Permitting generators should be discouraged
By RICHARD WHITE
Published July 8, 2006
What are the regulations about using temporary generators? We'd like to inform owners in our 150-unit condo complex.
I don't believe the state has directly addressed the use of portable generators because of the variety of architectural styles. Are you in a highrise with inside corridors, or a lowrise with outside catwalks? Your local fire department or other county or city agencies may have restrictions.
Generators are dangerous. Gasoline fumes can be ignited and cause a fire. Generators create carbon monoxide, which can kill. Improper wiring and improper use of a generator can lead to electrocution. They are noisy. They're not cheap.
I'd urge boards to be very careful about permitting generators. They won't provide enough electricity to power all your appliances and electrical devices, and in most circumstances you won't be without power more than a few days.
Don't overdo on reserves
Some board members of our small condo association want to raise our maintenance fees to direct more money into the reserves. They claim our resale value will increase if we have big reserves. During the past five years we have replaced the roof and repainted our buildings, all with reserve funds. This year we will repave the driveway and repair the pool with reserves. After these major projects are completed, our reserves will grow quickly again. Some of us think the reserves will simply become a savings account for owners down the road. Will a huge reserve fund significantly raise the resale value of our homes?
Reserves can affect your property values; however, it is not necessary to collect more than you need. The statutes are extremely clear about how to establish proper reserves. They must be calculated annually for specific items, covering expenses that will be incurred a year or more from now.
The state has an excellent book on reserves, Budgets and Reserves Made Easy. Send a check for $5 with your name and address to: Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes, Attn: Printed Materials, 1940 N Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399.
Annual increases in fees
Does state law limit the annual percentage increase in condo fees, or is what it charges strictly up to each association?
Each association is required to produce a budget annually to meet projected expenses and to fund its reserves. There is no limit on how much these budgets can increase. However, if the expense budget increases more than 115 percent, the members can petition the board to call a members' meeting to approve an alternate expense budget. If the alternate budget is not approved, the board's budget stands.
The majority of the income to maintain the common areas and operate the association comes from these fees. If the owners approve an alternate budget, the board may not be able to maintain the common areas. In that case, unit owners should think twice before they complain, since it is their actions that have limited the board.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him c/o Community Living, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Sorry, he can't take phone calls or provide personal replies by mail, but you can e-mail him at CAMquestions@cfl.rr.com Please include your name and city. Questions should concern association operations; legal opinions cannot be offered. For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney. Readers may call the state Division of Condominiums Bureau of Customer Service at toll-free 1-800-226-9101 with questions or requests for materials. Access the Bureau of Condominiums Web site at www.state.fl.us/dbpr/lsc/index.shtml; or write to Bureau of Customer Service, 1940 N Monroe St., Northwood Centre, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1032.
Please note that this office provides no information about homeowners' associations. The state has no bureau or department covering those associations.