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CAI Unveils 'Community Association Fundamentals'

8/11/2008  -  Alexandria, VA

"Associations ensure that the collective rights and interests of homeowners are respected and preserved." That is the first and perhaps most intrinsic of 10 principles in Community Association Fundamentals, a new primer developed by Community Associations Institute (CAI) to help homeowners, prospective home buyers, realtors and others better understand the basic nature of common-interest communities.

The Fundamentals get to the heart of three questions:

1. What is the basic function of a community association?
2. What are the essential obligations and expectations of homeowners?
3. What are the core principles that should guide association leaders?

"Each common-interest community is unique, with its own history and personality," says CAI President T. Peter Kristian, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, a long-time association manager. "But virtually all associations share common characteristics. We believe the Fundamentals provide a solid, conceptual understanding of how associations function and the respective roles of residents and association leaders. As with everything we do, our goal is to inspire effective, enlightened leadership and responsible, engaged citizenship."

"CAI offers countless books, articles, best practice reports and courses addressing many facets of community association operations," adds Ronald L. Perl, a past president of CAI and HOA attorney who chaired the task force that developed the primer. "While the details of association governance and management are critical, we sought to provide a clear, easy-to-understand primer to help people understand and appreciate the core principles at the heart of the community association concept."

The 10 principles are:

1. Associations ensure that the collective rights and interests of homeowners are respected and preserved.

2. Associations are the most local form of representative democracy, with leaders elected by their neighbors to govern in the best interest of all residents.

3. Associations provide services and amenities to residents, protect property values and meet the established expectations of homeowners.

4. Associations succeed when they cultivate a true sense of community, active homeowner involvement and a culture of building consensus.

5. Association homeowners have the right to elect their community leaders and to use the democratic process to determine the policies that will protect their investments.

6. Association homeowners choose where to live and accept a contractual responsibility to abide by established policies and meet their financial obligations to the association.

7. Association leaders protect the community's financial health by using established management practices and sound business principles.

8. Association leaders have a legal and ethical obligation to adhere to the association's governing documents and abide by all applicable laws.

9. Association leaders seek an effective balance between the preferences of individual residents and the collective rights of homeowners.

10. Association leaders and residents should be reasonable, flexible and open to the possibility--and benefits--of compromise.

CAI has developed numerous initiatives to help homeowners and association leaders build better communities. They include:

  • Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities, a series of 42 principles and practices designed to help association-governed communities promote harmony, enhance communication and reduce the potential for conflict. Learn more at
  • Community Association Governance Guidelines, 12 principles to help community association boards identify and meet basic benchmarks of responsible governance--the cornerstone of any successful community. Learn more at
  • Community Matters--What You Should Know Before You Buy, a free, downloadable brochure that explains the nature, benefits and obligations of the community association experience. Go to and type "Community Matters" into the search box.

CAI is a national membership organization dedicated to fostering vibrant, competent, harmonious common-interest communities. Founded in 1973, CAI and its 58 chapters provide education, tools and resources to the volunteers who govern communities and the professionals who support them. CAI believes associations can and should exceed the expectations of their residents. We work toward this ideal by identifying and meeting the evolving needs of the professionals and volunteers who serve associations, by being a trusted forum for the collaborative exchange of knowledge and information, and by helping our members learn, excel and achieve. Our vision is reflected in community associations that become better--even preferred--places to call home.

Phone: 703-970-9235