Boards & Boundaries: How ‘Available’ Should You Be?

In multifamily residential communities, where neighbors share common space, amenities, and maintenance—if not actual walls—establishing and maintaining boundaries can be a bit tricky.   Read the article…………………………….

Emergency Preparedness in the Era of Climate Change: Preparing for the Unpredictable

The acceleration of global warming and the accompanying climate crisis is affecting shared-interest residential communities all over the United States and around the world. This past September was the wettest ever recorded in the eastern United States, with nine times the normal rainfall. Scientists warn that excessive rain and wind, extreme heat and cold, as […]

Powering E-Devices Safely: There Are Fires … And There Are E-Device Fires

All over the news, from coast to coast, reports of fires and explosions caused by lithium-ion batteries describe blazes that are out of control, difficult to extinguish, and excessively smokey. Tragically, many have resulted in fatalities and serious injuries, and certainly all have caused extensive damage to properties and the environment.   Read the article………………………..

Holding Elections: Every Board’s Duty

Shared residential communities such as condos, co-ops, and HOAs are modern examples of classic Athenian democracy: citizens governing themselves through active participation in governance. The key to that governance is the regularity of elections to the community’s leadership—which in this case is the board of directors.  Read the article………………………………

Maintaining Your Elevators: Regular Care Can Help Avoid Huge Replacement Costs

The elevator is one of those inventions—along with running hot and cold water and indoor plumbing—that have been around for so long we take it for granted. But elevators obviously weren’t always a part of the architectural landscape. Without them we’d still be living in a world of six-story buildings (maybe seven for the strong-legged), […]

Effective Committees: Maximizing Use of Community Volunteers

In a typical condo, co-op, or homeowners association, residents have a lot to say about how their building or community is or should be functioning … but few actually step up to run for and serve on the board that does the actual governing. One reason is that board service can be a heavy lift, […]

Amending Your Governing Documents – Why, When, & How to Make Changes

In addition to their boards, common interest communities are governed by a set of foundational documents. In a condominium, those documents are the declaration and bylaws; co-ops also have bylaws, as well as a unique document called a proprietary lease. In addition, both condos and co-ops have a set of house rules that can vary […]

Litigation in Your Community – Lawsuits Can Have Long-Term Impacts

When seeking a place to call home, potential co-op and condo buyers are seeking a place of peace and quiet. No one wants to live in the midst of a tempest. And peace and quiet can be both literal and figurative, of course. The constant din of discord and disagreement caused by endless litigation, for […]

Resources for Multifamily Boards Where Communities Go to Stay in the Know

The Community Associations Network (www.communityassociations.net) is an online resource that aggregates news and information related to co-ops, condos, and HOAs. There, boards and service professionals can access the latest on legislation, events, and issues pertaining to association living and governance throughout the U.S. and Canada.   Read the article………………………..

Important Changes to Rhode Island Condominium Law

In 2022, the Rhode Island Legislature passed a change in the law, R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-36.1-3.13, as it relates to the responsibilities of insurance coverage for Condominiums. The new law establishes that the Unit Owner’s insurance policy is required to cover the amount up to the Association’s master policy deductible.   Read the article………………………..

When It’s Time for an Audit – Covering the Basics for Multifamily Boards

When the average American taxpayer (or tax-dodger, one supposes) hears the word “audit,” they’re likely struck with a feeling somewhere between annoyance and terror—usually because being audited means that something has been found amiss in their filing. For businesses that rely on the accuracy and timeliness of their financial records, however, including condominium and homeowners […]

Fannie Mae’s Secret ‘Blacklist’ of Properties: As Many as 1,700 Condos, Co-ops & HOAs May Be Affected

According to a recent investigative piece by the Orange County (Florida) Register, Fannie Mae is keeping a secret “blacklist” of condominium, HOA and cooperative properties which the federal agency has decreed that lenders should stay away from. Fannie Mae is a United States Government sponsored enterprise whose purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market. […]

Updating Bylaws & House Rules: Keeping Pace With Tech & Culture

The governing documents of a condominium, cooperative, or homeowners association spell out the rules, regulations, and administrative policies that all residents and board members alike are obligated to follow as a condition of their residence.   Read the article………………………..

Important Changes to Rhode Island Condominium Law

In 2022, the Rhode Island Legislature passed a change in the law, R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-36.1-3.13, as it relates to the responsibilities of insurance coverage for Condominiums. The new law establishes that the Unit Owner’s insurance policy is required to cover the amount up to the Association’s master policy deductible.   Read the article………………………..

What’s Trending in Multifamily Amenities

The appeal of multifamily living is not just in the hands-off maintenance and shared general expenses that come with living in a condo, co-op, or HOA. It’s also in the sense of community and the on-site offerings that can be shared among neighbors. Amenities and social programming in co-ops, condos, and HOAs can distinguish one […]

Window Maintenance & Replacement: Caring for a Crucial Building System

When it comes to the list of most important systems to maintain—and potentially the most expensive to replace—in a multifamily building, windows are definitely near the top. The useful life of a given window depends on a number of factors, including its composition and design, as well as seasonal shifts and prevailing weather conditions. Deteriorated […]

Continuity & Transfer of Power: Getting New Boards & Board Members Up to Speed

Among the keys to successful governance of residential communities is continuity. The most basic of democratically elected units, condo, co-op, and HOA boards are the custodians of their community’s welfare, success, and continued operation. Over time, the experience and insight accrued by board members, directors, or trustees are the compass and rudder that steer and […]

Handling Sensitive Complaints in Co-ops & Condos: Sex, Smells, & Nuisances

Conflict comes hand-in-hand with living in close quarters—and condominium and cooperative living is a prime example. Most dust-ups between neighbors involve run-of-the-mill issues like noise or hallway clutter, and can be settled with a cordial conversation between the parties involved—or with a mild nudge from the manager or board.  Read the article………………………..

The Board Management Relationship: A Functional Partnership

In the world of co-ops, condos, and HOAs, management plays a slightly different role than it does in the rest of the real estate world. For example, in many rental buildings, the landlord or property owner often acts as de facto manager as well; in others, the manager may be an employee or an associate […]

Holding Elections: Democracy at the Micro Level

In many ways co-op, condo, and HOA living represents the most basic form of representative democracy. Like the ancient Athenians, we gather periodically to elect a small group from among us to represent our joint interests and to oversee the finances and well-being of the community.  Ah, now, if only it were that simple.   Read […]

Surveillance in Buildings & HOAs Privacy vs. Safety? (MA)

In 2017, a Boston couple were brutally murdered in their penthouse apartment in a high-end condominium building. The murderer, the former employee of a company that supplied concierge services to the condo, had worked there, and so knew the ins and outs of the building—including some serious gaps in the property’s security that both the […]

Better Board Involvement: Getting Residents on Board (Literally)

Even among otherwise conscientious, community-minded condo, HOA, and co-op residents, the idea of running for and serving on their board often ranks somewhere between taxes and dental work on their list of things to look forward to. It conjures thoughts of endless meetings…arguing about the minutiae of vendor bids…confrontations with neighbors unhappy with board decisions…gossipy […]

Financial, Physical, & Operational Health: How Does Your Association Measure Up?

In early 2020, our firm was hired to prepare a reserve study for an unremarkable 136-unit, 12-story condominium in south Florida. It was the kind of association you could drive right by without noticing, not much different from all the other high-rise buildings in this coastal neighborhood.   Read the article………………………..

Who’s a Good Board? Pros Weigh in on Co-op, Condo, HOA Leadership

The 347,000 planned communities in the United States—a number that includes cooperatives, condominiums, and homeowners associations—are generally governed by volunteer members of the building or community elected by their fellow unit owners or shareholders. There are no requirements or prerequisites for serving on a board, other than what might be specified in the governing documents […]

Managing Conflict: When Boards & Residents Take Sides

One of the unique aspects of life in an HOA, condo, or co-op is that in many ways, a building or association is a microcosm of the larger world outside it. It can suffer from the same factionalism and partisan bickering as any political entity, only on a much smaller, more intimate—and therefore potentially more […]

Communications & Community – Clarity, Transparency, & Respect

The words communication and community share a common root. It comes as no surprise, then, that the success of communities depends on effective communication between board members, managers, and residents. In multifamily residential communities like co-ops and condominiums, effective communication is a crucial component in achieving optimal results and operations. Lines of communication between boards, […]

Q&A: Make Well-Grounded Decisions on Change (MA)

Q. An owner in our condominium has asked the board for permission to install an electric vehicle charging station in his garage unit. This would require some infrastructure changes to the electrical system for the association. What sort of issues should the board consider in making a decision?   Read the entire article……………………………….

Maintaining Aging Buildings – Older Structures Have Special Concerns

Nothing lasts forever, even with good maintenance—including most building components. Exterior elements are perhaps most subject to wear and tear in any climate. Their construction and material type dictate their maintenance needs and repair schedules; masonry façades clearly have different needs than wood or clapboard fronts. But with a good care program and a bit […]

Building Inspections – Up & Down, Inside & Out

Car owners know that in order to operate their vehicle legally, they must have it professionally inspected every year. An older car might need some relatively minor repairs or adjustments to bring it into compliance with state emissions requirements, but for most, getting that mandatory approval sticker is a simple, inexpensive, predictable process that takes […]

Conflicts of Interest – Recognize Them Now to Avoid Problems Later

If you live in a condo or a co-op, you most likely have heard the term fiduciary duty, usually in reference to the responsibilities and obligations of board members and management. But what is a fiduciary duty? In essence, it’s a legal relationship between two parties that gives one party the right to act and […]

Maintaining Aging Buildings: Older Structures Have Special Concerns

Nothing lasts forever, even with good maintenance—including most building components. Exterior elements are perhaps most subject to wear and tear in any climate. Their construction and material type dictate their maintenance needs and repair schedules; masonry façades clearly have different needs than wood or clapboard fronts. But with a good care program and a bit […]

Management Contracts 101 – Negotiating Your Community’s Most Important Contract

There are elements of board service that can vex even the most committed, most intrepid volunteer—and negotiating a building’s management contract is probably at the top of that list. Vexing or not, however, the extent and quality of services available to your building community hinges on what’s in that contract; managers and management companies are […]

‘Pandemic Pets’ in Multifamily Communities

The coronavirus crisis has forced many unwelcome changes on households around the world—but it has also allowed or inspired some to make lifestyle choices that were impractical or otherwise out of reach before. One such choice has been to acquire a pet. With travel restricted, and working and schooling largely happening at home, households across […]

Façade Inspections: A Critical Component of Your Maintenance Plan

In light of the tragic condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida, earlier this year, condo and co-op boards, as well as rental building landlords, are taking a hard look at their building system inspection policies. While all mandatory inspections exist for a reason and should be taken very seriously, among the most critical is façade […]

Trends in Multifamily Building Technology: Building Systems Better

The forward march of innovation is constantly changing the face of nearly every industry—including residential real estate. To keep co-ops, condominiums, and other multifamily communities functioning optimally, we need to keep abreast of the latest advancements in building systems. Here are a few of the latest trends.   Read the entire article……………………………….

Insurance Basics: Is Your Association Adequately Covered?

While insuring your association against potential catastrophes can be a daunting proposition for a board made up of volunteers, it’s a crucial part of the job. Fortunately, there are delineated starting points, ample resources, and industry professionals to which a board can turn for guidance. Nobody likes dwelling on worst-case scenarios, but by allocating its […]

HUD Provides More Guidance on Emotional Support Animals but Little Help for Association Boards Dealing with Accommodation Requests

Condo association attorneys had long been anticipating new guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) dealing with emotional support animals. That guidance was finally issued in January 2020, but it fell short of the stricter requirements practitioners had wanted.    Read the entire article……………………………….

Climate Change & Residential Communities – A New Reality Raises New Challenges

The reality of climate change is upon us. Weather patterns have changed, and seasons have been altered. We experience more intense heat, more frequent, destructive storms, wide-ranging wildfires, and more destructive cold. Tornadoes—the spawn of conflicting hot and cold air masses—touch down in places they were once almost unheard of. What was scientific prognostication only […]

Laws vs. Bylaws – Understanding the Similarities & Differences

Co-op and condo living is subject to lots of rules—some of which come directly from state laws, some from the building or association’s own bylaws, and some from its house rules. Every state has statutes that govern the operation of residential communities; every community also has its own set of governing documents, which are almost […]

Were Those Remote Meetings Authorized? (MA)

With in-person gatherings proscribed by the pandemic for much of this year, many condominium boards have conducted essential business remotely and many associations have canceled their annual meetings, allowing owners to vote electronically to authorize improvements or to elect new board members. While the imperatives for these nontraditional operations ? complying with local or state […]

Coronavirus & COVID-19 What Should Condos & HOAs Do?

As cases of the new coronavirus increase here in the US, the crisis has led to a number of questions from condominium boards to the effect of: What should we do to protect the condominium and its members? What is our responsibility for the clubhouse, pool, workout area, playground, plumbing, HVAC system?”   Read the article…………………………..

COVID-19 Q&A for Condos, HOAs, & Co-ops: Keeping Pace With the Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unique and challenging situations to each of us. Our cooperative and condominium clients, and their managing agents, have been working diligently to keep pace as this crisis unfolds. First and foremost, we hope that you and all of your families are safe and well. We have been advising our clients […]

Transition Gets a New Condominium Community Off to a Good Start ? Or Not

Life is full of transitions. In the life of a community association, the most important transition by far is the one that transfers control of the community ? and responsibility for it ? from the developer to the owners. A successful transition will set the community firmly on the path to self-governance and financial health. […]

Association Documents, Policies and Business Systems Need Regular Maintenance Too

The temperatures are still screaming summer, but the calendar is whispering that fall is near. And for condominium boards and managers, that means it’s time to bring out the fall maintenance checklist to make sure the community’s buildings, operating systems and grounds are ready for the cold weather to come. But buildings and grounds aren’t […]