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Community Association Living [Part 4:Staying Out of Trouble]

My practice consists mostly of representing homeowners against their HOA (single-family homes) or COA (condos) and about half of my clients retain my services because they are being sued or about to be sued by their association. The problem is

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5 Things You Need to Know About Hiring Contractors

Did you know that the IRS and the Department of Labor have teamed up to audit businesses? If that doesn’t make you shake in your boots, you either don’t employ any contractors or you are hopelessly naive about what a

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Before Litigation, Community Associations Should Consider Mediation

The March edition of the King County Bar Bulletin contains the following article that I co-wrote with my paralegal Elizabeth Demong. We argue in this article that community associations and owners should strongly consider engaging in mediation before initiating litigation.

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What Shaped the Future of Community Management Technology?

Savvy community managers have adopted technology innovations throughout the years to improve efficiency and increase margins. Think back 10, 20, 30 years ago – can you imagine a community management world without mobile phones? Or the internet?   Read More……

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Health Concerns and Economics Are Leading More Condominium Associations to Ban Smoking

The battle between smokers and non-smokers may be reaching a tipping point in community associations. More boards are introducing master deed or by-law amendments prohibiting smoking completely – in individual units as well as in the common areas of their

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Together We Stand – Divided We . . . Are Liable? Personally?

We write regularly about the role of community associations’ boards of directors, as well as the role of each of the directors on the board. Today I saw an interesting article about potential liability of directors.  Read More……

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Taming Transient Turmoil: Managing Renters in Condos

As housing markets in many parts of the country—including New Jersey—have foundered, many developers have opted to convert portions of communities originally intended to be condominiums into rental properties. When a development with no owner-occupied units converts to rental, it’s

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Neighbor to Neighbor: A Guide to Alternative Dispute Resolution

Can’t we all just get along? It’s a million-dollar question. When people move into a community, they often look for the friendliness and camaraderie that living in an association brings. But with many personalities often butting heads on everyday-living situations,

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Better, Stronger, Faster… What We All Need to Know About Electronic Communication

These days, there are few people who don’t have a business website, a Facebook account and even a Twitter handle. It’s the same for buildings. As the rise of online social media invades nearly every aspect of our daily life,

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Building a Better Board: Common Traits of Successful Boards

Working in groups can be a challenge. Working in groups when people’s homes—and possibly their life savings—are involved can be a far greater challenge. It’s one faced every day by those brave souls who volunteer to serve on their co-op

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Pssst…My Neighbor is Violating the Covenants!

All Colorado community associations are required by the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”) to adopt responsible governance policies governing issues like collections, meeting procedure, and records inspection. CCIOA does not provide a lot of guidance for the terms of

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FHA certification and recertification

FHA certification makes it easier to sell units in your condominium association. Applying for FHA certification has become more straightforward recently.  Read More……

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The best way to welcome neighbors

With today’s era of computer technology and “Going Green” many boards question if the benefits of sending out a Welcome Packet outweigh the cost. There are several reasons that negate sending out welcome packets:   Read More……

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Volunteers make the community

In many areas across the United States, community associations are very prominent. However, they cannot be successful without the benefit of volunteers. The members of the board of directors are elected volunteers, committee members are appointed volunteers. It is the

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What do you need to lead?

So, you submitted your name, you spoke with a few folks around the neighborhood, you may have even created a flier or posted your stand on issues on the association web site. And then the outcome of the election is

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The Key to Community Success

Community associations today are much more prevalent than in the past. You’ve seen them, you probably live in them or have lived in them, know someone who lives in them or will live in one in the future. So why

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Xeriscape to save water and costs

Many people believe that a colorful and vibrant garden needs lots of water. In reality, the same can be achieved through the application of Xeriscape practices, which can result in water savings of 35 percent to 70 percent. Xeriscape landscaping

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When “No” Means “Maybe”: A Former Board President on Flexibility with Rules

I served for 25 years as the president of my co-op board (and hope to serve on the board again, perhaps). We are a 20-story, 339-unit cooperative building located in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, with a diverse cross-section

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Hanging on for far too long…developers’ reservation of rights often pose long-term problems for association residents

Most new home buyers look at a potential community and rightfully spend quite a bit of time investigating the types of recreational and other amenities that make up the total package attached to that particular community’s lifestyle. However, not nearly

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Underfunding Reserves and the Business Judgment Rule

This webinar featuring Robert Nordlund of Association Reserves (www.ReserveStudy.com) and David Firmin of Hindman-Sanchez (www.HindmanSanchez.com) unlocks the keys to minimizing a boardmember’s personal liability exposure while making important Reserve Funding decisions. Most associations are in an underfunded situation, making liability

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Chronicling how U.S. condo ownership went through the roof

Several years ago, the assistant professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College in New York became curious about how condo ownership of apartments, town houses and their legal cousins, co-ops, became ubiquitous in this country in so short

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View Your Community’s Preliminary Flood Hazard Data

FEMA is launching a new tool that will allow you to view a community’s preliminary flood hazard data over the web and in one convenient location! Preliminary data issued after April 1, 2013 will soon be accessible from the Map

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The Creeping Landscape – Or What’s Mine is Mine, and What’s Yours is Mine Too

We get questions from time to time from associations inquiring about homeowners who have installed improvements around their home, sometimes with association approval, but oftentimes, without. Upon further examination, the association discovers that the improvements appear to encroach on the

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3 Secrets of Constructive Conflict Resolution

The lessons one mediator learned in the trenches of family court can help business owners resolve even the most bitter office conflicts constructively. Screaming matches, barbed comments, nasty gossip, hurt feelings, toxic environments, shouty ALL CAPS emails, extended episodes of

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The Painful Death of Volunteerism

Many communities, if not most communities, suffer from a shortage of volunteers. People are busier than ever, and their time is precious. After a full day’s work, it seems like a real waste of that precious time to spend it

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When Should an Association Consider Forgiving an Owner’s Debt?

Owners in your community may frequently request that the board forgive their debt. Can, and should, the board do this? First of all, as many of you are aware, the Board has a fiduciary duty to collect assessments on behalf

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Where Boards Can Finds Funds for Rebuilding After a Catastrophe

You’ve seen the headlines, and they’re grossly, irresponsibly inaccurate: “Condos and Co-ops Not Covered Under FEMA.” Co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners are covered under the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Only co-op and condo boards and common areas aren’t. Why? Because

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What is Google Glass and what could it mean for Association Management companies?

By now you have likely heard of Google’s recent announcement that its Google Glass project is for real and should see commercial release by the end of 2013. So what is Google Glass? Officially termed an “augmented reality head-mounted display”,

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Working with an HOA/COA Lawyer Part III: Budgets and Boundaries

One of the more difficult tasks as a home owner association or condo owner association board member is to decide priorities and budgets.  You are, after all, spending not just your own dues, but you are also spending dues of

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Restrictions on Pets in Community Associations

There are numerous types of rules and restrictions which community associations may wish to consider and implement regarding pets within the community. This article will not address the leashing of pets, or rules requiring owners to pick up after their

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Limits of Board Power: Use vs. Abuse – and How to Tell the Difference

Everybody sometimes disagrees with the decisions of their co-op, condo or homeowners association board. Maybe the choice to rearrange the garbage receptacles out front seems ridiculous, or the ongoing clattering of machinery on the roof is driving the top-floor residents

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The Ultimate Do It Yourself Project: Self Managing Your Community

Convenience and saving money are just a couple reasons why a co-op board or homeowners association would choose to self-manage a property. Though, outside managing firms and property managers are hired and employed for good reason. The job requires collecting

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The Property Manager’s Dress Code

We have become a nation of very casual dressers. For some people, “casual” has come to mean that the clothes you wear to clean out the garage are OK to be worn to work. True, in some work environments, that

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Value of Technology for Community Associations Is Hard to Dispute — Harder to Quantify

Community associations and their management companies have a staggering array of technology solutions available to them. You can find “automatic”, “electronic” or “online” in front of virtually every management, accounting or communications function associations perform or have performed for them. Read

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Real Estate Matters: What to do about neighbors’ noise in a condo

It seems to me that neither the homeowners’ association nor the management company for the building wants to do much when it comes to enforcing the association’s bylaws. I live in a condominium development built in 1971. I purchased a

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Understanding Flood Insurance: What Are Its Limits? And Can I Get It?

After the storm, after the surge, after the wind has died, after floodwaters recede, the finger-pointing inevitably begins. “We did not have flood insurance,” says Dr. Janie Simmons, an anthropologist and AIDS researcher who serves as board president of Shore

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How to Run An Effective HOA Board Meeting

Have you ever asked yourself after an Association board meeting “what went wrong?” The flow of the meeting was off, the meeting went on way too long and the atmosphere was unwelcoming for the owners who came to observe. With

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The Shakedown In Homeowner Associations

There’s a gangster in the ‘hood. He’s rough, he’s tough and he’s gonna show the board who’s boss. He’s holding his monthly assessment hostage to extort action from the HOA. It could be something he wants fixed or some rule

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Is a Community with a Homeowners Association (HOA) Right for You?

If you ask 100 buyers whether a community with an HOA is right for them you are sure to get a variety of answers ranging from “Absolutely!” to “Are you crazy!” and even “What is an HOA?”. Opinions vary on

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Tripping on Stipulations: A Condo Board Tries to Game the Bylaws … and Fails

Don’t count your bylaw amendments before they’re hatched, and watch out when attorneys suggest an end-run around homeowners trying to stick to their rights. So go, at least, the lessons in a recent case involving an Upper East Side condominium

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A Management Checklist: Performance Review Criteria for Property Managers

How can you tell whether the on-site property manager at a condominium or homeowners association community is doing a good job? And what is a ‘good job’ anyway? Whether a manager is well-liked and whether he or she manages well

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Health Concerns and Economics Are Leading More Condominium Associations to Ban Smoking

The battle between smokers and non-smokers may be reaching a tipping point in community associations. More boards are introducing master deed or by-law amendments prohibiting smoking completely – in individual units as well as in the common areas of their

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Looming Crisis? When Caulk, Paint and Patches No Longer Work

Condominiums first appeared in the late 1960s when owner-occupied cooperatives and common interest communities took hold across the country. Throughout the 1970s, condominiums emerged as an important form of home ownership. HUD estimates that over 4.8 million condominiums were constructed

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The Quiet Rise of the Much-Maligned Condo

Junius Henri Browne bought one of the original flats in the Rembrandt, an eight-unit apartment building on West 57th Street in Manhattan that opened, in 1881, marking what we’d think of today as the country’s very first condo. The apartments

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Solar Energy Grows in Brooklyn: How a Progressive Board Got Residents’ OK

The view from the roof of Sun Garden Homes, a 70-unit co-op in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, includes unobstructed sights of Green-Wood Cemetery, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. But it is the roof itself that is the most

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Hoarders

QUESTION: We live in a condo complex. One of our members has his unit filled to the ceiling with all kinds of debris, mostly combustible. According to our management company the HOA can do nothing to get him to clean

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Overcoming culture clash among diverse residents

Immigrant groups account for about sixty percent of U.S. population growth. This is immediately evident in community associations throughout the Chicago area. Recent immigrants frequently settle in areas with persons of like background, and are often drawn to the benefits

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Responding to Requests for Accommodation

Civil Code Section 1360 generally requires homeowners associations (“HOA”) to allow a disabled owner to, at the owner’s expense, make modifications to the owner’s units and potentially to the HOA’s common areas in order to accommodate the owner’s disability. When

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Simple Tips to Avoid a Huge Mess!

An interesting story in the news caught my eye today as I was sipping my morning coffee. An Aurora woman, allegedly frustrated with her non-responsive mortgage company, spray painted the following message on her garage door:  Read More……

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Top five trends for effective community management, part 1

Like in other industries, the work force in the association management industry is rapidly changing. Take the HOA manager for example: The stereotype is someone who sits at board meetings, finding delight in firing off violation letters about someone’s car

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