Florida law very clearly prohibits the “Unauthorized Practice of Law”, also known as UPL, either by the Board of Directors, or the property management company.
This is a very delicate issue, often overlooked by Boards or the property management company. One that may have undesired consequences for the Association and the community’s interests.
Usually the UPL occurs when the law is interpreted by people who read the Florida’s Statutes and then act upon such readings and interpretations, disregarding the consultation of the Association’s lawyer, who is often deemed as “unnecessary”. However, there is no substitute for legal counseling.
It is never overemphasized to remind Boards of the importance of the Association’s lawyer, who is, usually, thought as being important for collections only. She (He) is like a guardian who protects the Board from anyone challenging their fiduciary responsibility.
Gold Property Management & Associates, Inc. would always recommend Boards to consult the Association’s lawyer for any issue that may affect their fiduciary responsibility.
This is the reason why Gold Property Management & Associates, Inc., networks with several leading attorneys in the areas of Civil Litigation, Construction Law, Condominiums & Homeowners Associations, Insurance Claims and Collections.
Depending on the case, we recommend to the Board highly rated lawyers who either have recovered or saved millions of dollars to several condominiums under our management, adding in the process, protection to the Board and the Association.
Another very relevant aspect of the relationship between the lawyer and the Association is the follow up of legal cases by the property management company. This is fundamental.
The Courts have several cases where legal matters were not dealt with the required care by the management company, leading in some cases to the appointment of a Receiver (or the loss of assets). The consequences in these cases are devastating for the interests of the communities affected.
These are the areas where legal counseling is very important:
- Legal opinions
- Covenants enforcements
- Construction defects
- By-laws interpretation
- Difficult residents
- Disputes with vendors
Naturally, legal counseling has a cost. This cost should be budgeted and contracted either on a retainer basis, in case there is litigation, on an hourly basis, also known as per consultation, or on a collection basis. The latter should not be charged to the Association but to the violating party.