DON'T GIVE MANAGEMENT COMPANIES YOUR MONEY!
DEBARY PLANTATION COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, INC.
Files Lawsuit Against SUTHERLAND MANAGEMENT, INC.
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published December 1, 2009
When will community association boards ever learn? DON'T GIVE MANAGEMENT COMPANIES YOUR BANK ACCOUNT WITH YOUR MONEY!
We have seen many examples in the last few years of managers and/or management companies "disappearing" with association funds. Management companies are not bonded -- your money is not protected in any way. Associations even have to pay for the insurance -- on top of paying high fees to these management companies for managing these accounts. And once the money is gone, they have to pay legal fees trying to recover it!
Allow management companies to deposit money into the ASSOCIATION ACCOUNT, allow them to prepare the checks, but make sure that the account is in the name of the association, the bank statements come directly to the board (treasurer) and that only two elected directors can sign the checks! Not to forget: MAKE SURE THAT THE BANK IS LOCATED IN FLORIDA!
Otherwise you invite missing funds and/or embezzlement -- or money plainly not returned to your association once you terminate the contract with the management company.
Remember the case of the Charlotte Square Condominiums in Port Charlotte? More than $1.2 million are missing from association accounts managed by the management company with signature authority (9 MONTHS -- AND STILL NOTHING!). It's now more than 14 months -- and still nothing. Actually, the owners had to pay legal fees and cost for an auditor in their attempt to recover some of their money!
Still haven't learned the lesson? Here is the newest case of the record and money disappearing act. The DEBARY PLANTATION COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, INC. filed a LAWSUIT against SUTHERLAND MANAGEMENT, INC. trying to recover records and money! So far: NOTHING! The lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff against the management company located in Apopka, accusing the company of not returning records and/or money after the contract was terminated. When two demand letters -- sent on July 30, 2009 and August 19, 2009 -- didn't achieve any results, a LAWSUIT WAS FILED IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 7TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA, asking for Temporary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, Conversion and Accounting to recover corporate records and money belonging to the community association.
And guess what? The CAM licenses of all these managers involved in these "money disappearing acts" are still in great shape. If you look up the license information on the DBPR website, there is no mention of this. No warning for boards trying to do their homework when deciding to hire a new management company.
Let's face it: If the account had been kept in the association's name with directors being the authorized signers, the cost for the attempt to recover the money would not have been necessary.
WHEN WILL ASSOCIATION BOARDS FINALLY LEARN?