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Tax-exempt, or Not-for-profit?

We are frequently asked, “If we are a not-for-profit corporation, why do we still have to pay taxes?” Tax exempt and not-for-profit are two completely different concepts in the world of community associations. The notion of being not-for-profit stems from the

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How to avoid becoming a headline – or successfully dealing with it if you do

As you know, from time to time, HOAs end up in the news for perceived abuses to residents of an association or to question actions taken by the board or management. While the allegations in the news coverage may or

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Be Nice to Grumps!

Every Board member knows there are some people who are simply grumps. They enjoy creating a negative environment. While Board members are only human, it’s important to remember to treat grumps the same as any other member of the association.

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Fire Safety: Is Your Community Firewise?

A huge fire destroyed 80 to 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens and fires fueled by natural gas destroyed about 14 homes in a New Jersey town by the shore. Hearing about these tragic fires after the

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Can Your HOA Put Its Mitts on Your Mitt Sign?

Ah, November! The month when Americans put up political yard signs hoping to sway their neighbors’ votes — until the community association tells them to get that sign out of the yard. If you’re one of the more than 60

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Would you feel OK living in an HOA?

Homeowners associations aren’t for everyone. You might be suited to living within a homeowners association if you prefer the company of like-minded neighbors. But an association might not be a good fit if you’re a free spirit — the type

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Disaster!

What does a community association board of directors do if a natural disaster wipes out all or a portion of its association? When and where is it likely to happen? Is there a plan for dealing with it? Is this

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Do developers give thought to long-term governance in the communities they build?

While development in Florida and many other parts of the country has dwindled considerably over the last few years, now is the time for reputable developers to give some thought to new ways to ensure success for the product they

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Getting full value from a reserve study

Most community associations by now have gotten the message they need a reserve study. What they aren’t so sure of is what to do after they get it. So they put it on a shelf and let it sit. Few

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Don’t Do This! How Not to Manage a Construction Project

“Don’t try this at home!” This warning, which scrolls under some television ads and programs, would be equally appropriate advice for the way one community association board managed a major construction project. (This is not actually one specific board but

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Exposing Common Myths in HOA Operations

We frequently hear about and see associations acting on myths that seem to persist despite being clearly incorrect. Here are some of those myths and misunderstandings and the truth behind them: Read More……

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Wildfire App catches Fire

The 2012 wildfire season was one of the worst on record, leaving the people at the American Red Cross busy devising new and innovative ways to get information to people faster. As a response to the growing use of technology,

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Assessment Collections Practices are Leading to Lawsuits

Recent lawsuits involving community associations have created quite a stir among condominiums and homeowners associations, as owners have alleged in the suits that law firms and associations are improperly seeking to collect unpaid assessments, interest and other charges in violation

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HOA Reserve Paradigm

Homeowner associations across the nation have discovered the advantages of planning ahead for major maintenance by following a well executed Reserve Study. A Reserve Study identifies the building and grounds components that the HOA is responsible to repair and replace

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New Smoking Law Affects All Santa Monica Condos

Santa Monica has passed a law with new smoking rules that affect all multi-unit housing, and that includes condominiums. Follow this link to review the new municipal code. Follow this link to review a related notice from the City of

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Knowledge, Participation and Solutions Empower Homeowners

Last Thursday, as Chair of CAI’s Colorado Legislative Action Committee, I served on a panel for a Town Hall Meeting hosted by State Representatives Angela Williams, Su Ryden, Rhonda Fields, Nancy Todd and State Senator Morgan Carroll. The topic of

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Condos/HOAs & Collection Agency Fees – Who Pays?

Obviously over the past few years association leaders have had to devote a substantial amount of time, energy, effort and money to collecting delinquent assessments. However, where there is need there is opportunity. New businesses sprung up all over the

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Anatomy of An HOA Dispute Run Amok

After 11 years of battling, a judge has finally resolved an outstanding covenant enforcement dispute which involved many court hearings, a jury trial, two appeals and then a second trial. That’s correct, 11 years of an owner and an association

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California Department of Real Estate Warns of Dangers of Underfunded Reserve Accounts

One of the most difficult choices a board makes when preparing an association’s annual budget is whether to increase assessments to fund the association’s reserve account, or to keep assessments low and delay funding the reserve account until a later

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Two legal concepts that are misunderstood by many community association members.

A blog reader wrote to me the other day and asked what she could tell a member of her community who claimed he was not bound by the association’s governing documents because he had never read them. I introduced my

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Aggressive Strategies with Foreclosure Properties Helping Many Associations

During the slow recovery in the housing market, many community associations are taking more aggressive approaches with foreclosures and rentals to recover delinquencies and gain financial strength. These associations are using their lien rights in order to avoid the issues

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Of Course You Don’t Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance – Or Do You?

We occasionally get questions about whether a homeowners association should obtain its own workers’ compensation insurance, and when we recommend “Yes,” the inevitable question is “Why; we don’t have any employees?”   Read More……

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Neighbor-To-Neighbor Battles: Leave It Up To The Neighbors To Duke It Out?

I say no. But I also say, seek a balance. A Board is not required to expend association sums to sue. The balance is somewhere in between doing nothing and taking aggressive action. And if you are one of the

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How a condominium association can beat the bank to money

In today’s economy, banks and courts are processing foreclosures at a historically slow pace, evidenced by the New York Times article predicting that it will take close to 62 years for the foreclosures currently pending in New York State to

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Associations Should Turn to Managers for Property Management, Not Legal Work

Community associations often turn to their licensed CAM property managers for matters that they truly should be referring to their attorneys. The Florida Bar has recently revisited the issue of the unlicensed practice of law by property managers, and it

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Reserve Studies: Like a FICO Score For HOAs

A Reserve Study is one part physical analysis and one part financial analysis. For the last 30 years we’ve helped thousands of clients across the country anticipate and prepare for their community’s major repair and replacement costs. Armed with this

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What You Need to Know about Home Owners Associations

Few topics can generate strong opinions like Home Owner Associations (HOAs). There are people who have a visceral reaction to them, while others see them as a necessary and beneficial part of living together in a community. In today’s update

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New ADA Regulations for Public Pools Do Not Apply to Private Pools at Most Condos, HOA Communities

In addition to several of our other community association attorneys, I have recently counseled some of our clients about the applicability of the new pool accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The new ADA pool accessibility requirements

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Political Yard Signs and HOA Rules During Campaign Season

As Election Day draws near, disputes over political yard signs can lead to lessons of free-speech in America’s neighborhoods. Homeowners’ desires to the express their political views by planting yard signs may collide with community association boards’ efforts to preserve

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How a Condo Board Can Collect Arrears By Using a Little-Known Tool Called DILF

With the recent economic downturn, condominium boards have been plagued by unit owners defaulting on their monthly common charge. With fewer unit-owners paying, boards are faced with the prospect of increasing common charges in order to collect the deficit from

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The challenge of condo design upgrades ever-growing

In a prior column on ‘The Southampton’, a condominium located in the west end of Toronto, I indicated that it is a noteworthy example of a property that has been maintained in outstanding condition throughout its current lifespan of nearly

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Working dogs welcome at ‘no pets’ condos despite potential for misuse

Emotional support dogs have come a long way in recent years. Allowed in no-pets buildings since 1988, it has taken further federal clarification, fines, and lawsuits to make them feel welcome. Experts are convinced they do help people, although some

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The Silent Killer

Over the weekend, I was once again reminded of the importance of carbon monoxide detectors. Sadly, it was reported that one person died and a total of nine families were displaced from their apartment complex in Colorado Springs due to

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HOA’s: When you don’t like the rules

If you live in a newer suburban community or planned unit development, you are probably a member of a homeowners association (HOA). It’s also a good bet that you haven’t given your HOA much thought until you have a problem.

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Installing a HOA Dog Park in the Common Area?

Asked – The HOA I manage is considering fencing off a portion of its common area to create a “Dog Park” for the residents to use? Can the HOA do this? Answered – Maybe. However, our attorneys would strongly discourage

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Help with Going Green: Tapping Federal and State Incentive Programs

With the green movement in full swing across the country, it is not surprising that incorporating energy saving and efficient measures has trickled into condominium development. Today, many buildings in New Jersey pride themselves for having a variety of eco-friendly

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Ten Hot (and Cool) Tips

Energy efficiency has become a “buzz word” over the past couple years in New Jersey and more and more gadgets and devices have come on the market that are specifically designed to use less energy. Saving energy does a lot

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Budgeting and Reserves for Condominiums

Most covenants for condominiums require that the association include as part of the annual budget, an allocation for reserves. Reserves should be set aside for roof replacement, pavement resurfacing, building painting, and any other item of association responsibility with a

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Condo board chiefs often make hard choices

Imagine that you have a job that requires you to be an expert in everything from finance to construction and that trying to do your best at this job makes your closest neighbors hate you.  Now imagine that you do

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Renting In A Recession

Landlords and homeowner associations have always been uneasy bedfellows, in my experience. In the most common situation, the homeowner association is made up of a majority of resident owners, who elect other residents to serve on the board of directors.

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Parliamentary Procedure for Idiots

My friend and fellow CCAL member, Jim Slaughter, who teaches me something new about Parliamentary Procedure at every CCAL conference, just published a new book on running meetings. Here’s his announcement:  Read More……

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The true definition of ‘condo commando’

If you have read this column over the years, you have seen how some members of HOA boards of directors take their jobs a bit too seriously, and way too personally. They feel that since they have taken the time

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Difficult People: How Do You Deal with Them?

How do we as humans deal with people who yell and scream at us or refuse to be rational? You know the type, adversarial, manipulative, inflexible, unreasonable, irrational. For most people, the answer is “We don’t”. If given the choice,

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How Can Community Associations be Smart with Smart Phones?

As smart phones are being used for a multitude of things, how can they be used in the community association context? One way is to access information quickly. In the middle of a meeting once, I had to get the

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The Vicious Cycle of Collections and a Solution: Acceleration!

Situation: On January 10, 2012, your association obtains a judgment against a homeowner for the balance, as of that date, of unpaid assessments, late fees, interest, attorney fees, and costs. In June of 2012, through a wage garnishment, the judgment

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Time to Budget for Deferred Legal Maintenance

Now that accounts receivables are finally starting to shrink, many associations are working hard to stabilize their communities’ finances and planning to take care of long-deferred maintenance projects. During this upcoming budget season, boards and managers will be making important

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A Safer Community

Take your neighborhood back – join a Neighborhood Watch Program through your local Police Department or Crime Prevention Group. We imagine you are saying, “Oh another project to devote time to that I don’t have”….but it really doesn’t take much

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Maintenance Tips So You’re Winter Ready

The leaves are changing, the air is getting cooler and the holidays are just around the corner. Here are some great fall maintenance tips for communities and homeowners in preparation for the winter months.  Read More……

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How FHA Action Could Boost Condo Market

The still struggling condominium market may get a boost due to actions taken by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA issued new mortgage guidance for FHA insured condominium loans that could significantly affect condo financing and boost the housing recovery.

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Smoking Bans in Condominiums

Most Michigan residents are familiar with the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke-Free Air Law of 2009; if not by name, then by its radical ban of smoking in Michigan’s restaurants and taverns. It is hard to imagine another law that has

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