Do’s & Don’ts

Managing Smoking, Pets, and Other Nuisances

More than 60 percent of American states have legalized some form of marijuana since 1996, and the legislatures in many of the holdouts have recently considered doing so. Those states with legal marijuana have seen it rapidly commoditized, with new businesses such as delivery services cropping up and becoming a part of homeowners’ daily lives.

Not surprisingly, the proliferation of pot has begun to have repercussions for community association managers, both as property managers and employers. Whether you live in a state where marijuana is fully legal, partially legal, or on the cusp of some degree of legalization, you need to know what that means on the ground.

This Special Report takes an in-depth look at some of the most pressing marijuana-related issues for community association managers and their clients and provides expert guidance on how to mitigate the associated risks.

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Associations and Management Companies Aren’t Immune from Cyber Crime

A recent survey conducted by the Foundation for Community Association Research found that almost half of the community association respondents didn’t have policies and procedures in place to safely collect and store homeowners’ personal data. That’s a problem. It’s true that associations often operate on the more low-tech side of things, but that doesn’t mean…

Online Owner Payments, Part 2: Choosing the Right Path

This is Part 2 of a 2-part series. Read Part 1 here: In April, we discussed the numerous benefits associated with allowing owners to make payments online, as well as how managers can overcome resistance to the change from boards of directors. Now we have some advice for managers to smooth the transaction once they’ve…

Spring Has Sprung: 5 Tips for Handling Looming Landscaping Issues

With spring weather taking hold in most parts of the country, community association managers can expect the blossoming of questions and concerns from owners about landscaping. Even with associations that already have board-approved landscaping plans in place, managers might have owners demanding already-scheduled maintenance, planting in common areas without permission, or micromanaging the gardening crew.…

Don’t Fire Staff Before Investigating Complaint

Unfortunately, you might encounter a situation where a member of the community association you manage complains about a maintenance or other type of worker who is left alone with the member. But what if it isn’t clear exactly what the employee may have done wrong? Sometimes, an interaction might be described in general terms as “creepy” or as having made the member feel “scared.” But if the member didn’t say anything specific that the worker did that was inappropriate and you’ve never had any complaints before, you should tread lightly.

Avoid Fair Housing Violations When Enforcing Community Rules

There are some common fair housing problems that can arise from community rules. But you can avoid them if you understand where you might go wrong. In general, community rules trigger fair housing problems in one of two ways—either the rules are enforced unfairly or the rules themselves are unfair.

Don’t Allow Staff to Work on Elevators

It’s smart for associations to have a continuing maintenance and repair contract with an elevator contractor. Elevator issues can turn deadly so experts in that field are invaluable, and can help you avoid liability for you and your staff. But don’t let your staff do any work on your community’s elevators, except for routine cleaning and light bulb replacement.

Ensure Board Members Don’t Exceed Term

Although board member positions are voluntary, many members take them seriously—and personally. That could create controversy. That’s because, sometimes, to comply with the law, association boards must be restructured; if you find yourself in the position of having to deliver the news and help with the restructure, you could be faced with accusations by board members that you’re improperly trying to oust them for your own motives.

Use Authority to Add Community-Wide Amenity

Internet access is now a must-have for most people, including the members in your community. But as ubiquitous as the Internet is these days, some communities still require members to arrange for and pay for Internet access in their own units. If your association has decided that it wants to provide wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) to the entire community, you’ll have to find a way to pay for it, most likely by adding the cost to the monthly assessment.

Don’t Grant ‘Unreasonable’ Accommodation Requests

If a member comes to the management office requesting an accessible parking space because he’s disabled, and you see no obvious signs of disability, like use of a mobility device, you might have to ask for the appropriate documentation to support the request, such as a government-issued license plate. But beware of members who ask for more than they need—for example, a member who asks you to reserve an entire section of the parking lot for his exclusive use, rather than one spot.