Post responsibly: How to avoid legal risks and negative effects on social media in your community

Social media tools are a great way for community associations to increase engagement with their residents, but they can leave communities vulnerable to potential legal risks if managed inappropriately.

Adopting a social media policy can allow communities to assign responsibility over its use and minimize abusive practices, says attorney Katrina Solomatina of Berding & Weil in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor, as well as websites, online newsletters, and email blasts, allow community associations to facilitate communication between homeowners, provide real-time updates, and give members the ability to offer instant feedback to the board.

At the same time, social media can be abused by users through practices such as cyberbullying, defamation, and invasion of privacy, Solomatina notes.

Comments made through social media can have a negative effect on a community. That’s why it’s important for communities to determine who will manage and update social media platforms, who will monitor and respond to comments, who can control or remove content, who can post, and what type of content is prohibited. Community associations should adopt a policy that covers the above.

When an association operates a closed group or discussion board, like Nextdoor, for residents, Solomatina recommends a user policy that includes the following terms:

  1. You must be a resident or property owner in the community association
  2. Anonymity is prohibited
  3. You must use your real name
  4. Be respectful of others at all times
  5. Ranting is prohibited
  6. Personal attacks are not tolerated
  7. Commercial advertisements are prohibited
  8. Violators will be suspended

Solomatina will be presenting a session—Social Media: Community Association Friend or Foe?—at the 2019 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW, May 15-18, in Orlando.

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Neon Colors in Staging?! You’ll Be Surprised How Much You Like It

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey In a throwback to the 1980s, neon colors are popping up in more home decor. The flashiness of neon colors is a sure-fire way to brighten up your home’s interior, and the way fluorescents are being worked into a room isn’t as nauseating as you might at first imagine. Adding in neon-green […]

Homeowner education: Be resourceful with CAI’s HOAResources.com

The best community associations have knowledgeable governing boards, highly-engaged residents, and educated and trained professional managers leading their communities. CAI has believed that since its founding in 1973, and it’s why we offer information, education, and resources to members and the general public. It’s why we recently launched HOAResources.com, a digital news site for the millions of residents living and working in condominium communities and homeowners associations worldwide.

We recognize that the community association model has evolved and grown up over the years, becoming a well-established and increasingly successful form of community governance and an essential component of the U.S. housing market.

There’s an increasing need to educate, train, and provide the latest news and resources to the millions of potential homebuyers, homeowners, and renters living in these communities. After all, 61 percent of all new housing built for sale is in a community association.

The new site lets CAI members and the general public find practical advice on common issues in the community association housing model. The site will address HOA basics, financial planning, rules and governing documents, as well as security and safety. Many time-tested best practices are showcased on the site, often through free, downloadable documents.

Go to www.HOAResources.com, and share the information with homeowners, friends, and colleagues.

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Talent wanted: How to hire and retain skilled community association managers

Recruiting and retaining skilled managers can be challenging for community associations and management companies, especially in a very competitive labor market and with communities limited by tight budgets.

In this reality, it becomes even more important for associations and management companies to highlight their strengths and address organizational shortcomings, says business speaker and author Peter Sheahan.

The founder and CEO of Karrikins Group, a Denver-based business growth strategy consulting firm, Sheahan has been an innovative business thinker for more than 20 years. He has advised leaders at companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Hyundai, IBM, and Wells Fargo. He’s also authored seven books, including the recently released Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice and Generation Y, a book about the millennial workforce.

Peter Sheahan

Generation Y came about due to Sheahan’s experience as manager of a hotel in Sydney, Australia. “I noticed there was a very big disconnect between what the young people that I was hiring wanted from their experience of work and what I needed from them at work, as their employer,” he says.

Since that formative experience, Sheahan and his team have strived to help company leaders understand ways to attract talented workers.

“People think that the secret to attracting and retaining talent is little things like, ‘Let’s give them free lunch’ or ‘What perks can we offer?’ or ‘What are our benefits compared to the benefits down the road?’ But at the end of the day, it really comes down to the quality of the organization,” Sheahan says. “Is it successful? Is it high performing? Because good, smart people want to work in those environments.”

Sheahan recommends a few best practices for community associations and management companies for recruiting and retaining talent:

    1. Stop thinking about tactics, and start thinking about the performance of the organization. The focus should be on building an organization that is robust and resilient. “Great organizations have no trouble attracting and retaining talent,” says Sheahan.
    2. Build a culture that people want to work in. The perks and benefits can’t be the only lure for bringing in talented workers. Sheahan warns that if the culture doesn’t reflect what was promised to the manager when hired, “You’ll find yourself in bigger trouble.”
    3. Be courageous. It’s important to brave a tight labor market to find talented people, says Sheahan. It’s also about having the courage to build a high-performing team. “A team is only as strong as its weakest link, so we need to be capable of managing the performance of the underperformers or, at times, even having the courage to move people on,” he says.

Sheahan will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2019 CAI Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW, May 15-18, in Orlando.

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Crisis communicator: A board president’s coordinated strategy during Hurricane Irma

Michael Kulich, the overall winner of CAI’s 2018 Outstanding Homeowner Leader award, went above and beyond to help the Turtle Creek Homeowners Association in Orlando, Fla., deal with Hurricane Irma’s destruction. As president of Turtle Creek when the storm struck, Kulich led efforts to develop and implement the community’s disaster plan, and during Irma, he turned his home into a “war room” to give board members and vendors a space to provide the community with updates and review action plans.

When the skies cleared, Kulich—a management consultant by trade—took time off from his day job to coordinate vendor activities and lead the cleanup until the community was back on its feet.

What should homeowners do before and after a hurricane?

Residents should stock up on critical supplies and identify how to stay connected to the police and the association. It’s equally important for residents to be patient after the storm passes. Turtle Creek residents were eager to begin the cleanup process after Irma. While their intentions were good, it’s better to pause, confirm everyone is safe, and confirm it’s safe to begin clearing debris.

Michael Kulich

What must a community disaster plan include?

Our plan focused on preparing our infrastructure and homeowners for potential damage and partnering with local vendors and government officials to establish communications lines for continuous updates. Between computers and cell phones, Turtle Creek board members were in constant communication with local government officials, local law enforcement, and utility companies. This approach allowed us to gather pictures of the damage and have video conferences with our landscaping vendor to develop a cleanup plan. We were back to normal operations within a couple of weeks as opposed to months.

What makes a community leader effective?

Communication is an essential quality. As a board member, I use MailChimp for email updates, Twitter, and I recently launched a YouTube channel to livestream our board meetings. Residents appreciate our efforts to keep them informed, as it lends itself to another trait of a successful community leader: transparency. Operating an association board shouldn’t be a mystery. Residents should feel welcome to attend all activities, and feedback should be encouraged.

Why do you volunteer?

Volunteering gives me an opportunity to remove myself from the daily grind and focus my time and energy helping someone else. Since high school, I’ve made it a priority to find a cause or an organization where I can volunteer.

What do you enjoy about serving on your board?

As president, I find the ability to address a homeowner’s concern and find a resolution extremely rewarding. But my main source of enjoyment stems from the relationships I’ve built with our homeowners and local vendors.

What else do you enjoy?

Traveling with my wife and daughter and adding to my sports card collection. Lately, my free time is spent writing. I’m creating my first blog, which focuses on community association topics and trends.

April is National Volunteer Month. Read our articles about preparing for a volunteer role and five steps for effective community leadership. And you can read about the inspiring work done by a homeowner leader who put his community toward a path of financial stability.

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5 Steps to Creating the Perfect Outdoor Living Room

Submitted by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) 1. Declutter & Clean The first step to sprucing up the outdoor living room is to clear dirt and clutter from the space. Store lawn equipment, children’s toys, and pet play things in a shed or garage. Give the entire area a good scrub down, sweeping away dust […]

Turnaround leader: How a board president revitalized a community in financial disarray

When Michael Shucart took the helm as president of Leisure Town Home Association’s board more than five years ago, financial disarray and outdated amenities plagued the 1,150-home community in Vacaville, Calif. Now, the retired banker is credited with putting Leisure Town back on a path to success.

Development of the 55-and-older community first began in the early 1960s, and the association had gone without a professional community manager for more than 50 years. There had been little resolve from the board to raise assessments and make improvements. “The community was left deferring maintenance with little in the reserves for replacement or repairs,” says Shucart.

Undoing decades of neglect, Shucart developed a list of priorities “to help define our vision” after consulting with the community’s 1,800 residents. The board developed a plan to overcome years of deferred maintenance.

Michael Shucart

Drawing from his experience as a banker specializing in wholesale mortgages, Shucart also reviewed each line in the association’s budget for cost-saving measures. He saw that the reserve study replacement costs were unrealistic and that vendor contracts could be improved.

“I realized all of our vendors were friends of friends. As a result, most of them were not giving us favorable conditions,” says Shucart.

In addition, after more than five decades without a manager, the board decided to hire a full-time, on-site manager to fill the void in day-to-day operations.

Through these steps and a few others, the community recently unveiled updated amenities including a new bocce court, a lawn bowling field, a remodeled swimming pool, and a new fitness center for residents. 

Because of the contributions that have improved Leisure Town’s financial standing and infrastructure, Shucart was named Homeowner Leader of the Year by CAI’s Northern California Chapter in 2018.

Shucart credits the success of Leisure Town’s turnaround to the collaboration with the other members of the board. He also points out that effective leadership “starts with identifying the concerns of membership, putting a plan together that addresses those issues, and working together in the best interests of the association toward a solution.”

But the work is far from over. Shucart has already set future goals to address at Leisure Town. “We are figuring out how to deal with the closure of our golf course, trying to bring in recycled water to use for the roughly 17 acres of green space, and installing new solar panels to offset the cost of electric usage,” he says.

April is National Volunteer Month. Read our articles about preparing for a volunteer role and five steps for effective community leadership. And stay tuned for another look at inspiring work done by a homeowner leader.

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