. The insurance Professional or Attorney advice received MUST be confirmed in “writing!”

III. IF THE CLAIM IS A “LIABILITY CLAIM” ALSO CONTACT THE ASSOCIATION’S ATTORNEY. a. Is there an insurance policy that should pay for the defense and or indemnity of the association, board, employee, volunteer or CAM (collectively “Insured(s)”)? b. Is there a third party that is responsible for the association’s defense and or indemnity notwithstanding the insurance (i.e. contractor, professional, or another entity agreeing to indemnify in a contract)? c. Make sure all the association’s insurance policies, contracts and governing documents, minutes and rules are in order to give expeditious access to your association counsel, or the insurer appointed attorney. d. Caution: as a general rule, no insurer is required to provide coverage, including defense fees, until it has given written consent to the Insured(s). Accordingly, do not assume corporate counsel will be reimbursed for any pre-tender fees. 32

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IV. WHEN A CLAIM IS RECEIVED, THE INSURED(S) MUST PROTECTS THE ASSOCIATION’S INTEREST. a. Insured(s) should not discuss ANYTHING about the Claim between and amongst themselves, or anyone else (including a spouse) other than the timing of an attorney meeting! If you do, there will be no privilege to protect those communications. These discussions MUST only be discussed with counsel in preparation of litigation or defense of a Claim. Otherwise, these discussions are discoverable. b. There is NO “board member privilege.” There is NO “pillow talk” privilege. c. Board members MUST NOT communicate between and amongst one another by e-mail or any other form of electronic communication. This type of board communication should never occur, especially in light of litigation. These are all discoverable, and may constitute an unauthorized board meeting. d. Do not edit or massage the information you provide your attorney or insurer. It will do nothing other than sabotage the claim. The facts are the facts.

V. THE CLAIM REPRESENTATIVE IS YOUR FRIEND; YOUR INSURANCE PROFESSIONAL IS YOUR ADVOCATE. a. Claim Reps want to pay your claim! Treat them as a partner. Board members are fiduciaries tasked with protecting the association’s interest. Treating a claim rep as an adversary is not in the association’s interest. Psychologically, people (claims reps included) want to help Insured(s) who are nice and civil. b. Claim Reps are creatures of audit. They must document the claim file to support any payment. Accordingly, make their job easier and provide the documents and information they request. c. Every insurance policy has a “Cooperation Clause.” Failing to cooperate may impact the adjustment of a claim and the rights and coverage in the policy. Admonition: The Association is a Business. Leave Emotion and Principle at the Door!

For more information, visit www.mcgowanprograms.com, call 800-5451538 x2240, or email jmeskin@mcgowanins.com.


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back to basics BY BO BURNS, BIOLOGIST & MARKET DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SOLITUDE

Nanobubbles vs. Fountains vs. Submersed Aeration

O

xygen is essential to life, including the desirable life that lives below the surface of our lakes and ponds. When pollution, invasive aquatic weed growth and nuisance algae blooms cover the surface of the water, this prevents dissolved oxygen, or DO, from reaching the areas that need it. The result—poor water quality, bad odors, bottom muck, massive fish kills and potentially deadly toxic algae blooms. Luckily, several lake and pond aeration solutions are available to naturally correct imbalanced DO conditions—each with their own unique benefits and limitations: Floating and architectural fountains are one option for aeration in lakes and ponds. In addition to serving as an aesthetic focal point, properly-sized fountains provide essential water column mixing in shallow waterbodies. As fountain water falls from the air in pleasing patterns, it bursts across the surface, accelerating the release of submersed gases, helping to reverse nutrient pollution, and introducing beneficial DO into the top layer of water. When the fountain is turned off, however, these benefits can subside. 34

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Another form of aeration that is recommended in large lakes and ponds is submersed aeration. In contrast to fountains, submersed aeration systems utilize an on-shore compressor to pump air through a subsurface tubes and diffusers that oxygenate and circulate the water from bottom to top. As bubbles rise from the depths to the surface, they increase DO throughout the waterbody and disrupt undesirable stratification. Like floating fountains, submersed aeration systems help convert nutrients to more diluted forms that cannot sustain nuisance aquatic weed and algae growth, though they do not directly target these infestations. For the best results, these systems should be placed in lower depths as they may not properly circulate shallow water. New aeration alternatives, like nanobubble technology, have helped maximize the benefits of both fountains

SUBMERSED AERATION EQUIPMENT


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back to basics continued BEFORE NANOBUBBLE AERATION

AFTER NANOBUBBLE AERATION

and submersed aeration systems. Similar to “traditional” submersed aeration systems, nanobubbles are produced by compact on-shore generators, but they are about 1 million times smaller than ordinary bubbles and have a strong negative surface charge. As a result, they provide long-lasting oxygenation within the water column—and even the sediments—for up to 2-3 months without popping. Because nanobubbles do not rise to the surface, they do not offer the vertical mixing benefits provided by fountains and standard diffusers.

Each of these lake and pond solutions works differently—and they accomplish very different things. Using them in a variety pairing based on your given situation may help better target your unique water quality problems. No matter how you use your waterbody, it’s worth leveraging these natural management tools to ensure the future of your freshwater resource.

Nanobubbles are not only effective at reducing odors, breaking down bottom muck and restoring water quality; some manufacturers have registered their equipment as a pesticidal device with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meaning it can be used to naturally eradicate nuisance algae and toxic cyanobacteria. And unlike traditional aeration systems, you don’t have to own an actual nanobubble system to reap the benefits. Through an annual management plan, nanobubbles can be introduced into your waterbody via recurring when the aquatic ecosystem needs it. This approach helps ensure your waterbody receives the custom, balanced care it requires without the need to purchase or permanently install a nanobubble system on your property. 36

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Bo Burns is a Market Development Manager at SOLitude Lake Management, an industry-leading environmental firm. He specializes in the research and development of new technologies using more than 30 years of industry experience along with a Master of Environmental Management degree in Resource and Wetland Ecology from Duke University. Learn more about the sustainable management of lakes, stormwater ponds, wetlands and fisheries at www.solitudelakemanagement.com/knowledge.


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neighborly BY LAURA OTTO, HOARESOURCES, CAI

GOOD NEIGHBORS MAKE A GREAT HOA

A

simple “hello,” a wave as you walk by, or organizing a community activity are just some of the ways you can be a good neighbor. However, as remote working, virtual learning, and social distancing have become the norm, finding new ways to be an engaged neighbor have never been more important. According to a new CAI survey, nearly 90% of respondents who live in a community association say they have engaged with their neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. How have residents supported each other? Running small errands, helping with grocery shopping, and picking up prescriptions ranked among the top ways neighbors are helping each other stay safe and healthy during these challenging times. Residents also report organizing activities to provide joy and levity during the pandemic. Being an engaged resident is important for the well-being of a

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community. More than 60% of respondents say they volunteer on their homeowners association’s board, and nearly 50% participate in social events and recreational activities organized by residents. How well do you know your neighbors? CAI’s survey found that close to 60% say they know their neighbors very well. Additionally, an overwhelming 90% of respondents believe they are a good neighbor, citing being caring, helpful, and respectful as characteristics that contribute to an overall healthy community. Reprinted from HOAResources.com, which explores questions and comments from community association members living in condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. We then assemble trusted experts to provide practical solutions to your most commonly asked, timely questions. We never use real names, but we always tackle real issues.


Be sure to update

your board’s member names, titles (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Board Member), and contact information to ensure your board members receive all the latest CAI member benefits!

Update today: ONLINE at www.caionline.org EMAIL addresschanges@caionline.org MAIL to CAI, P.O. Box 34793, Alexandria, VA 22334-0793

Have your community association board members changed since last year?

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got credentials? If you have credentials, you have credibility. More than just letters after your name, CAI credentials identify you as the right professional for the job. They give employers confidence that you have the knowledge, experience and integrity to provide the best possible service to their associations. CAI provides opportunities for industry professionals to fast-track their companies and careers and stand out from the competition. If you hold a CAI credential, you are automatically listed in CAI’s online Directory of Credentialed Professionals, where potential employers and clients can find you—and see that you stand above the rest.

»

CrEdEnTIALs For ProFEssIonALs: z association management specialist (ams®) z Professional Community association manager (PCam®) z large-scale manager (lsm®)

»

z reserve specialist (rs™) z Community insurance and risk management specialist (Cirms®) CrEdEnTIALs For MAnAGEMEnT CoMPAnIEs: z accredited association management Company (aamC®)

Learn how to earn CAI credentials today . . . visit www.caionline.org/credentials or call (888) 224-4321 (M-F, 9–6:30 ET) for more information.

interested in getting more involved? join a caicf committee! If you are interested in getting more involved in the chapter, joining a committee is a great thing to consider. Below are the different committees that we currently have active. Please feel free to contact any of the following committee chairs: CA Day/Trade Show Committee Gina Holbrook Premier Association Management gina.holbrook@premiermgmtcfl.com Chuck Strode Premier Association Management chuck@premiermgmtcfl.com Communications Committee Benjamin Isip Towers Property Management, Inc. ben@towerspropertymgmt.com Education Committee Negar Sharifi Assured Partners negar.sharifi@assuredpartners.com Fran James Sentry Management stonebridgeplace@csbonline.net

Gala Committee Ken Zook Waterford Lakes ken.zook@mywaterfordlakes.org

Membership Committee Jason Martell Martell & Ozim jmartell@martellandozim.com

Golf Tournament Committee Scott Pollock Sentry Management spollock@sentrymgt.com Legislative Committee Tom Slaten Larsen and Associates tslaten@larsenandassociates.com

Jessica Cox Leland Management jcox@lelandmanagement.com

David Furlow Leland Management dfurlow@lelandmanagement.com

Social Committee Tara Stone Your Private Adjustor tara@yourprivateadjuster.com Sunshine Foundation Committee Jennifer Agravat Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems jennifer.agravat@asphaltnews.com

Meet the Managers Committee Chuck Strode Premier Association Management chuck@premiermgmtcfl.com

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2020 MEDALLION SPONSORS!

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Gerstle, Rosen & Goldberg, PA Glickstein, Laval, Carris, P.A. Heron Home & Outdoor I&E Construction, Inc. Kings Access Control Larsen & Associates, P.L. Leland Management Parmley Environmental Services Reserve Advisors The Ruggieri Law Firm The Sherwin-Williams Company SOLitude Lake Management Stratus Roofing Union Bank Vestra Property Services, Inc. Vice Painting Yellowstone Landscape

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Cohen Law Group Lanco Paints RealManage

Profile for Overflow

CAICF | 3rd Quarter Newsletter  

CAICF | 3rd Quarter Newsletter  

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