Category Archives: Apartments

What to know before you rent your home

If you own a home in a community association and want to rent it out, you can make the leasing experience successful and positive for everyone by understanding your responsibilities. This will help preserve your property value specifically and maintain the association’s property value in general.

Before you make your home available for rentals (short-term or long-term), be sure to check your association rules and local laws. Some communities and municipalities specifically prohibit rentals or may regulate the terms (length, frequency, number of renters, etc.). You also should contact your homeowners insurance carrier to be sure you’re covered for any incidents related to rentals.

Assuming all checks out, follow the simple steps below to ensure you, the tenants, and the association all have a positive experience.

Provide your tenants with copies of association rulesYour tenants may not be familiar with common-interest community living. Take a few minutes to explain to them that living in a community association is very different from living in a rental apartment community.

Ensure that tenants comply with association rules. Your tenants, like all residents, are subject to the rules and regulations of the association. The board and manager can assist you in this area, but the responsibility lies with you.

Advise tenants on the proper use of association facilities. Provide your tenants with written copies of all policies and rules regarding community amenities and common areas. You can obtain copies of these and other useful documents from the board or manager.

Use a written lease agreement, and make sure it requires tenants to comply with all association governing documents. As a landlord of a home in a community association, the lease you use must require tenants to comply with the association’s governing documents.

In the event your tenant fails to comply with these documents, including the bylaws, or its rules and regulations, a representative of the association will first contact your tenants in an attempt to remedy the problem. The association will send you a copy of any notice sent to tenants.

If the tenant doesn’t correct the violation, the association will contact you and expect you to remedy the violation using the recourse available to you through your lease agreement. If you are unable to correct the violation, the association may pursue appropriate legal action against the tenant, and possibly against you.

Provide the association with contact information for your tenants. The association will add your tenants to its mailing list, and they will receive the newsletter, invitations to participate on committees, notices of social activities, and general association-related information. This information also will be used in case of emergency.

If you’re a renter and don’t have a copy of the association rules or if you’d like more information about the association, contact a board member or manager.

The post What to know before you rent your home appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

Clean that clutter! Six steps to a mess-free home

Do you have piles of clothes, papers, and “stuff” collecting in your home? You’re not alone. It’s time to clean up that clutter and make your abode a more enjoyable and relaxing place to live. To help you tackle your next home organization project, follow this quick guide to decluttering:

  • Create a schedule. Depending on how high those piles are, you may not be able to accomplish the task in a single weekend. So, try tackling one room at a time. It may seem like a daunting project, but it will be less scary if you break it down into segments.
  • Practice a one-item-in-one-item-out rule. When you buy an item of clothing, for example, throw out one item of clothing. Not only will it keep down the clutter, but it will also make you rethink whether you really want to buy that new item.
  • Create a stress-free environment in the bedroom. That means no piles of toys and no mounds of clothes. It should be a place where you can rest without worry.
  • Make cleaning up fun for kids by turning it into a game. Kids are often the clutter culprits; involve them in the process to make things neater and more organized.
  • Know your vision for the room. What do you want from a room? Is it a place where you work, a space where you unwind, a playroom for the little ones, or something else? If you can answer that question, you’ll be able to decide what items stay and what items go.
  • Try to make decluttering a part of your everyday life. If you do it at the same time every day—like before you go to bed—the piles won’t accumulate and you won’t have to set aside a block of time to do a major cleaning.

The post Clean that clutter! Six steps to a mess-free home appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

Different strokes, different folks: How community managers and property managers have distinct roles

A common mistake in state legislatures considering community association manager licensing—and among the general public—is to lump community association managers and property managers into the same bucket. While both are very important roles, they are distinctly different professions with functions, skill sets, and responsibilities specific to each.

A community association manager can manage every type of community: condominium associations, homeowner associations, resort communities, and commercial tenant associations. A community association manager works directly with property owners and homeowners.

Property managers oversee individual rental units or a group of rental units, such as an apartment complex. They’re responsible for managing the entire property, while community association managers are responsible for common areas—not individually owned properties.

“From a legislative standpoint, this incorrect categorization occurs because state legislators misunderstand the nature of community association management,” says Matthew Green, director of credentialing services for Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB). “They believe that community association management skills are identical to those of a property manager without recognizing the vastly different responsibilities of these two positions.”

This misunderstanding of the two professions often bleeds into more general conversations occurring in this space. Compounding this is the reality that there’s a slight overlap in a couple of the duties performed. For example, both property managers and community association managers supervise certain maintenance activities, such as swimming pool upkeep and trash removal. But it’s important to understand that community association managers oversee and direct all aspects of running the business operation. This means that they authorize payment for association services; develop budgets and present association financial reports to board members; direct the enforcement of restrictive covenants; perform site inspections; solicit, evaluate, and assist in insurance purchases; and even supervise the design and delivery of association recreational programs.

Property managers are responsible for managing the actual property and therefore handle the physical assets of the unit at the owner’s request. Property managers generally oversee rental units and leases. Their responsibilities might include finding or evicting tenants, collecting rent, and responding to tenant complaints or specific requests. If a property manager is responsible for a vacation or second home, he or she may arrange for services such as house-sitting or local sub-contracting necessary to maintain that property. Alternatively, an owner may opt to delegate specific tasks to a property manager and choose to handle other duties directly.

Stephanie Durner, CMCA, AMS, director of community management at River Landing, a gated golf course community in Wallace, N.C., views the distinction this way:

“While property managers are generally charged with overseeing physical structures that are used by people who are not the owners of the property, association managers represent the property owners themselves and are involved in just about every aspect of the overall community. For instance, if a garage door is broken at a rental house, the tenant would call a property manager or owner/landlord. But if there’s a pothole that needs repair or if a neighbor’s dog is running loose through the neighborhood, that’s a task for the community association manager who both maintains the common areas and upholds the governing rules. To me, community association management is a more holistic approach that contributes to the overall quality of life for all the owners in a community.”

Green emphasizes that while some job responsibilities are similar, community association managers have additional functions. “It’s critical that community association management be recognized as distinct from property management because association management requires a wider variety of knowledge and skills,” he says.

Because of these differences, community managers and property managers need different training and education.

CAMICB offers and maintains the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential, the only international certification program designed exclusively for managers of homeowner and condominium associations and cooperatives. The CMCA credential means an individual has taken and passed the rigorous CMCA examination, proving they have a solid understanding of the business operations involved in being a community association manager.

The post above originally was published on CAMICB’s CMCAcorner blog. Follow along for the latest on the essential credential for community managers.

The post Different strokes, different folks: How community managers and property managers have distinct roles appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

Snow way, Spot! How to keep your furry friends safe this season

Community association residents love their pets, so keeping them safe in the winter should be a top priority. Here are some ways you can ensure Fido and Felix stay warm, happy, and out of harm’s way even on the dreariest of winter days.

These paws were made for walking—to a point. Watch out for sidewalk salt. Pets’ paws are extremely sensitive, so prolonged exposure to sidewalk salt can be problematic. If you walk your dog regularly in areas where sidewalk salt is used during inclement weather, wipe the underside of paws with warm water and a clean towel when you go inside. Doing so also eliminates risk of ingestion if your pup licks its paws often. Keep an eye on your pet’s toe pads for severe dryness, cracking, or bleeding.

The weather outside is frightful. So bring your pets indoors. In the summer, when temperatures reach extreme highs, pets should be brought inside. The same is true for winter, when temperature reach extreme lows. This applies for daytime and nighttime. Remember, if you’re uncomfortable with the outside air temperature, chances are your pet is too.

Why don’t we bundle up, Buttercup. When pets do go outside during the winter, those with thinner fur coats may need extra warmth. Your local pet store should have an assortment of extra layers for your dog—even winter boots for pups who need extra paw protection from the cold and ice. Only add layers if your pet can truly benefit. If you’re unsure, consult your veterinarian.

All work sleep and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Keep your pets active throughout the winter. During inclement weather, when you can’t make it outside with your pup, set aside some extra time during the day to make sure they get some exercise—even 15 minutes of playtime helps. Paying attention to your pup keeps them engaged and happy, and ensures no bad behavior caused by boredom.

The post Snow way, Spot! How to keep your furry friends safe this season appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

Winter is coming: Prepare your home and community now

Winter doesn’t officially start until Dec. 21, but it’s already making its presence known in many areas across the country.

The cold and wet conditions of the season can wreak havoc on unprepared community associations and homeowners. Whether you’re waiting for Old Man Winter to make its first appearance or you’re already cleaning up from a pre-season storm, you should take steps to winterize your home and community now.

Follow the simple checklists below and tackle the most time-sensitive tasks:

Indoor winterizing

  • Examine doors and replace weather-stripping as needed
  • Examine window caulking and reseal where needed
  • Examine and repair vents where needed
  • Clean chimneys and flues
  • Remove items near heat vents
  • Place nonskid runners or door mats outside to help keep water, sand, and salt out of the house

Outdoor winterizing

  • Cut back tree branches and shrubs that hide signs or block light
  • Examine outdoor handrails and tighten if needed
  • Turn off electrical breakers for outdoor equipment
  • Close hose bibs
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts
  • Clear yard drains
  • Spray outdoor locks and hinges with lubricant
  • Stake driveway and walkway edges that may be difficult to find under deep snow

You and your community also should assemble, stockpile, or refresh the following supplies:

  • Batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • Ice melt and deicer
  • Sand
  • Snow shovels
  • Generator fuel
  • Antifreeze

For more information and resources about community association living, visit www.caionline.org.

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Smoking Ban Goes Up In … Smoke

A failed smoking ban remains a point of contention between residents at a nearly 40-year-old condominium building in St. Paul, Minn., according to the Star Tribune.

The Gallery Tower board voted to ban smoking in the summer of 2017. The ban, which was due to go into effect this past April, was supposed to apply to units and the balconies outside them, according to reports. However, earlier this year, newly elected board members who smoke took control and voted to rescind the ban before it took effect.

A 19-year resident of the Gallery Tower, Marge Romero, felt she should be able to do what she wants within the confines of her home—and that includes smoking cigarettes.

In January, Romero and two other residents who opposed the smoking ban were elected to the board, and the following month the board voted to rescind the ban, citing it was a big overreach.

Yet that hasn’t stopped other buildings from outright bans.

“I think there has been a definite trend toward banning smoking in condominiums, and I expect that to continue,” says Matt Drewes, president of the CAI Minnesota Chapter. “Efforts at redirecting, controlling, or containing smoke has had mixed results and have often fallen short of making all parties happy, and they come at a certain expense that the owners involved may not be willing or equipped to pay.”

The fight at Gallery Tower may not be over yet. Residents like Jeff Tentinger and his wife, Robin— who spent more than $8,000 on air purifiers—were stunned people needed to vote on a smoking ban in 2018, especially given the health problems related to secondhand smoke.

States, cities, and other local governments have been moving to ban smoking in public places for years. Residents of public housing facilities in the U.S. can no longer smoke in or near the buildings in a new rule that went into effect July 31.

Many community associations have been outlawing the practice in common areas and on amenities but letting owners continue to smoke inside their units. Some condominiums are trending toward full bans, yet as the Gallery Tower situation proves, they may have a fight on their hands.

The post Smoking Ban Goes Up In … Smoke appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

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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5 Apartment Design Trends to Consider if You’re Ready to Renovate

Whether you’re on a condo board or renting out a home that you inherited, featuring on-trend rental property renovations can help you to stay on top in a competitive market.

So, which apartment renovation trends should you implement if you’re looking to update your property in 2018? Read on to find out.

5 Apartment Renovation Trends to Consider

Apartment Renovation Trends: #1

Less Space, More Shared Amenities

In tight, expensive markets like New York City and San Francisco, multiple trends have arisen that balance smaller private spaces with appealing amenities. In cities, micro-apartments and shared living spaces mean that people have less square footage in their individual units, but they enjoy shared amenities like gyms, yoga studios, and communal kitchens. Tiny homes are part of this trend as well: Many of the popular models are housed on large lots, where outdoor space and community areas are abundant.

This tiny living trend has an implicit trade-off: Spaces are smaller because the real estate market is expensive, but the smaller square footage makes these units more affordable. If you’re not in an expensive area, compact units may be less popular.

Apartment Renovation Trends: #2

Healthy Homes

People want homes that are healthy. If you’re renovating, it’s the perfect opportunity to make sure that the home is free of environmental contaminants like mold, radon, asbestos, and lead paint. Your local zoning authority may already require this; but if not, making sure that the environment is free of toxins is a selling point for those with young children or certain health conditions.

In addition, high-quality air filters are standard, and water filters are popular. Be sure to use non-toxic paint and other products, too.

You may also want to take advantage of the shared amenities and healthy homes trends by focusing on green living. Rooftop gardens and other community green spaces are very appealing to residents.

In addition, you can add bicycle racks that promote exercise and a green commute will attract those with a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Apartment Renovation Trends: #3

Environmentally Friendly Design & Features

Sustainable, environmentally friendly building practices are becoming a necessity in many areas. They are also popular with renters, both to reduce energy costs and to lessen their carbon footprint.

If a major renovation is in the cards, you may want to consider adding large windows to take advantage of natural light. In the summer, window shades can help to keep homes cooler without air conditioning; and the same is true for winter, when shades can help to insulate windows to keep cold air out.

Solar power can significantly reduce energy costs in certain locations–potentially enough to repay part of your renovation costs.

Smart thermostats should definitely be part of the renovation, as they allow renters to use energy only when they are in the home or heading back to it. Thermostats with automatic timers are a less expensive option.

If you are renovating an older home, it may need new insulation in the attic. Caulking around windows and doors can make sure that less warmth escapes in the winter and less cooling is needed in the summer. All energy-related renovations will eventually pay off in smaller energy bills.

Apartment Renovation Trends: #4

Smart Home Technology

Smart homes are popular. In fact, one 2015 survey indicated that 45 percent of homeowners either owned smart home technology or planned to invest in it during 2016–and these rates have undoubtedly risen since then. Of this group, roughly 33 percent did not consider themselves early adopters, which is even more proof that the smart home trend is no longer avant-garde: It’s becoming mainstream.

The most popular smart home features are centered on entertainment, so depending on your market, you could add capabilities for smart televisions and speakers. The second-most popular category of smart home tech relates to temperature control and security management. We’re already mentioned smart thermostats, but smart locks and security cameras are popular as well.

Apartment Renovation Trends: #5

Natural Wood Floors

Natural wood floors have been the most popular flooring trend for some time. They continue to be, but with some new trends. Wide plank floors are currently the most popular option. Dark wood floors have recently gained popularity because they provide good contrast with neutral-colored walls and moldings. Gray wood floors are also popular for their neutral look and modern appeal.

If you currently have an older home with wall-to-wall carpeting or other flooring, wood floors are one of the best renovation-related investments you can make.

Remember: Property Managers Can Help

Does this seem like a daunting list? Remember, you don’t have to do renovations by yourself. Experienced property managers can help you to develop renovation plans and see them through to completion. When you’re ready to find a property manager in your area, All Property Management will be here to help.

Megan is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate, home improvement, and coffee consumption. Follow her on Twitter @Megan_Wild, or check out her blog, Your Wild Home’s weekly newsletter.

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Rental Applicants with Criminal Histories: Why Blanket Bans Are a Bad Idea

Convicted felons and registered sex offenders have to live somewhere once they’ve been released. However, is renting to rental applicants with criminal histories worth the potential risk to your residents and staff staff?

It’s impossible to determine whether or not rental applicants with criminal histories will reoffend. Recidivism rates vary based a tangled web of factors, from their specific criminal history to their demographic characteristics. Not everyone who’s made a few mistakes in the past is going to be a criminal in the future-but landlords can’t be expected to separate risky applicants from those who deserve a second chance.

With incarceration rates being as high as they are, property managers in many communities are making tough decisions about whom to rent to. 1 in 4 Americans has a criminal conviction on their record-and in some areas, that proportion is much higher. Renting only to people whose background check is pure as the driven snow often isn’t an option.

Nevertheless, the primary responsibility of landlords and property managers is to protect their residents. In addition, landlords and their agents may be held liable for the actions of criminals who live on their property, and the financial or physical damage they do to other residents and their property. For example, say that a resident is injured by shady guests of a tenant who’s dealing drugs. The victim could sue the landlord and report the property to authorities as a public nuisance; and as a result, you could be fined, or your property could be seized.

So does this mean that you should simply decline all rental applicants with criminal histories?

“Not so fast,” say the Feds. Last year, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fired a shot across the bow of property managers and landlords nationwide, warning that refusing to rent to applicants solely on the basis of their criminal history could constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The reason: Such a refusal has a disparate effect on Black Americans, who are more likely than other demographics to have a criminal conviction on their record. During Obama’s presidency, it was HUD’s position that an outright ban on rental applicants with criminal histories constitutes de facto discrimination against Black Americans.

A statement from former HUD secretary Julian Castro noted that some 100 million Americans have a criminal conviction on their record. That’s nearly 1 in 3 adults. Furthermore, HUD asserted a public policy interest: When “individuals are released from prisons and jails, their ability to access safe, secure and affordable housing is critical to their successful reentry to society.” (You can read Secretary Castro’s statement in its entirety here.)

Convicted criminals are not themselves a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. However, HUD’s position is that if the effect of a rental policy has a disparate effect on a protected class (i.e., race, color, creed, handicap, or national origin), then the landlord could be guilty of illegal discrimination-even if they had no intent to discriminate. The disparate impact theory of discrimination as it relates to housing has recently been upheld by the Supreme Court.

When former mayor Rudy Giuliani and police commissioner William Bratton cleaned up the city of New York, they credited a great deal of their success to their willingness to enforce laws against nuisance crimes. They posited that many small-time criminals, such as graffiti artists and squeegee men, were also committing more serious crimes. By taking them off the streets, therefore, crime would decrease significantly-a problematic theory known as “broken windows policing.”

Landlords don’t get to use that strategy anymore. HUD warned that a blanket ban on rental applicants with criminal histories likely violates the FHA “if it is not necessary to serve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest of the housing provider, or if such interest could be served by another practice that has a less discriminatory effect.”

If your rental leases or CC&Rs contain language expressing similar policies, it’s probably time to remove them-before a plaintiff’s attorney finds a case and files a suit.

In deciding whether or not to rent to rental applicants with criminal histories, landlords must take into account the severity of the crime and the length of time that has elapsed. HUD did carve out an exception for those convicted of manufacturing or distributing drugs; landlords and property managers are still free to refuse to rent to this population if they choose. They’ve also exempted buildings with 1-4 units where the landlord lives on-site.

As of now, landlords should tailor their rental criteria and documents very carefully. “Arbitrary and overbroad” prohibitions are red flags. Landlords should apply the minimum restrictions necessary to ensure the protection and safety of their residents, neighbors, and staff.

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