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IS IT A GOOD RULE?

Make sure your rules are right.

Rules_Email.jpg Rules and regulations should clarify provisions in governing documents and help regulate behavior and property use, but many associations adopt rules that conflict with their own documents, are unduly complicated, nearly impossible to enforce, and may even violate laws. Some churn out reams of rules to settle simple beefs between individual owners when no rule is needed. Then there are rules that are so outdated or so vague that compliance isn't possible. Rules can be too general and can embroil the association and its owners in unnecessary disputes.

It's OK to create new rules. These days, associations are staying on top of the latest trends by addressing short-term rentals, electric vehicles, owners' external security cameras, drones, and marijuana, and more. In each instance, any new rule must follow a certain set of guidelines to pass muster.

Good rules are:

  • Consistent with applicable laws and governing documents
  • Objective
  • Reasonable
  • Specific, unambiguous, and relatively easy to follow
  • Put in writing, distributed periodically, and summarized in the association newsletter and on the website
  • Formulated after getting input from the association attorney and community members
  • Positive steps that enhance the community and boost property values

When you're ready to create a rule, consider using the active voice rather than passive; tell owners what they should do instead of what they shouldn't. Also consider briefly explaining the reason for the rule. For example, a rule on parking could say, "Park your car head in to avoid damage to the landscape," rather than "NO backing of your car into parking spaces."

Before adopting a rule, associations should communicate the challenges they are trying to address. Consider polling or surveying residents and holding town hall meetings.

©2019 Community Associations Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited.

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What does a community association manager do?

Managers_Email.jpgCommunity associations today employ highly-qualified professional community association managers, and we think residents should know what the manager has—and has not—been hired to do.

Some residents expect the manager to perform certain tasks that just aren't part of the job. When the manager doesn't meet those expectations, residents are unhappy. In short, the manager has two primary responsibilities: Carry out policies set by the board and manage the association's daily operations. Too many associations have rules that are unduly complicated, are nearly impossible to enforce, and may even violate laws.

In practice, what does that mean for some common resident questions and concerns?

  • The manager is trained to deal with conflict, but he or she typically will not get involved in quarrels you might be having with your neighbor. However, if association rules are being violated, the manager is the right person to notify.
  • While the manager works closely with the board, he or she is an advisor—not a member of the board.Also, the manager is not your advocate with or conduit to the board. If you have a concern, send a letter or e-mail directly to the board.
  • Although the manager works for the board, he or she is available to residents. That doesn't mean the manager will drop everything to take your call. If you need to see the manager, call and arrange a meeting.
  • The manager is always happy to answer questions, but he or she is not the information officer. For routine inquiries, like the date of the next meeting, read the newsletter or check the association website or bulletin board.
  • The manager is responsible for monitoring contractors' performance but not supervising them. Contractors are responsible for supervising their own personnel. If you have a problem with a contractor, notify the manager, who will forward your concerns to the board. The board will decide how to proceed under the terms of the contract.
  • The manager inspects the community regularly but even an experienced manager won't catch everything. Your help is essential. If you know about a potential maintenance issue, report it to the manager.
  • The manager does not set policy. If you disagree with a policy or rule, you'll get better results sending a letter or e-mail to the board than arguing with the manager.
  • The manager has a broad range of expertise, but he or she is not a consultant to the residents. Neither is he or she typically an engineer, architect, attorney, or accountant. The manager may offer opinions but don't expect technical advice in areas where he or she is not qualified.
  • Although the manager is a great resource to the association, he or she is not available 24 hours per day—except for emergencies. Getting locked out of your home may be an emergency to you, but it isn't an association emergency. An association emergency is defined as a threat to life or property.

>>For more information on the community association manager's role, visit www.caionline.org and search “community managers."

©2019 Community Associations Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited.

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Community Association Pothole Patrol

Spring tips to maintain and repair your neighborhood roads.


Potholes_Email3.jpgIt’s that time of year again, when rain, snow, and changing temperatures cause potholes to form, wreaking havoc on roadways, parking lots, and driveways. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), pothole damages cost U.S. motorists roughly $3 billion per year.


On a per-pothole-incident basis that comes out to about $300 per driver. Additionally, AAA reports two-thirds of U.S. drivers are concerned about potholes on local roadways.


No asphalt or concrete surface will last forever, but it is easy to prolong the life of your association’s pavement. Community association managers and boards of directors have several pavement maintenance and repair options from which to choose.


Crack Filling
Cracks in the asphalt should be cleaned of dirt and vegetation and allowed to dry completely before filling. Cracks should be filled with emulsified asphalt slurry or a light grade of liquid asphalt mixed with fine sand.


Asphalt Patching
Patching is done in areas with severe alligator cracks and/or potholes. When the patch is cut out, the sub-base material should be examined and compacted thoroughly before patching. The patch should be tack coated, to ensure firm bonding between the old and new surfaces. Base course material is laid and compacted first, and new surface asphalt is laid and compacted on top of that. The patch should be rolled to a smooth finish, and all edges should be coated to minimize water penetration.


Overlays
Overlays are placed over existing asphalt to create a new surface. In recent years paving fabric, placed on the existing asphalt prior to the overlay, has gained popularity as an effective agent to bond the new asphalt to the existing asphalt surface. Once the existing asphalt has been prepared, the paving fabric is laid down and a new surface quality asphalt is laid over it. It is then rolled to a smooth finish to match existing grades of asphalt.


Sealcoating
Sealcoating is a controversial aspect of asphalt maintenance. Generally, sealcoating provides an additional 2-3 years of protection against the elements and use by providing an additional layer of protection. It is also cosmetic, in that it covers old and new asphalt to create a uniform look in the community and increases curb appeal. Sealcoating is best done approximately one year after a new surface has been laid. It should be applied by the squeegee method if possible to ensure the sealing of cracks too small to fill by the traditional method.

©2019 Community Associations Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited.

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Seven ways to be heard at your next condo or HOA meeting

Most associations recognize the risks and liabilities and are taking steps to protect sensitive, electronic data.


BoardMeeting.jpgResidents are encouraged to attend and observe community association board meetings. If you’d like to bring an issue to your community association governing board’s attention, you’re welcome to speak during the homeowner forum—a time set aside just for you.
So that everyone who attends has an opportunity for a meaningful exchange with the board, typically residents are asked to observe the following guidelines:


Act professionally. Although you’re all neighbors, this is a corporate business meeting. Please behave accordingly.

Sign in. If you’d like to address the board, please sign in when you arrive. You will be called in the order you entered. This allows the board to contact you if further information is needed and to report back to you with an answer.

Be productive. The homeowner forum is an exchange of ideas, not a gripe session. If you’re bringing a problem to the board’s attention, share your ideas for a solution too.

Leave emotions aside. To keep the meeting businesslike, please refrain from speaking if you’re particularly upset about an issue. Consider speaking later, speaking privately with a board member, or putting your concerns in writing and emailing them to the board.

Take your turn. Only one person may speak at a time. Please respect others’ opinions by remaining silent when someone else has the floor.

Keep it brief. Each person will be allowed to speak no more than five minutes. Please respect the volunteers’ time by limiting your remarks. If you need more than five minutes, please put your comments in writing. Include background information, causes, circumstances, desired solutions, and other considerations you believe are important. The board will make your written summary an agenda item at the next meeting.

Be patient. The board may not be able to solve your concerns on the spot, and it’s not a good practice to argue or debate an issue with you during the homeowner forum. The board usually needs to discuss and vote on the issue first. But every good board should answer you before—or at—the next board meeting.

>>For more information about managing your community association’s homeowner forum, find the latest on-demand webinars and publications on community association governance.

©2019 Community Associations Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited.

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