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How Condo Associations Can Get Ahead of the Energy Benchmarking Trend – Energy Efficiency Part 1

Is your condominium or co-op association required to report your building’s annual energy usage? If not, and if yours is a mid-rise or high-rise building (50,000 square feet or larger), get ready. Chances are that mandatory energy benchmarking will be

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How to Prepare for a Wildfire

Wildfires can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture. How to Prepare for a Wildfire explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act

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Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities: What to Do When Emergency Weather Strikes

We all like to believe that when a major hurricane is headed our way or a tornado warning is issued, we’ll know exactly what to do. But inclement weather is unpredictable, and it can be frightening and chaotic to handle

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Why Condo Associations Need FHA Approval in 2017

Prior to 2005, few condominium boards paid much attention to Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, financing. At the time, the FHA only had a small fraction of condominium loans (about 5 percent) and FHA buyers, due to smaller down payment

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Understanding Special Assessments

There’s no way to sugar-coat it: everyone hates special assessments. Getting a notice that you owe more money to the association can not only put a damper on your day but also a dent in your wallet, both of which

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Reaching Others When Disasters Strike

The first thing many of us do during or immediately following a natural disaster is to call family and friends. Unfortunately, in the minutes and hours after a disaster, overloaded cell phone networks can make it difficult—if not impossible—to reach

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Condo Association Special Assessment Preparation for Owners

One of the scariest and impactful things that can happen to a Condo Association Owner is the dreaded Special Assessment. Special Assessments are caused by a number of things – poor budgeting, unexpected repairs or perhaps deferred maintenance from a

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Underground Storage Tanks May Create Environmental and Liability Risks for Condo Associations (MA)

Do you have LUST? Not “in your heart,” as former President Jimmy Carter once confessed, but buried underground, somewhere in your condominium community? That ‘LUST’ is an acronym for “Leaking Underground Storage Tanks,” either currently in use or abandoned long

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Does your Community Association have sufficient protections in place for Short-Term Vacation Rentals?

With the rise in short-term rentals through popular sites like Airbnb, Inc. and Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), homeowners and condominium associations face new challenges in policing owners who violate restrictions against short-term leasing. This is especially true in Florida

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Co-op and Condo Financing: A Market Overview

Today, some eight years after the economic devastation of the Great Recession first began to gather steam, financing for co-op and condominium buildings and individual unit purchases is again widely available. The market is overall quite healthy, and though there

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Seasonal Maintenance: A Year-Round Responsibility

Building maintenance follows a schedule based on the seasons, each of which presents a unique set of challenges to a co-op or condo. At certain times of the year, it just makes sense to do certain regular maintenance projects: weatherizing,

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Aesthetic Rules in Co-ops, Condos & HOAs: A Matter of Taste?

For many people, one of the most attractive aspects of co-op or condo living is the fact that everything, from the windows to the elevators to the numbers on the apartment doors, looks great. Clean, bright, elegant and well-maintained. For

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Caring For Trees: The Right Tree, in the Right Place

Trees may seem like the ultimate in low-maintenance landscaping; they’re naturally occurring, live for decades (sometimes centuries), don’t really require much in the way of watering, and sometimes don’t even need pruning. But while all that is true, in fact

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You Won the Election, Now What?

Congratulations! You threw your hat in the ring, ran a vigorous issues-based campaign promising to shake up the establishment, and ultimately won a seat on your association’s board of directors. Once the champagne stops flowing, consider the following tips to

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Community Association Reserve Funding: Pooled Method vs. Component Method

Reserve funding for certain common element items is required for community associations under Florida law. Specifically, condominium associations must fund reserves for roof replacement, building painting, pavement resurfacing and any other item that has a maintenance expense or replacement cost

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Communication Impacts Every Part of Your Community: Do You Have a Plan?

Is your community always aware of upcoming events, scheduled construction projects and upcoming board meetings? Do they understand their responsibilities and the policies they need to comply with? Clear, effective communication from the board to the residents makes a difference

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Effectively Working with Master Associations

Having captured what Master Associations are, the challenge is for Condo Boards to find ways to effectively work with them. While there is a tendency to ignore them to a certain degree, that path is the path to failure. The

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Get Involved in Your Community

One of the first steps in making a difference is becoming involved in your community. Because association living is the most noticeable and accessible to most homeowners today, this community involvement will often begin with your association.  So how do

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Ways to Thank a Volunteer in Your Homeowners Association

Doing good may be its own reward, but most homeowners association volunteers would probably agree that it’s also nice to be recognized for the time, effort, and commitment they put into serving others, particularly in what can sometimes seem to

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Millennial Takeover: the Changing HOA Demographic

Okay, so it’s not really a takeover. But chances are, you’re starting to see signs of this changing HOA demographic with more and more millennials moving into your HOA.  Millennials are sometimes called Generation Y: those who reached adulthood around

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Managing Community Maintenance and Improvement Needs

Whether your community is self-managed or professionally managed, maintenance is a big part of the day-to-day responsibilities. It’s a responsibility that can quickly become overwhelming, especially when you walk in on a Monday morning to a list of what went

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Preparing for Pool Season

Summer is quickly approaching, which means pool season is just around the corner! If your community is fortunate enough to have a pool, boy are you lucky! To ensure that the pool season goes smoothly, you want to make sure

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Dogs Take a Huge Bite of Homeowner Liability Claims

Dog bites man, man sues board. Are you adequately insured?  “My dog doesn’t bite.”  Don’t believe those four innocent words. Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claims paid out in 2016

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Owners, never skimp on insurance — the association policy isn’t enough

Q:  I am about to purchase a condominium and need to know about insurance. I understand that the condo association has insurance coverage, so do I need anything extra?    Read the Q&A…………..

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How to keep HOA meetings from running long

As someone who regularly attends HOA board meetings, I can attest that most of them run far too long. Later in longer meetings, concentration and the quality of the deliberations deteriorate. Could any of the following solutions help your board

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Three Questions to ask Prospective Condo Association Board Candidates

Condo elections are incredibly important. New Condo Board members help fight apathy and infuse new energy into Boards. On the other hand, established veterans who have led the Association for years are critical as well. Too often, the “campaign” part

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Regulating Fun: Can an Association prevent children from playing outdoors?

In July of 2011, the Greenbrier Village Homeowner’s Association of Minnetonka adopted rules and regulations which banned playing, picnicking, and sunbathing on lawns, sidewalks, landscaped areas, and parking areas. The rules also prohibited riding bikes, scooters, rollerblades, skateboards, and more

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The Role of the Treasurer in a Homeowners Association

It is that time of year again – association budgets are going to be on almost everyone’s radar soon, and they are one of the core elements of any association. For a budget to be effective and the budget process

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The Fair Housing Act Meets Senior Living: Condo Exemptions and the 55+ Population

Imagine this: A client calls you. She is semi-retired or thinking about retiring. She is considering buying into an “adult living” community. Your client wants to downsize for her retirement years and is very interested in a certain condominium. She

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Protecting Your Homeowner Association in Contracted Work

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened: The phone rings…it is a board member at a homeowner association frantically telling me a story that starts out…we were referred to a company that (pick one): my brother in

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What’s the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination. HOAs are “housing providers” under the Act – they may not discriminate against certain classes of people. Associations who do discriminate risk lawsuits and large fines.  Few associations discriminate on purpose, but

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6 Elements of a Successful Monthly Meeting

When I joined the Roundtree Homeowners Association, I did so for the usual reason of wanting a say in maintaining and improving the complex. But when I became president a year later, I had another goal in mind: to make

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3 Common Questions About an HOA Board of Directors

The Board of Directions of an Association is responsible for protecting, maintaining and enhancing the community. Knowing who the members of the Board are and having a basic understanding of what they do is a good way for all members

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Fire Sprinkler Installation and Earthquake Retrofit – Are They Reserve Account Expenses?

Without a doubt installation of fire sprinklers and earthquake retrofits make buildings safer and could save lives when and if they should ever be needed. Some municipalities have passed rules for installation/upgrading/modernization of these systems but most have chosen to

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The Role of the Community Association in Neighbor vs Neighbor Disputes

Neighbor vs neighbor disputes are frequently a part of life in community associations. Common examples may include an owner allowing his dog to use his neighbor’s yard or an owner dumping trash on his neighbor’s yard. Although they may initially

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Does Your Community Association Need a Drone Policy?

As drone technology advances and the number of drones in the air increases, managers and board members in community associations are asking about drone policies. If drones are being used in your community or if there is a plan for

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I’m a Manager, Not a Magician

Our management company was referred to a property that had not performed regular preventative maintenance for at least a decade or more. We accepted the account. Unfortunately, they also had a board that has always partially funded the reserves (with

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Emotional Support Animals in Cooperative Apartment and Condo Communities: What Every Association and Owner Should Know

An emotional support animal (commonly referred to as an “ESA”) is a companion animal (typically a dog or cat) that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. An ESA is not the same thing as

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Are HOAs Taking Advantage of Mortgage Servicers?

While Homeowner Association (HOA) liens for unpaid assessments typically have priority over second mortgages and other junior liens (because the HOA liens may “relate back to” the HOAs’ previously-recorded declarations), first mortgages receive special treatment in various states, such as

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Condo Boards Have a New Tool for Collecting Arrears

Court ruling gives condo boards a new way to evict delinquent unit-owners.  When it comes to evicting residents, co-op boards have traditionally enjoyed a bigger arsenal than their condo counterparts. But condo boards are not without their weapons. And that

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Four Tips for Resolving Condo Association Disputes

One of the most common issues that a Condo Board member faces is resolving Condo Association disputes. As a Board member, you are a combination of a legislator and an executive, so your job is often the role of mediator,

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HOA Fees — Hated or Just Misunderstood?

Nearly every homeowner in a condo or HOA has asked themselves at one time or another “What do the HOA fees pay for”. The answer is different for every community but the fact is the average homeowner doesn’t know where

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Residents of Florida HOA Speak Out Against Association’s Use of Drones

The residents of the Concord Station community north of Tampa in Land O’Lakes, Fla. recently shared their complaints and confusion with a reporter from one of their local television stations over their HOA’s use of a drone equipped with a

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Condominium Associations May Recoup Insurance Deductibles (NJ)

One of the largest line items in any condominium association’s budget is its insurance premium. Condominium associations are required, pursuant to their governing documents, to carry adequate property insurance to address common elements (and in many cases, unit owners’ improvements),

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What is a Quorum and Why is it Important to an HOA Board?

A quorum is the minimum number of HOA board and members who must be at a meeting before business can be transacted. Homeowners can usually find quorum requirements within their Bylaws. You might be surprised but reaching a quorum to

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What Community Associations Should Know About the Fair Housing Act

Community association board members and managers are often so preoccupied ensuring compliance with state and local laws that they can sometimes overlook controlling federal law. Multiple federal statutory acts can apply to community associations in any given situation and overlooking

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A Checklist For Going Green In Your HOA

There is much talk of green construction. The following checklist will help identify features that produce a healthier, high-performance building that costs less to operate and has fewer negative environmental impacts. HOA developers and builders take note:      Read

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The Importance of Condo Association Good Will

Much of Condo Association planning and strategizing is based on maximizing resources. How do you make the most of Condo Association assessments? Does your community budget well? How do you maintain reserves? The answers to these questions are vital to

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6 Communication Tips for a Smoother Insurance Claim Process

If you’ve been a board member or community manager for very long, then you know all too well the issues that come with submitting an insurance claim on behalf of your association. Unfortunately, claims are inevitable for any community, and

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What is an HOA?

It is often said that you’re buying more than a home, you’re buying a neighborhood. Nowhere is that truer than in neighborhoods governed by a homeowners’ association (HOA).  Homeowners’ associations are nothing if not controversial. Some residents appreciate having, in

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