Month: August 2015
No matter how well you and the board of directors keep your community operating, you still run the risk of defending the association from a lawsuit, even if it’s a frivolous one brought by a disgruntled member. Legal fees are expensive, no matter how small the matter is, and they can break your association’s budget if you’re not careful. Consider the following cost-cutting strategies:
During your association management career, you’ll inevitably lose employees, which can be a nightmare if you’re already stretched to the limit for time or working with a tight budget that will make the hiring process difficult. And unless an employee has been vocal about dissatisfaction with her job, an exit interview is often the first time a manager will find out that something is wrong. By interviewing employees in the days before they leave, you can learn their reasons for leaving and even why they stayed as long as they did.
If a member violates a rule, you might be tempted to deem him a “member not in good standing,” and use that status to deny him certain privileges in the hopes that he’ll rectify the situation. But don't make the mistake of invoking good standing status without checking association rules. That's because, in order to do this, the association’s rules must provide for using good standing as a basis for revoking privileges.
The governing documents that initially served your association well may not work anymore to keep the community operating efficiently or make members happy to live in it. Evolving communities must deal with various issues—such as an aging membership, wear and tear on buildings and amenities, changes to the law, and the need to adapt to new technology—that can make managing and living in the community easier, to name just a few.
Although managing a condominium building or planned community well can be rewarding, it can also be difficult to do without the help of qualified and dedicated employees. Effective association management requires a varied skill set: customer service for members, financial savvy, organization, and building good relationships with outside professionals like vendors and contractors, among other talents.
A recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agreement with a Florida condominium association highlights the ongoing issues of discrimination in housing. The agreement settled allegations that the association’s board president harassed and made discriminatory comments about black and Hispanic residents—even attempting to evict them.
A Missouri homeowners association has escalated the controversy surrounding the requested removal of a purple playground from a family’s backyard. It is now threatening to pursue jail time for the members, who installed the playground—which is visible only to their next-door neighbors—for their children.
An Arizona realtor and homeowners association advocate who has sold properties in planned communities is responding to a growing consensus among members that they are afraid to live in their homes because of what they feel is a constant threat of being fined or sued for even minor infractions of community rules. The realtor has seen many harmonious communities, but there also has been an uptick in complaints of selective enforcement or rules and near-constant controversy in others—sometimes rising to the level of harassment.
Facts: A homeowners association was responsible for the maintenance of the community’s common areas, including sidewalks. A snowstorm with freezing rain led to the accumulation of ice on the sidewalks and streets within the community. A landscape contractor salted the roadways, but the association didn’t request that the common sidewalks and walkways also be cleared after that particular storm. A homeowner slipped on ice on one of the sidewalks.
Facts: A condominium member sued his homeowners association and its property management company for claims arising from water damage to his property. The member’s disabled brother also lived in the unit. The member alleged that the association’s failure to make repairs amounted to disability discrimination in violation of fair housing law, and negligence. The association and the management company asked a magistrate to dismiss the lawsuit.