Balancing Access to Sensitive Information

During the course of their tenure on an association’s governing board, board members will come into possession of a seemingly endless amount of information. While owners are entitled to access the association’s books and records regarding the general operation and management of the association, there are certain categories of sensitive information that board members should […]

Attorney-Client Privilege Is Valuable and Frighteningly Easy to Lose

Condominium board members are often encouraged to be open, honest, and transparent in their communications with the condominium community. However, because of their leadership position, board members often possess confidential information, the disclosure of which may have significant legal and financial implications for the community associations they represent. Confidential information protected by attorney-client privilege is […]

Condominium Board Authority: Checking the Limits of Power

When making the choice to purchase a condo or a co-op apartment, many buyers choose a condominium to reduce the board’s involvement in the decisions they will make regarding their home. Condo boards’ authority over certain decisions and aspects of life in their communities is much more limited than that of co-op boards, but that […]

A Little Good Will Can Avoid a Lot of Grief for Condominium Developers

Condo developments have three phases, equivalent in the minds of many developers to the “stages of grief” that describe the mourning process. There is no question that construction glitches, quarrelsome owners, litigation, or the threat of it, that plague some projects can make many developers mourn their career choice. But the development process doesn’t have […]

Magic in Mediation

If Kathleen (Kat) Marquis designed a t-shirt, it would probably say something like “Mediate, don’t Litigate”. An attorney who specializes in mediation, Marquis believes passionately in its effectiveness and desirability as an alternative to litigation – an alternative that she thinks works especially well for condominiums. “It is the only dispute resolution process that preserves […]

They Work for Your Association but Are They the Association’s Employees?

Depending on their size, condominium associations may receive a variety of professional services – from managers, security guards, lifeguards, maintenance workers and administrative assistants, among other personnel. Boards and owners often question the cost and quality of these services, but few, if any, ever wonder, “Whose employees are they?”   Read the article……………….

Managing Curb Appeal: Dealing With the Eyesore Next Door

Attractiveness and so-called ‘curb appeal’ are both vital to a building or HOA’s sense of community pride and overall value. After all, it’s hard to attract prospective homebuyers if your association’s grounds are scattered with litter, the flower beds are choked with weeds, and residents constantly have laundry hanging out their windows.  As important as […]

Roof Maintenance: Taking Care of Your Building From the Top Down

A residential property could have triple-reinforced titanium steel walls, and it still wouldn’t be worth a darn without a sturdy roof. It’s through the roof and rooftop features that many problematic elements can enter a building, from wind to rain to ice to debris. And because of that, the roof must be adequately fortified and […]

Curing Arrears: When Fees Aren’t Paid

The last three apartments in your luxury hi-rise condo were sold to a troika of Russian oligarchs, who all paid well above the asking price. But now those oligarchs are on the sanctions list, and have withheld their monthly maintenance fees for six months and counting, while waiting out the situation at their Black Sea […]

Accessing Units: Balancing Privacy and Expediency

Owning a unit in a multifamily co-op or condo carries a great many benefits in the form of shared responsibilities, but it also requires compromises along the lines of control: what your board, management, and building staff can or cannot do. One area where such compromises have the potential to lead to uncomfortable conflicts is […]

The Limits of Board Powers: What You Can – and Can’t – Do

It is not easy being a trustee. There are meetings to attend, documents to review, decisions to make, and neighbors to mollify. There are also a number of rules and regulations that must be followed in order to ensure that the individual and collective actions of a board meet all legal and ethical requirements.  Read the […]

Self-Managing Maintenance: Getting the Job Done On Your Own

Whether because of convenience, the desire for autonomy, or a tight budget, some condo and HOA communities opt not to retain an outside management company or an agent to handle their respective day-to-day administrative and maintenance needs. Without proper oversight and experience however, the vitality of the building and property – along with the residents […]

Laundry Room Maintenance: It’s a Wash

Can you imagine living in a condo or co-op that doesn’t have a laundry room? These days, having on-site laundry facilities for residents isn’t an amenity – it’s a necessity, and keeping yours functional and well-maintained is just as important as keeping the boiler or elevators running.  Nearly all multifamily laundry rooms are managed and […]

Optimizing HVAC: Heating, Cooling, and Conserving

Everyone loves the turning of the seasons, what with leaves changing and snow falling and pools opening and the like. But Mother Nature has little concern for the comfort of humans, so fluctuating temperatures bring the need for residential heating and cooling.  In condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners associations, residential heating and cooling (HVAC for short) […]

Supporting Your Staff: Letting Your Employees Know You Care

Most people go about their days paying little attention to the labor performed by those who make their lives easier. From transit workers to service employees to government officials, how often does one stop to thank the people making everything run along smoothly? Staffs of condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners’ associations are no exception. Sure, they […]

The Roles of Building Staff: Working as a Team for the Good of All

Supers, building managers, maintenance persons, custodial staff, groundskeeping personnel, porters, doormen, concierges—depending on the size of a community, the staff roster for a condo, co-op or HOA can be pretty long. The truth is, in the case of almost any building or association over five units, at least a few of these people are necessary […]

Board Transparency: Consistent Communication Is Key

Community living – the very basis of co-op, condo and HOA life—is based on the idea of trust. In a community of potentially hundreds or thousands of residents, every resident can’t be involved in the making of every decision. Too many cooks can potentially spoil the proverbial broth. No decision would ever get made in […]

Problem Boards: What To Do When Your Board Breaks the Rules

A condominium, cooperative or homeowners’ association elects a board for a specific purpose: to manage the community’s day-to-day business, oversee special projects, and draft and uphold the rules and regulations that keep life orderly and harmonious. In fact, the board has an inflexible fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the community as […]

Thinking About Disaster Planning? You Should Be!

Most people think about disasters as something that happens to others, not to them. But after witnessing back-to-back weather catastrophes in Houston, Florida, the Caribbean, and more recently in Puerto Rico, many condominium associations are recognizing that the unthinkable could, in fact, happen to their communities, and considering what they should do to prepare for […]

Assessing Your Building’s Energy Consumption: How Green Are You?

Most folks know that turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, taking shorter showers, and turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees can help save energy – and by extension, money. However, helping an entire building or association cut costs and reduce its carbon footprint can be a little trickier, which is why many co-op […]

Green Cleaning: Keeping Your Condo or HOA Fresh – and Eco-Friendly

Cleaning products should, ideally, have one primary function: to make things less dirty. But once one delves deeper into the overall goal, things get more complicated. What makes something really clean? Does it just look shinier? Smell better? Or is it healthier in a more objective sense; an antibacterial, net-positive sense? Cleanliness can be subjective, […]

A Look at Cogeneration: Is It for Your Building?

Many residential properties obtain their power from a local energy supplier. But in recent years, boards and managing agents have investigated, and in some cases, installed “cogeneration ” systems that allow properties to produce a portion of the energy they use on-site. Like most technologies, there are both benefits and drawbacks to converting to a […]

Improving Indoor Air Quality: What’s That Smell?

In multifamily buildings that hundreds —maybe even thousands—of people call home, it comes as no surprise that unpleasant smells can become an absolute nuisance. The airways that run through the building, the chutes and areas that house the building’s garbage, and the habits of residents can all be likely culprits when it comes to a […]

Insurance Law: Some Important Cases to Know

Insurance liability is a very important issue for a condo or HOA association or a condo board. Most have built up a good relationship with their insurance agents or brokers, and many are content to leave the details to the pros.  However, the world of insurance liability isn’t static—new laws are proposed and enacted, and […]

Indemnity Clauses and Liability: Protection Runs in More Than One Direction

One of the unique aspects of community living, whether that community is a co-op, condo, or HOA, is the collective responsibility shareholders or association members take upon themselves when they offer to serve on their community’s board of directors. With the assumption of board duties and responsibilities comes a measure of liability that might not […]

Insurance Basics: Know the ABCs

For many people, insurance seems like its own mysterious realm, filled with terminologies that sound formidable and enigmatic. At the same time, people also understand the profound importance of insurance and what it can mean for the safety and security of the co-ops, condos, and associations in which many of us live.  Fortunately, insurance professionals […]

Got Conflict? Get Mediation!

Understanding what mediation is, how it works, the benefits for all parties, and the types of disputes that can be resolved with mediation, demonstrates how mediation can be an effective alternative to litigation.     Read the article………….

What Boards Should Know About Finances: Keeping Your Community in the Black

Money, money, money. The world runs on it. And your building’s well-being depends on it.  The issue is not just having funds, but managing them. Handling the finances for an entire building or association is a major responsibility, and boards—even those made up with seasoned members—need to stay on top of their community’s performance. That […]

Hiring—and Paying—Contractors: Who Holds the Purse Strings?

Co-op, condo and HOA living represents a unique social arrangement; it’s a paid-for membership club and a home at the same time. Many people enter into this arrangement without a complete understanding of the responsibilities of membership. Others, fully aware of their community responsibility, volunteer to help guide, shepherd and monitor the health and welfare […]

Inadequate Reserves: The Risks of Not Keeping Up

There are few feelings worse than encountering an unexpected expense and finding the piggy bank empty. That is why reserve funds and reserve studies are such important elements in the financial well-being of co-ops, condos and homeowners associations. It pays to keep a close eye on those numbers and adhere to the planning available through […]

The State of Smoking: LegalMarijuana vs. Smoking Policies

While the exhortation to “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” has never really gone out of style, one should take caution before lighting up just anywhere. Many places, from restaurants to airplanes to hospitals, expressly and strictly forbid anyone from smoking anything at all. And while those nonsmoking spaces are fairly cut-and-dry, the rules are […]

Issues That Cross State Lines: A Look at Condo Legislation Trends

When it comes to legislation and legal issues that apply to condo associations, co-ops, and other multifamily housing models, the focus is often local—city ordinances, council meetings, and so forth – but there are judgments handed down and bills passed that impact buildings and HOAs on a national level. For boards and managers who want […]

Resident Rights: Knowing Them, Upholding Them

To paraphrase the Declaration of Independence, all men and women are created equal with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That may not be the case if you live in a condominium, co-op, or HOA, however. Unlike a private home, living in a ‘common interest community’ represents a commitment to […]

Maintaining ‘Niche’ Amenities: Special Amenities May Need Special Care

Once upon a time, when someone purchased a condo or co-op, their ownership came with the privilege of using the building’s amenities. Those who lived in a building with a fitness room equipped with treadmills and weights considered themselves fortunate, and those whose building had a swimming pool were downright envied.  Fast forward to today […]

Prepping Your Property for Warmer Weather

With the end of winter comes relief. No more snow or sleet or slush or sludge; it’s sunshine and windbreaker season, baby! But the board of a condo, cooperative or homeowners association cannot be content with simply waiting for April showers to bring the long-awaited May flowers. A lot of work must be done to […]

Playground Innovations: What’s New in Fun

Most kids these days have never had more options when it comes to fun: video games and electronic entertainment of every kind are ubiquitous, and all sorts of mobile toys, too. But amid a national childhood obesity epidemic, the need for children to play and exert the energy that builds up in fast-growing little bodies […]

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 have been some systemic changes to this part of the financing world as a result […]

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 residents, visitors, and prospective buyers alike, it is easy to see how much time and […]

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 in a residential setting, trees require much more care and consideration than one would think. […]

Avoiding Discrimination and Its Legal Consequences: The Power of Equality

Despite the fact that most people would agree that discrimination is a bad thing, discrimination persists, which suggests either that existing laws against it are sometimes ignored, or that the legal definition of ‘discrimination’ isn’t always clear. Fortunately, when it comes to condos, co-ops and HOAs there are laws at the federal, state and local […]

Building a Stronger Community: Encouraging Neighbors

Are condominiums, co-ops and HOAs cohesive communities? Is community part and parcel of what purchasers are seeking when they buy into a co-op, condo or HOA? The concept of ‘community cohesiveness’ could be defined as a community in which there is a common vision and a sense of belonging, and where the diversity of people’s […]

Social Media and Your Community: What Works, What Doesn’t, and How to Choose

Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, oh my! Today, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t use some form of social media to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues. Whether they are posting updates on their daily life, sharing articles and pictures of interest to them, or just seeing what others are up to, social […]

Back From the Brink: Financial Ruin — and Recovery

happens infrequently, but when it does, it can be an enormous challenge: a co-op corporation or condo development has a long-running squabble with the building sponsor/developer, falls victim to long-term mishandling of funds — or outright fraud — by the board, or has to undertake a major unexpected or ill-prepared-for repair project. All of a […]