Sign up here: 12 ways to recruit and retain volunteers

Volunteers play a critical role in making community associations vibrant and attractive places to live. Finding, motivating, directing, and maintaining volunteers’ interest, however, are challenging tasks.

Assigning association responsibilities to the right people, asking them to accomplish realistic tasks, and making them glad they did add to the challenge. Communities can perfect their recruitment and retainment strategies with the following tips and tricks.

Ask early. Start recruiting volunteers early. Tap into the excitement and energy people bring to their new home. Ask them to volunteer and get involved to channel that enthusiasm in a way that benefits the entire community.

Ask often. Many people will wait to be asked and, if no one asks, they may never volunteer. The best way to recruit is to personally invite people to get involved, rather than posting a notice in the newsletter, an email, or on social media.

Play matchmaker. Ask residents about their talents, interests, likes, and dislikes; then successfully match them with relevant volunteer roles.

Don’t overwhelm. Don’t overload volunteers, especially new residents, with too much work. Keep roles modest, and make sure they understand the monthly time commitment.

Respect their time. Start and end meetings on time, and always share the agenda a few days before a meeting so volunteers can prepare for the discussion.

Respect their ideas. When a volunteer shares an idea or recommendation, he or she is owed an acknowledgement, what the ultimate decision was, and why. If the idea isn’t appropriate, tactfully point out why without making it personal or attacking the idea.

Provide guidance. Have experienced committee members mentor and nurture newer members and provide them with the skills they need to take on greater responsibilities.

Educate. Providing relevant educational opportunities also is helpful and a wise investment in the community’s future.

Make it fun and rewarding. Build in time to socialize before and after a meeting, but don’t let it interfere with the purpose of gathering. Fun events build a sense of teamwork.

Make accommodations. People are more likely to volunteer if small accommodations are made to make it convenient. Be flexible and open to changes if it means greater volunteer participation. Consider asking your residents when they’d be most likely to attend meetings.

Build your bench. With more active, team-minded volunteers, your community can accomplish much more. It also will be in a better position when volunteers move or step down from their roles.

Thank gratuitously. Recognize volunteers for their efforts. Ways to express appreciation could include an inexpensive plaque or certificate of appreciation; public acknowledgement at the annual meeting; an expression of thanks on the association webpage; or a listing of volunteers’ names in the community newsletter or on social media. Keep in mind that board members typically are prohibited from accepting gifts.

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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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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.

The post Turnaround leader: How a board president revitalized a community in financial disarray appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

‘Twas the Night Before (the HOA’s) Christmas

‘Twas the night before the HOA’s Christmas, and through the community
Not a complaint was heard, there appeared just pure unity;
The thank-you notes were placed by the bulletin board with care,
In hopes that the board and manager would soon see them there;

The homeowners were nestled all snug in their beds,
No worries of paint or roofs bothering their heads,
And the Vice President in her condo, and I in mine too,
Had just settled down for a break from reviewing the dues,

When out in the courtyard there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my balcony to see what was the matter.
Away to the railing I flew like a flash,
Only to see neighbors with gripes to rehash.

I couldn’t figure out in the dark of the night
Exactly what they thought gave them the right,
But I knew from my time on the homeowners board,
Our meetings these neighbors had always ignored,

Then in a flash I noticed a visitor,
Who tried to join that group of inquisitors
He wore a red fur coat over an ample belly, and
His hearty laugh made it shake as it were jelly,

His smile quickly faded as they all turned away,
They told him that tenants had nothing to say,
The jolly man disappeared as quickly as he came here,
Amid the sound of eight snorting… reindeer?

In a moment came another, without much ado,
He arrived with a viewpoint needed and new,
I knew in a flash it was manager, Nick.
He knew what was needed and he brought it quick,

He exclaimed “Now, Member! now, Neighbor! Now, Bylaws and Covenant,
Please read the rules before bringing your comment.
Now back to your homes, and back to your castles,
Please, just for today, have a cease to the hassles”

He said “you by choice bought in a community,
Which works at its best when all live in unity,
Remember that your board serves you for free,
and consider joining a committee – or three.

“You have no busy elves, and HOAs thrive when all work as a team,
If all think only of selves, a nightmare soon it will seem.
Your association is much like a large but rowed boat,
If each rows as a solo, not for long will it float.”

Amidst headshakes and handshakes the courtyard then cleared,
And I hoped that above still flew a sleigh and eight impatient reindeer.

No reindeer or jolly elf’s labors returned to the site,
But folks reached to their neighbors, and started treating them right.
A different air began to take hold in the complex
As the Golden Rule became our theme and our text.

Manager Nick surveyed the scene, pleased,
Knowing the group a happy future had it seized.
And laying his finger aside of his face,
He ran toward his car as if in a race;

He sprang to his auto, heading home in a dash,
And away he drove as quick as a flash.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

[Readers: May peace and neighborliness permeate your communities in the coming year!]

The post ‘Twas the Night Before (the HOA’s) Christmas appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

We’re Having What Kind of Meeting?

What’s the different between an annual meeting, special meeting, town hall meeting, and board meeting? With so many different types of meetings in community associations, it’s easy to get confused. Here’s some clarification.

Annual meetings are required by community association governing documents, which specify when they’re to be conducted and how and when members are to be notified about the meeting. This is the main meeting of the year when members receive the new budget, elect a board, hear committee reports, and discuss items of common interest.

Special meetings are limited to a topic. The board can call a special meeting at any time, and they must notify all members in advance. The notice will specify the topic so interested members can attend. Special meetings give the board an opportunity to explore sensitive or controversial issue—like an assessment increase. Members do not participate in the meeting, unless asked directly by a board member, but they have a right to listen to the discussion.

Town hall meetings are informal gatherings intended to promote two-way communication; full member participation is essential to success. The board may want to present a controversial issue, explore an important question like amending the bylaws, get a sense of members’ priorities, garner support for a large project, or clarify a decision.

Board meetings are where most association business is conducted. Board members set policy, review operations, resolve disputes, and plan for future initiatives. Often, the health and harmony of an entire community is directly linked to how constructive these meetings are.

Executive session is the only time residents can’t listen in on the board’s discussions. By law, the topics that the board can discuss in an executive session are limited to a narrow range of sensitive issues. Executive sessions keep only the discussion private; no votes can be taken. The board must adjourn the executive session and resume the open session before voting on an issue. Members hear the outcome, but not the private details.

Don’t forget to tune into our YouTube channel for the latest news about CAI’s events.

For more information about this topic check out CAI’s Meetings & Elections, available for purchase at CAI Press.

The post We’re Having What Kind of Meeting? appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

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.

The post A Good Board Member Make up appeared first on Ungated: Community Associations Institute Blog.

2015 Visitors’ Choice Awards: America’s Most In-Demand Property Management Companies

Connecting the millions of rental property owners and association board members who visit AllPropertyManagement.com every year with the thousands of property and association management companies in our network is what All Property Management does, and we are exceedingly good at it. 2015 was a great year for the real estate industry as a whole, what with home prices and rental rates rising across the country, and the companies in our network benefited from surging demand for the valuable services they offer.

Badge for winners of the 2015 Visitors' Choice AwardsThe 200 property and association management companies listed below received the most inquiries for information and free quotes from users of the All Property Management network in 2015. As AllPropertyManagement.com is the Internet’s foremost intermediary between professional property and association managers and those who need their services, Visitors’ Choice Award winners should be viewed as among the most in-demand property and association management companies in the entire United States.

Based on All Property Management’s interactions with our network’s users, we’ve learned that the success attained by the companies listed below comes from providing prompt communication, excellent customer service and thorough documentation for their clients. Having strong relationships with skilled and ethical contractors and vendors and possessing a thorough understanding of landlord-tenant law is also highly important. Here’s a tip for the companies who didn’t win a 2015 Visitors’ Choice Award that want to have a more successful 2016 – make a point to improve on these traits!

The winners of the 2015 Visitors’ Choice Awards are listed alphabetically below. Congratulations to these winners – you deserve this high honor! The All Property Management staff hopes you experience even greater success in the coming year.

Alabama

  • Marketplace Homes – Alabama (statewide)

Arizona

  • Gorenter – Phoenix, AZ
  • Mark Brower Properties – Mesa, AZ
  • Marketplace Homes – Arizona (statewide)
  • MBA Real Estate, LLC – Phoenix, AZ
  • Northpoint Asset Management – Phoenix, AZ
  • Real Property Management East Valley – Mesa, AZ
  • Rentals America – Mesa, AZ
  • Renters Warehouse (Phoenix) – Phoenix, AZ
  • Rosenbaum Realty Group – Mesa, AZ
  • SGI Property Management (Phoenix) – Phoenix, AZ

California

  • 24/7 Real Estate Leasing & Management – Los Angeles, CA
  • A&M Property Management, Inc – Campbell, CA
  • All County Community – Temecula, CA
  • All County Property Management West – Monterey Park, CA
  • Apple Assets and Property Management – Campbell, CA
  • Bay Community Management – San Francisco, CA
  • Blackstone Realty & Management, Inc. – Beverly Hills, CA
  • Clear Stone Property Management – Lake Balboa, CA
  • Durante & Rich Real Estate – Chula Vista, CA
  • J & N Realty, Inc. – Canoga Park, CA
  • KV Real Estate – Corona, CA
  • LBPM – Sherman Oaks, CA
  • Liberty Property Management – Modesto, CA
  • LRS Realty and Management (Los Angeles) – Chatsworth, CA
  • LRS Realty and Management (Orange County) – Irvine, CA
  • LRS Realty and Management (San Diego) – San Diego, CA
  • LRS Realty and Management Multifamily – Chatsworth, CA
  • Marples Property Management – Brentwood, CA
  • My Smart Lease – San Bernardino, CA
  • Noble Real Estate Services – Chula Vista, CA
  • OneRent (San Francisco/Oakland Area) – San Jose, CA
  • Prellis Property Management – Granada Hills, CA
  • Pristine Property Management – Downey, CA
  • Property Management of San Diego – San Diego, CA
  • Real Property Management California Coast – El Segundo, CA
  • Real Property Management South San Fernando Valley – Sherman Oaks, CA
  • RentToday – Los Angeles County, CA
  • RentToday – San Bernardino County, CA
  • RentToday – San Diego County, CA
  • RentToday – Orange County, CA
  • RentToday – Riverside County, CA
  • Secure One Properties – Westlake Village, CA
  • The Property Management Connection – Long Beach, CA
  • West Point Property Management – Huntington Beach, CA
  • Willie Mussallam’s Real Estate Services – Mountain House, CA

Colorado

  • All County Colorado Springs – Colorado Springs, CO
  • Investor’s Realty LLC – Denver, CO
  • Marketplace Homes – Colorado (statewide)
  • Northpoint Asset Management – Denver, CO
  • Top Properties – Denver, CO
  • Woodruff Property Management, LLC – Denver, CO

Connecticut

  • Absolute Value Property Management – Riverside, CT

District of Columbia

  • Nomadic Real Estate – Washington, D.C.
  • Urbane Results, LLC – Washington, D.C.

Florida

  • CCRMPS – Coconut Creek, FL
  • Diamond Rental Management – Jacksonville, FL
  • Douglas Realty Property Management – Cape Coral, FL
  • InvestPro Properties, Inc – Jupiter, FL
  • Legends Realty – Lake Mary, FL
  • Marketplace Homes – Florida (statewide)
  • Morehouse Realty – Winter Park, FL
  • Northpoint Asset Management (Tampa) – Tampa, FL
  • Orlando Realty and Property Management – Orlando, FL
  • Presidential Group South, Inc. – Altamonte Springs, FL
  • Property Management Pros (Jacksonville) – Jacksonville, FL
  • Property Management Pros (Orlando) – Orlando, FL
  • RealSource Property Management – Orlando, FL
  • Rent It Network – Tampa, FL
  • Renters Warehouse (Sunny Isles) – Sunny Isles, FL
  • RentPro Florida LLC – Boynton Beach, FL
  • Winbrow Property Management – Boynton Beach, FL
  • WrightDavis Property Management – Tampa, FL

Georgia

  • Atlantic Property Management – Alpharetta, GA
  • Central Georgia Realty – Senoia, GA
  • Central Georgia Realty (East Perimeter) – Senoia, GA
  • Central Georgia Realty (North Atlanta) – Senoia, GA
  • Marketplace Homes – Georgia (statewide)
  • My Rent Source Property Management – Newnan, GA
  • Renters Warehouse (Atlanta) – Atlanta, GA
  • Ritan Property Group – Atlanta, GA
  • Sentry Management Inc. – Atlanta, GA

Illinois

  • Celtic Property Management – Joliet, IL
  • Chicagoland Leasing and Management – Chicago, IL
  • Chicagoland Leasing and Property Management, Inc. – Aurora, IL
  • Durante & Rich Real Estate – Richmond, IL
  • Grid 7 Properties – West Dundee, IL
  • In Business Real Estate LLC – Chicago, IL
  • Letts Property Management – Downers Grove, IL
  • Marketplace Homes – Illinois (statewide)
  • RE/MAX Synergy Residential – Orland Park, IL
  • Real Property Management Chicago Edge – Chicago, IL
  • Real Property Management Group – Chicago, IL
  • Real Property Management Suburban Chicago – Franklin Park, IL

Indiana

  • Marketplace Homes – Indiana (statewide)
  • Real Property Management Indianapolis Edge – Indianapolis, IN
  • Real Property Management Indianapolis Metro – Indianapolis, IN

Kentucky

  • Marketplace Homes – Kentucky (statewide)

Maryland

  • All County Chesapeake – Bel Air, MD
  • Bay Management Group – Baltimore, MD
  • Goldberg Group PM – Montgomery County, MD
  • Maredith Management, AAMC – La Plata, MD
  • Metropolis Condominium Management – Hyattsville, MD
  • Property Management Pros – Maryland (statewide)
  • PTP Management Services – Fort Washington, MD
  • Real Property Management Capital – Baltimore, MD
  • Realty Group Property Management – Gaithersburg, MD
  • REMAX American Dream – Baltimore, MD
  • Renters Warehouse (Maryland) – Elkridge, MD
  • Tidewater Property Management – Owings Mills, MD

Massachusetts

  • Hancock Realty Group – Newton, MA
  • J. Butler Property Management, LLC – Andover, MA
  • North Point Property Management LLC – Andover, MA
  • Real Property Management Boston – Jamaica Plain, MA

Michigan

  • Aspect Properties, LLC – Rochester, MI
  • East Side Property Services – Rochester, MI
  • Ivey Property Management Group – Detroit, MI
  • Marketplace Homes – Plymouth, MI
  • Mutual Property Management – Farmington, MI
  • North Bloomfield Properties – West Bloomfield, MI
  • One Step Realty – Grand Rapids, MI
  • Prime Property Management – Lansing, MI
  • Real Property Management Metro Detroit – Troy, MI
  • Renters Warehouse (Southeast Michigan) – Livonia, MI

Minnesota

  • Marketplace Homes – Minnesota (statewide)
  • Mauzy Properties Keller Williams – Lakeville, MN
  • Northpoint Asset Management – Edina, MN
  • R.E.I. Property Management, LLC – Minneapolis, MN
  • Renters Warehouse (Minnesota) – Minnetonka, MN
  • Tradewind Properties – Maple Grove, MN
  • Trikin Properties – St. Paul, MN

Missouri

  • Avenue Residential Leasing & Management – Town and Country, MO
  • Elite Property Management – St. Charles, MO
  • Marketplace Homes – Missouri (statewide)
  • Waters & Associates Realty – Saint Louis, MO
  • Worth Clark Realty – Saint Charles, MO

Nebraska

  • Marketplace Homes – Nebraska (statewide)

Nevada

  • GoldenWest Management Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
  • Real Property Management Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
  • Renters Warehouse (Las Vegas) – Las Vegas, NV
  • Results Realty – Las Vegas, NV
  • SGI Property Management (Las Vegas) – Las Vegas, NV
  • Tradewind Investment and Property Management – Las Vegas, NV

New Jersey

  • Abacus Avenue Property Management – Hoboken, NJ
  • Cervelli Management Corp – North Bergen, NJ
  • T.R.M. Property Management – Trenton, NJ

North Carolina

  • Group 15 Real Estate – Charlotte, NC
  • Marketplace Homes – North Carolina (statewide)
  • Northpoint Asset Management (North Carolina) – Charlotte, NC
  • Park Avenue Properties – Cornelius, NC
  • Pinnacle Real Estate Group Inc. – Raleigh, NC
  • Premier Rental Property Management – Charlotte, NC

Ohio

  • Marketplace Homes – Ohio (statewide)

Oregon

  • Passadore Properties, LLC – Portland, OR

Pennsylvania

  • All County Residential – Southampton, PA
  • Del Val Property Management LLC – Malvern, PA
  • Marketplace Homes – Pennsylvania (statewide)
  • Onyx Management Group – Southampton, PA

South Carolina

  • Marketplace Homes – South Carolina (statewide)

Tennessee

  • Marketplace Homes – Tennessee (statewide)
  • Oxford Property Management, Inc. – Brentwood, TN

Texas

  • 360 Realty & Property Management – Houston, TX
  • All County Alamo Property Management – Universal City, TX
  • Birdy Properties, CRMC – San Antonio, TX
  • Empire Industries Property Management – Houston, TX
  • Larsen Properties – San Antonio, TX
  • Leap Property Management – Denton, TX
  • Liberty Management, Inc. – San Antonio, TX
  • MANAGErenthouses.com – Houston, TX
  • Marketplace Homes – Texas (statewide)
  • Northpoint Asset Management – Fort Worth, TX
  • Northpoint Asset Management – Houston, TX
  • PMI of the Woodlands – Magnolia, TX
  • Precision Realty – Houston, TX
  • Propertycare – Houston, TX
  • Real Property Management Houston – Houston, TX
  • Real Property Management LoneStar – Austin, TX
  • Red Wagon Realty – San Antonio, TX
  • Renters Warehouse (Houston) – Houston, TX
  • Renters Warehouse (North Dallas) – Frisco, TX
  • Schuster Property Management – Dallas, TX
  • Trend Property & Management – Keller, TX
  • Tusk Property Management – Houston, TX

Utah

  • Northpoint Asset Management – Salt Lake City, UT
  • PMI of Utah – Lehi, UT
  • Real Property Management Salt Lake City – Murray, UT
  • Secure Property Management – Salt Lake City, UT

Virginia

  • Flat Fee Landlord – Vienna, VA
  • Harrison & Lear Inc – Hampton, VA
  • Patriot Properties, Inc. – Lansdowne, VA
  • PMI of Fairfax – Fairfax, VA
  • Property Management Pros (Northern Virginia) – Arlington, VA
  • Real Property Management Pros – Haymarket, VA
  • Signature Property Management – Mechanicsville, VA
  • The Kris Weaver Real Estate Team – Virginia Beach, VA

Washington

  • Brink Property Management – Seattle, WA
  • Full Service Property Management – Seattle, WA
  • Lakeshore Corporation – Kirkland, WA
  • Miller Laine Properties – Bellevue, WA
  • North Pacific Property Management – Seattle, WA
  • People’s Property Management – Kent, WA
  • RealManage – Seattle, WA
  • Yates, Wood & MacDonald, Inc. – Seattle, WA

Wisconsin

  • Marketplace Homes – Wisconsin (statewide)
  • Renters Warehouse (Milwaukee) – Port Washington, WI

Previous Visitors’ Choice Awards Winners

View the lists of Visitors’ Choice Awards winners from previous years on the below pages:

2014 Visitors’ Choice Awards

2013 Visitors’ Choice Awards

2012 Visitors’ Choice Awards

3 HOA Horror Stories – Don’t Let These Happen to You!

We try to keep abreast of news related to homeowner and condominium associations so as to stay current with the topics and issues association board members like yourself should be aware of. In the course of our daily headline skimming, we’ve noticed a disheartening trend: almost all association-related articles are extraordinarily negative in tone.

Here are three HOA horror story-related articles that have been published in the last week alone:

Orange Park, FL

HOA horror stories - don't let these happen to you!“It’s a dictatorship,” one resident of the Spencer’s Plantation neighborhood said of its HOA board, which stands accused of illegally ignoring a unanimous recall vote and leveling absurdly large fines up to four times the size of annual dues for minor infractions like having a leaning mailbox.

Litigation or binding arbitration seems inevitable, especially since one homeowner has already received a restraining order against a board member.

Carlsbad, CA

An HOA board was forced into damage control mode when the manager of a unit turned into a vacation rental kicked a family out after lying that a series of complaints had been lodged against them, thereby ruining their “once-in-a-lifetime summer vacation.” The HOA board felt compelled to reach out to a local news station once the station opened an investigation based on the family’s experiences to side with and apologize to the family.

Ruskin, FL

Complaints from several surly residents of a gated community prompted its HOA board to shut down an 11-year-old boy’s lemonade stand. The pint-sized business, started with funds from the boy’s own pocket, only lasted two hours before being forcibly shuttered. “Sometimes I think they just go a little bit too far,” the boy’s father said of the HOA board. “I would hope that something as innocent as that could be overlooked at least for a day.”

The conclusion to draw from these horror stories is simple: managing an association is hard work, and there is plenty of room for conflicts to arise and abuses of power to occur. Even a competent and ethical association board member like yourself can be drawn into time-consuming and headache-inducing conflicts as a result of this fact.

This is one of the primary reasons approximately 75 percent of homeowner and condominium associations are managed by association management companies. The average professional association manager is an infinitely more talented conflict resolver, legal advisor and financial manager than the average elected association board member.

To avoid inadvertently inviting nasty articles to be written about your community – and, more simply, to save time and avoid stress – click the below button to get free quotes from local association management companies and learn what they can do for you.

Get a free quote from a professional association manager!

What to Do When Association Board Members Go Rogue!

While most homeowner and condominium associations aren’t exactly models of harmony and cooperation, they are at least functional and generally comport themselves according to the bylaws, covenant and restriction documents and applicable laws that govern them.

But every once in a while, there’s that one guy.

What to do when association board members or presidents go rogueYou know the board member or president I’m talking about: the one who goes overboard with power, who doesn’t know how to exercise restraint, who shirks responsibilities and who makes improper promises to residents, vendors, managers or other stakeholders without going through proper channels.

And then there are the association board members or presidents who have toxic personalities and, while they may be competent in their duties, are so difficult to get along with that they alienate others and dissuade them from contributing to the community.

Let’s say you believe another board member needs to go. You have this opinion not due to a disagreement over reasonable policies or priorities, which are a fact of life in any governing body, but over something more substantial like an abuse of power, disregard for the governing documents, violations of their fiduciary duty to the association, failure to attend meetings as required or general garden-variety incompetence. What needs to happen? Can other board members or association members have them removed from authority?

Here are eight things you need to keep in mind should you find yourself in this situation.

Removing Board Members and Presidents Are Two Different Things

Board members are elected by the owners at large, not by other board members. Since the board did not select their own members, they cannot deselect them, either. The job of firing an association board president is therefore ultimately the job of the association members.

However, association boards often elect their own officers. It is therefore usually easy for a board to vote for a new president, though the board cannot on its own authority vote another member off the board, except under specific circumstances spelled out in the bylaws.

Check Association Documents for Minimum Standards

The minimum standards for board members and presidents should be spelled out in your association’s bylaws. They should include standards like “Board members must attend X percent of all prescheduled meetings, to be held according to a predictable schedule.” Failure to meet these standards will justify – or even require – their removal from the board.

State Laws May Facilitate Removal

Some states, including Florida, require homeowner and condominium association boards to remove board members upon the conviction of a felony. Similar provisions may apply to any board member who is personally delinquent on their association dues. If you live in states where these laws apply, the board will have no choice but to remove the problem board member from office.

Limit Their Authority

If you can’t remove a board member outright because of their problematic behavior, you may be able to contain the damage they’re causing by removing them from official positions, committees or task forces.

Wait Until the End of Their Term

Taking decisive action against a problem board member carries the risk of bad blood, dissent and aggravation among the board members who voted them into office in the first place.

Terms expire eventually. In some cases, waiting the problem board member out and working on electing someone else in their place when the next election cycle comes around is the best course of action. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Correct Problems Through Education and Persuasion

Often problem board members can be brought back on the reservation with education and persuasion. New board members can make mistakes, and even the most well-meaning of them are prone to missteps, especially if they don’t have the benefit of a background in real estate law or non-profit governance.

Often the best way to educate and persuade problem board members is one-on-one. Be careful about getting multiple board members to work together on this, though, because doing so would prohibit you from conducting the meeting off the record.

Request Their Resignation

If the problem board member can see the inevitable, that they will be booted out of office sooner or later, requesting their resignation may be the best solution. However, ensure that the problem board member has had the opportunity to defend themselves and present evidence in their favor.

Call a Vote for Their Removal

Most bylaws that address the removal of a board member by their peers require a unanimous vote. Check for procedural hurdles in your bylaws regarding quora, advance meeting notice, special meeting requirements, proxy voting and other specifications. Do you have the required number of signatures to schedule a special meeting? Has this fact been documented in your association’s minutes and official records?

It’s also not enough to pass out flyers and put up a notice on the community bulletin board. Removing a board member is a major administrative and legal event for a homeowners association. Make a concerted effort to notify absentee owners so they can vote their proxies and limit the ability of non-owners to vote improperly.

Expect emotions to run high at these proceedings. It’s not unusual for a jilted board member to sue their peers or the association itself after such a vote.

One final note: Before taking action, remember that every board member was elected by other members of your homeowner or condominium association and it’s therefore presumed that they represent their constituents. By stripping a board member of authority and responsibility and forcing them to resign or be removed from office, you are also denying their constituency the representation they voted for. Ergo, such actions should be taken only with reluctance and in specific circumstances spelled out in your bylaws.

Three Tasks HOA Managers Should Avoid This Spring

Spring is in full swing and the weather is becoming increasingly pleasant. Now is a wonderful time to get outdoors and be active. Here are some fun and fulfilling springtime activities you can pursue in the coming months:

Spring is here and life is about to get stressful for HOA managers across the country - so hire a property manager!

  1. Join a recreational sports team: Softball. Basketball. Soccer. Kickball. These are just a few of the recreational sports that are surely available in your community. Joining a recreational sports team will give you good exercise, time outdoors, and a chance to blow off some steam after work.
  2. Visit local, state or national parks: Clean air and light exercise does the body good. Hiking is a good cardio workout and can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Even taking a short stroll around your neighborhood park will get your heart pumping and lift your mood.
  3. Join a community garden: A decade ago, community gardens were unknown to most Americans. Now, community gardens with lengthy wait lists can be found across the country. It?s no surprise community gardens have become so popular; experts believe they are good for gardeners? wallets, health and even their happiness.

Of course, the average homeowner association board member has a number of distractions that tend to keep them away from enjoying the outdoors and being active with friends and family during this time of the year. Here are some headache-inducing association management tasks you should avoid this spring so you can focus on what really matters instead:

  1. Maintenance (and dues collections): What spring cleaning is to homeowners, spring maintenance is to homeowner associations. With the difficult process of identifying and then scheduling necessary repairs comes the equally-difficult process of collecting dues from homeowners. Spare yourself the trouble of doing both those unpleasant and time-intensive tasks by having a professional property manager be your maintenance mogul and dues wrangler.
  2. Answering homeowner questions and requests: Failing to respond to inquiries and requests in a timely manner is the primary complaint about most ineffective and unpopular HOA managers. Keep your fellow homeowners happy and your time free to enjoy all the wondrous things that spring has to offer by delegating this time-consuming task to a property manager who will be more than happy to do it.
  3. Preparing for and attending board meetings without help: There?s little worse in the HOA world than being stuck inside a stuffy meeting room on a pleasant spring evening. In addition to identifying the items that need discussion and preparing materials to distribute amongst homeowner association members, property managers can use the wealth of information they?ve accumulated to expertly address questions and concerns raised at board meetings, not to mention keep them on track so that they end on time!

Don?t let spring slip through your fingers. Get a free quote from one or more professional property managers by clicking the below button and learn why 75% of all homeowner associations use their services.

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