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New Hampshire Condo & HOA Articles Archive

/ Owner - July 1, 2012
  • 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 well as increasingly intense discrete weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes, will continue and likely worsen as the planet continues to heat.   Read the article………………………………..
  • 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), and we’d be climbing stairs all day long.    Read the article……………………………..
  • 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, requiring time, energy, and diplomacy that the average homeowner might be unable or unwilling to give on a volunteer basis.    Read the article……………………………….
  • Condo Column: Insurance Tips – Part II (NH)
    Following up on the last column, there is the matter of your condominium association’s insurance deductible. To be clear, you will never get from your insurance company all of the money needed to make the repairs, for the simple reason that even if you get everything you wanted in your negotiations with the adjuster, the insurance company will still subtract the deductible of $5,00.00 or more.   Read the article…………………………………..
  • 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 somewhat from community to community.   Read the article………………………………..
  • 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 example, can be as distracting and destructive to a property’s reputation as the roar of truck traffic day after day.    Read the article…………………………….
  • 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………………………..
  • Website Accessibility: The ADA and FHA
    In recent years, and trending more frequently as of late, we have heard about businesses, big and small, receiving demand letters related to their website accessibility, alleging ADA noncompliance, and threatening to file suit and seek damages on behalf of the people with disabilities they represent. Here we will cover what web accessibility means and is required and by whom under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA).   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 associations and cooperative corporations, an audit is—or at least ought to be—a regular part of a healthy fiscal practice.   Read the article………………………..
  • 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………………………..
  • Insurance Premiums Skyrocket – 90% of Multifamily Communities Report Paying More – What’s to Blame?
    Inflation has hit the insurance building insurance industry in a big way. And according to a recent survey conducted by the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR), skyrocketing premiums are putting serious financial pressure on condo and homeowners associations nationwide.    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 building or community from another and add to its popularity and property value.    Read the article………………………..
  • 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 windows can lead to problems with other building envelope systems, including façades of all types, from clapboard to masonry and everything in between.   Read the article………………………..
  • 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 stabilize the community.    Read the article………………………..
  • Condo Column: Case law update (NH)
    Here are some recent cases that I thought might be of interest.  In Civic Association of Surrey Park v. Riegel, a case out of Delaware from Nov. 30, 2022, Surrey Park fined the Riegels who had built a shed without first obtaining association approval.   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 of the owner—in any case, it’s a person or entity knowledgeable about multifamily residential real estate and how it operates.   Read the article………………………..
  • 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 the article………………………..
  • 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 board and manager were aware of, but had done nothing to address.   Read the article………………………..
  • 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 remarks in the elevator…the list goes on.   Read the article………………………..
  • 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………………………..
  • Conducting Better Meetings: Tips for Saving Time & Staying On Track
    Residents in condo and HOA communities are frequently quite busy. Boards generally consist of elected volunteers who nearly always have other jobs and lives outside their duties as trustees. So while a professional management company can handle much of the day-to-day operations of a multifamily community, no decision can be made without those board members coming together to represent the interests of their neighbors.   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 of a particular community—usually status as a member in good standing and a minimum age, for example.  Read the article………………………..
  • Workers’ Compensation Coverage & Insurance Costs: The Difference Between Volunteers & Employees
    With inflation at historic highs, labor and supply shortages complicating even routine projects and maintenance, and budgets tight (and getting tighter), many condo and homeowner associations are looking for ways to control costs and still get needed work done on their properties.   Read the article………………………..
  • Workers’ Compensation Coverage & Insurance Costs: The Difference Between Volunteers & Employees
    With inflation at historic highs, labor and supply shortages complicating even routine projects and maintenance, and budgets tight (and getting tighter), many condo and homeowner associations are looking for ways to control costs and still get needed work done on their properties.    Read the article……………………..
  • 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 damaging—scale.   Read the article…………………..
  • The Impact of Litigation in Condos, Co-ops, & HOAs: Do Lawsuits Damage a Community?
    Americans are a particularly litigious lot, believing as many of us do that we are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty…and the pursuit of recompense for any slight or wrong done to us, real or perceived. This tendency is unfortunately common in the nation’s condos, co-ops, and HOAs, where the ideals of communal living and shared ownership sometimes get overshadowed by grievance and strife.   Read the article…………………………….
  • 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, managers, and owners are the nerve system of the community.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 of attention to detail, façades, roofs, and other crucial parts of multifamily buildings can live out—and perhaps even surpass—their useful life, regardless of what they’re made of.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 maybe half an hour.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Dealing With Disruptive Residents – Empathy & Education vs. Enforcement & Eviction
    If you live in, work in, or provide services for a co-op, condo, or HOA, you know that however harmonious a building or association is in general, there is always that one person—or perhaps more than one—who throws a wrench in the works. It could be the guy who seems to take pleasure in disrespecting the doorman, or the lady who insists on feeding the feral cats (and by extension the neighborhood rats), or the family who lets their kids play basketball inside their apartment.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 make important decisions on behalf of the other. Fiduciary responsibility is a cornerstone of both board and management service.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 obligated to provide what’s agreed upon in it—nothing more, nothing less.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • ‘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 the country decided that if there was ever a time to add a furry (or feathered, or scaly) friend to the family, this was it.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • You Looking at Me? Video Doorbell Cameras Trigger Privacy Concerns and Potential Liability Risks (MA)
    Video doorbells (VDs), hugely popular and increasingly ubiquitous, enable homeowners to see, record and communicate with visitors at their door, answer the door remotely when they are away, discourage thieves from stealing packages or video them if they do, and notice when the teen who’s supposed to be in at 10 doesn’t cross the threshold until after midnight.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 inspection. How often should a façade be inspected? Should that inspection be done by a hired professional? A local government official? By a private agency? By one of each? If something troubling is found, what remediation should be required and how quickly?     Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 resources in a prudent manner, a board can be proactive in minimizing losses while protecting the best interests of its owners and shareholders.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Transparency vs. Discretion: What to Say (Or Not to Say), and When
    Members of condominium and co-op boards are often faced with conflicting interests and messages relating to matters of transparency and discretion. As a matter of good governance, transparency is always the preferred policy, whether you’re the president of your community board or the President of the United States.  Read the entire article……………………………….
  • COVID-Related Legislation Impacts Boards & Managers
    Even as businesses, schools, and even entire economies shut down at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the task of running residential buildings and communities never ceased. In fact, it could even be argued that as people were more or less confined to their homes for weeks and months, the decisions made by condo, co-op, and HOA boards and managers had even more impact on their communities than in the Before Times.   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 a few years ago has become reality   Read the entire article……………………………….
  • 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 universally subject to those state laws—and sometimes go even further than state regulations in delineating what owners and shareholders can and can’t do on the property.    Read the entire article……………………………….
  • Annoyance or Harassment? What to Do When Owners Cross that Line
    Most condo owners are (usually) courteous, considerate and compliant. But every community has at least one owner – and sometimes more than one – who are none of those things. These are the owners who: Oppose everything and support nothing. Regularly harangue board members and managers in meetings and in person. Send scathing e-mails and leave insulting, often scurrilous voice mails. Accuse board members and managers of incompetence or worse; question their motives, their ethics and their intelligence. Read the article………………………………
  • 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 lockdown orders and avoiding contagion risks ? were clear, the authority for them was often lacking.     Read the article……………………………………..
  • Condo World: Saving for a rainy day – Part II (NH)
    Last time, I explained the duty of boards of directors to fund reserves properly for long-term capital repairs like paving, roofing and siding. As simple as that sounds, and as simple to accomplish, it’s surprising so many associations don’t have a proper reserve fund.    Read the article……………………………..
  • Condo World: Saving for a rainy day – Part I (NH)
    Every once in a while I get a question from a member of a board of directors asking if it is a requirement that a condominium association properly fund its reserve account. I pause. I remind myself what they are really asking is if they can keep the condominium fees artificially low, and avoid saving money for capital repairs, because they intend to sell before such repairs are needed.   Read the article…………………………
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