Three Realities of Community Associations

All community associations have three things in common:

  1. Membership is mandatory. Buying a home in a community association automatically makes you an association member—by law.
  2. Governing documents are binding. Association governing documents can be compared to contracts. They specify the owners’ obligations like following the rules and paying assessments and the association’s obligations, including maintaining common areas and preserving home values.
  3. Assessments must be paid. A homeowner could lose his or her home if they fail to pay assessments. Associations have a legal right to place a lien on the property if a homeowner doesn’t pay.

But, take heart homeowners: Associations also have three realities they can’t escape. Associations have an obligation to provide three broad categories of service to residents.

  1. Community. This can include maintaining a community website, orienting new homeowners or organizing social activities.
  2. Governance. This can include establishing and maintaining design review standards, enforcing rules, and recruiting new volunteer leaders.
  3. Business. This can include competitively bidding maintenance work, investing reserve funds responsibly, developing long-range plans, and collecting assessments.

By delivering these services fairly and effectively, community associations not only protect and increase home values, but they provide owners an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their community and quality of life. And those are realities we can live with.

Read more about community associations in CAI’s publication An Introduction to Community Association Living.

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How to Make a New House Your Own

The keys are in your buyer's hands! They've gone through the process ... the search, deciding, inspection, stress, closing, and finally, the elation of buying a new home. Now, they have to make it their own. Here's how.

Hot Home Trend: Edison Bulbs

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Does your listing’s lighting need a contemporary makeover? Edison bulbs may be the answer. These clear glass light bulbs, in which the center is exposed, have a nostalgic-like appearance and let out a nice warm glow. They stand out, instead of allowing your lighting to blend in. Edison bulbs […]

Pool’s Open

Swim season is here. While your residents are excited about getting wet, it means more stress for you and your staff, especially if you don’t have good pool rules.

For everybody’s health and safety, community association board members and managers need to make sure their pool rules are comprehensive, covering everything from guests, children, swimwear, slides, diving boards, and even smoking and cellphones. It’s not enough to simply post the rules around the pool. Reminders need to be sent, and new residents should be briefed. “Since new people are constantly moving in and out of the neighborhood, there are always new residents to educate,” says Dwayne Lowry, CMCA, AMS, general manager of New Territory Residential Community Association in Sugar Land, Texas.

Whether you’ve got new or long-time residents, the rules need to be enforced to be effective. “People simply aren’t allowed into the pool, or they can be removed from the pool by the pool management company and their facility usage can be suspended,” says Lowry, explaining what happens to New Territory’s pool rule breakers.

New Territory, for the comfort and health of all, bans smoking at its pools. In addition, cellphones must be kept at least 6 feet from the water. “People tend to do rash things to save a phone, and that would pose safety concerns for the guards,” says Lowry.

And, for everyone’s enjoyment of the amenity, proper swimming attire is required. New Territory bans cut-offs, inappropriate suits, and loose clothing. It also implements a 10-minute safety break, observed each hour, at each of its pools. According to the rules, everyone must be out of the water.

While community associations are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the people who use common area facilities, like pools, they’re also responsible for writing rules that aren’t discriminatory. The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 forces associations to examine all rules regarding the use of the common facilities to ensure they do not discriminate against individuals protected by the act, including discrimination based on handicap and familial status.

No rules are foolproof, but covering the basics and tailoring the details will make the summer at the pool easier for you, your staff, and your residents.

Right by the Rules

When writing rules, associations should follow three basic principles:

1. The board must have sufficient rule-making authority in its governing documents. Rules must be duly adopted at a board meeting and, once passed, they must be published and distributed to association members before they are enforced.

2. The rule must be reasonable, and it must relate to a legitimate purpose. It should be a good response to the problem being addressed.

3. The rule must be uniformly enforced.

For more information about pools and how you and your community can swim safely this summer check out The Ultimate Guide to Pool Maintenance, available for purchase at CAI Press.

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How to Be Productive in an Always-Distracting World

During CAI’s Annual Conference and Exposition, held last week in Washington, D.C., Brad Pomp, president of Sentry Management, and Kregg Hale, senior vice president of Sentry Management, offered ideas on how people can manage their days to perform to the best of their abilities.

Pomp and Hale kicked it off their presentation with a video of a man and a woman “stuck” at the top steps of a broken escalator and yelling for help instead of simply walking up a few steps. Pomp and Hale said the video illustrates the idea that sometimes people feel over-consumed by various distractions that get in the way from executing a simple solution.

A few statistics they highlighted to prove the point that distractions can be dangerous include:

  • Employees lose six hours a day to due distraction.
  • The average worker receives 121 emails a day.

So, just how productive are we? A typically employee is productive about 40 percent of the day; the other 60 percent comprises distractions, such as social media. Research shows that the human brain cannot multitask; we can only do one thing at a time. As an interactive example, Pomp and Hale asked attendees to hold their thumb out with their dominant hand and then use their other hand to try to play rock-paper-scissors. It’s impossible!

Pomp and Hale shared some suggestions for managing distractions and constantly-changing tasks:

  • Be intentional. If you don’t control your day, it’s going to control you. Have a purpose and a plan. This can be done through task management. Ask yourself: What can I get done today?
  • Control your personal access. Give yourself a total physical block for focused work, like closing your office door, using headphones, or posting a do-not-disturb sign.
  • Set expectations. Tell your colleagues how your time and accessibility should be respected. For example, instead of running your day through your inbox, designate an hour of your day to respond to all emails rather than replying to individual ones all day long.
  • Leverage technology. Tools like One Note, Evernote, and Rocket Book can help you manage your day.

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A Good Board Member Make up

Board members who strive to serve the best interests of their resdients regardless of their personal interests are critical to leading a community.

These are a few of the must-have traits and skills that make board members successful:

Be respectful. Board members should lead by consensus, not by command. It’s their job to keep discussions civil, productive, and on point.

Be interested. Effective board members understand that everyone benefits by sharing and discussing.

Be empathetic. Sometimes, residents—even other board members—can be inconsiderate or insulting. A good board member will turn a negative conversation around and find out what’s really bothering residents.

Be selfless. Good board members put their egos aside and give others credit where credit is due.

Be a team player. Board members who volunteer to serve while only looking to help themselves are a problem. Effective board members do what’s in the best interests of the community and are more than willing to compromise.

Be business-oriented. An association is a business. Having board members with accounting, organizational, and team-building backgrounds can help. Someone with a financial background, for example, might make a good treasurer.

Read CAI’s Board Member Tool Kit for an overview of the information, tools and resources board members need to be successful. The Tool Kit is available as a free PDF download. A free printed copy is available to board members who join CAI (Call toll free 888-224-4321 to request it.). Copies also are available for purchase.

What other traits and skills make board members successful? Let us know in the comments below.

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Kudos to CAI’s Volunteer Award Winners

CAI honored several members at the Annual Awards Dinner, on May 11 in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with our 2018 Annual Conference and Exposition. The honors presented throughout the evening saluted individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership to advance community association living.

A past president of CAI’s New Jersey Chapter and an active member of the chapter’s legislative action committee, Michael Pesce (pictured above), PCAM, received CAI’s Rising Star Award. When he agreed to teach The Essentials of Community Association Management (M-100) as a full-semester, accredited course at New Jersey’s Montclair University after more than three decades of volunteer service, Pesce helped CAI reach an important milestone.

Robert M. Diamond, Esq., was awarded the Distinguished Service Award, CAI’s most prestigious recognition, and is the first person to receive this honor twice. A past president of CAI and of CAI’s Washington Metropolitan Chapter, Diamond is a member of the Board of Governors of the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) and has served in numerous other CAI volunteer roles. One of his key contributions has been as CAI’s liaison to the Uniform Law Commission’s Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Property Acts.

Gregory Smith, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CAI’s 2017 president, honored Mike Packard, PCAM, with this year’s President’s Award. Given solely at the discretion of the immediate past president, this award recognizes an individual who has displayed exemplary service and commitment to CAI and who has been instrumental in helping the president achieve CAI’s goals. In presenting this honor, Smith said Packard “has been a model of education, relationship building, and leadership to CAI members for decades, and has been instrumental in helping me reach where I am today.”

Matt D. Ober, Esq., received CAI’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes a member who demonstrates outstanding leadership and long-term dedication to CAI. President-elect of the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), Ober is a past president of CAI’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter, a two-time past president of the Greater Inland Empire Chapter, and a member of CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee and CAI’s Government & Public Affairs Committee, among many other endeavors.

Cylinda Walker, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, was named Recruiter of the Year. She introduced CAI to 134 new members in 2017. Play the video below to hear what she said upon accepting the honor.

View the complete list of 2018 honorees.


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Managing your Cybersecurity Risks

According to the “2018 Survey of Cybersecurity in Community Associations,” released by the Foundation for Community Association Research, 56 percent of community associations have policies and procedures in place to collect, store, and protect homeowners’ personal data. This critical report was presented at CAI’s 2018 Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C.

As more security and data breaches occur in the U.S., states are amending and adopting laws governing the protection of personal and financial information and how breaches in these areas must be reported and addressed. In 2018, the Foundation surveyed more than 600 community association managers, board members, and the professionals who support associations to identify the risks and liabilities associated with using technology to conduct association business.

According to the Foundation’s research, ransomware and phishing are the most common forms of attack on community associations. More than half of the communities surveyed reported that fraud and theft are their top concerns. Additionally, 92 percent report that their community associations use software management programs, and nearly half of respondents indicated that cost and program compatibility are the most common considerations when selecting financial software.

The research also shows that 56 percent of associations have adopted policies to protect privacy information, and the overwhelming majority continue to store hard-copy documents like contracts, financial and payment data and records, and resident contact information.

“As technology continues to consume every aspect of our daily lives, there’s not one sector of our economy that’s safe. Community associations and the residents who live and work in these communities are no exception,” says David Jennings, CAE, SHRM, the Foundation’s executive director. “This new research helps us establish a baseline of awareness that will be used to develop tools to educate community association leaders about cybersecurity issues arising from social media, community websites, and third-party payment portals.”



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A Round of Applause

CAI awarded 625 career-enriching designations during the organization’s 2018 Annual Conference and Exposition. Like other CAI members who have achieved these credentials before them, all of the new designees have dedicated themselves to becoming experts in community association management and operations and have committed to abide by the high standards of CAI’s Professional Code of Ethics.

After successfully completing all 200-level Professional Management Development Program (PMDP) courses and an arduous Case Study, along with several years’ experience as professional managers, 87 CAI members were awarded the Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) designation, the world’s most prestigious and respected credential for association managers. Nearly 3,000 managers now hold this significant industry recognition, which was first awarded in 1982 to 17 managers.

Additionally, more than 500 managers received the noteworthy Association Management Specialist (AMS) designation. This important credential requires several years of management experience and indicates a manager’s commitment to the community management profession and to advancing his or her career.

Two managers—Sarah E. Gerstein, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, and Vicki E. Eaton, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM—were awarded CAI’s Large-Scale Manager (LSM) designation. Eaton is the 100th manager to earn this specialist credential, which is available only to managers who have already earned the PCAM designation and who have demonstrated proficiency in managing communities representing 1,000 units or more and with budgets of $2 million or greater.

CAI’s Community Insurance and Risk Management Specialist (CIRMS) designation recognizes a demonstrated high level of competence within the risk management profession. Eleven insurance professionals received this valuable credential at this year’s Annual Conference.

Based on the educational equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in construction management, architecture, or engineering, and after years of specialized experience in the field, professional reserve specialists are qualified to ensure that community associations have accurate reserve budgets based on a thorough review of common areas and infrastructure. No less than a dozen CAI members were awarded the esteemed Reserve Specialist (RS) designation.

Ten management companies received the Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC) designation, bringing the number of businesses with this invaluable credential to more than 300. The AAMC designation indicates to client community associations that a management company is committed to providing unique and diverse services and has ensured that its employees have the skills, experience, and integrity to help communities succeed.


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