The previous blog post, “Drones in Community Association – Part I,” discussed the association’s regulation of the use of drones throughout and within the community. This post will discuss the potential for associations to utilize drones in everyday management and maintenance tasks for the community.
The responsibility for the management and maintenance of the common elements rests on the shoulders of the association itself. It is a fiduciary responsibility that must be taken seriously by the association board of directors. Oftentimes the actions or inactions of the association board with regard to common elements may lead to expensive litigation. While some issues cannot be avoided or even detected without invasive destructive testing, the use of drones could potentially open a new door for associations performing routine inspections.
On a larger scale, it is not always realistic for an association to hire someone to walk the entire property every day, or even every week. Ordinarily, the person who is responsible for this task is the property manager. The use of construction inspection consultants could lighten the burden on the property manager as the consultant could be hired to inspect. Many construction inspection consultants are already using drones to conduct visual inspections for hard-to-access building locations. These inspections could be as simple as having a drone go over the common elements to assess the overall property conditions. In addition, a property manager could inspect common elements which could encompass checking the pool for whether it needed cleaning, checking the lawn for whether it needed trimming, checking the parking spaces to ensure only authorized vehicles are parked in the residents’ parking places, etc.
Not only would the drones perform these tasks faster and more efficiently, but there would be the ability to record every inspection, which would be beneficial for future inspections, repairs, and potential litigation. The association should obtain a legal opinion as to whether the inspection videos are to be considered Official Records and further develop protocol for storage of such videos. In Florida, one area where drones could be extremely beneficial is the ability to look at the roofs, and higher elevations of stucco. In addition to basic inspections, drones could help discover and record declaration violations. For example, a drone could detect if a unit owner had a grill on a tenth or eleventh floor balcony or they were making improper alterations to the common elements. This would be a tool for the board of directors to ensure that the unit owners are following the declarations, bylaws, and rules and regulations.
The use of drones in community associations must abide by the state and federal laws and keep in mind the privacy rights of its residents. With all of that being said, the rise of technology may soon make the jobs of property managers easier and more efficient, while keeping an accurate depiction of the property condition on a more accessible and regular basis.