Repairs & Maintenance
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.…
By Carolyn Zezima
Depending upon where the community you manage is located, hot weather is a year-round issue you must manage or summer is around the corner faster than you think. One sure way you can beat the heat, no matter where your association is, is to be certain that your community’s central air conditioning system or members’ individual units are ready to go for peak temperatures. Malfunctioning systems are likely to waste energy and money—and they’ll certainly lead to member complaints.
If your association has decided that it has the funds to upgrade current amenities or add new ones, you should find out what’s most important to members before determining where the money should be spent. In a community with families, a playground or playroom might be important to members. A swimming pool might be a welcome addition to a community in a warm-weather environment. Age-restricted community members might want a better club room where they can socialize or spend time with their extended family during visits.
In many parts of the country, winter is quickly approaching, and the cold and snowy season brings with it concerns that association managers should take seriously. The winter season creates liability in the form of slip-and-fall accidents and other personal injuries due to ice, snow, and freezing rain. It’s important to set up or renew contracts with snow removal companies and other winter services vendors, and to talk with your staff about winter-specific issues they should be on the lookout for.
When you hire outside contractors to make repairs in your community, how do you know they’ll finish when they say they will? The stakes are high. After all, delays cause not only financial problems, but also impact the quality of life of your members. For instance, a delay in repairs that involve a security gate or fence can create risks that end up being catastrophic. How can you prevent contractor delays? Get the right in your contract to penalize the contractor when work isn’t completed on time.
The case law issued in recent years by U.S. federal and state courts was replete with lessons for community associations and their managers alike. A major theme that has emerged is the repair and maintenance of both common areas and members’ units. Sometimes, like in the following case, the dispute revolves around who owns an area (and therefore, who is responsible for its upkeep): the member or the association.
In our last issue, the Insider stressed the importance of following a year-round maintenance plan and suggested that you put roofing at the top of your list of tasks to prioritize. If your association is responsible for the maintenance of roofs in the community, it’s particularly important to have them inspected before winter. After all, most roof damage occurs during winter. Harsh weather conditions—such as heavy rain and snow, strong winds, and extreme temperatures—can cause substantial damage to a building’s roof.
Working with your association’s board, fielding member concerns, and overseeing your own staff can take up a lot of your time. Occasionally, you may get hung up on handling major issues that become important to the community, too. But prioritizing day-to-day maintenance is crucial, no matter how busy you are. Preventative maintenance can save you time and the association money later by eliminating the risk of having to replace major items if they’ve deteriorated because of a lack of maintenance.
With the summer months coming to a close, it's time to start thinking about preparing your community for winter. Although winter weather may seem like it's a long way off, you'll need to take steps in the fall to get ready for harsh weather or other winter challenges, depending on where your community is located. Because there's always a lot to do during the fall, it's a good idea to have an annual checklist of maintenance tasks that you can refer to to “winterize” your community.