I Volunteer!

By Partner Russell Klemm

Partner Russell Klemm

What your Community should know about Volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Florida Community Associations. The members of the Board of Directors and officers of Florida Community Associations, as Not-for-Profit Corporations, are, after all, volunteers.  An Association must also depend on volunteers to serve on any committees (Architectural Review Committees, Social Committees, etc.) established by the Association.  The Association must, however, be careful not to utilize volunteers for matters and tasks that should be performed by licensed professionals or other trained personnel. 

While volunteer members of a Community Association can certainly participate in clean-up and community beautification projects, activities such as the installation of a new irrigation system and any related mechanical or electrical systems should be left to professionals.  Holiday decorations in a community Association are typically undertaken by volunteer members. However, if extensive electric installations or modifications are required, or if specialized equipment must be utilized (such as a “sky lift” or “cherry picker” for hanging holiday decorations), professionals or trained personnel should do the job.

An Association should not use volunteers for any significant building or repair projects, especially where a building permit or other permitting is required. Even what may be considered minor projects, such as plumbing, carpentry, etc., should be left to a professional or a licensed tradesperson.  Many Associations own or operate heavy machinery, such as large trucks, backhoes, and other equipment. If volunteer members are operating this equipment, even if the volunteers have extensive experience in doing so, it is critical that the Association carefully examine the Association’s liability insurance coverage, to ensure such activity is covered.

If the Association is responsible for a “Storm Water Management System”, and maintains property subject to the permit, anyone working on the maintenance of property subject to the permit must be fully versed on permitted maintenance (such as what vegetation can and cannot be removed).  Finally, the Board of Directors should regularly review the Association’s insurance coverage, to ensure the activities of volunteers are covered by such insurance.