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CAI Unveils Governance Guidelines

8/8/2007  -  Alexandria, VA

Community Associations Institute (CAI) is unveiling a series of guidelines to help association boards identify and meet basic benchmarks of responsible governance—the cornerstone of any successful common-interest community.

CAI's Community Association Governance Guidelines address a dozen of the most potentially contentious components of association management and governance—annual meetings, assessments, association records, communications, conflicts of interest, elections, financial transparency, foreclosure, governance and the law, grievances and appeals, reserve funding and rules.

The guidelines were developed under the auspices of the Center for Community Association Volunteers, CAI's specialized member group for homeowners, board members and other community leaders.

"There are a number of communities, especially new and struggling associations, that can benefit from these guidelines," says CAI President Ronald L. Perl, Esq. "We know there are some community association boards that need to be reminded that there are reasonable expectations that should be met."

Even though every community has unique circumstances and challenges, the guidelines can be applied in almost any association. "What works in one association may not work in another, but the basic attributes of good, conscientious governance are universal," says Jack McGrath, chair of CAI's Community Association Volunteers Committee. "We believe these guidelines can enlighten boards, prompt constructive community dialogue and lead to more responsible, responsive and transparent governance."

Most community associations function without major upheaval. In fact, national research conducted by Zogby International in 2005 showed that close to nine out of every 10 community association residents believe their board members strive to serve the best interests of the community. The Zogby research belies any suggestion that most board members aren't doing a good job.

Still, not all boards govern as responsibly as they should. That can and does lead to homeowner frustration, factional conflict and, in the most egregious cases, lawsuits. These situations also perpetuate the negative and largely unwarranted perceptions of associations, board members and the professionals who support them.

There are an estimated 300,000 homeowners associations, condominium communities and cooperatives in the United States. If only 2 in 100 boards are underperforming, at least 6,000 associations are not reaching their full potential.

"We believe homeowner and condominium associations can and should exceed the expectations of their residents," adds Perl. "The Governance Guidelines can help communities achieve that goal, increasing harmony, reducing conflict and building successful communities in the process. That's our vision at CAI, a vision we believe every association board should share."

Learn more and download the guidelines. Single copies of the printed brochure can be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed, business-sized envelope to: Governance Guidelines, 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Communities that want to move beyond these guidelines should consider adopting Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities, 42 specific practices and principles developed by CAI for associations, boards and homeowners.

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's 28,500-plus members include community association volunteer leaders (homeowners), managers, management firms and other professionals who provide products and services to community associations.

Phone: 703-970-9235