With the increasing trend of workers telecommuting to jobs with companies and the proliferation of online shops whose sellers make or store their merchandise at home, associations have had to deal with the issues surrounding so-called “home businesses.” This is a tricky issue, which is controlled in many associations by the communities governing documents. But even if governing documents prohibit businesses or commercial use of homes or condos, be aware that there still are circumstances under which the association you manage can’t interfere.
Like any other business or organization, community associations must file taxes with the government. And tax liability is a huge issue that associations need to be aware of. Improper reporting can land the association in hot water and cost thousands in fines, penalties, and late fees. This is especially tricky when it comes to your employees. April—the month in which federal and state taxes must be filed—is around the corner.
You may encounter a situation where a member of the community association you manage complains about a maintenance or other type of worker who’s 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.
A New Jersey condo association representing residents of a 55-and-older condominium development recently agreed to pay $9,000 to resolve allegations that it refused to sell a condo to a man with disabilities and his wife because the couple planned to have their adult disabled daughter live with them.
HUD announced the settlement last month, before the government shutdown shuttered the agency. The wife, now a widow, is pursuing claims against the association in New Jersey state court. The association denies that it discriminated against the family.
Every person who works in your community—from maintenance employees to office staff—will interact with members and potentially have access to sensitive information, including financial documents. When employees are trustworthy, this exposure isn’t an issue. But it’s incredibly difficult to ensure that a new hire won’t turn out to be an opportunist who uses her position for an ulterior motive.
The financial health of an association depends in large part on monthly payments from members. Those payments are integral because they pay for the services and amenities the members expect and are entitled to. Unfortunately, whether it’s because of financial difficulties or a dispute, sometimes you’ll encounter a member who doesn’t make his monthly payment of assessments.
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.
Mold in any property can present multiple serious health issues. It has been a controversial issue at residential properties in particular, because it can cause serious health problems and be expensive to remediate. Mold prevention techniques and effective remediation of existing mold should be high on your list of maintenance and safety concerns. But perhaps the biggest concern for the community association is the issue of responsibility for mold-related problems.
An efficient annual member meeting not only encourages future member participation, but also exhibits your and the elected directors’ expertise and leadership skills. The success of this meeting goes a long way toward building trust in board members to protect and faithfully serve the community’s interests. Given the importance of this yearly event, you should already have—or now create—a checklist of meeting preparation steps. If no checklist exists, create one with a list of tasks to get you to the finish line.
Association life continues to thrive across the country, as seen in the 2018 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey, conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR). This is great news for community association managers for the seventh time in 13 years. Once again, Americans living in homeowners associations (HOAs) and condominiums say they’re satisfied in their communities. According to, the majority of survey respondents say their association’s rules protect and enhance their property values.