Featured Articles

Contain Legal Costs Before They Spiral Out of Control

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. And legal issues can present themselves in scenarios involving compliance with laws and regulations—including fair housing and claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act—too. At the very least, you’ll want to have an attorney review board policies and governing documents when necessary.

Set Smoke & CO Detector Maintenance Policy for Condo Members

Operable smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors can go a long way toward saving lives in condominium communities. A fire in one unit can damage other units or endanger lives. And CO poisoning can be fatal. Unfortunately, sometimes members don’t maintain their detectors or may intentionally disable them. Smoke detectors have long been required by law, and currently 29 states have laws regarding CO detectors.

Community Associations Legislative Update: Push for Progress to Continue through 2015

Last year proved to be an exciting year for a push to reform and revamp many association laws and policies. And advocacy for key association issues continues going strong. The major organization behind furthering an association-favorable agenda is the Community Associations Institute (CAI), with its Federal Legislative Action Committee (FedLAC) and Government Affairs Department. The FedLAC advocated on behalf of community associations and CAI members before the U.S. Congress, federal regulatory agencies, state legislatures, and the courts.

Carefully Consider Best Way to Disclose Books, Records to Member

Many members decide to buy into an association because much of the work that goes into typical homeownership is taken care of by the association manager and board, which can save time, effort, and money for members. Membership dues and assessments are used to keep up the community—from amenities to security measures to home improvements, like new roofs. So expect requests from time to time by members who want to know exactly where their money is going—and that it’s being used effectively and for what the association's budget states.

Limit Premises Liability with Comprehensive Criminal Incident Report

Safety for members and staff in a planned community or condominium is one of the most important items on a manager’s or management company’s agenda. Tight security provides a sense of safety so that members can enjoy day-to-day life in the community without worrying about being victimized. And staff members feel that they are working in a secure environment. Plus, preventing certain types of crimes, like graffiti, saves the association time and money on repairs.

Use Board Member Code of Conduct to Eliminate Unprofessional Behavior

Ideally, association boards would act in the best interest of the community, fairly treating homeowners and ethically conducting business to further the interests of the community. Unfortunately, board members sometimes stray from the mission statement and purpose of the association, using the “power” of being on the board to stack the board with friends or members who will side with them when it comes time to vote on issues.

Ensure Continuity of Operations During Management Transition

Inevitably, a community’s on-site manager—an employee of the association—or management company will part ways with the association at some point. If the manager has acted responsibly and fulfilled her duties during her tenure, a transition to new management might be easier than if your association manager is leaving on bad terms because of unprofessional or even illegal behavior.

Comply with Fiduciary Duty by Improving Board’s Decision-Making Process

While board members have what’s known as a “fiduciary duty” to the association, some members—especially those who are at odds with choices the association has made—mistakenly think that the board should serve their particular interests. That goes squarely against the concept of fiduciary duty—that is, a legal obligation imposed on all board members to be loyal to the association.

Keep Key Principles in Mind When Using Proxies

By Andrea Brescia

Target Key Issues When Amending Governing Documents

Eventually, a community association will face the question of whether to update its governing documents. Laws change, and with that, governing documents are superseded. Should your declaration be changed with every new law? When is the right time to address previously unforeseen quality-of-life issues? How do you update your governing documents so that they provide the framework for your association’s current and future needs, without creating unexpected problems?