Articles We’d Like to See in 2016
I’m often asked how to increase visits to web sites and my main answer is always the same – new content – educational and informational articles about community associations. Here are some of the articles I’d like to see this year:
How To Create and Manage “Exceptions”
After 40 years in this business, I still hear board members saying “We can’t make an exception to the rule, it will set a bad precedent”. As a result, associations find themselves in all kinds of legal and image problems. When are “exceptions” acceptable or necessary and how to go about it.
There was a discussion in a legal forum recently whether or not board members are fiduciaries and if so, to whom or what. This was based on a CT case which stated: “Specifically, the defendant argues that the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff is governed by General Statutes §47-245(a), a statute that has been interpreted in a manner that precludes a finding that there exists a fiduciary duty between a condominium association and an individual unit owner.” (CD Minuch Enterprises, LLC v. Westwood Ledge Condominium Association, Inc. Superior Court at Litchfield No. LLI-CV-15-6011630-S) The discussion was fascinating and included “NJ appellate opinion, KIM v. FLAGSHIP CONDOMINIUM OWNERS ASSOCIATION, 327 N.J.Super. 544: “The Association’s Board of Directors has a fiduciary obligation to its members similar to that of a corporate board to its shareholders. That obligation includes the duty to preserve and protect the common elements and areas for the benefit of all its members.”
Will vary from state to state. Looks like the basis of a good article.
It’s an Election Year – Can/Should You Do Anything to Keep Things Civil?
Signs, banners, arguments, all peak in the upcoming year. Do your state laws or documents deal with political signage? Should associations make donations to candidates, like developers do? What can you ban and what can’t you. What about inviting candidates to speak at association clubhouses or meetings?
How intrusive can an association, especially a condominium association, be, in trying to prevent fires. Can they inspect your unit’s fireplace, smoke alarms, extinguishers, etc. Can they prevent you from grilling? Can an owner be required to clean a fireplace/chimney every year or pay for the association to do it? Every year the number of condo fires increases. What can you realistically do to prevent them? Can you require owners to have a working extinguisher near the stove or remove mulch from patio/deck plants. It’s time to step up fire prevention. What can you do about owners/renters disabling or not servicing fire/smoke alarms?
What’s Missing From Reserve Studies and What Can You Do About It
Most reserve studies don’t cover things that can’t be seen, such as underground utility and water/sewer/drainage lines. You probably don’t even know where they are. How to find out and what to do about it. Other items may be those that exceed the 30 year standard of reserve reports. But, many associations are over 50 years old or closing in fast
How Much Can/Should Your Board/Association Be Involved In Local Government?
Local governments used to ignore associations, but now they are looking at them again as another revenue source. Building codes, traffic fines, commercial charges for water/sewage/trash, and whatever else they can find. How do you deal with these? What if you need help with an infrastructure issue like roads, dams, retention ponds etc. How do you approach them. It’s not enough to show they never bothered to inspect things properly. Can you support or help candidates you think might help you?
The Disappearing Golf Course
Golf courses are closing down all over the country. Sometimes they’re just abandoned, turning into a weed-filled, ugly site running among an association’s homes. Sometimes they’re sold off for additional development, putting up homes where beautiful views used to be. Sometimes the association is offered a chance to buy it and maintain it. There is also the problem where an association owns the course but it’s losing money. Where do you turn for help when confronted with these issues.
If You Were to Have a REALLY Heavy Rain, Do you Know Where the Water Will (or Won’t) Go?
With the storms of the last few years, associations are discovering flooding, bad drainage, erosion, landslides, and all sorts of problems that nobody suspected they would have, or planned for. When was the last time your sewers or drain lines were checked or flushed? If the association has cleaned out vegetation or dried brush to prevent fires, has this also changed the drainage or created possible erosion problems? Does the association own or control sump pumps, retention pond pumps or other systems that move water – when were they last inspected, and are they on your reserve repair/replacement list? What can an excessive amount of water do to your association?
What Does Your Directors & Officers Policy Exclude (and Are You Doing Some of Those Things)
Insurance policies can change from year-to-year and they often add exclusions that don’t always get fully explained. What are the standard exclusions and what are some of the exclusions that you need to look out for? Explain the exclusions.
Insurance – What Are the Non-standard Items You Should Consider For Your Association
What’s the difference between flood, sewer backup, rain, storm, burst pipes, frozen pipes —-all the various types of water damage? Mold, sinkholes, “simultaneous events” (anti-concurrent causation), termites, etc. Do you have “ordnance or law” coverage for required upgrades? Some associations may even have to look at “terrorism insurance”.
HOAs have the right to regulate their communities, but does that mean they have the right to ban sex offenders?
Wrapping up the year I thought I would pick out some news items that I thought were representative of issues
Colorado has on its books a jumble of laws that address shoddy construction of multi-family residential units and what redress