Condo groups oppose legislation to ease job rules for managers
By The Star Staff
Condominium organizations objected to legislation Tuesday that would ease the job requirements for condominium managers because, they said, it would put homeowners at risk of theft or embezzlement.
The Housing Committee in the island House of Representatives, chaired by Rep. Ángel Fourquet Cordero, evaluated House Bill 942 and House Resolution 364, which would amend Act 129-2020, known as the Condominium Law.
The law regulates all matters related to the horizontal property regime in Puerto Rico.
Alfredo Martínez Álvarez, president of the Puerto Rico Builders Association (ACPR by its Spanish initials), said at the hearing that while he believes the intention of the bill is laudable in that it would simplify the job requirements for condominium administrators, other alternatives must be explored.
Martínez Álvarez stressed that the amendment to Act 129 would have the effect of eliminating the different insurance requirements for managing agents.
“In that sense, the legislation does not provide an alternative scenario of what the requirements should be that the managing agents would have to meet under the mandate of the Condominium Law,” he said.
The proposed law would also eliminate the requirement that condominium managers must have the State Insurance Fund policy insurance and provide a negative criminal background check.
“This would have a detrimental effect on the condominiums themselves and their owners because it will deprive them of protections,” Martínez Álvarez said.
The legislation that is finally adopted should not liberalize or make more flexible the demands or requirements of Act 129 because the holders deserve and need basic safeguards and protections through which administrators are held accountable when losses occur, he said.
Mary Ortega, executive director of the Association of Condominiums and Access Controls, said that “in the face of mismanagement, embezzlement and theft of money” that the condominiums have suffered, the Legislature and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) have proposed a registry of condominium administrators.
“It was important that the new Condominium Law include the obligation for managing agents to have insurance policies to manage condominiums,” she said.
Currently, Ortega said, the policies represent an approximate annual cost of $2,300 to the managing agent for all the condominiums with which she works.
“If the condominiums want to have better guarantees against a situation of negligence, embezzlement or theft, it is necessary to require policies that insure this risk,” she said.
Jay Morales Rosado, president of the Association of Administrators of Condominiums and Urbanizations (AACU) confirmed that currently there are people who do not have the knowledge or do not meet requirements to do business in Puerto Rico.
“These are individuals who move in an underground economy and who, due to lack of supervision or direction of the board of directors to the delegated tasks, can commit acts, the consequences of which affect the owners board economically,” Morales Rosado said.
“These people are looking for vulnerable condominiums, whose board members have a basic knowledge or none of what is involved in the administration of the condominium,” Morales Rosado said.
It is estimated that in Puerto Rico there are more than 3,000 condominiums, which is equivalent to more than 500,000 residents. However, there are no statistics to confirm the numbers, because DACO has not collected the information.
‘’Certainly, we must analyze in depth to improve all aspects related to this legislation since we live in an area of seismic activity, possible atmospheric events and pandemics, so no matter how atypical the current situations are, we have to be prepared to make an ideal measure ideal that meets each requirement,” Fourquet Cordero said.