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FAQ

What options do I have to pay my assessments?

  • Pay via ACH (online via our Resident Portal or Mobile App)
  • Pay via credit card (online via our Resident Portal or Mobile App
  • Pay via eCheck (online via our Resident Portal or Mobile App
  • Pay using PayPal
  • Pay via telephone with a credit card or e-check by calling RealManage toll free at 1-866-4-RealService (866-473-2573
  • Pay via U.S. mail as follows: 

    Please send your assessment payments along with your coupon or statement tear-off to the following address: 

    Payment Processing Center
    c/o RealManage 
    PO Box 105007 
    Atlanta GA 30348-5007

How can I find out how my association fees are being utilized?

Your community association manager can provide you with this information.  It is important to note that your community has an annual members meeting where your board of directors discusses the community’s affairs, including the financial aspects of the association with the homeowners.  All homeowners are encouraged to attend their community’s annual meeting to help them understand their community and to get involved in their community.  In addition, a chart is available via CiraMobile.

Featured Blog Post: Understanding Who is Spending Your HOA Assessment Money

What benefit do I get from paying my assessments?

Assessments fund the community’s budget and pay for pay for common area landscape maintenance, repair, and maintenance and also include items such as streets, boulevards, swimming pools, playgrounds, and equipment.  Assessments also fund any desired improvements to the community as well as replacing outdated, worn or damaged common area items.  Depending on your association, the fees may also pay for community parties, newsletters, a website, welcome packets to new owners, or other programs.  The assessments also cover the management and administrative costs of the association, which includes the cost of collecting the assessments, managing the community’s financial affairs, managing the community’s legal affairs, and enforcing the community’s rules through site inspections and notices.

Why do I pay assessments to my homeowners association?

Assessments fund the community’s budget and pay for pay for common area landscape maintenance, repair, and maintenance and also include items such as streets, boulevards, swimming pools, playgrounds, and equipment.  Assessments also fund any desired improvements to the community as well as replacing outdated, worn or damaged common area items.  Depending on your association, the fees may also pay for community parties, newsletters, a website, welcome packets to new owners, or other programs.  The assessments also cover the management and administrative costs of the association, which includes the cost of collecting the assessments, managing the community’s financial affairs, managing the community’s legal affairs, and enforcing the community’s rules through site inspections and notices.

What is a special assessment?

An HOA special assessment is a fee that is charged to each housing unit within a development, to be used to cover an unexpected expense or other short-term occurrences. Special assessments are charged separately from your HOA fees, and they usually arise due to a shortfall in the reserves of the HOA.

The following article will explore more about HOA special assessments. Read More

How can I contact a member of my HOA's Board of Directors?

Your board of directors can only be reached through your RealManage community association manager (CAM) and you can contact your Community Association Manager as follows:

Phone: 866-473-2573
Email 
service@ciramail.com 
Fax: 866-919-5696
Web: 
www.ciranet.com/residentportal/
Mobile App: via CiraMobile 

 

What is the purpose of the HOA Board of Directors and what is their role?

Your community association is a not-for-profit corporation, and its Board of Directors has the responsibility to run the business of the corporation.  The board has a fiduciary responsibility to the stockholders or owners of the corporation.  Fiduciary responsibility includes timely collection of assessments as well as payments made for services provided to the association.  In general, the board members are the decision makers for the association.  The board of directors is either from the developer’s staff or individual homeowners who own property in the community and are elected to that position by the members of the association.  All affairs of your association are governed by the board of directors.  If you are living in an association that is still being developed, the members of the Board of Directors may be appointed by the developer of your community until control of the association transitions to you, the homeowners.

Learn more about the responsibilities of an HOA Board.

 

Who do I need to contact when refinancing or selling my home?

RealManage provides a Closing Portal where title agents may request resale certificates, statements of account, and condo questionaires for use in a sale or refinance.

Access Closing Portal

How do I get answers about my community association or account?

The quickest and easiest way on a 24X7 basis is to use our Resident Portal to access information on your community or your account.  We have several other ways you can reach as well as you can see on our Resident Service Center page.

How does RealManage handle issues and complaints?

Complaints should be submitted in writing to us, with the Resident Portal or our contact request form on the Resident Service Center page.  Complaints should state the problem, identify the offending homeowner, and the date(s) of the offense(s).  After confirming the report during our next regular property inspection, we will notify the owner about the violation that has occurred.  If the owner has not corrected the issue after a reasonable period of time, the matter will be presented to the Board of Directors to decide what enforcement action should be taken.

How do I update my account information?

Account information should be updated in writing, and the easiest way is to use our Resident/Owner Portal, which you can sign into from the Home Page or the Resident Service Center page.  Alternatively, you can submit your changes to us using the contact form on the Resident Services Center page.

 

Who do I call for after-hours emergency?

Outside our normal business hours, RealManage employees a telephone answering service with operators trained to identify true emergencies with access to all local on-call personnel at all times.

Calls regarding payments, violations or other matters should wait until the next business day.

What do I need to do to get started with home improvements?

Any exterior modifications or additions to your home or any structural changes must have prior written approval from your Architectural Control Committee (ACC).  For information, applications and further details, contact us.  You should note that this approval process generally may take up to thirty days; therefore, do not schedule any construction work or purchase any equipment until written approval has been received.

Why do I need to get permission from my HOA for a home improvement?

The community association deed restrictions specify what approvals need to be sought when making improvements in order to maintain the look and feel of the overall community as well as the overall value of the homes.  Simply log onto the RealManage Resident Portal to access your communities deed restrictions.

What are governing documents?

homeowner association governing documents are recorded legal documents typically set up by the declarant/builder of your community which may include Articles of Incorporation, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions, and Bylaws. These documents determine the overall structure of a community association and establish obligations and responsibilities of its members and elected Board of Directors.

 

What is the purpose of HOA rules, regulations and fees?

Many homeowners don't understand the purpose of a homeowners association. In fact, they may balk outright at the idea of having to pay someone to tell them what they're supposed to do with their house! Others, however, come down strongly in favor of the HOA rules and regulations put in place by the HOA. Whether you're considering creating an HOA in your neighborhood or thinking about moving into a neighborhood where there's already an HOA in place, you'll quickly discover that there are a number of benefits to a homeowners association. Read more

Do I get a copy of my governing documents?

At the time of closing on your home, your title company provides copies of your governing documents along with other closing documents. 

You may also access a copy of your community's governing documents via the Resident Portal.

What does a Community Association Manager do on behalf of the HOA?

A property/community association manager should be assisting your Board of Directors and association in virtually every aspect of its operation, whether you have an on-site manager, a portfolio manager or a part-time manager. The degree to which an effective manager can lead and assist you in the nine major areas of association operations are influenced by their experience, workload, management contract and professional drive.

Let’s discuss these nine essential areas of a manager’s responsibilities:

  1. General Administration – including but not limited to:
    • Maintaining the operation in a positive, effective forward path.
    • Providing a high level of customer service – timely answering of phone calls, responding to emails and other correspondence.
    • Answering questions and going the extra step to assist the client.
    • Documenting and maintaining records
    • Reviewing policy and making recommendations for policy generation and implementation procedures such as but not limited to the:
      • Areas of common area rules
      • Deed restriction enforcement
      • Collection of assessments
      • Amenity operations (pool, tennis, access, hours, guests)
      • Communications, advertising, etc.
  1. Maintenance of Common Areas – The manager is responsible for overseeing all aspects of maintenance on behalf of the board including:
    • Knowing  the common areas like the back of his or her hand and work closely with the relative service providers to ensure all common areas are:
      • Safe
      • Well maintained
      • Properly insured
    • Ensuring contracts for services are appropriate, competitive and perform according to specifications
    • Completing special projects on time and within budget
    • Ensuring services get performed within budget.
    • Educating the Board ahead of time of forecasted budget overruns and given options on other ways to deal with expense variances
    • Implementing effective preventative maintenance schedule
    • Documenting and revising schedules as appropriate
    • Knowing who does what, when, where and why and have a schedule and associated costs so that you can:
      • Tracking compliance with contractual obligations
      • Overseeing expense forecasting and future budgeting
      • Assisting  when coordinating multiple contractors to work in the same area or project
    • Planning, communicating, implementing, evaluating, and adjusting accordingly
  1. Provision of Common Services – The association’s governing documents; management contract; budget; and Board of Directors are the drivers for this area.
    • The manager needs to fully understand what he or she is obligated to do:
      • The manager must understand that he or she has a moral obligation to uphold the association’s governing documents which have higher authority than any board of directors.
      • Conflicts in instructions or being asked to do something that is illegal or immoral is not a contractual obligation.
      • The manager has an obligation to honestly and legally perform services and should never do anything he or she feels against the law or potentially liable to the association.
    • In providing common services, the manager is responsible for several areas including but not limited to:
      • Developing or updating contract specifications to assist in bidding out contracted services.
      • Managing contracted services.
      • Communicating any deficiencies of services to a contractor, issues to be resolved and effects of non-resolution.
      • Researching more appropriate vendors, better services, better prices (low price is not always better service), more efficiencies of services such as:
        • Share services with neighboring communities to get a better price.
        • Share maintenance or portering contract employee with other communities.
        • Reduce janitorial or other services in slow use periods.
        • When possible, buy in bulk.
        • For large scale evaluate hiring on-site maintenance person vs. all the paid out dollars to various general contractors.
  1. Internal communications – The manager is responsible for:
    • Coordinating communications amongst Board members particularly when conducted via email; summarize results and ask Board to ratify at a future meeting, so it is read into minutes.
    • Compiling to-do and action items lists for Board, Manager, and Support Staff; with updates, so all can track progress throughout the month.
    • Asking for clarification when he or she receives conflicting direction or doesn’t understand the information.
    • Managing Board communications point of contact(s):
      • A manager should not have five different ‘go to’ or ‘take direction from’ people on the board as this can create confusion
      • It is best when it can be agreed that, while the manager works all the board members, he or she funnels his or her communication via the President and/or Treasurer
  1. Financial Management
    • Understanding the association’s financial position
    • Reading and reporting on the financial statement
    • Monitoring the budget and forecasting the income and expenses monthly looking forward
    • Explaining the positive and negative variances of actual vs. budget as well as recommending how to deal with cost overrun
    • Managing effect accounts payable to ensure invoices are paid correctly and only when services are verified, etc.
    • Implementing and managing a professionally aggressive assessment collection policy that adheres to the association’s documents yet provides results
    • Exhibiting sound budgeting finesse from a historical and forward-thinking perspective
    • Conveying adaptability, flexibility, and accountability
  1. Procurement of Insurance and Loans – no contract for insurance or loan should be secured without Board review and approval. However, the manager is responsible in:
    • Assisting in seeking viable insurance bids, preparing the applications, etc. and presenting the options to the Board
    • Recommending appointment of finance committee to work with treasurer and manager when seeking a loan
    • Looking to the documents for the authority, obligation, and requirements first.
    • Knowing what maximum thresholds must be met.
    • Documenting the assets in a list, with values as well as photos.
    • Bringing competitive information and options to the Board in both arenas.
  1. Preparation of Tax Return and Other Reports
  • Ensuring that the board seeks and obtains insight and feedback from qualified, respected professionals within the Association Management industry including:
    • CPAs
    • Attorneys
    • Reserve specialists
    • Landscape architects and horticulturists, engineers, etc.
  • Presenting a variety of experienced bids to the board based on his or her depth of experience and business association relationships.
  • Developing and presenting a monthly manager’s report with topics including (some large-scale on-site communities request weekly reports due to the high walk-in traffic issues).
    • Financial report and high-level summary
    • Collection report including accounts at or going to attorney
    • Deed restriction enforcement including those requiring board action
    • ARC including any requiring board action
    • Service Contracts – summary of all contracts as well as any that have been put out for bid for board consideration
    • Special requests, issues from residents or special projects
    • Operational trends
    • What is on the horizon for next 30-60-90 days
  • Knowing the deadlines for the state and federal required reports and working with the Board and their selected vendors to ensure reports are filed accurately and timely.
  1. Assist the Board on Policy Matters
    • Evaluating current policies to see if they:
      • Comply with governing documents and state law
      • Are effective or need to be updated or extinguished
      • Even exist or not
    • Looking at all policies with these questions in mind:
      • Is it enforceable?
      • Is it necessary?
      • Is there a better way?
      • What is the best practice?
  1. Environmental Standards – The manager should work with the board to adopt resolutions based on identifying and defining different approaches to energy conservation based on the specific needs of the community including:
    • Evaluating common areas for green operations such as:
      • Utilize more energy efficient equipment and lighting
      • Reduce schedule for exterior and landscape lighting
      • Install modern timers on filtration systems
      • Plan sustainable landscaping
    • Looking for more ways to conserve natural resources such as water and electricity without detrimental effects to services or community curb appeal
    • Implementing Horticultural practices that can reduce landfill use:
      • Reduce lawn clipping waste
      • Consider more natural herbicides and fertilizers
      • Compost clippings and tree debris
      • Re-use as mulch after it is properly cured
    • Encouraging the residents to be more energy friendly and conservation-minded:
      • Institute a recycling program to the community
      • Introduce water and electricity saving tips through newsletter and website articles
      • Seek out city and county incentive programs
    • Developing and adopting rules and procedures to address energy conservation activities including:
      • Clotheslines
      • Solar panels
      • Street lighting

What does a community association do?

A community association is responsible for the collection and management of the assessment funds, the enforcement of the deed restrictions, and the maintenance of common area property.

For more information, you may be interested in reading: Community associations: What are they are what do they do? 

How does living in an HOA keep property values up?

Whether buying their first house, or a forever home, potential home-buyers always have the hope of continuously increasing property values. By moving into a Homeowner Association-managed community, new residents are making a key investment into improving their net-worth. In this post, we will discuss the top three waysHomeowners Associations can provide significant property value protection and growth. Read more

"Get Out!" Is that something you can suggest to an owner?

January 13, 2012 – In this week’s tip, we lend some advice to consider before you bellow to an owner, “You obviously don’t belong here. Maybe you should get out!”

“It’s perfectly true that there are a number of people—and I’ve seen this time and again—who just should not live in a condo, HOA, or co–op because they’re just not psychologically prepared to share their housing decisions,” says Robert Galvin, a partner at Davis, Malm & D’Agostine PC in Boston who specializes in representing condos and co–ops. “That doesn’t make them bad people. Those people should simply own a detached single–family home.”

Read More

10 Traits of Successful HOA Board Member

What qualities must you have to be a good hoa board member? Here, our experts reveal the top 10 traits of a HOA board member who serve their HOA well.

Read More

3 Ways to Save Money on HOA Purchases

September 2011 – Are there ways you can save on products your HOA purchases? Here are three ideas from a board member and our experts.

Read More

5 Guidelines for Smart HOA Rules on Posting Notices

September 2011 – Do your owners post flyers in the building or on the grounds? What if they’re posting “for–sale” notices of personal property? What about notices that promote their personal businesses? What if they’re posting controversial flyers about religion, politics, or even their neighbors? Should you allow this? Are you even permitted to restrict it?

Here, we discuss five smart guidelines for keeping your property from becoming a bulletin board for both good and dubious causes.

Read More

9 Mistakes New HOA Board Members Make–And How to Avoid Them

March 2010 – There’s no shame in making mistakes. We’ve all made them when we’ve tried something new. There is shame if you refuse to correct the error of your ways.

Here we list the nine most common mistakes new board members make and provide tips for turning those mistakes into successes.

Read More

9 Tips for Better HOA Financial Reporting and Management

May 2010 – You’re not alone if you’re a condo or homeowners association board member who doesn’t regularly analyze financial reports.

“The range of the experience among board members really varies,” says Elizabeth White, a shareholder and head of the community associations practice at the law firm of LeClairRyan in Williamsburg, Va. “So many of our board members—even professionals running businesses—aren’t used to tracking budgets the way we do in the association world. A lot have in-house accounting departments, and what they’re used to is what’s teed up to them on a silver platter.”

Read More

An HOA Director Has Abstained from a Vote-Are They Wise or Just Cowardly?

December 28, 2012 – In this week’s tip, we discuss the dubious practice of condo or homeowner association board members abstaining from votes.

Under what circumstances should a board member abstain from a vote? First, check whether any state laws govern the answers to this question.

Read More

Are You on the Verge of Making These Annual HOA Meeting Mistakes?

December 7, 2012 – In this week’s tip, we give you a jump on annual meeting planning by revealing two mistakes boards make all too often.

Read More

Bedbugs in Your HOA? Really? Yes, Really!

January 27, 2012 –This week’s tip may make your skin crawl. I apologize in advance! It also might help you prevent a real infestation.

They’re rare, but HOAs are starting to encounter the disgusting creatures known as bedbugs. “Thank God, but no, I’ve not had one bedbug case!” reports Ben Solomon, an attorney and founder of the Association Law Group in Miami Beach, Fla., who advises more than 500 associations and also represents developers through his second law firm, Solomon & Furshman LLP.

Read More

Board Member, Committee Member and Management Company: Working Relationships

Committee structure is critical to the effectiveness of the Association. There are occasions where the dynamics and reporting or working relationships between Board members, Committees and Management become muddy and the outcome is often frustration and a feeling of wasted time and effort by all parties involved.

A refresher course is sometimes in order to bring the team back together.

Read More

Can Co-op / Condo Owners View a Board’s Draft of Meeting Minutes?

May 14, 2010 — A shareholder or a unit-owner has requested a copy of your co-op / condo board’s meeting minutes prior to the minutes’ formal approval. Do co-op / condo owners have a right to these unapproved minutes?

Read More

Can You Encourage HOA Owners to Get Up and Go?

January 2012 – Some owners just aren’t suited for HOA living, and they make their own lives and the lives of their neighbors miserable. Are there things you can do to encourage those owners to sell and move elsewhere? Or would any such efforts be out of line? Here we provide answers.

Read More

Can Your HOA Get a Judgment Instead of a Lien?

December 2011 – A HOAleader.com reader reports that his new HOA management company wants to change the wording in the HOA’s 10–day demand letter so the HOA would get an automatic judgment, not a lien, when a homeowner doesn’t pay. What’s the difference? And do state laws allow that?

Read More

Can Your HOA Give Owners “Discounts” on Fees?

January 2012 – What if you want to motivate your owners to do something—like volunteer on a committee or oversee the lobby redecoration? Is it possible to offer incentives—like reduced HOA fees for a given period of time—to attract otherwise–apathetic owners? Here, our experts weigh in.

Read More

Can–and Should–Your HOA Spread Holiday Cheer?

December 2012 – Tis the season to get to know your neighbors better and strengthen your community. What’s the best way to do that? In the spirit of the season, our experts explain how their clients spread goodwill during the holidays.

Read More

Create the Community You Want – The Insurance Perspective

Many board members and residents wonder why it is so important to have proper insurance coverage. The right types and limits of insurance create a safety net for the association that protects all members from unplanned, potentially catastrophic losses. This is important in creating a safe atmosphere in which to live. People can volunteer to create a better community as a board or committee member without fear of losing their personal assets. 

Read More

Discussion Forum Follow-Up: Online Document Access

March 2010 – A reader on the HOAleader.com discussion board asks a question about the online document access future of association governance: Are there property management companies that can allow online access to our association documents?

The short answer is yes. Many property management companies are creating online access to all kinds of association material to make it more available to owners. Here, management companies explain how they’re going paperless.

Read More

Fixing a Troubled HOA: Dissolution, Receivership, or Something Else?

September 2011 – A HOAleader.com reader is in a quandary. Her HOA is beset with hoa delinquencies and warring factions. Some owners argue the answer is receivership or dissolution. In this week’s tip, we discuss the pros and cons of dissolution.

Read More

Get a Judgment. No, Get a Lien. Which is Better?

December 30, 2011 – In this week’s tip, we answer a question vexing an HOAleader.com reader. Our reader reports that his new homeowner association management company wants to change the wording in the HOA’s 10–day demand letter so the HOA would get an automatic judgment, not a lien, when a home owner doesn’t pay.

Read More

Healing Wounds After a Tough HOA Battle

September 2011 – You’ve had a contentious battle, and the losing side is still smarting. Are there ways you can rebuild relationships with people who feel angry, left out, or just frustrated they didn’t get their way? Here, we offer tips on bringing angry owners back from the opposition.

Read More

High-Tech Improvements to Condo and Homeowners Association Security

March 2010 – What’s new in condo and homeowner association security?

Here we reveal several new high-tech security tools and discuss the potential costs of keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to security.

Read More

HOA Board Meetings: Open Meetings and Executive Session–What You Must Know

March 2010 – Does your state require that your condo or homeowner association board have open meetings? If so, what does that mean?

What about executive sessions? Can your board sometimes announce it’s HOA board meeting is going into executive session, which means you’ll shoo members out of the room and discuss items without owners’ knowledge? If so, what can you discuss privately, and what must you discuss in front of homeowners who wish to attend? Here’s a rundown.

Read More

HOA Board Votes: What If a Board Member Abstains Just to Avoid Controversy? Discussion Forum

December 2012 – An HOAleader.com reader asks, “My board had an issue where we had to vote on the dismissal of another board member. The bylaws clearly reflect that he violated his seat on the board. Here are my questions: 1. Does the person that we were voting on have a vote? 2. Out of the member votes, two abstained and three voted. So does the majority rule in this case, and we move on? 3. What does it mean when a person refuses to vote?”

Here we get answers to our reader’s questions, particularly the debatable issue of when and why board members might abstain from voting, and when it’s, frankly, a cop out.

Read More

HOA Communications: Tips for “Selling” a Special Assessment

May 2010 – Any marketing or sales expert will tell you that to get what you want, you have to “sell” your request to those making the “buying” decision. Funny as it sounds, a special assessment falls into that “buying” and “selling” paradigm.

If your board is convinced your condo or homeowners association needs a special assessment, it must take the process of getting buy-in seriously. Here’s how to “sell” a special assessment by being transparent, having community meetings that allow members to understand the issues and ask questions, and knowing how to overcome objections.

Read More

HOA Fees on Rentals: Can your HOA impose a fee just because owners rent their unit?

December 2011 – Sure, you can probably require owners who rent their units to pay a security deposit to your HOA to cover the tenant’s potential damage of HOA facilities. You can probably also charge move–in and move–out fees. But can you slap a general fee on owners who rent out their units just because?

A California trial court says yes. Here, we explain the decision, and our experts discuss whether your board might want to try a similar approach.

Read More

HOA Fees: What to Know Before Setting Up Electronic Withdrawal of Association Fees

May 2010 – Would the electronic transfer of money due to your condominium or homeowners association enable you to collect more money in a more timely way? Maybe. Here we explain the pros and cons of implementing an automatic withdrawal system and offer tips to keep in mind if you’re about to arrange for one.

Read More

HOA Finances: Can-and Should-Your Association Consider Bankruptcy?

March 2010 – With nearly $1 million in debt, a $112,000 per month 99-year lease for its pool and some parking spaces, and at least 100 unit owners delinquent on association fees, the Maison Grande condo association in Miami Beach filed for bankruptcy in July 2009, according to the Daily Business Review.

The 270-unit Legacy Park subdivision homeowners association in Davenport, Fla., also filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2009, according to TheReporter.com. The association faced a bill of more than $100,000 to its cable company and $253,824.14 in unpaid assessments.

Read More

HOA Finances: If Your Condo or Homeowners Association Needs a Loan, Can You Look to Your Reserves?

March 2010 – Your HOA is short on cash, and an annual insurance payment is due. Or maybe you’d like to put in new playground equipment, but your board would rather not impose a special assessment.

Can you borrow against that large chunk of money in your reserve fund in instances like these? Would that even be wise? Here we discuss whether taking a loan from your reserves is proper or advisable.

Read More

HOA Governing Documents Explained

March 2010 – HOA gurus freely banter about the terms “CC&Rs,” “bylaws,” “rules and regs,” and “governing documents.” But what exactly are those documents, and which are the most and least powerful?

Here we lay out what constitutes each governing document and sort out which ones have more authority than others. For instance, do rules and regs trump CC&Rs? No, and here we explain why.

Read More

HOA Governing Documents: Requiring Neighbor Approval of Owner' Modifications

January 2011 – One owner wants to install a cherry-red fence, with one neighbor OK with it, but the other outraged at the possibility of such an eyesore. What’s the Board to do?

That’s what our reader wants to know, asking: “The condo I live in is a side-by-side twinplex in Florida. The association states in its condo documents that a homeowner has a five-foot limited common area that extends out from the painted surface of the condo. Some of the homeowners have used this space to add lanais and Florida rooms onto their condo. To do this, you must get permission from the architectural committee and the approval of your roofmate and the person living on the other side of you.

Read More

HOA Recordkeeping: The Pros and Cons of Going Paperless -

December 2012 – According to Ohio community association lawyers David W. Kaman and Jay Cusimano, a growing number of boards are considering going paperless. What would it mean for an HOA to go paperless, and what are the pros and cons? Here’s the skinny.

Read More

HOA Rules: Airing Out Clothesline Disputes

May 2010 – Spring is in the air, and wet clothes may be, too.

With warmer weather, homeowners in more areas of the country may want to air their clean laundry on clotheslines to both save energy and get that fresh-air scent on their clothes. Can your homeowners association interfere with owners’ efforts to air-dry clothes? Here are tips on creating a sensible policy.

Read More

HOAs and Parking: What Your Homeowner Association Board Should Know About Towing -

“It’s a hot-button issue,” admits Debra A. Warren, principal of Cinnabar Consulting in San Rafael, Calif., which provides training and employee development services to community association management firms and training and strategic planning sessions for association board members.

If your board has hired a towing company to patrol your parking lot and other roadways to tow away people who are breaking your parking rules, be sure to have clear rules in place so that if you tow owners’ cars, you won’t create endless disputes and ill will.

Read More

How to Differentiate Between HOA Repairs and Homeowner Repairs

June 2012 – An HOAleader.com reader writes, “What policies can a board implement to ensure the association is paying for common element maintenance only? Our association has a lot of exterior leaks, which hopefully, for the most part, has been resolved. Unit owners claim the damage is from an exterior leak. The HOA pays for the repairs, but there seem to be additional repairs performed that are unrelated to the exterior leak. This has been going on for years and has become a great expense to the association.

Read More

How to Run a Successful Open Board Meeting

Community Board Meetings can be challenging regarding overcoming logistics. As always, the key is time invested in preparation and organization. Please consider the “professional meeting skill tips” provided below that might assist your Community in conducting a successful Open Meeting.

Read More

Hurricane Preparedness For Your HOA

REALMANAGE encourages all associations to have a Hurricane Preparedness Plan for pre and post storm action and follow up. This plan should be reviewed and updated by the Board of Directors annually, communicated to the members and the association’s service providers and staff, where applicable. To prepare for the worst storm scenario will help you weather whatever comes your way. The post-storm follow-up is very important as well.

Read More

Landscaping and Pest Control in Florida

Manicured landscaping increases the curb appeal and aesthetic value of your community. The reason many condominium owners buy into a deed restricted community is that the association handles maintenance and exterior upkeep of units. It is important for the board of directors and manager to ensure that landscaping is adequately budgeted and properly maintained for the association.

Read More

Lawsuits Against HOA Board Members: Do You Have the Right Level of D&O Insurance?

June 2012 – As condominium and homeowner association management becomes more complex—and more and more board members are sued—it’s critical to monitor your directors and officers coverage to ensure you’re fully protected for your actions, argues Alan Chesler, a partner at Alan James Insurance in Sunrise, Fla.

Here we get Chesler’s and other experts’ suggestions on ensuring your policy has the right provisions and the right amount of coverages.

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Managing Through a Monsoon in Phoenix and Beyond

The rapid onset of a monsoon storm can change weather and road conditions instantly, placing homeowners in precarious situations.  Damage to the community and personal property ranges from severe to “it passed right around us.”  This year’s monsoon season has brought blinding dust storms that would rival any New England snow driven white out.  Last year, hail damage in the southern states, including the desert, caused insurance claims to escalate, and some claims are still not settled.  Flat roof and foam roof buildings were beaten, windows were blown out, vehicles pitted, and landscape destroyed.   Mother Nature has had quite a flair for the dramatic!

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Neighborhood Watch-Tag You're Caught!

Graffiti is a crime, not just a nuisance.  

Graffiti, or tagging as it is sometimes called, is a misdemeanor crime.  It can, however, become a felony-level crime if the damage inflicted is more than $1,000.00.  Other penalties such as the severity of the crime, the criminal history of the offender, his/her age, etc. determine the type of probation or jail time received. 

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Parking and HOAs: Avoiding the Terrible Tows

May 21, 2010 – This week’s tip offers advice for condominium and homeowners association boards considering hiring a towing company to police their parking lots and roadways to haul away parking scofflaws.

Your state and local government may have laws dictating how you treat towing in your community association. Be sure to investigate before you implement any policy.

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Prepare for Summer...And Pool Safety

Summer has arrived and with it comes the family fun in the sun and wet and wild water parks, pools and lakes.  Summer also means that it is time to re-engage your family in water safety practices.  In many states, drowning is a leading cause of accidental deaths among young children.  It ranks as the second leading cause nationally, according to the National Safety Council.  Each year, an additional 4,200 children are treated for submersion injuries at emergency rooms throughout the country.  Most of these children were under the supervision of one or both of their parents and more than 75% had been “missing” for less than 5 minutes.

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Seven Rules for Avoiding HOA Litigation

March 2011 – Lawsuits—that your HOA either initiates or must defend—often end up siphoning off money from your association that perhaps never needed to be spent. Here, our legal experts offer up seven rules for implementing policies and procedures and dispute-resolution practices that reduce the number of lawsuits your HOA is involved in.

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Should HOA or Owner Pay for These Sidewalk Repairs?

June 2012 – An HOAleader.com reader writes, “One of our owners planted a tree several years ago, and it just recently caused damage to a sidewalk in our common area. Our CC&Rs define the sidewalk as part of the major components and therefore the HOA’s responsibility to repair. But I’m wondering if the fact that the owner planted the tree that caused the damage means the owner’s responsible for the repair cost?”

Here, our experts offer opinions on whether this is an obvious problem for the owner to cover.

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Should You Study How Your Homeowners Association Stacks Up to Nearby HOAs?

January 2012 – An owner reports online that her homeowner's association commissioned a study to see how it compared to nearby HOAs regarding their amenities, services, costs, and market value. Should your HOA commission such a study? Where do you find a vendor to conduct such a survey? Are the results of such a study open to owners’ review, or can you keep them confidential? Here are some answers.

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Should Your HOA Board Refuse to Hire a Delinquent Owner's Employer?

December 2011 – An HOAleader.com reader asks: “One of our residents moved out of his house, but it’s still in his name, and he owes $2,000 in back dues plus attorneys’ fees. This person submitted a bid to do the snow removal. Some board members decided that since he is only the vice president of the snow removal company, they hired the company to perform our snow removal. Three people voted against the hiring, and four people voted to hire the company. I say this is 100 percent wrong, but I need something to support my feelings about this hiring.”

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Text, Twitter, and Facebook: How Should Your HOA Use Them?

December 2011 – How should an HOA use social media to improve your communications with owners? Here are some tips, including five communication dos and don’ts.

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The Pros and Cons of HOA Self-Insurance

September 2011 – Some HOAs are so large and their insurance premiums so hefty that they toy with the idea of self–insurance. Here, we explain what self–insurance is and discuss the risks.

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The Pros and Cons of Keyless Access in HOAs

December 2011 – A HOAleader.com reader reports that his HOA is considering keyless access—like swipe or insert cards—for elevators to help increase building security. His board is particularly concerned about those who may have avoided proper screening or requested additional keys to allow unauthorized access for friends.

Here, we discuss the pros and cons of such systems.

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The Pros and Cons of Term Limits for HOA Board Members

January 2011 – Do your HOA governing documents have term limit clauses for board members? If not, should they? Here our experts run through the pros and cons.

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Tips for Making Sure Your HOA’s Assessment Level is Just Right

January 21, 2011 – Too often, developers minimize assessments on owners to entice them to purchase in their HOA. But even if developers start out at proper assessment levels, expenses may increase, and boards sometimes refuse to make the difficult decision to increase assessments because they’ll get guff from owners. Boards also sometimes don’t include the proper amount for HOA reserves in their assessment calculation.

How do you know the proper level of assessments in your association? Here, our experts explain how to make that determination.

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War of the Weeds

Some folks call them weeds, to others they’re just a plant growing where it’s not wanted. They seem to sprout overnight and can outgrow the plants you pamper in a heartbeat. Recent rains have prompted vigorous growth. Left unchecked they can steal water and nutrients from neighboring plants. Where do they come from? How can they be controlled, so they don’t take over your yard? Read on for tips on controlling these pesky invaders.

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Water Conservation Tips for the Summer

Be Water Smart

As the heat of the summer approaches now is an excellent time to start thinking about water conservation techniques in your landscaped areas.

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What are effective Green Community Initiatives?

The catch phrase these days is “everything should go green.”   The dictionary defines green in relation to the environment as:

Green – made with little harm to the environment, using renewable resources, or the politics of promoting the protection of our environment.

In community associations, every individual can make a positive impact on our environment, and in some cases, we can save money by going green. Imagine supporting a cleaner and more efficient community and being a steward for its environmental health.

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What to Do if Bedbugs Invade Your HOA

Janauary 2012 – Last August, New York legislators passed a law requiring that rental buildings must disclose any bedbug infestation history, and some real estate agents are requiring New York co–ops to make such disclosures in sales, too. Yet no matter where your HOA is located, you should be preparing for a bedbug infestation—but how in heaven’s name does an HOA do that?

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What to Do When Your Board Hasn’t Followed Your Own HOA Rules?

January 2012 

In one small Chicago condo association, board members mistakenly thought they had to get the majority of the owners’ approval for every decision; they followed that mode of operation for years. When they double-checked their governing documents, they, of course, learned they had sole authority do determine how to spend condo funds.

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What to Do When Your HOA’s Manager Falls Down on the Job

June 2012 – Those duties will be performed by management. One writer says his HOA has written emails to the management company about the lack of performance, and the emails have gone unanswered.

What’s your remedy when your manager fails to perform? Can you withhold management pay until the duties are performed? Can you terminate?

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What to Do When Your Vendor Breaches Your HOA Contract

March 2011 – February snowstorms revealed the best and worst when it came to associations’ contracts with vendors in Chicago. The worst case? One snow-removal company already under contract with an association suddenly demanded $1,200 to remove snow, though it normally charged about $100.

That raises a question: When one of your vendors suddenly makes demands not included in your contract, what are your remedies? What if your landscaper, under contract, suddenly demands you pay double? Can you terminate the contract immediately? Are there times when you have to renegotiate? Here, we provide answers.

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What’s an HOA Board to Do When It’s Been Getting It Wrong?

January 2012 –In one small Chicago condo association, HOA board members mistakenly thought they had to get the majority of the owners’ approval for every decision; they followed that mode of operation for years. When they double-checked their governing documents, they, of course, learned they had sole authority do determine how to spend condo funds.

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When Can You Waive Your HOA’s Rules? Discussion Forum Follow-Up

June 2012 – An HOAleader.com reader writes, “A homeowner replaced his roof and chose a color that isn’t in compliance with our replacement standards. It’s not even close to the existing colors. The board stated at the community annual meeting that the owner didn’t follow the procedure of obtaining approval through our architectural request process. The board chose to ignore the homeowner’s negligence and opted to have each of the adjoining townhomes in his section match his noncompliant color when the time comes for them to replace their roofs. Their reasoning is that the homeowner can’t afford to replace the new roof, and they don’t believe it will affect the property value.

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Would You Recognize These Three HOA Conflicts of Interest?

Most homeowners association board members know they should avoid conflicts of interest. Here, our experts give us three real–life examples of conflicts of interest that they had to explain were improper to unwitting board members.

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Your HOA’s Money: Tips for Collecting Interest on Unpaid Fees

June 2010 – If you’re considering tacking on interest charges when owners are in arrears for assessments, fines, or other fees, be sure you know whether you have the power to do that. Here’s the scoop.

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Building Community Spirit – A Case Study

The Young at Heart Homeowners Association (name changed for privacy) has long been an active community of young seniors. Built during the mid-eighties, this community has an established Board of Directors, Committees and Social infrastructure and professional management which made it one of the most desirable Adult Communities in its county.

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Counsel and Advice For a New Board Member

Residents who are entrusted with the opportunity to serve as newly elected Board Members by constituents of their residential associations have an obligation and responsibility more challenging than the early days of associations.

This fiduciary obligation is not only one of “trust”; which involves protecting the assets of the community, but also protects the overall interest of the association as an entity. The most important way to achieve this success is through knowledge and education!

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What to Consider When Your HOA’s Considering Going Paperless

December 21, 2012 – In this week’s tip, we share details about the growing trend of HOAs shunning paper.

“I don’t know of any of our clients who’ve tried to go paperless yet,” says Nathaniel Abbate Jr., a partner at Makower Abbate & Associates PLLC in Farmington Hills, Mich., who represents associations. “I do hear talk about it, but so far that hasn’t reached our shores yet.”

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