By: Jessika Reed - HOALiving
When you think about volunteering—just the concept of it for now—what images come to mind? People in neon T-shirts handing out water bottles at marches, walks, and runs? Musicians donating their time and talents at VA and children’s hospitals? Maybe you envision environmental efforts or holiday-specific commitments.
Maybe your mind is beating me to the punch line and you’re already thinking about the board of directors at your community association.
It’s true—this world of HOA living and managing (and developing and advising) relies heavily on the selflessness and cooperation of volunteers. Merriam-Webster defines volunteer as “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service.” This certainly applies to the individuals who step up and run for board positions—those who are elected, those who are appointed to officer positions (president, treasurer, secretary, etc.), and those who are appointed by the board to different committees.
Neil Schiffman is a Community Manager for FCS Community Management, part of the HOALiving network of companies. He works directly with community associations and their respective boards, interacting firsthand with the volunteer network that is characteristic of HOAs.
“HOAs function best with volunteer participation,” Schiffman said. “Owners feel that they have a say in the operation of the community, even if they are simply paying more attention to the landscape or janitorial services. Associations that have strong committees to help provide guidance and feedback to the board are very high functioning. Owners who are willing to effectively communicate their feedback through surveys and board meeting participation seem to be happier with the outcome.”
Community associations run on volunteer efforts, but this past year and a half has seen countless changes in how nearly everything runs. The same force that has us covering our faces, increasing our distance, and working from home must surely be affecting the volunteer landscape, as well, right?
By: - Franz Witte
The beautiful colors of fall have finally arrived
and are painting a kaleidoscope of color
across the Treasure Valley. This seasonal
display accompanied by cooler nights and
shorter days indicates that winter is growing
ever closer. While this year's gardens were
beautiful and productive, it's been a long
hot one and the cooler weather and shorter
days bring a rest and transition that is so
very welcome. Whether you've been working your beds for years or are new to gardening, what follows should help clarify some questions you may have, or simply reinforce the plans you've already made.
There can be a lot to consider and at times it may feel like there is more to do than one can get done in the relatively short fall season we have in the Treasure Valley. Don't be overwhelmed; there are a few things that should be done, and many, many others that can be caught up in the spring if needed.
Keep Things Clean
The most important activities are centered around cleaning things up. Putting our gardens and landscapes to bed for the winter in a clean and tidy condition contributes to a healthy, vibrant garden in the spring. Start with cutting back certain perennials and cleaning up any leaves from diseased plants. A good example would be with Peonies; if you have these, they should be cut back to the soil level and all leaf debris should be disposed of, not composted. While Roses are more characteristic of shrubs, they too benefit from a light pruning in the fall, and thorough leaf clean-up to prevent perpetuating any disease present into the upcoming season. A more thorough and complete pruning will be done on these plants in the early spring, after danger of coldest weather has passed. For more in-depth guidance on roses see our blog post here.
By: Jeremy Newman CPA. - Newman Certified Public Accountant PC.
By Gregory B. Coxey, Partner - Vial Fotheringham
restricting or preventing a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association. This means that an American flag is allowed to be displayed.
This does not mean any U.S. Flag can be displayed in the Association. This act only allows protection for the traditional, red, white, and blue, 13 stripes and 50 stars flag, “Old Glory”, originally designed by Miss Betsy Ross herself. The act does NOT protect variations of the U.S. flag.
Please note that even though federally you can display a U.S. flag, the Association still has the ability to reasonably restrict the time, place, and manner of where you display the flag. This means that you should check your Association’s rules if you are ever unsure about whether your flag is allowed. These restrictions would be found in your Community Association’s governing documents, which usually include the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions and Easements (CC&Rs), Bylaws, and any other rules and regulations adopted by your community.
By Tarra Eshgh, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM® , President ST & R Portfolio Management
I’m certain that there are many communities (another word “associations”) out there that are getting ready to do improvements around their properties during this perfect season such as resurfacing asphalts, exterior building painting, entrance water feature renovation, etc. Of course, summer projects come with the question of “Are we adequately funded for these projects”. Preparing a bucket list of summer projects will help the association properly evaluate the timeline of project items/components that “need to be completed” and when funds are ready and become available for the project.
Funding options are varied depending on the community association’s financial status. The most common options are:
By Ella Cox
As the U.S. reopens, many community associations are continuing to navigate conversations with residents about COVID-19 vaccines. Since there is so much information surrounding them, navigating the myths and truths has been an ongoing challenge for board members and community managers.
When the vaccine rollout started in December, some community associations took initiative by partnering with health care providers to organize clinics where vaccines were administered on-site to residents as they became available. Others set up neighborhood-wide carpooling events for residents without transportation to help them get to a vaccination site.
Read the full article here...
article courtesy of HOA Resources
by Tiffanie Thompson, SentryWest Insurance
Let’s talk about Association Volunteers!
Who doesn’t love and appreciate anyone willing to help out?! Of course, we all do, but is our Association covered?
Typically, we all hear the term “Workers Compensation” and immediately think that would only apply to businesses. “We don’t have any ‘employees’”, “we hire independent contractors”. How does this apply to my Homeowners’ Association?
First, let’s understand what coverage Workers Compensation provides.
Workers’ Compensation is provided to protect employers for work related injuries to their employees. The benefits can be medical expenses and income compensation that is provided to the employee, regardless of who is at fault.
Workers’ Compensation coverage should be utilized by any Associations that have direct employees and indirect employees such as board members, volunteers, and committee members.
Of course, you are still wondering why would my Homeowners’ Association need this?
Close to 80 million U.S. households have an animal in their home. Pets come in all shapes and sizes and provide companionship to their respective families, but there also are animals that play an important role in the lives of people with disabilities and mental health issues by assisting with day-to-day activities or giving emotional support.
In honor of May being National Pet Month, we offer a summary of what constitutes an assistance animal, laws and regulations that apply to their ownership, and the approach community associations can take to rules and regulations specific to these animals.
Federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as state and local laws govern assistance animals in community associations (commonly known as homeowners associations, condominiums, and housing cooperatives.) Assistance animals are categorized in three groups:
Read the full article here
article courtesy of CAI Advocacy Team
Jim Moore, RS with Advanced Reserve Solutions, Inc.
A Reserve Study is a financial plan for funding the future replacement of major common area components in an association. Roofing, exterior paint, streets, and pools are some examples of common areas that are shared by homeowners in an association. Maintaining these common areas in order to preserve or improve the property values requires setting aside a portion of your association fees into a reserve fund. A Reserve Specialist gathers essential information from the association’s board or manager in addition to conducting a site inspection that aids in quantifying common area components as well as determining the estimated remaining life of each component.
The Reserve Specialist looks at things like the total of cash reserves currently set aside, the condition and remaining life of each component and the estimated current replacement cost of major components. He then prepares a budget for the association's reserve fund to ensure that when the major components have reached the end of their useful life there is money to replace or repair the component.
By Ryan Newton
We have learned association meetings have changed over the last year. In 2020 we saw many Associations push back meetings in the hopes of being able to still meet in person at a later date. Most associations had to adapt due to local gathering restrictions and in-person meetings were not possible.
As time went on, many HOA’s started using online meeting platforms to allow “face to face” meetings. This has drastically changed the meeting landscape for associations with both positive and negative outcomes.
With the shift to a more technology-based platform for meetings, we probably won’t be seeing them go away, at least any time soon, even with gathering restrictions being lifted.
There are a lot of benefits to an online meeting format; owners from other locations can attend, trends show that meetings are shorter, managers/staff save time from commuting and have an improved work/life balance, and ownership attendance has increased, helping keep more people informed.
Like with everything, there are negative effects as well; relationships can be harder to foster, voting is more complicated, it is harder to ensure everyone has a chance to be heard, secret attendees (people that can’t be seen) and for some, an online style meeting is not feasible.
Regardless of the pros and cons, meeting format has changed, and it is important to establish clear guidelines on how meetings will be handled moving forward. Below is a list of items managers/boards should review while putting procedures in place for future meetings.
PLEASE NOTE: these are general suggestions and may not be applicable to your HOA. You may want to review with your HOA attorney before making any adjustments to meeting procedures.
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