With so many things in an association-run community depending on cash flow, one of a manager’s most important duties is to carefully watch costs. But there are so many other aspects of managing a community—such as hiring and training staff, keeping on top of maintenance, and fielding member requests and complaints—that you might be tempted to spend less time on keeping track of contractor costs.
Typically, if decisions made by the board turn out well, members are happy. But if the decisions lead to unforeseen costly expenses to the community, some members might sue, regardless of the board members’ good intentions. That’s why it’s more important than ever that your board’s judgments be the result of a sound, deliberative decision-making process. If they are, there’s a much better chance that courts will defer to them in case of a lawsuit.
Living in close proximity in a condo building or sharing amenities year after year in more spread out planned communities can throw together members with different points of view—some of them controversial. The past year has created divisiveness in political conversations and discussions about recent exposes regarding sexual harassment. But some states had reported a rise in hostility and aggressive behavior among community association members even before national events brought up these issues to argue over.
When a board member gives up her position, your association will have the sometimes difficult task of replacing the outgoing member. But the challenging part of replacing a member comes after the new member is found and elected to the board. That’s because, depending upon the new member’s experience with your association, or associations generally, there may be a lot of information for him to quickly get up to speed on—especially if big decisions are in the process of being made.
The 2016 presidential election involved an unprecedented level of negative campaigning for office, including vitriol and attacks on candidates and their political parties. Campaigns aren’t limited to just political office, though. Association boards are comprised of elected members—which means campaigning is something managers will have to help handle.
Some condominium buildings have a shared, central laundry room for members, instead of washing and drying appliances in units. Even in planned communities with freestanding homes, the association may decide to use a common laundry room. But it’s not as easy as buying washers and dryers and installing some method for charging members for the services. It’s more involved than that. Having a well-maintained laundry room in a condominium building or a community is important for both residents and associations.
Especially in major cities and the surrounding areas, “luxury” buildings seem to be going up left and right. As these properties are developed, you might have to get competitive to keep members from selling their home or condo unit in your community, and to entice new members to buy there instead of a new place. Upgrading dated aspects of the community can go a long way in retaining residents and attracting new ones.
The draw to residential communities for most owners is that there are rules that keep homes looking nice, and when their neighbors neglect their properties, it can not only conflict with the community’s aesthetic, but also cause damage. For example, an unresolved plumbing leak can cause damage to adjoining units. The good news is that, typically, associations’ governing documents require members to maintain their properties, and authorize the association to compel compliance.
By Andrea Brescia
More and more Americans are getting—and sending—their information through social media in real time: from politics and breaking news to sharing family photos and learning about events. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are the favored community forums for staying in the know. Facebook pages, Twitter streams, and even community-designed apps are popping up all over homeowners associations—sometimes both officially and unofficially.
To encourage member participation in community affairs, many boards permit association members to attend and speak at board meetings, even when the bylaws do not give the members that right. But if a member speaks too long, rambles off topic, or intentionally antagonizes the board or other members, he makes it hard for the meeting to be productive.