When was the last time you checked to see who is serving as the registered agent for your association?
Each corporation in the State must have a registered agent upon whom service of process and other documents may be served. A corporation that fails to have and continuously maintain a registered agent is liable to the State for $500.00 for each year of such failure but that debt is immediately forgiven once the corporation complies.
Often an association will ask its property manager or attorney to serve as their registered agent. Other times, it is a board president or other officer who was serving. What happens over time, though, is that property managers, attorneys and board members change and the registered agent is not changed to keep pace. You might be surprised to learn that your current registered agent is your former property manager from 10 years ago!!
Right now, most associations' registered agents are receiving multiple copies of lender foreclosure complaints. Lenders are required to join the association as a defendant in their foreclosure actions or risk losing their statutory cap on liability for past due assessments. Receiving timely notice of these actions allows the association to closely monitor what is going on in terms of tracking and planning their own foreclosure strategy.
In other instances, registered agents are receiving summonses and complaints for legal actions being brought against the association or code violations. These are items that must be turned over to legal counsel immediately for action or the association risks being defaulted. A registered agent is not liable under Chapter 617 of the Florida Statutes for failing to give notice of the receipt of a subpoena to the association if the registered agent timely sends written notice of the receipt of the subpoena by first-class mail or regular mail to the last address designated in writing to the agent by the association.
Your association's registered agent needs to (a) still be alive and involved with your community and (b) be responsible enough to understand that documents received in his or her capacity as registered agent must immediately be transmitted to legal counsel and the board.
A registered agent does not need to charge the association for his or her services although some law firms charge since there is a certain amount of liability involved should documents received not be timely transmitted. Some associations prefer their attorney to serve as registered agent since that is where the documents need to wind up anyhow.
Of course, all of this begs the question: Who is your association's registered agent? You might be surprised to find out that the former president who was the subject of that nasty recall or the attorney you fired for not being responsive is still listed with the Division of Corporations as your association's registered agent!