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Condo Q&A: Can Owners Install Video Doorbells?

In most condos, the outside area by a front door is a common element than owners can’t change without permission. But boards should be flexible on this one.

STUART, Fla. – Question: Can an owner install a security camera to monitor his or her unit front door entrance area in a condo complex, and can the board approve this as an agenda item? – C.P., Boca Raton

Answer: It depends on the governing documents for the condominium. Typically, the exterior of the front door and entrance area is a Common Element as opposed to be part of the unit. Generally, an owner has no right to modify the Common Elements without the approval of the board. Most governing documents have a provision that does allow such improvements with board approval and providing that the owner is responsible for the maintenance of the item.

If the documents contain such authority, then the answer is yes, the board could allow this. However, allowing owners to make improvements to the Common Elements is generally not a good idea.

Video doorbells are becoming so popular I generally recommend the board adopt a policy allowing them with certain type, size and location restrictions rather than try to swim against the tide of their popularity.

Question: Our association has an owner in the community that lists himself as a “consultant” and the Association pays him a consulting fee. For the fee the person does things such as prepares meeting notices, prepares the budget, writes violation letters, prepares liens, prepares estoppel letters, files the corporate annual report, makes bank deposits and interfaces and hires other vendors who do work on the common areas.

I checked with the state and the person does not have community association management license. The person says he does not need a license, as he is a homeowner that lives in the community, and we are “self-managing.” Is this legal? – Unknown, Treasure Coast

Answer: No. Section 468.431(2), Florida Statutes defines “community association management as any of the following practices … when done for remuneration and when the association or associations served contain more than 10 units or have an annual budget or budgets in excess of $100,000.”

The statute goes on to list the following activities as constituting management: controlling or disbursing funds of a community association, preparing budgets or other financial documents for a community association, assisting in the noticing or conduct of community association meetings, determining the number of days required for statutory notices, determining amounts due to the association, collecting amounts due to the association before the filing of a civil action, calculating the votes required for a quorum or to approve a proposition or amendment, completing forms related to the management of a community association, drafting meeting notices and agendas, calculating and preparing certificates of assessment and estoppel certificates, negotiating monetary or performance terms of a contract subject to approval by an association, drafting pre-arbitration demands, coordinating or performing maintenance for real or personal property and other related routine services involved in the operation of a community association.

Section 468.432, Florida Statutes provides that a person shall not manage an association without a license.

So, if your community contains more than 10 lots or units or has a budget in excess of $100,000, then based on your description of his activities and because he is being paid, he must have a community association management license.

If the consultant was not being paid, then he would not need a license. The fact that he claims to be self-managing does not change the fact that he is being paid to perform management services and therefore needs a license. Also, as an aside, the preparation of a lien for the Association is considered the practice of law, so unless the consultant is a currently licensed Florida attorney, he is practicing law without a license.

The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, DeBoest & Cross, or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.

© 2022 Journal Media Group. Richard D. DeBoest, Esq., is a Partner of the Law Firm Goede, DeBoest & Cross.