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 replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of $10,000.00 or more.  Read More……

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 this for free. That’s the life of a condominium board president.  Read More……

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, most of us choose not to work with people like this. We don’t socialize with […]

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 specific language of a statute. A quick Google on my phone, and I had the […]

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 balance is collected. Success? YES and no.  Read More……

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 decisions about which projects can, and must, be funded next year and over the coming […]

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 changed our daily lives more. The Act, and others like it around the country, is […]

Recent HOA News

The Millshaven Property Owners Association is suing Becky Rogers-Peck over the pink playhouse in her yard built for her granddaughter. The Association says the color of the playhouse violates the covenant that Rogers-Peck signed. She has until October 5th to respond.  Read More……

Boost reserve funds with cell phone antennas

Savvy Home Owner’s Associations (HOAs) should always be looking to augment their reserve funds without raising fees in the community. There are several ways to do this if you think creatively. Some common strategies include the addition of coin-operated washer and dryers or renting out common area rooms or space for community functions. One thing […]

Before You Start Pointing Fingers….

I recently read an article where a homeowner was upset about her condominium association initiating foreclosure proceedings against her for her failure to pay her assessments. While people may read this article and feel sorry for the homeowner, one should keep in mind that the homeowner failed to appear at court to protect her interests […]

Neighborhood Association Unveils Its Own Library

The Fairview Mews Homeowners Association, representing a neighborhood of about 150 households located off of South Glebe Road and South Walter Reed Drive, has established a Little Free Library, one of about 2,000 of the kind around the globe. Resident Rob Walter read an article on the library movement, and won support of the association’s board […]

Trustee No More

I am thrilled to report that I lost about 20 pounds yesterday. Don’t worry about my health: this was a combination of figurative weight loss and non-biological weight, including files and emotional burdens. On January 19, my three year term as a subdivision trustee finally ended. Wahoo!!!  Read More……

How to Appeal to Generation Y?

It was bound to happen, the number of Generation Y homeowners (people born between 1978 and 1993) is beginning to outweigh Generation X and the Baby Boomer generation. With Generation Y making up over 70 million people in the United States and an estimated 32% of those 70 million being homeowners, associations are facing the […]

Board 101: What Are the Duties of a Condo or Co-op Board Secretary?

Time to do the minutes. See? Bet you didn’t know there were board-secretary jokes! What else do co-op / condo board members and residents not know about the position of board secretary? For one thing, he or she is responsible for a lot more than just the minutes. How much more? Hours’ worth!  Read More……

The Value of Pre-Construction Planning

The vendor / HOA manager relationship is a unique one in the world of real estate construction. Both parties face challenges and obstacles when it comes to processes, expectations and deliverables. Hiring a competent construction manager can effectively mitigate many of these issues through up-front, preconstruction planning and streamlined communication throughout the project.   Read More……

Board 101: What Are the Duties of a Condo or Co-op Board Treasurer?

You might reasonably imagine you know what a co-op or condo board treasurer does. He or she is like an accountant, right? Or, well, maybe a bookkeeper. It’s the kind of thing where it helps to have a degree in finance. Or is it economics? Or accounting? And it’s up to the board treasurer to […]

Vendor Contracts That Protect You: An Attorney’s Three Simple Steps

Every condo or co-op board will at some point hire a vendor to perform certain tasks or furnish services — possibly exposing the building to liability brought about by vendor actions and/or the terms of the vendor contracts. Boards of directors and managing agents must understand how to properly protect the building when hiring a […]

Cat in condo? OK. Companion dog? No way

The age-old question of which is better, cats or dogs, has landed in federal court in Minneapolis. The unusual issue has provoked a big legal fight between a disabled Minneapolis woman and the board overseeing a condominium where she’s been a longtime resident.  Read More……

Rules of the Road for Productive Board Meetings

Those of us who specialize in community law spend a whole lot of time at HOA board meetings. Based upon experience, I can tell you that how well a meeting is run can make a world of difference in the amount of business which gets accomplished and whether the interactions at the meeting are constructive. […]

Are Board Members Safe?

Last week, a gunman who had a long-standing dispute with his association over deed restrictions, shot and killed one person and critically wounded a second at his association’s meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. The incident occured during an association meeting being held in a community church. This, as well as the other violence we’ve seen occuring […]

The Reality of Underfunded Reserves

In today’s economy it can be tempting for HOA boards to under fund their reserve in an effort to save money. This is a disturbing trend in our industry because it can often leave the HOAs in a compromised position. With underfunded reserves, they have no choice but to scale down or defer important repairs […]

You’re Building What Next to my HOA??

Anti-Wal-Mart yard signs began appearing last month in neighborhoods surrounding the 9th and Colorado redevelopment project in advance of a public meeting on the project. If your association is faced with a potentially unwanted development next door, what is the association’s responsibility? Whether it’s a Wal-Mart or a Dollar General store, boards are often faced […]

When Leadership Means Prodding a Board to Spend Money to Save Money

Ann Gordon moved into a 122-unit co-op in the Van Cortlandt Village section of The Bronx in 1986, when her career as a maker of large public sculptures was at its peak. She suspended a gigantic green boot above a Broadway marquee and installed 30-foot-long ballet slippers on the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Although she […]

Fidelity Insurance – Is Yours Adequate?

What would your association do if you discovered tomorrow that the association’s bank/investment accounts had been completely emptied by a board member and it was obvious that the association would not be getting the money back?  Read More……

Keeping it Above Board: Avoiding Common Conflicts of Interest

One of the trickier problems to deal with when you live in a co-op or condo is dealing with board members who sometimes let the power go to their heads. Even though they are entrusted with a great deal of responsibility in the smooth running of the building, it’s vital that board members don’t use […]

Insurance Fraud! We All Pay the Price

Last year in New Jersey, a former property manager in Freehold Township was accused of embezzling $75,000 from homeowner dues. In a separate case, a woman, her husband and mother were charged with theft from an Aberdeen condo association after misappropriating $995,000 of the association’s money from January 2005 through September 2006, and in Readington, […]

Mind the Gap: Understanding Your Insurance Responsibilities

Insurance is designed to be there for us when we need it most. Without knowing the full extent of our coverage, though, we may find ourselves with less protection than we thought. For condominium owners, it is imperative to understand exactly what liabilities and risks are covered by individual resident homeowner policies and what is […]

Rookies No More: Veterans Helping Newcomers

Remember your first day at a new school? Most likely, you didn’t know a soul, had no idea what the students were learning and you probably felt  nervous, intimidated or maybe even afraid. In most cases, this is what it’s like to be a new board member. A newcomer walks into a meeting for the […]

Budget Season: How is your HOA handling reserves?

After a wonderful holiday weekend, it’s time to saddle up and get back to work! For management and boards of homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”), that means budget season is now in full swing. While community association managers play a pivotal role in assisting boards with the creation of budgets, it’s ultimately up to each board to […]

Vacancies in Your HOA Neighborhood – What Can You Do?

Living within a homeowners association (HOA) has several benefits that lead people to move into these neighborhoods. Common areas are kept up by the HOA and these neighborhoods often also have shared amenities like gyms, tennis courts and walking trails. Unfortunately due to the current state of the housing market, some homes are left unoccupied […]

The Mailbox Rule: The Law’s Response to “I Didn’t Get Notice”

How many times have you heard a homeowner tell a manager or board that he/she did not receive the delinquency notices mailed? As a collections attorney, I hear this excuse very frequently from homeowners. More times than not, homeowners do not “receive” letters because they fail to open their mail. This can be intentional or […]

Does Your Association Have the Written Policies it Needs?

By now, most community associations have met the minimum requirements when it comes to adopting the responsible governance policies required under the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA).  You have duly adopted all 9 of the required policies, including a collection policy, an enforcement policy and a conflict of interest policy to name a few.  […]

Using Common Sense Could Lead to More Common Cents in Your Community

I am a lawyer. I read, on a regular and ongoing basis, governing documents, statutes, contracts, and other such documents. I am asked to provide my opinion on various legal issues and, in doing so, I review the relevant documents and applicable law, and provide a course of action. And yet, all the legal knowledge […]

CA: What You Need to Know About Small Claims Court

There are certain claims where small claims court may be the appropriate venue, as opposed to superior court. Typically, this includes claims against owners for unpaid assessments, fees and/or fines that do not exceed $5000, which is the limit that a California community association can recover in small claims court.  Read More……

Florida Bar Looks at Issue of Managers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law

In June, 2012, the Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law discussed the ever present issue of what constitutes “unauthorized practice of law” or “UPL” by community association managers. There are approximately 15, 600 licensed community association managers currently active in the State of Florida. Of those, the Department of Business and […]

Condominiums CAN Go Smoke-Free: Two Condo Boards’ Instructive Efforts

Enforcing a smoking ban is stickier in condos than in co-ops. While in both cases a supermajority of the shareholders or unit-owners can amend the bylaws, enforcement is the key issue: A co-op can terminate a shareholder’s lease, but a condominium association’s chief weapon is a fine — and if a repeat offender fails to […]

What Is A Lien?

Lien. The word gets thrown around like a hot potato on a construction project. Here on the Lien Blog, I use the word constantly, and advocate to credit managers to “file a lien” to protect a company’s rights to payment. But what exactly is a lien? How does it work? What does it do and […]

A Queens Co-op Slashes Its Electric Bill by 85%. How? With Cogeneration.

Cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power (CHP), is a natural-gas-fueled method of generating electricity for your co-op or condo building — and it’s down-to-earth, not pie-in-the-sky, as one Queens co-op found after getting got financing to install a cogeneration plant that’s reduced it Con Edison bills by 85 percent. Eight-five. Not a typo. […]

HOA Board Member Wanted: Should You Run?

The day-to-day planning and financial stability of a Homeowners Association is generally attributed to the diligence and competence of its HOA Board. If you’re thinking about running, there are a number of things to take into consideration, such as the skills and qualifications, which will help you manage effectively.   Read More……

Lakes can become liabilities if not maintained

The prospect of a nice home situated on a lake in a suburban community is very appealing to prospective buyers. Lakes became a fixture at many of the residential developments in Boone County during decades of population growth, which was only recently slowed by the economic downturn.  Read More……

The Art of Taking Minutes at Your Association’s Meeting

Detailed minutes can prove troublesome for your Association. Minutes are required at any Association or Board meeting. They serve as a record of the actions and decisions made at a meeting; however, they are not meant to be a transcript of the meeting. The more unnecessary, superfluous detail is included in Board meeting minutes, the […]

What the Heck is D&O Insurance and Why is it so Important? A Primer on Board Member and Officer Liability Exposure

Directors and officers of an association are volunteers with enormous responsibilities, who put in countless hours to better their communities. Though directors and officers are appreciated by most of the community, they are sometimes blamed for their decisions and challenged in court. However, in the event that there is a challenge (a threatened or actual […]

Gated Communities – Are They Any Safer?

Increasingly, many Americans turn to gated neighborhoods in an attempt to live in a place where they feel safe and secure. The concept of walls, gates and security cameras keeping out invaders and capturing attempted crime before it starts is very appealing to many who are willing to pay more for that privilege. Logically, it […]

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution with the goal of finding a solution and reaching an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved. In some counties, mediation is mandatory and if a case becomes contested, the parties are ordered to attend mediation prior to scheduling a trial. In some instances, however, even […]

The Common Sense “Secrets” to Running Good Board Meetings

Condo and co-op board meetings should be productive, efficient gatherings where the board conducts business and doesn’t meet to socialize. Are you getting the most out of your meetings? If not, consider a few of these things — from how to set an agenda to how you treat fellow board members and your managing agent. Read […]

In a California Homeowners Association, there are Three Types of Animals…

A homeowners association has a “strict” (and strictly enforced) “no pets” policy but a resident requests that an exception be made to permit her to keep a dog. Or, maybe it’s a cat. Or a hamster. Must the association provide this “accommodation”? The answer is “maybe” and depends in part on whether the resident is […]

You Catch More Flies With Honey

As I was driving to work this morning, I was reflecting on some of the less than constructive communications I have witnessed in the community association context lately. I don’t know if it’s the heat that’s getting to everyone or if the ugly presidential campaign is starting to rub off on us, but it seems […]

Smoking Bans: An Increasingly Viable Alternative for Addressing Complaints of Secondhand Smoke

We recently published an article on secondhand smoke regarding its impact at condominium associations and how it can constitute a nuisance. Since almost every community association’s CC&Rs prohibit noxious activity, this is a fairly common and accessible means of addressing the issue. However, enforcing a nuisance claim has its challenges and drawbacks, namely, the subjective […]