Yesterday, I started my one-week series on how to find the right property manager for your community. The starting point is to first determine your community's specific needs. After that is accomplished you need to start making some calls.
If you know particularly well run communities you can ask who they use as a property manager. Accountants and attorneys who work with community associations are also good resources for possible recommendations. Another option is to go online to the Florida Community Association Journal, www.flcaj.com for manager listings as well as the Community Associations Institute at www.caionline.org.
Once you have interviewed a few possible candidates, it is important to call their references, to ensure that they are properly licensed and to check to see if there have been any complaints, investigations or suspensions filed against them by visiting the DBPR's website at www.myfloridalicense.com.
Florida's community association managers and management companies are regulated pursuant to Part VIII of Chapter 468 of the Florida Statutes. Not only must individual property managers be licensed by the State but, as of January 1, 2009, a management company responsible for the management of more than 10 units or a budget of $100,000 or greater must also be properly licensed by the DBPR.
In order to obtain such a community association management license, the following applies:
1. Each applicant must submit a complete set of fingerprints taken by a law enforcement officer to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for state processing and to the FBI for federal processing;
2. Each applicant must be at least 18 years old and must be "of good moral character" which means a personal history of honesty, fairness and respect for the rights of others and for the laws of the state and the nation; and
3. The DBPR may refuse to issue a license to an applicant ONLY if there is a substantial connection between the applicant's lack of good moral character and the professional responsibilities of a community association manager and such finding is supported by clear and convincing evidence (quite a high standard) OR the applicant is found to have provided management services in the past without being properly licensed.
Unfortunately and not surprisingly, the state agency regulating community association managers often takes some time to respond to complaints or other indicia of abuse or incompetence so a clean record might not always tell the whole story. Glowing references from communities similar to yours and thorough interviews with your managerial candidates will go a long way in determining whether or not this will be a happy partnership. Tomorrow we will discuss what should and shouldn't be in your management company contract.