How To Prepare Your Community For The Next Hurricane With Evercondo

Hurricane-Irma

Source: https://www.newyorker.com

In the wake of disasters such as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, we are reminded of the vast importance of communication and keeping communities informed and connected. When these types of events occur, there is often panic and chaos. Communities are faced with many questions about how to prepare in advance, where to find updated news, and what to do after the storm has passed. Platforms such as Evercondo are essential for staying organized and having necessary information available in one convenient location.

Before a Storm

Before a natural disaster strikes, Condo Associations and HOAs should reach out to members and let them know how they can prepare and what safety precautions to take. They can also share what the Association is doing to keep property and members safe. Instead of relying on members to get information from a variety of outlets, Evercondo can be used to send announcements via email, SMS, voice, or push notifications. Members receive important messages straight from the Association and know exactly what applies to them and what they should be doing.

After a Storm

Once the storm has passed, Evercondo can be a valuable tool in managing cleanup, ensuring that members are accounted for, and quickly accessing necessary documents whether for insurance claims or to partner with service providers. By maintaining updated contact information for all residents, Associations know who is living the community, where they live, and how to get in touch with them.
It is also a wonderful platform that makes it easier for residents to submit requests for repairs or alert the Association about potential problems. All service requests are tracked to ensure that they are not overlooked. On the flip side, the Association can notify members regarding any damage or outages and update them on progress as these problems are corrected. All messages are neatly organized in one location so board members and property managers are all on the same page and know what is happening.

By keeping communities connected, Associations can also notify residents about ways that they can help the community or others in need. There are frequently fundraisers and donation drives that take place after natural disasters or other major events. One way that members can always help – and how Evercondo has been supporting those in need – is by donating to the Red Cross. Monetary donations of any size are appreciated and go toward fulfilling the needs of those affected by disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

If your community is looking for an easy, convenient way to stay in touch with members, organize Association files and events, and make communication more efficient and effective, find out how Evercondo can help.

Evercondo is the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick and useful communication between community managers, HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or sign up for a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy today!

6 Ways To “Go Green” in Your HOA or Condo Association

Go Green In Your HOA

There are more than 7 billion people on the Earth. We take up a lot of space and use a lot of resources. That makes implementing eco-friendly practices even more critical to preserve the environment and the resources that we do have. Trees can be cut down in the blink of an eye, but they take years to grow. HOAs and Condo Associations can do their part to protect the earth by going green and making more conscious decisions to be eco-friendly.

Here are just 6 ways your HOA or condo association can implement to start making a difference:

1. Use Paperless Communications

One of the biggest ways HOAs and COAs can be proactive is by cutting back on the amount of paper waste they create. Instead of sending out newsletters, fliers, and forms that will soon find their way into the trashcan, make use of electronic options. Create a spot on the community website or portal where governing documents, request or application forms, and other communications are kept. Send email blasts, electronic newsletters, and digital reminders instead of printing out countless pages of information. Software programs such as Evercondo can make managing and organizing electronic communications and files simple by having everything in one place.

2. Install Motion Detectors

Instead of keeping lights on all the time, use motion detectors so they’re only activated when needed. This can be done for both indoor and outdoor lights and significantly reduces energy usage. Motion sensors can also be a deterrent for suspicious activity because the lights pop on when movement is detected.

3. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances

Encourage homeowners to choose energy-efficient appliances when buying or replacing appliances in their home. Associations can also choose to use these types of devices in common areas such as business centers or clubhouses. Make sure they’re Energy Star Certified.

4. Service HVAC Systems Annually

Ensuring that the HVAC system is running efficiently is a great way to save energy and prolong the life of these systems. Regular maintenance can help to identify problems and keep the heat or air conditioning from being a drain on electricity because they are not functioning properly.

5. Promote Recycling

Many HOA and COA communities have recycling programs in place, but residents may not be taking full advantage of them. Post visual signs near recycling areas and send reminders about exactly what types of materials can be recycled. Residents may not realize that they can discard certain types of cardboard, paper, plastic, or other material. By simply raising awareness and educating homeowners, the HOA can help keep more waste out of landfills.

6. Plant Native Plants

When landscaping the area, use plants that are native to the region and are hearty. They often require less watering and maintenance. Pick plants and shrubs that are appropriate for the amount of sunlight, shade, and rainfall that the area receives. Consider installing an irrigation system to help control water usage, or limit watering to early morning or later in the evening so that it has time to soak in before the heat of the day.
Adopting more eco-friendly practices and going green can help with managing costs in the Association while also cutting down on unnecessary waste and energy usage. We only have one Earth, so we should be doing all that we can to protect it for generations to come.

What other ways have you found to go green in your HOA or condo community? Share your stories, tips and tricks in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Evercondo is the leading #gogreen web and mobile platform that facilitates quick and useful communication between property managers, HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or sign up for a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy and green today!

5 Tips For Hiring A Good HOA Community Manager

hoa-community-manager-hiring

Choosing a community manager is one of the most important decisions that a HOA and condo board will make. Talk about pressure! You need to be careful in your selection because the people who work on your community’s management team—especially those on-site—will affect quality of life for residents. So it’s important to make a smart choice.

When you hire a community management firm, they run the day-to-day operations of your community. It’s crucial to do your research when hiring a community manager so you’re confident they have what it takes to fit into your community and run things properly.

Apart from having good communication and conflict resolution skills, community managers need to have certain traits in order to be successful. Here are five tips for finding the right fit for your community:

Evaluate your last manager.

Unless you’re hiring because your community is moving from a self-managed model, your existing manager either quit or was fired. So when you choose another community management firm, board members should evaluate the last one for clues about what was missing. Be objective in your evaluation. Make a list of what you liked about the last community manager and what needs to be improved under the new firm.

Shop around, with intelligence.

Your HOA’s other service providers likely work with a number of community management firms, so ask them for recommendations. Check with people you know living in other communities, too—happy residents usually have good managers. Make a short list of the best candidates and research their reputations. Search them out online; ask for references and follow up to see how they performed for past clients. Ask references about their strengths and weaknesses as a manager. Are they accountable? How are their accounting, deadline juggling, and communication skills? If you’re evaluating large management companies, ask for the names and credentials of the team members who will provide the actual service in your community (such as the senior manager, onsite manager, or administrator) so you can research them online and check their references.

Ask the right questions.

Find out exactly what services are offered by the different community management companies you’re considering, and ask for a complete list of management fees so there are no hidden surprises. Ask about their expectations from the board, too: sick days; time off for professional development; offsite meetings; etc. Ask about their vendor relationships (do they get multiple quotes for services and have relationships with multiple vendors for the same service?); back office skills (is a live person available 24/7 in cases of emergency? Are HOA finances kept by a qualified, certified financial expert? Are they up to date on all laws governing the running of a condo or HOA?); and about their experience as community managers (for example, a gated community HOA wouldn’t hire a firm that has only managed high-rise condos).

Look for experience and credentials.

Not all property management companies are created equal. Firms that have been in business for years have a longer track record of staying current with best practices and regulatory changes. But make sure their experience covers all aspects you need: landscaping, governance, pest control, waste and recycling, special projects, etc. Verify the firms’ and individual managers’ industry designations to make sure their credentials meet your standards.

Meet with them in person.

All board members should have a chance to meet prospective managers and talk face-to-face. This way you can evaluate how well they listen and relate to people. A good community manager needs great communication skills and the ability to interact with many different people and personalities, while keeping the community’s logistics in order. You want someone proactive and resourceful who is also personable and level headed. Someone responsive, who returns calls and keeps open lines of communication so everyone in the building—residents and workers alike—feel heard. (Bonus points: give extra consideration to prospective managers who are savvy enough to use Evercondo to communicate, manage, organize and optimize operations.)

Have you ever hired a property manager? How did you choose the right person or firm for the job? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Evercondo is the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick and useful communication between property managers, HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or sign up for a free trial to see how we can keep your HOA and condo communities happy while saving your community managers tons of time.

3 Tips To Avoid Pet “Headaches” and Issues In Your Condo

condo-pets-headache

Source: https://fineartamerica.com

Pets are part of the family. But what happens when someone’s four-legged family member urinates in your condo lobby? Once the mess is cleaned up, how do you prevent Fido from making it a morning ritual? Beyond that, what actions can managers take to ease friction between pet owners and their neighbors who may fear or dislike animals?

In condo lifestyle advertisements, you sometimes see developers promoting their communities as “pet friendly”. For them it’s a competitive advantage—they offer rooftop dog runs, outside pet park areas, doggie spa baths. Anything to entice their target market: owners of pampered urban pets.

But being “pet friendly” happens on a spectrum in condo communities. Because the Condominium Act gives corporations the freedom to spell out specific pet policies for their buildings, rules range between pets being forbidden on one extreme, to pets being encouraged on the other.

The fact is, condo living and pets only coexist peacefully when the rules are clear and people follow them. And even though the rules are written into a condo’s governing documents, not all residents may be fully aware of what is and is not allowed.

Nor can you be sure everyone will follow the rules, even if they do understand them.

To avoid untenable scenarios, managers and boards need to make sure that pet ownership rules are as transparent as possible for residents. These three tips can help you define it:

Clarify the pet policy in the governing documents.

Make sure the condominium by-laws have a section dedicated to pet policies that spells out specific rules for pet ownership. For example, the maximum number of pets allowed per unit; forbidding commercial breeding; requiring all pets to be screened and registered before they move in. The more detailed you are in your by-laws (and the more transparent you are with residents), the easier it is to lay down the law.

Beware of “grandfathers” condo bylaws.

Condo bylaws are amended and pet policies change over time. For example, a community may decide to prohibit certain dog breeds and enact a new law to that effect. Existing pet owners are usually protected by “grandfather” bylaw clauses, which can make the rules seem ambiguous and certainly harder to navigate. Make sure the rules are spelled out clearly for residents, new and old. Include relevant dates that establish exactly when grandfather rules apply. Managers should get to know which residents fall under these special cases so they don’t try to enforce new rules on current pet owners.

Plan out violation procedures to help alleviate conflict.

No one wants to be the pet pariah of the building. But that doesn’t stop certain people from sneaking their 45-pound dog out at night because the condo bylaws state a 30-pound limit. This can lead to awkward conflicts between neighbors and detract from the community’s overall quality of life. To alleviate this, make sure you have established procedures for dealing with pet owners who flout the rules—and a communications plan for notifying them of what to expect if it continues.

Do you consider your condo to be pet friendly? How are conflicts over pet ownership rules resolved? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

5 Ways To Deal With Board Members That Micro-Manage

board-micro-manage

“I’d like to be able to review every message before you reply to residents”. That’s one of many cases we’ve heard from property managers, voicing their concern regarding board members that micro-manage.

It’s no secret that board members that micro-manage make life tough for property managers. The need for the board to control even the smallest aspect of a property manager’s job is not only considered a nuisance—it’s stressful. What if I told you there’s a way to satisfy a board’s thirst for control AND keep your sanity?

The first rule of thumb is to be rational about the situation. In other words, don’t let the board’s demands, no matter how unreasonable, trigger an emotional reaction. Keep calm, be professional and always smile. =)

Then, do what they ask or need but on your own terms. It’s really that simple. Think of it as “managing the micro-manager”. In this way, you’re no longer a victim—you’re actually in control of how the dynamic plays out. Here are five tips for dealing with it:

Remember that it’s not personal.

Board members are not micro-managers because they want to torment you personally. Usually, it’s because they are control freaks by nature—it’s a behavioral issue that affects all their relationships. Realize that it’s their issue, not yours. Let go of feeling under personal attack, so you can let go of feeling angry, resentful, and overwhelmed. Here’s a trick. The next time a board member asks for an unreasonable request, understand that it may be due to personal circumstances. Be sympathetic and everything should be a breeze.

Make regular use of the email “cc” field.

When you keep your board members in the loop about issues, it demonstrates your understanding of their need to be informed. An easy way to do this, is to copy them on your responses to emails with suppliers, contractors, staff, and others if appropriate. You can also send them an end-of-week summary. This keeps them in the loop for easy reference and proof of your efficiency.

Establish a weekly meeting.

It doesn’t have to be a face-to-face meeting. Using tools like Google Hangouts or Skype can work out better. Be proactive with your board member and catch up on things each week to discuss issues and projects. A formal meeting will give the board member the special attention they feel they deserve. But make sure to set the meeting time in your favor. If you schedule it at 4:30 p.m., for example, it’s more likely to encourage the board member to finish within a reasonable period. And while it seems like overkill, this tactic helps you control the amount of time you devote to the board member and stops them from running roughshod over your entire workweek.

Automate access to community documents.

Often, board members simply want ready access to information. Tools like Evercondo give board members the control they desire without adding more work for you as the property manager. You can use Evercondo to store documents (reports, meeting minutes, financial statements, status documents, etc.) online and give access to board members through a secure web portal.

Give board members something to do.

Simply involving them in projects or asking for their help will change your relationship with the board member. Instead of seeing you as an obstacle to their desire for control, they will see you as a proactive partner. Plus it’s a great way to keep them busy and give you something to discuss in your weekly meetings!

Have you ever been micro-managed by a board or any other boss? How did you handle it? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

Change Management Tips To Overcome Resistance To Change In Your HOA Management Organization

resistance-to-change

Who likes change when everything seems to be working fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” as most would say. While this holds true in your own reality, the truth is, change is always happening around us – as the old saying goes, “Change is the only constant in life”.

As innovators in the space of condo and HOA management, we’ve come across many management companies that face the challenge of having to get the buy-in of their managers in adopting new processes and tools that can help them optimize and improve their efficiencies. The leadership sees the high level benefits but not necessarily those on the front lines.

It’s a daunting task, especially when you have a large team of community managers. Getting all of them to embrace a new piece of software or process is challenging but when done well, it can bring about big gains in efficiencies and overall morale.

Here are 4 tips to help you overcome the resistance.

Work with the resistance.

Try to understand the reasons why managers in your organization might resist changes before you start making them. If you prepare ahead of time to meet people at their resistance points, your platform for change is stronger. Reasons to resist change include:

  • Belief that the change is unnecessary or will make things worse (i.e. create more work)
  • Distrust of the people leading the change effort (which could mean you or the management team)
  • The change was introduced too abruptly or without consultation
  • Fear that the change will not succeed
  • Fear that change will mean job loss
  • Exhaustion from too much change already; needing a break from disruption

Explain why the change is happening.

People appreciate a reason “why” the change must happen—even if they don’t believe or support the reason. But giving them a clear explanation about why the change is necessary becomes your platform for winning support and allies. Good reasons for changing something (i.e. better service; more efficient; less costly) will eventually make sense to most of those affected by the change. (Top tip: back up your reasons with data.)

Help managers see how they benefit personally.

Most of the natural resistance to change disappears when managers are clear about the benefits they gain as individuals from the change. Communicate the benefits clearly and stress on actual examples that can help save time for managers on their day-to-day tasks (i.e. you no longer need to print out reports for board members, as they can now access it on their own via the Evercondo community website).

Set up a feedback loop.

Establish a simple yet efficient reporting process before you begin. Keep open lines of communication throughout your management company. This will help managers feel supported and engaged (rather than neglected) during the disruptive phase of change. It also means feedback will reach the right people so any necessary tweaks to details can happen as the change progresses.

Have you been a “change agent” in your career, or survived a difficult change process? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

May the force be with you 🙂

Evercondo is the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between community managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a live demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

Improve Your Condo and HOA Management Brand in 5 Easy Steps

brand-marketing-for-condo-hoa-management

Property management is a competitive business. To stand out from the crowd, your company needs a strong “brand presence” – an impression you give people about the benefits of choosing your firm over a competitor. But branding is more than just a corporate logo and tagline. Think about Nike’s swoosh and “Just do it” brand elements. Then think about how they help create an emotional bond with the company’s customers.

A strong brand portrays the good things about your company. It defines your qualities and values so people know what you stand for when they choose to do business with you. Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon, describes it aptly: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

If your commitment is to provide premium service, your brand needs to reflect this image. An amateurish logo or website speaks volumes about a company’s approach to the finer details of their business. It influences folks’ expectations of the type of experience they might have with your product or service.

Make sure your company sends the right message to customers. Here are five tips for building a stronger property management brand:

Be strategic.

Your brand should represent your vision as a company. Whether you want to become the biggest player in the North American market, or be seen as the go-to expert in your local area, your brand concept needs to reflect the values that support your vision. Figure out what your company is good at—customer service; creative problem solving; innovations for modern lifestyles. These are your brand attributes. Think of them as the framework for your marketing efforts.

Paint the right picture.

Images make powerful impressions—even if they underwhelm. A company with a bold stance won’t get their message across using mousy images or clip art on their website. If you want to be known for superior maintenance services, you could imply this with a large “hero” image showing workers dressed in company uniforms, wielding impressive tools and looking confident. If upscale customer service is your thing, the hero image of a smiling person wearing a navy blue blazer or some other visual badge of professionalism is a better fit.

Words (and fonts) matter.

Not every company needs a graphic logo. Often, your company name makes an ideal wordmark—a text-only design that uses font and color for impact. It’s a good idea to work with a graphic designer to create a professional-looking logo. Choose someone who understands color theory and the power of fonts. If you’re using a tagline make sure it’s a short, catchy phrase that sums up what your company is all about.

Think mobile.

Everyone has a smartphone these days and for the growing population, they expect everything including your services to be somewhat “swipe-able” on their phone. Create positive experiences for people in the mobile online space. Make sure your company website is well designed, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. Offer a mobile app to simplify service delivery. Make sure your website and mobile app are fully branded to promote your company and its attributes at the grassroots level. Evercondo provides an easy way to do this with our white label program, which gives customers a customizable version of Evercondo’s web platform and mobile app they can brand with their own logo and tagline for a more professional look.

Content marketing keeps things fresh.

A blog space on your website is an important feature because it’s a place where you can post fresh content to interest your potential customers (i.e. HOA / condo board members). Websites that feature new content regularly tend to get better Google search engine results. You can also reinforce your brand by writing about topics that position your company as a leader or expert. Think of your blog as a timeless shareable content library—one that can gain a widening audience over time by sharing posts on (branded) social media sites or pages. A blog article posted today will get you leads forever as long as it stays relevant.

How does your company approach brand marketing? Share some of your ideas in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Evercondo is the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Click here to learn more about our mobile platform and how we can tailor it to your management brand for maximum exposure to residents.

3 Tips to Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution

new-year-resolution

As a community manager you endure stressful challenges every day. We know this from the countless conversations we’ve had with community managers across North America, about how to make your work life easier.

We also know that what you DON’T need is another know-it-all article. You know, the type that tells you to set goals or organizational tips for your New Year’s resolutions.

Research shows that of the roughly 200 million Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, only eight percent are successful. A third of people don’t even make it past January while a quarter of us give up within the first week!

At Evercondo, we believe that we need some kind of mental support in order to achieve our goals like how a table needs legs to support it in order to stand. So before we get into the mode of listing out our goals for the next year, it’s important for us to reflect upon all the things we’ve accomplished in the past year, even the smalls ones. It happened and it was all because of you and your work. Celebrate it with joy because you deserve it and use that momentum to support and propel you towards achieving loftier goals this coming new year.

Here are three things to ponder as we finish off the year:

The high points of the past year

What outstanding things happened this year? What made you feel happy? Think about what you learned and whom you met—all the new people, meaningful experiences, and life lessons. Remember your achievements and feel good about your good deeds.

What you’re grateful for

Reflect on all the good things in your life and give thanks in your heart. This includes your career. An air of gratitude about your work makes challenges easier to face. Being a property manager is stressful; so be grateful your job pushes you to develop skills valued by other industries. That crossover flexibility expands your career possibilities.

What you want most in your life and career

Let your mind wander as you imagine what you want to do with the rest of your life. Dream big. Think about where you want to live, what your “dream job” looks like. Expand your thinking beyond small, progressive changes from the life and career you have now.

Do you usually make New Year’s resolutions? Share with us your stories in the comments below!

Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

15 Helpful Steps to Create a Budget for your HOA or Condo Association

hoa-budgeting

Budgeting for a community association is both a difficult task and a massive responsibility. The process is a marathon, not a sprint. If you wait too long to start budget preparations, you’re adding the burden of last-minute panic to an already stressful project.

Give yourself at least five months to prepare next year’s budget before the end of your current fiscal year. If your year-end is December 31, for example, you should have started the budgeting process back in July.

To create a well-planned, realistic budget, board members and budget committees need to understand the community’s assets and operations. They also need to comply with condo or HOA legislation and governing documents – rules for disclosure to owners, time limits, and more.

The first rule of budgeting (besides starting early) is to always develop a budget by projecting income and expenses on a monthly basis, which then adds up to the totals for the year.

But before you start plugging numbers into a spreadsheet, you need to gather all the relevant information: utilities costs (adjusted for inflation); the current reserve fund study and financial statements; prior year financial statements; projected income statement; and insurance quotes.

Having all your ducks in a row will make the budgeting process smoother. A great place to get started is with this handy budgeting checklist created by ACM Community Management – it spells out all the steps you need to take, from preparing a business plan that outlines the community’s goals for the year to distributing the budget.

Here’s a quick reference of the 15 steps for creating your HOA or Condo association budget:

Prepare a business plan.
What do the board and residents want to accomplish, as a whole? Adding amenities (e.g., a playground or security gate) can be costly, or a luxury. Residents may instead want a budget that enhances the current property at this time.
Develop processes & assign tasks.
The goals and objectives of the association have to be reviewed, numbers must be crunched, resident input should be sought, and budget review meetings need to be scheduled. All of this takes time and effort. Put an organized process in place.
Review financial history
Examine budgets and financial statements, from at least the past several years to help determine a starting point. Compare this year’s actual expenditures to date against the original budget, so adjustments can be made as well in next year’s budget.
Project utility costs.
Do you provide water and/or heat to your residents and the common areas? Utility rates are soaring in many cities nationwide. Find out what the trends are in your community. Some increase, should always be built in for utility costs regardless.
Review vendor contracts.
Do landscaper or maintenance company contracts call for a price increase in the coming year? Are any contracts expiring? Review all contracts and seek bids.
Do a maintenance review.
Inspect the entire property. Are playground or pool repairs pressing? Any driveways or lots need repaving? Hallways due to be repainted? Preventive maintenance can prevent costlier problems.
Evaluate insurance policies.
Like your personal policies, your community’s policies should be reviewed yearly. Are limits and types of coverage sufficient? Do your reserves cover any deductibles that might be needed? Would a lower-premium, higher-deductible plan make sense?
Include legal and collections costs.
Few associations can translate 100 percent of their fees due into actual revenue. Referring to previous legal or collection actions might provide valuable insight into expectations for your future costs.
Create a worksheet.
When you determine known expenses, start inserting the numbers into a spreadsheet and compare them with expected revenue. At least you’ll know how much above or below your projected operating costs you are.
Prioritize projects.
Something will need upkeep or a change every year. Make sure needs — especially those that expose the association to liability
(e.g., stairwell repairs) — are budgeted for before wants (e.g., beautification projects).
Expect the unexpected.
Set aside funding for some “emergencies” that cannot be identified in advance. One year, mosquito abatement might be necessary; another year, vandalism might present a problem, or a storm might destroy landscaping. Being prepared is a good plan.
Plan out reserves.
Over a long enough period, projects such as replacing a building’s roof are as inevitable as they are expensive. Experts suggest a good reserve study should tell you how to fund your reserves.
Be transparent.
It’s not possible to keep every resident happy, but keeping the budgeting process open and transparent at least gives residents a chance to have their opinions heard.
Distribute the budget.
Distribute the proposed budget to the homeowners for their review and comment. Then, once the new budget has been approved by the association board, get it into the hands of all homeowners.
Follow the budget.
Except for emergencies that have not been budgeted for, follow your plan. The budgeting tool keeps the community operations on track.

Do you have any experience with creating a condo association or HOA budget? Share your tips in the comments below!

Since 1986, ACM Community Management provides high quality management services to town homes, multi-story condos, homeowner associations, and vintage buildings in the Chicagoland area.

Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.

Why Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance Is A Must For Homeowner Associations

do-insurance

Did you know that volunteering as a board member for your condo or HOA could jeopardize your personal financial security? You’re actually at risk from lawsuits against the board—whether they have merit or not. Having an indemnification clause in your bylaws helps protect directors financially but at a greater potential cost to the condo association than a comprehensive Directors and Officers (D&O) liability insurance policy.

It may not seem fair that being a volunteer director of your condo or HOA board comes with the potential for financial ruin. But it’s a very real risk—there are many cases where directors have been found personally liable for board decisions and required to pay expensive legal costs as a result.

One example from Ottawa, Ontario is the case Boily vs. Carleton Condominium Corporation 145, where a number of unit owners sued the board over repairs to a parking garage that resulted in “substantial changes” being made to the courtyard area. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded in favour of the owners (a decision later upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal); the directors were found in contempt of court and personally liable for more than $95,000 in legal costs.

Being a director is a somewhat thankless job that comes with big responsibilities. You have a legal duty to protect owners and their investment in the property. And if the board is not covered by the right liability insurance, you are at risk if the board is sued. No matter how frivolous a lawsuit might be, you are required by law to hire an attorney (with your own money) to defend your actions as a director.

Typical lawsuits that plague condo and HOA boards include:

  • Wrongful termination of an employee
  • Discrimination due to race, religion, sex, or disability
  • Defamation of character (i.e. libel or slander)
  • Breach of contract by a third-party vendor
  • Renovations by the building or homeowner
  • Noise by another homeowner, a contractor, or the building’s machinery
  • Subletting guidelines and restrictions
  • Pet guidelines and restrictions

While an indemnification clause in the bylaws will require the condo association to reimburse directors for uninsured legal fees incurred in their capacity as board members, it can become expensive if the board is sued.

On the other hand, a comprehensive D&O liability insurance policy can be a budget line item that pays for itself in the event of a lawsuit.

“Comprehensive” means that the policy stands on its own—it’s not D&O liability coverage that’s embedded into the property’s commercial insurance or general liability policy. This is important because a comprehensive policy provides coverage for elected or appointed directors, trustees, officers, employees, committee members, and volunteers now or in the past. But the embedded policy usually just covers the directors and officers in office during the policy period.

To protect yourself as a board member, make sure to consult the association’s insurance broker to see if the liability coverage can withstand a legal assault.

Do you have any experience with lawsuits as a condo/HOA owner or board member? Share your story in the comments below!

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