Tips for Budgeting in HOAs & Condominium Associations

Daniel A. Weber

Creating a budget is one of the primary and most important functions that any community association board does during its tenure. The budget will serve as the guideline to determine the dollar amount owners are charged to live in their communities. There are differing obligations to consider when budgeting for a Homeowners Association (HOA) versus a Condominium Association. Today, we will discuss the differences and offer tips when creating your own community association budget. Let’s start with HOAs. HOA budgets are often a bit simpler than those for condominium associations. That is because HOA budgets normally do not require reserves. Reserves refer to funds set aside for future capital expenses and major repairs or replacements of common property or assets within the community.  Unless members of the association have voted to create reserve accounts, or the original developer of the property put reserves in the HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R) – commonly referred to as simply the “declaration” – reserves are not mandatory for HOAs. However, if the HOA votes to put money away for future capital expenses, or defer line items (like maintenance), they have that option. Unlike condominium associations, HOAs are not limited or hamstrung by Florida’s Reserve Statutes, which require specific line items in the condo’s budget. For HOAs, the reserves are more like a savings account to use at the board's discretion. One of the misconceptions of the budgeting process is going into it with the intention of trying to hit a target assessment mark. Members may get in the mindset of trying to raise or lower assessments or reach a specific number, like deciding we want $400 a month assessments, then trying to figure out how to get there. Whether for HOAs or condominium association, that's really not how budgets are supposed to work.  Budgets are estimations of expected expenses for the upcoming year that are created in order to derive a necessary revenue stream. The idea is to put all of your expected expenses into a basket, itemize them through your budget, the sum of which the necessary amount of revenue you...

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New Building Inspection Requirements


The proverb “time and tide wait for no man” may be true, particularly regarding the impact of the sunny, salty, and windy conditions on structures along Florida’s coasts.  However, a recent law requiring periodic inspections of buildings will help protect community associations and the millions of people who live in condominium units from the harsh reality revealed by that expression.  These new safety measures may impact associations’ finances but careful planning ahead should mitigate against any severe impact on condominium unit owners.  Recently, and almost a year after the catastrophic collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Governor DeSantis signed into law requirements, unanimously approved by both chambers of the legislature for periodic inspections based on the age and location of buildings and for association condominium boards to set aside sufficient reserve money to cover future repairs.  Though the law took effect on May 26th, condominium buildings within the “milestone” age requirements have until December 31, 2024, to comply with the inspection requirements.  The milestone requirements apply to condominium buildings three (3) stories or higher and require that the following be re-certified as safe: (i) all buildings thirty years old or older; and (ii) those buildings at least twenty-five years old and within three (3) miles of the coast.  Every ten (10) years after that, all buildings to which the statewide structural inspection program applies must be re-certified again.  Generally, initial milestone structural inspections must be conducted by December 31st of the building’s 30th or 25th year based on the date the certificate of occupancy for the building was issued and depending upon its location in relation to the coast.  The new laws will not apply to most Chapter 720 Homeowners Associations provided that none of the structures within the community are three (3) stories or higher. There are two (2) phases for mandatory inspections.  If a visual inspection by a licensed engineer or architect reveals no signs of substantial structural deterioration, no further action is necessary until the next required inspection.  However, if structural deterioration is detected, a second phase of more thorough testing is required.  Such inspections may potentially...

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