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Battling Bully Board Members and Homeowners

You’ve seen them (and felt your anxiety level rising). The homeowner who takes four “guest only” parking spots for his cars. The board president who goes on a vendetta by holding secret meetings, making unapproved purchases and breaking confidentiality rules.

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Steps that should be taken to protect a community association’s funds

When property management companies go out of business, they can leave behind trails of unpaid bills and large losses from community associations’ reserve and operating accounts. There are many ways to protect your association funds.  Read More……

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The Insurance Puzzle – What Boards Must DO and Must AVOID

A key obligation of the association board is to protect the assets of the association. One of the primary elements of this responsibility is insurance, but many volunteer board members have limited experience with insurance. They’re only familiar with purchasing

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How to Avoid Conflicts of Interest

It is important for boards of directors to be aware that conflicts of interest or dualities of interest sometime occur in the course of conducting the business affairs of the homeowner association. The appearance of same can be troublesome –

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The Benefits of Being on the Board

Many co-op and condo owners want to get involved in their community but they soon find out that being on the board is no picnic. Soon neighbors are pestering them asking for feuds to be settled, decisions that affect all

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When Owners Don’t Pay: HOA Boards Struggle to Make Ends Meet

Nothing remained in the New Jersey townhome after the owner, exasperated and struggling, financially picked up and left. And took everything with him. “Not only did he walk away, but he gutted his house,” says Joseph J. Balzamo, a president

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Getting Out the Vote: Holding Fair Elections

When it comes to running board elections in a condo or co-op community, the biggest concern among those involved is making sure the elections are fair and balanced and nobody has a reason to cry foul. Elections can be heated

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Electronic Communication (Emails) Are Discoverable in Litigation

Our firm philosophy has long been “Communication not Litigation.” This philosophy is based on the belief that disputes are best resolved in a voluntary and reasonable manner rather than through the time, expense and aggravation of a lawsuit. Recent developments

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Checking the financial health of HOAs

One of the causalities of the real estate downturn has been the condominium homeowners association. No one could predict five years ago when condos were selling like hot cakes that loose lending and rampant speculation would wreak havoc on a building’s

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Fiduciary Duty: What Boards & Residesnts Should Know

Being elected to the board of directors of a co-op or condo comes with a great deal of power, and with that power also comes a great deal of responsibility. Whether they serve a co-op or condo community, board members,

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‘Redemption’ from Uncollected Debt

Last week Gina Botti blogged about the importance of properly recording an association assessment lien. Although CCIOA states that a lien is ‘perfected’ or in place upon the recording of the association’s Declaration, it is still important to prepare and

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Association Safeguards: A 12-Step Program to Protect You and Your Association

This article addresses those key affirmative steps a board, on behalf of the association, should take in order to protect the association. Although the needs of every community are inherently different, the following steps are applicable to every association and

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Hurricane Sandy – Special Issue of Coastal Condo News

Coastal Condo News offers a special issue with information of value to condo boards and associations as they face repairs and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy Read More……

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Private Loans from Co-op / Condo Reserves: Good Idea? Oh, no, no, no, no

A board member wished to borrow a portion of the reserve fund for a personal business transaction. He agreed to (a) pay seven percent interest on the money, (b) repay the money within 30 days of a demand by the

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10 Ways to Make Your Community Association Thrive

Rather than skip around the issue, we decided to tell you straight up some our our observations that can help your association thrive. So this may post may sound like a lecture but it’s really meant to be a resource

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Components of an Enforceable Rule

What makes a rule enforceable? An enforceable rule meets the requirements of the law and governing documents. What makes an enforceable rule a good rule? A good rule meets the needs and requirements of the community. When writing rules, boards

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Make Sure to Vote – At Your HOA Annual Meeting!

If you are like me, election day couldn’t come soon enough. While I’m truly a political junkie, the negative campaigning became so overwhelming that even I muted the TV during commercials and we quit answering the incessant political calls. While

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Political Yard Signs: When Your HOA Can Tell You to Take Them Down

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 those signs out of the yards. If you’re one of the more than 60

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Does your community prohibit solicitation?

Many associations do have a rule prohibiting solicitations but what is the basis for such a rule? Ostensibly it would be to protect privacy in members’ homes, mailboxes and other personal property such as your car’s windshield. Perhaps another goal

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3 Critical Items for Condominium Association and Homeowner Association (HOA) Budgets

The association budget is a formal and detailed written plan that provides the cornerstone of an association’s financial operations. The budget reflects the needs and goals of the association for a period of time and identifies sources of income and

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Why you need to pay attention to the money

David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner of a Kansas City, Missouri business was sentenced in federal court today for embezzling more than $750,000 from dozens of homeowners associations. Dale

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A “Tail” of Two Doggies: Lessons of Both the Absurd and Practical in Dealing with Pet Cases

In my legal practice, few cases are more prone to absurd happenings, bizarre government policies, and expensive litigation than pet cases.  Well meaning associations set up rules to either prohibit pets all together or to limit their size, often in

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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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