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Q. Our condo association has a management company that uses the same vendors for all of their associations. Many of these vendors are handymen who are “jacks of all trades” (electrical, mold inspections, painting, plumbing, tile and such). The management company does not seem to require proper licenses or make sure they have insurance. Consequently, our board thinks these things are unnecessary. What is the association’s liability if something goes wrong?

A. All too often, association board members do not take their duties seriously because they are volunteers and because the association is “not for profit”, and this mistake can be costly if proper steps are not taken to protect the homeowners’ interests.

One of the most important duties of the association is the duty to keep the common areas in a state of good condition, and to repair and replace portions of the property when necessary. While an unlicensed handyman may be able to handle some minor repairs, it does not require a law degree or a CAM license to conclude that most of the maintenance work in your community should be done by a licensed and insured vendor that has a valid agreement with the association. If there is an incident on association property due to faulty maintenance or repairs, the association could have significant liability if the responsible vendor was not qualified or licensed to do the work. Legally, the association should also ensure that a proper agreement or contract is secured for all maintenance and management services. These contracts should specify the services to be provided, the costs and frequency of the services and the number of personnel to be employed for providing these services. Of course, it would be our recommendation that these contracts also require proper licensure and proof of insurance before work is started. If you have questions about particular vendors and the risk they may pose to your association, you should encourage your board to check on this matter with legal counsel.