Blog

The HOA & Steering Clear of Court

Overview Fortunately, the vast majority of HOA legal matters do not result in full-blown litigation. There is a great deal of truth to the adage: the only person who wins a lawsuit is the lawyer. Because of covenant enforcement issues and collection issues, legal proceedings are a way of life with homeowner associations. With all…

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Be Careful What You Write Down

Issues can sometimes arise when homeowner association boards of directors implement resolutions, procedures, and rules and regulations that are in addition to what is mandated by their declaration of covenants, bylaws, or articles of incorporation. These implementations, or subsidiary documents, can also be in addition to established state statutes. These subsidiary documents typically originate due…

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HOA Lawsuits & Legal Discovery – Part Two

Continued from Part One Request for admissions Or a request to admit, are written statements sent from one litigating party to another litigating party to seek either an admission or denial on a specific claim of the lawsuit. A request for admissions, while similar to interrogatories, is different in purpose. This difference is that each…

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HOA Lawsuits & Legal Discovery – Part One

Most homeowner associations (HOAs) seldom become involved in litigation other than collection-related litigation involving delinquent members. However, it is beneficial for the board of directors to have an understanding of certain aspects of this legal process. The discovery phase or simply discovery is one major aspect of civil litigation. Discovery can be one of the…

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The “Secrets” of Executive Session? (Part Two)

Minutes must be taken in executive session if actions are taken. It is preferable for the board secretary to keep a completely different set of minutes for the executive session. Executive session minutes should be approved in the executive session of the next board of directors meeting. If one set of meeting minutes are compiled…

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The “Secrets” of Executive Session? (Part One)

A common misconception with a few homeowner association (HOA) members is that there is something improper or something is being done improperly when the board of directors enters into executive session. A common question is why would anything have to be secret and kept from the homeowners? This misconception is not just held by some…

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The ABCs of HOA Board Resolutions (Part Two)

There are typically four categories of resolutions for a homeowner association (HOA): Policy: Policy resolutions address member’s rights and duties. For example, rules for the use of common areas and amenities. Architectural guidelines and enforcement procedures would be another example. However, issues such as these in the majority of cases are best addressed with amendments…

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The ABCs of HOA Board Resolutions (Part One)

A resolution is simply a written motion, many times a very detailed motion. Resolutions are used by legislative bodies, nonprofit corporations, and large and small for-profit corporations. The terms corporate resolution and board resolution are synonymous. In some cases, and areas, the term “resolve” is used instead of, or in addition to, “resolution.” For-profit corporation’s…

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The Composition of a Typical Plumbing System

One of the challenges of serving on an HOA board of directors is dealing with issues and possibly not having a great deal of experience with the issue. Certain maintenance issues can arise that sometimes are beyond the experience level of a board member. However, a good basic understanding of a dwelling’s major systems can…

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The HOA Board Common Maintenance Issues (Part Two of Two)

Sill Plate & Bank Joist A termite infestation and the related damage caused is a persistent problem for HOAs. Termite damage can occur from the bottom of a structure to the attic. Any part of a structure that is composed of untreated wood is susceptible to termite infestation. A common location, and an expensive area to…

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The HOA Board Common Maintenance Issues (Part One of Two)

One aspect of serving on any HOA board of directors is the HOA board member’s prior scope of knowledge regarding issues that commonly arise while serving. Many times a new board member could be an expert in a particular specialty that is of huge benefit to their service on the board. A good example of…

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Emergency Water Shutoff

The ideal time to locate the emergency water shutoff is not during an actual emergency.  Unfortunately, until they must, most people never think about locating the emergency water shutoff.  Quickly finding the shutoff in a home, especially in a multifamily homeowner association (HOA), can be the difference between hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars…

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Covenant Enforcement – Part Six of a Six Part Series

This article is presented in six parts: Part One – Covenant Violations Part Two – “I want to opt out of the HOA” Part Three – How are violations determined? Part Four – How are managers trained to find violations? Part Five – Hearing Letters Part Six – “Nothing like that would happen in our…

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Covenant Enforcement – Part Five of a Six Part Series

This article is presented in six parts: Part One – Covenant Violations Part Two – “I want to opt out of the HOA” Part Three – How are violations determined? Part Four – How are managers trained to find violations? Part Five – Hearing Letters Part Six – “Nothing like that would happen in our…

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Covenant Enforcement – Part Four of a Six Part Series

This article is presented in six parts: Part One – Covenant Violations Part Two – “I want to opt out of the HOA” Part Three – How are violations determined? Part Four – How are managers trained to find violations? Part Five – Hearing Letters Part Six – “Nothing like that would happen in our…

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Covenant Enforcement – Part Three of a Six Part Series

This article is presented in six parts: Part One – Covenant Violations Part Two – “I want to opt out of the HOA” Part Three – How are violations determined? Part Four – How are managers trained to find violations? Part Five – Hearing Letters Part Six – “Nothing like that would happen in our…

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Covenant Enforcement – Part Two of a Six Part Series

This article is presented in six parts: Part One – Covenant Violations Part Two – “I want to opt out of the HOA” Part Three – How are violations determined? Part Four – How are managers trained to find violations? Part Five – Hearing Letters Part Six – “Nothing like that would happen in our…

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Covenant Enforcement – Part One of a Six Part Series

This article is presented in six parts: Part One – Covenant Violations Part Two – “I want to opt out of the HOA” Part Three – How are violations determined? Part Four – How are managers trained to find violations? Part Five – Hearing Letters Part Six – “Nothing like that would happen in our…

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Voting Classes in a Homeowners Association (HOA) – Part II

These voting rights sections in CC&Rs will also typically address when these voting rights expire.  And define exactly who has these voting rights.  The example of a voting rights section below is from a single-family HOA in North Carolina.  This language will vary from state to state and HOA to HOA.   “ARTICLE ELEVEN: MEMBERSHIP…

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Voting Classes in a Homeowners Association (HOA) – Part I

For homeowner associations that have already transitioned from the developer of the community to membership control, voting classes, rarely come up. It typically only comes up when boards of directors are thinking of making amendments to their declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). Voting rights and amending the CC&Rs will be covered later in…

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Be Careful What You Write Down

Issues can sometimes arise when homeowner association boards of directors implement resolutions, procedures, and rules and regulations that are in addition to what is mandated by their declaration of covenants, bylaws, or articles of incorporation. These implementations, or subsidiary documents, can also be in addition to established state statutes. These subsidiary documents typically originate due…

Read more

The ABCs of HOA Board Resolutions (Part Two)

There are typically four categories of resolutions for a homeowner association (HOA): Policy: Policy resolutions address member’s rights and duties. For example, rules for the use of common areas and amenities. Architectural guidelines and enforcement procedures would be another example. However, issues such as these in the majority of cases are best addressed with amendments…

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Customer Service Representatives, Charleston, SC (SCCH-1001)

Job Description Location Charleston, SC 29407 Job Number SCCH-1001 Job Summary Growing Association Management Company, in a fast-paced office, needs Customer Service Representatives to join our team!  You will serve as the first impression for our clients and the ideal candidate enjoys talking to people and proactively solving issues. Qualifications Excellent phone etiquette and verbal,…

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The ABCs of HOA Board Resolutions (Part One)

A resolution is simply a written motion, many times a very detailed motion. Resolutions are used by legislative bodies, nonprofit corporations, and large and small for-profit corporations. The terms corporate resolution and board resolution are synonymous. In some cases, and areas, the term “resolve” is used instead of, or in addition to, “resolution.” For-profit corporation’s…

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Customer Service Representatives, Raleigh, NC (NCR-1001)

Job Description Location Raleigh, NC 27605 Job Number NCR-1001 Job Summary Growing Association Management Company, in a fast-paced office, needs Customer Service Representatives to join team! Ideal candidate enjoys talking to people, proactively solving issues, and must have: Excellent phone etiquette an verbal, written, and interpersonal skills Basic knowledge of Word, Excel, and Outlook Able…

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Voting Classes in a Homeowners Association (HOA) – Part I

For homeowner associations that have already transitioned from the developer of the community to membership control, voting classes, rarely come up. It typically only comes up when boards of directors are thinking of making amendments to their declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). Voting rights and amending the CC&Rs will be covered later in…

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Dealing with Emotions & Conflict Resolution Strategies and Tactics While Serving on the HOA Board

One thing is for sure serving on a homeowner association (HOA) board of directors is all about working with others. Which can be a struggle in patience and understanding because of the many personalities that are encountered. Fortunately, most HOA membership interactions are positive. However, within every HOA, interpersonal friction is inevitable. Making these situations…

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The Composition of a Typical Residential Roof

HOA boards are routinely faced with roofing issues. While the above illustration is of a single-family dwelling, all roofing configurations have more similarities than differences. Similarities are found with the problems that afflict roof configuration as well. William Douglas represents homeowner associations with almost every type of roofing configuration found in North America. The roof…

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The Composition of a Swimming Pool System

As homeowner association annual budget items go, those related to the association’s swimming pool, when totaled, are typically the largest expense category. Individual budget categories, such as pool chemicals, pool furniture and lifeguards can add up substantially. While the pool management contractor expense is often thought off, obscure other expenditures may not be so evident.…

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The Composition of an HOA Irrigation System

There is no typical homeowner association irrigation system. Some homeowner associations will have systems at their front entrance. Others will have irrigation systems at their clubhouse and other common areas. Some homeowner associations even have their entire property covered by an irrigation system. Compounding this, there are different system configurations with different types of sprinkler…

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Nationally, HOA Members Are Generally Satisfied with Their HOA

Nationally, HOA Members Are Generally Satisfied with Their HOA The Foundation for Community Association Research, an affiliate of Community Associations Institute (CAI), sponsored a national public opinion survey of HOA members to gauge their views towards their HOA.  The Findings A representative sample of the 62 million Americans who live within homeowner associations and condominium…

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The HOA’s Insurance Agent

The HOA’s Insurance Agent Insurance agents, like doctors, have a broad range of specialties and areas of expertise. Fortunately, community association insurance is one of them. HOAs have unique needs and exposures. The insurance agent serves the HOA by: Reviewing the HOA’s documents, recommending the legal minimum insurance requirement, and recommending additional coverage that might…

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Common Foundation Problems & the HOA

Common Foundation Problems & the HOA Foundation problems for HOA boards are normally a result of drainage or other water related issues. Because of the potential ramifications to the HOA’s annual budget, boards that have a basic understanding of foundations problems can be very beneficial. Beneficial in that a knowledge of foundations can many times…

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What is a Hydrostatic Valve

Swimming pool maintenance can, many times, be one of the largest items on an HOA’s budget. It is beneficial for a board to have an understanding of the pool and the related expenses. One of those possible expenses can come from a malfunctioning hydrostatic valve.   A hydrostatic valve is one of those things that…

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Life Expectancy Planning

While HOA boards should rely on professional reserve studies for long term planning, having a general idea of product life cycles can possibly assist with annual budgeting. Even with a professional reserve study there are no guarantees on life cycles. This is because of extenuating circumstances such as environment, use, installation, and a myriad of…

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Why Are Our Dues…?

“Why are our dues higher than the HOA next door?” Or perhaps: “My sister’s HOA dues are less than our dues.” No matter what the one-dimensional analysis of another HOA’s dues are, a great deal of further research is needed. As with many situations, the answer to this may appear to be straightforward, but the…

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Net Income/Loss & Retained Earnings

Questions arise from HOA boards about Net Income/Loss and Retained Earnings as found on their monthly financials. Net Income is the total of excess income over expenses, while Net Loss is the excess expenses over income.   Retained Earnings, by definition, is the balance of net income less losses over the years the association has…

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Delinquencies and the Desire to be Neighborly

William Douglas Management has a collections process that was reviewed and structured by attorneys who specialize in HOA collections. Because of the harsh consequences for violating one of the vast and complicated collection statutes, this approved collection process is necessary to protect our client associations and our company.   One of the many challenges of…

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A Poem Lovely As A Tree

I think that I shall never see. A poem lovely as a tree.   The first part of the wonderful poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, praising the virtues of all trees. One must realize that Joyce Kilmer did not reside within a HOA and, therefore, probably did not deal with the issues that arise with…

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HOA Lien for Assessment

Questions arise from members, usually delinquent members, regarding “what authority does the HOA have” in collecting dues. Basically HOA’s are established in two forms, volunteer HOAs and mandatory HOAs. As both preceding adjectives indicate the nature of the HOA, mandatory HOAs need declaration and in some cases state statute authority to collect assessments.   While…

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What Does the HOA Membership Think?

There are more than 60 million Americans who live in HOAs and condominium communities. How do these 60 million residents feel about their own HOA? Are they happy with their boards? How do they feel about the rules?   The Foundation for Community Association Research, an affiliate of Community Associations Institute (CAI), sponsored a national…

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Clothes Dryer Safety

Most homes and many HOA clubhouses have clothes dryers. Many people do not realize that clothes dryers are a major cause of fires each year. There is a clothes dryer fire every 35 minutes in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are over 17,000 dryer fires causing over $75…

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HOA Retention Ponds

A retention pond is a man-made pond or reservoir that is constructed to catch runoff water from higher elevations or improved surfaces. Retention ponds can be either temporary or permanent depending on the circumstances and the volume of water to be contained. Most are built to be sloped basins that capitalize on gravity and the…

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Redaction & HOA Board Meeting Minutes

To “redact,” a verb defined by Merriam Webster as: 1) to put in writing: frame, 2) to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release; broadly: edit, 3) to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release.   Redaction in the context of a HOA…

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Water Evaporation or Pool Leak

Water being such a large part of most HOA annual budgets watching for pool leaks is always prudent. However, it is very common for normal every day water evaporation to be mistaken for a pool leak. Determining the evaporation rate is the first step in determining if the water disappearance is due to evaporation or…

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Motion – Six Step Process

Properly making motions is crucial to the operation of a HOA board meeting. The motion process has to be followed to take action on board decisions.     STEP 1: A member is recognized by Chair, and makes a motion; Common Mistake: Does not wait to be recognized and starts to discuss the motion before…

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Squatters Rights/ Adverse Possession

Squatters’ rights or adverse possession is an antiquated legal situation that occurs, with regard to HOAs, when someone moves into a vacant home and makes it their residence without the owner’s permission. With adverse possession, a squatter can acquire another person’s home without compensation, by living in the home for a specific period of time.…

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Irrigation Systems

Irrigation system maintenance is many times buried in a HOA’s annual budget in general landscaping and the master water category. But nonetheless an irrigation system is a crucial aspect of an HOA’s systems. So the HOA board needs to have an overview of the system. Irrigation systems should be inspected every year for problems and…

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Insurable & Non-Insurable

The definition of insurance is to provide financial coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril. Insurance in all forms is primarily dealing with risk, therefore an insurance policy is just a way of sharing risks with other parties with similar risks. While certain risks…

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HOA Insurance Policy Review

William Douglas Management recommends to their client Boards of Directors that they review their HOA’s insurance policies each year. There are basically three different policies that can be in place, a master hazard insurance policy, a general liability policy, and a directors and officer’s insurance policy. The HOA’s insurance agent should be contacted for guidance…

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Sunshine Laws – HOA Board Openness

Frequently the term Sunshine Law wrongly comes up with regard to the operation of an HOA. Sunshine laws are federal statutes and some states have similarly named statutes that require governmental meetings to be open to the public whenever possible. The federal sunshine laws are part of the Freedom of Information Act, which has the…

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Member in Good Standing

When an HOA member fails to pay their assessment or violates the CC&Rs, how does the board respond? For past due assessments the HOA has the standard collection processes, and for CC&R violations the board has standard enforcement processes. What if these standard processes are not enough to force the member to bring their account…

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Ding Dong Ditch

HOAs are a microcosm of society and are subject to the trends or fads that affect the rest of society. Some trends or fads are harmless, such as bellbottoms. A trend that has been popping up in some communities, ding dong ditch. The prank known as ding dong ditch has probably been around ever since…

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What Are Signs of Termite Damage

HOAs are faced with various insect infestation, none cause more damage than termites. Termites are tough and resistant insects with a voracious appetite for wood. Unfortunately, this can lead to severe home and property damage as the hungry insects feast their way through structural materials. A thorough inspection can give clues as to whether termites…

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Chairing the HOA Annual Meeting

The chair presides over the HOA annual meeting or any deliberative assembly. The chair conducts the meeting and is responsible for the orderly opening, progression and completion of the meeting. In short the chair is in charge of the meeting. The chair can also be referred to chairperson, chairman, chairwoman, presiding officer, president, and moderator.…

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Quorum

A quorum is the number of members required to be present before a meeting can legally be conducted. Quorums are necessary for annual membership meetings and board of directors meetings. If HOA business is to be conducted, special membership meetings would require a quorum as well.   For board of directors meetings, unless the bylaws…

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Eliminating or Adding Amenities in an HOA

Eliminating or taking on additional HOA responsibilities may appear to be a straightforward undertaking, but there are a number of considerations. The primary considerations are the requirements of the HOA’s governing documents and the ramifications on the HOA’s budget. A third consideration is the unintended consequences of whatever decision is made.   Boards of directors…

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Salt Water Pools

Pool maintenance costs being one of the largest budget items for an HOA, a saltwater pool may help to lower expenses. A salt water or saltwater pool is a swimming pool, which is filled with a mild salt solution. Many companies that install pools can construct salt water pools and outfit them with the necessary…

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Annual HOA Audits & Reviews

Each year William Douglas Management’s Accounting Department seeks quotes from outside CPA firms to perform audits and reviews for our client’s financial records. A quote for performing the HOA’s tax returns is also obtained at the same time. Combining either an audit or a review with the tax preparation, typically offers a cost savings to…

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Other HOA Meeting Guidelines

– When a topic is first introduced or a main motion is made, allow all questions for informational purposes to be asked before opening to debate.   – Discourage the repetition of arguments. Discourage dialogues that start up between two individuals in debate.   – If debate carries on too long, impose time limits on…

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5 Points About the HOA Reserves

Reserves are a crucial aspect of all HOAs.   1 – The Internal Revenue Service considers general maintenance items not appropriate use of Reserve funds. For example painting may not qualify as a Reserve item.   2 – Reserves have to be allocated for a specific purpose. Contingency Reserves, General Reserves, Rainy Day Reserves could…

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HOA Retention Ponds Don’ts

DO NOT mow detention pond too close to the surface; height should be 4 to 6 inches to maintain healthy grasses.   DO NOT apply landscaping chemicals in pond area, or in areas where the residue could make it into the pond during a storm event.     William Douglas Management, providing excellent management services…

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HOA Pet Safety

Most HOA rules and regulations address members not restraining their dog. And boards use the enforcement provisions in the declarations or state statutes to hold members who violate the rules and regulations accountable. Another compliance strategy could be informing members that according to the American Humane Society, an unleashed dog has an average life span…

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French Drain

HOA boards are routinely faced with drainage issues and seek effective solutions. One of the most common and effective solutions is the French drain. A French drain is basically a ditch lined with rocks or gravel that helps drain water away from an area. It is used to protect the foundation of a house or…

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The Year-End & the HOA’s Financials

This time of year, William Douglas’ Accounting Department is in high gear preparing for our clients’ financial year-end along with getting dues payment coupons out for the coming fiscal year. A great deal of focus is on closing the year-end books.   One aspect that makes HOA’s financials different is that corporation tax returns, in…

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CC&Rs Defined

“CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), also known as the declaration or declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions, is a governing document used primarily for planned communities. More than any other single document, the CC&Rs establishes the planned community because it spells out the essential elements of ownership. The HOA or planned community comes into existence…

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Annual Audits & Reviews

Each year William Douglas Management’s Accounting Department seeks quotes from outside CPA firms to perform audits and reviews for our client’s financial records. A quote for performing the HOA’s tax returns is also obtained at the same time. Combining either an audit or a review with the tax preparation, typically offers a cost savings to…

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Membership Misconceptions

It is easy to forget what some in the membership and the general public perceive about homeowner associations. For example, many disputes over architectural changes may seem petty, but they have larger ramifications if not addressed at this original level. Another example: Some believe that the homeowner association boards of directors have unbridled power in…

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Legal Membership Communications

The importance of adhering to the homeowner association’s governing documents and state statutes regarding notification requirements cannot be stressed enough. Not following the proper procedures and legal requirements, at worst, can have severe legal consequences and at a minimum, cost the homeowner association additional expense in correcting the matter.   All homeowner association notices in…

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Challenging Personalities

“People’s personalities, like buildings, have various facades, some pleasant to view, some not.” – Francois de la Rochefoucauld   Every association membership is different, but there seems to be one constant: there are always members who seem to take a non-positive view on issues that the board addresses within the association. Board members often cite…

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The Public Insurance Adjuster & the HOA

When disaster strikes a homeowners association such as fire, flood, hail damage etc., and a claim needs to be filed, a public insurance adjuster is the association’s advocate and can usually save an association thousands of dollars and in some instances hundreds of thousands of dollars. A public insurance adjuster is an insurance claims adjuster…

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HOA Annual Meeting Paperwork Basics

An annual meeting is a meeting of the HOA membership required by state statutes and the association’s governing documents. The annual meeting is held every year to elect the Board of Directors and inform their members of previous and future activities. It is also an opportunity for the membership to ask questions regarding the decisions…

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The HOA & the 1099 Contractor

Most homeowner associations utilize 1099 contractors instead of hiring full or part-time employees. The primary benefits are the flexibility and cost savings. A 1099 contractor is a legal and tax-related term used to refer to the type of worker who contracts his services out to an association or any other type of business. The “1099”…

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Board Meetings & Proxies

Exercising proxies is not permitted in Board of Director meetings. Deliberative assemblies such as a Board meeting are not conducive to the use of a proxy; primarily because proxies are incompatible with the essential characteristics, discussion and debate of a deliberative assembly. [RONR (11th ed.), p. 414-15.]   WDPM

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Reasonable Rules

Homeowner association boards of directors establish rules and regulations that the entire membership are asked to observe so that the association can maintain property values and the quality of life.   To determine reasonability some general guidelines: Ÿ Enforce rules uniformly, taking into account the consequences. Ÿ Developing rules for the sake of having rules…

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Reserve Study

William Douglas Management has always recommended reserve studies to our clients as a long term financial planning for our clients. A reserve study is a process performed by engineering firms or companies that specifically perform reserve studies as their core business. A reserve study is a report that projects when numerous major components such as…

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How Insurance Carriers Operate & Profit

Questions often arise from board members on how insurance companies operate as it relates to claims against the homeowner association’s insurance policy. Especially when large claims are paid out by insurance companies as compared to the relatively low premiums paid by the homeowners association. Considering the objective of an insurance company is to collect more…

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Guests at the HOA Board Meeting

Some homeowner associations have open board meetings (open to the membership) and, in certain instances, the governing documents may mandate certain portions of a board meeting to be open. However, allowing non-board members to participate in board discussions is without exception improper.   Calling down members during a board meeting may seem to be rude…

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Bankruptcy Basics

Because of the impact on homeowner associations and condominium association’s collection efforts, and the unpleasant nature of bankruptcy, there are many questions surrounding the topic. Below are some of the questions we consistently receive from boards of directors on the topic of bankruptcy.   What is bankruptcy?   Bankruptcy is a federal system of statutes…

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How Many Community Associations Are There?

The Community Associations Institute (CAI), our national trade group organization, each year publishes a report about homeowner associations and condominium associations statistics. The report includes information about the number of community associations in the United States, along with particular association data. For example, estimated combined budgets of these associations and other interesting data can be…

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Conflict Resolution

It is generally safe to say differences of opinion or conflicts are a normal part of being on a board of directors and all homeowner associations. It is unrealistic to expect board members to be in agreement on all matters that confront a board, or that the membership would agree with every board action taken.…

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The Association Budget

You will be receiving your association’s Budget Worksheets from our Accounting Department in the coming weeks. Because of the many issues that revolve around budgets and year end reporting requirements, it greatly helps our Accounting Department to have approved budgets in as soon as possible. Your Association Manager will be assisting your Board with this…

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The Efficient BOD Meeting

Board of Director’s Meetings can be a very powerful way to communicate and resolve issues. A homeowner association’s Board of Directors is confronted with an array of issues that must be resolved in a timely manner. Thus a Board is charged with what can be the problematical task of obtaining a majority consensus from the…

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What The Membership Is Saying

As a board member, and sometimes in our role as the managing agent, we may get the impression that a disproportionate number of the membership are unhappy with a multitude of homeowner association issues.  In response, we may have a tendency to get tunnel vision because it is sometimes human nature for people to complain…

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Association Bank Lockbox   

The bank lockbox allows William Douglas to streamline the homeowner dues payment process.  With the bank lockbox, when an homeowner association member writes a check and mails their payment in, their check goes directly to the bank and bypasses our offices.  The lockbox receives and deposits those payments at least one day earlier, and makes…

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Fallen Trees

High winds and rain many times trigger tree limbs and entire trees to fall.  Who is responsible for a fallen tree that causes damage may surprise some people and laws can vary from state to state.  But, generally speaking, if the tree is a healthy tree and was damaged by an “act of God” then…

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Lloyds of London

When a homeowner association is either in danger of losing their insurance coverage or their insurance coverage is canceled, Lloyds of London is always a point of discussion.  Lloyds is often referred to as the insurance company of last resort when you cannot obtain coverage in the primary insurance market.  So what is Lloyds of…

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Easements  

Easements, being very common in many real estate matters, come up from time to time with homeowner associations. A recorded land easement is a legally binding instrument which permits or restricts land use by the land owner and other parties who do not own the land in question.  Easements that are restrictive can limit particular…

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Association by the Numbers

Community associations are Big Business, consider the following:    More than 1.7 million volunteers serve as members of their community association board and another 400,000 participate as committee members. There are 230,000 annual association meetings with democratically conducted elections and another nearly 2.5 million board meetings during the year in which owners debate and shape…

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Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is the power of the state over all property within the state, expressly the power to involuntarily or voluntarily purchase property for a public use and, in certain cases, private use.  The owner of appropriated land is entitled to compensation per the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.  This compensation is generally defined as…

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Short Sales and Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

The troubling real estate market has left many HOA members with delinquent mortgages as well as delinquent association dues.  The topic and procedures for foreclosures could fill volumes.  Here we are going to discuss two options that owners are utilizing other than allowing their property to go into bank mortgage foreclosure, short sales and deed…

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Committees 101

Committees are an essential part of a homeowners association.  Committees are a way to bring association members together with similar objectives and relevant expertise who may otherwise not have a method to gather information and coordinate actions.   Two of the main advantages of a committee are the broad prospectives that are brought to the…

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Yard or Patio of the Month

Much too often we focus on the members who have gone outside the governing documents with regard to architectural or landscaping issues.  Recognizing members who go beyond the requirements in an overall positive way can be a powerful tool in how a community looks and how members act. If it be recognizing entire yards in…

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Annual Meetings

Many look forward to, and some even dread, their association’s annual meeting.  To quote a long term Association Board President: “It gives everyone in the membership the opportunity to praise or condemn the board’s performance over the prior year.”  The best definition of an annual meeting is a meeting of the association’s membership to discuss…

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Decision Making Process

The process of decision making generally analyzes a problem in stages until a viable solution develops. It involves choosing the best alternative after defining the issue and identifying the desirable outcome. The process of decision making includes choosing an action to reach a goal after weighing the attributes of each alternative.   Decisions might be…

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Hoarding & the Association

Hoarding seems to be more prevalent today, possibly because it may be better understood with media attention and the disorder having its own TV series.  This may seem like just something that happens on TV, but it can happen anywhere and in any homeowner association with varying degrees of severity.  Many of the associations who…

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Association Website

We have created an example of the free website that that is available to all our clients if they so choose.  The website has an option were the members can setup an account and view specific information regarding their account. To view go to:   www.wmdouglas.com   In the middle of the page you will…

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Rules & Regulations 101

Questions often arise when boards of directors revise or initially draft and implement their association’s rules and regulations.  There are points to consider while going through this process.  The board of directors generally has the authority to establish reasonable rules and regulations.  While this authority is typically found in the restrictive covenants, in rare instances…

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Membership Questions and the Annual Budget

This time of year with coupons arriving in the mail, the membership always has questions about what they are paying for with their dues. At William Douglas Management we have always stressed open communication with the membership when it comes to most matters, and especially when it comes to annual budgets and dues.  Communication is…

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Heated Association Meetings

For most board members, meetings are a fact of life and over time board members obtain valuable experience on dealing with issues that arise.  Part of this valuable experience is being adept at participating effectively and managing meetings.  This experience is not only a useful skill in an association meeting, but in unrelated matters that…

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Pets – Rules & Regs 

Almost all associations have had pet issues at one time or another. Per the American Pet Products Manufactures Association, there are an estimated 74.8 million dogs and 88.3 million cats in the United States. Additionally there is an estimated 50 million nontraditional or exotic pets in American homes. When drafting Rules & Regulations pertaining to…

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Going Above & Beyond

Usually when the term “Going Above and Beyond” is used, it is being used in a positive and complementary way to apply to someone who has exceeded themselves in helping someone else.  Unfortunately, “Going Above and Beyond” within the framework of an association’s governing documents is rarely a positive affirmation.  From exceeding maintenance responsibilities to…

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Board Fiduciary Duty

From time to time you may hear that the board of the association operates in a fiduciary capacity for the homeowners. Or you may read about the board’s fiduciary responsibility in the governing documents. Just exactly what does this mean? Fiduciary duty simply means the board has an ethical and legal obligation to make decisions…

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Meeting Minutes

Association Meeting Minutes are a written record of meetings kept by the secretary of the HOA.  Minutes document decisions made during a meeting and also provide a public record of actions taken.  Minutes are not a word-for-word transcription of everything that is said.  Minutes should state what was accomplished, rather than denote every detail of…

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Changing Governing Documents

As many are aware, amending a condominium association or a homeowner association’s governing documents, be it declarations/master deed or bylaws, can be a trying experience that should not be undertaken lightly. Step 1: Spell out what needs to be changed, added or removed.  This may seem obvious, but there may be varying thoughts on this…

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Finding Volunteers

Maybe you’ve been to the meetings where the person who failed to show up for the meeting is “volunteered” to serve on a committee.  Well there are better and more effective methods of finding volunteers.  Besides sitting on association boards, volunteers are the same people sitting on church committees, coaching little league, serving as Cub…

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If You Play You May Have To Pay

Memorial Day 2012 in Bend, Oregon at the Sunriver Owners Association was a festive event celebrated by 350 residents of the 4,200 home association in their brand new 1,250 seat amphitheater.  The homeowners association did not charge admission or provide the entertainment for the Memorial Day celebration.  Other local non-association related groups sponsored the musicians…

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Board Resolutions

A board resolution is a motion that follows a set format and is formally adopted by the board. Resolutions may enact rules and regulations or formalize other types of board decisions. There are generally four types of resolutions for a community association:   Policy Resolutions affect owners’ rights and obligations such as rules for the…

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Meeting with the Association’s Attorney

All association boards of directors at one time or another must meet with the association’s attorney.  These meetings assist the board through the legal maze that every association encounters.  To reduce legal expenses there are some simple steps that should reduce legal fees and improve the efficiency of everyone involved. Preparation before the meeting is…

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Board Meeting Tips

Follow the agenda and do not deviate. Any items that come up can be discussed at the end of the meeting or put on the agenda for the next board meeting.   Put time limits on all items. Putting time limits on discussion items prevents indecision and improves effectiveness of the overall meeting.   Topics…

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Association Governing Documents

Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions Also known as CC & Rs, Declarations, Master Deed, to name just a few.  By whatever name or abbreviation they go by, these are written rules, limitations and restrictions on use, mutually agreed to (by virtue of purchasing in such a community) by all owners of homes in a planned community…

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The Various Association Meetings, An Overview

Questions arise about association meetings such as the differences, legal requirements and procedures.  While association meetings may not have all the same legal requirements and procedures, whatever the requirements, they must be followed. Generally speaking, meeting requirements are found in the association’s bylaws, however, there may be meeting requirements in the association’s declarations.  So what…

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Directors & Officers Insurance

Directors and Officers liability insurance (D&O) provides coverage in the event of a lawsuit claiming some Board or individual Directors’ act or omission.  D&O insurance does not protect the association when a claim is made for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligent actions of the Board of Directors. Personal injury and…

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Board Meetings 101

Board of Directors’ Meetings can be a very powerful way to communicate and resolve issues. An association’s Board of Directors is confronted with an array of issues that must be resolved in a timely manner.  Thus a Board is charged with what can be the problematical task of obtaining a majority consensus amongst the Board…

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The Association Structure

How an Association is Formed A homeowner association or condominium association is a nonprofit corporation formed, usually, by a real estate developer for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling homes/lots or units in a development. The governing documents of the association grants the developer special voting rights in the operation of the association, while…

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The Financial Statements

The Financial Statements have one primary function: Provide the Board with the financial information to make decisions relating to the Association’s financial situation The association’s financial statements are the summary of the financial activity of the association during a given period of time.  Financial statements are the final product of the accounting function.  There are…

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Online Meetings

It seems these days everyone’s schedules are more hectic than ever, and board members schedules are no different.  Because of scheduling difficulty and, in some cases, convenience, we have boards of directors that hold their board meetings via online services such as Skype, GoToMeeting, and Google Plus Hangouts. With these online services, board members have…

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Association Terminology

Certain terms are used incorrectly or generically when discussing association issues.  For example, the CC&Rs are often incorrectly referred to as the bylaws or the membership believes they are voting for the officers of the board of directors during an annual meeting. Articles of Incorporation: Are the basic charter of an association corporation which spells…

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Short Term Rentals & The HOA

Short term rentals, be it overnight stays or weeklong rentals, seem to be becoming more prevalent in homeowner and condominium associations as of late.  Some blame the advent of online services that help facilitate these activities, or it could seem more prevalent because of the ease of finding out a neighbor is advertising their home…

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Swimming Pools 101    

Swimming pools can be a disproportionate expense to an association and in many instances the single largest budget expenditure to an association.  The membership usually does not realize the enormous impact a swimming pool has on the association’s annual budget and many times, ironically, the swimming pool is the least utilized of all the common…

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Why Must the Association Approve My???

Some in the membership may believe the association is similar to Big Brother when they wish to alter the exterior of their home or do anything that requires approval of the Board of Directors or Architectural Review Committee.  The architectural review or design review program is actually a benefit to everyone—not a burden.  The association’s…

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Collaborative Decision Making

Association Boards and Managers must strive to meet the needs of the entire membership. Unfortunately, within this process, the Board and the Manager rarely please everyone. However, engaging in a proactive and collaborative decision making process can reduce or even eliminate conflicts within the association.  At the very least, the membership will understand and be…

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Forming Committees

Committee Guidelines   Purpose: Defines expected results of a committees work (not what’s to be done to fulfill goal) Responsibilities: Activities/actions that must be performed to fulfill assigned purpose Organization: Number of members, method to select chair, members’ terms of office, roles of officers and board liaison, desired characteristics Operations: Time, place and frequency of…

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Home Values Increase Faster in a Homeowners Association

Recent research conducted in Northern Virginia by a professor and student at George Mason University indicates that community associations can add a 5-6 percent increase in property values over similar homes in nearby non-association communities. Writing in Regulation magazine, the authors say that the increase in home value attributed to community associations is “especially remarkable…

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Association Insurance

The Double Edged Sword  Association master hazard insurance premiums are going up and in some cases rising at double digit percentages.  Even worse, many insurance companies are dropping coverage for high risk associations. Causes:  Recent catastrophic weather events have devastated insurance company profits.  The lackluster stock market has negatively effected many insurance company stock investments. …

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Consumer Price Index

The governing documents of many homeowner associations peg annual dues increases to the Consumer Price Index or CPI.  For example, a typical CPI provision may read: “the annual dues may be increased no more than the average CPI index for the prior 12 months.”  Board members and our company are often asked by members of…

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New Atlanta Area Office

Because of our growth in the Atlanta Metro area we have purchased an office in Marietta. We were up and operational at our new office on October 26.  Our new office is centrally located and will allow us to better serve all our clients.  We have consolidated our other two Atlanta Metro offices into this…

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Dues Payment Options

It is that time of year again, no not the holidays, but billing season. For the convenience of our William Douglas Management homeowners we offer many different payment options. Each option is described briefly below. With the exception of the printed coupon booklets, registration for all of the options listed below can be found on…

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Termites 101

We are entering the time of year when termite activity comes to the forefront because of blatant termite activity in the form of swarms.  Termites swarming from wood or the soil often are the first signs of a termite colony.  Subterranean termites are the most common, and thus the most destructive, wood-destroying insects in the…

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The Efficient BOD Meeting

Board of Director’s Meetings can be a very powerful way to communicate and resolve issues. An association’s Board of Directors is confronted with an array of issues that must be resolved in a timely manner.  Thus a Board is charged with what can be the problematical task of obtaining a majority consensus from the Board…

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A Poem Lovely As A Tree

I think that I shall never see. A poem lovely as a tree. The first part of the wonderful poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, praising the virtues of all trees.  One must realize that Joyce Kilmer did not reside within an association and, therefore, probably did not deal with the issues that arise with certain…

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Committees 101        

Committees are an essential part of an association.  Committees are a way to bring association members together with similar objectives and relevant expertise who may otherwise not have a method to gather information and coordinate actions. Two of the main advantages of a committee are the broad perspectives that are brought to the group by…

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Rules & Regulations 101

Questions often arise when boards of directors revise or initially draft and implement their association’s rules and regulations.  There are points to consider while going through this process.  The board of directors generally has the authority to establish reasonable rules and regulations.  While this authority is typically found in the restrictive covenants, in rare instances…

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Minute Taking Quick Tips

Meeting agendas make a great outline. To improve accuracy minutes should be written as soon as possible after the meeting Written committee reports can be attached to the minutes and referred to within. Distribute minutes to board or committee members before the meeting in which they will be approved so they can be reviewed, and…

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Directors & Officers Insurance

Directors and Officers liability insurance (D&O) provides coverage in the event of a lawsuit claiming some Board or individual Directors’ act or omission.  D&O insurance does not protect the association when a claim is made for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligent actions of the Board of Directors. Personal injury and…

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Auto Draft = Cost Savings

William Douglas Management, as a service to our clients, offers free Auto-Drafting of monthly dues.  Auto-Drafting not only helps our company keep costs down, but it saves our associations money as well.   Associations that have strongly promoted Auto-Drafts have reduced delinquencies and have eliminated the necessity of printing coupons, thus saving money and improving cash…

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The Role of the Association Treasurer

The treasurer is the financial voice of the board of directors and the association. The roll of the association treasurer can be narrow in focus and is crucial to the smooth operation of any association. Whereas the association president is charged with leading the association, the treasurer is charged with ensuring the financial wellbeing of…

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The Role of the Association Vice President

The role of the association vice president can be wide in scope, but can also be narrow in scope depending on the particular vice president or the board of directors.  The vice–president may assume additional duties as defined by the board of directors and the association’s governing documents. An Overview of the Vice President’s Role…

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Capital Reserve Funds

Capital Reserve Funds Capital Improvement Reserves are funds set aside separately to fund future capital repairs or improvements of a homeowners association or condominium association’s common elements.  Capital items can be roofs, streets, sidewalks, pools, tennis courts, elevators, and other common elements. Some Membership FAQ: Why does an HOA need Reserves?  Why should I take…

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