Yalnes, Inc. Blog

A Resource for Condo Owners

How to Ensure Success of Committees

Committees are a key component of a successfully run Association and are especially important in large Associations.  Committees should consist of residents of the Association outside of Board members; however, ensuring success of a Committee can be a challenge.  In order for a Committee to be effective, the Board of Directors must establish a clear purpose and expectations, a procedure for accomplishing the goals, specific objectives and deadlines, and rewards for a job well done.  A liaison should also be appointed and assigned the responsibility of keeping the Committee on track and act as a resource.  A liaison can be a Board member but that person should not be the Chair of the Committee.

It is important to determine whether or not the Committee will only act in an advisory capacity or will be given decision-making authority.  If the Committee is to operate in an advisory capacity, the Board should always act upon Committee’s recommendations unless doing so would violate the governing documents or put a financial burden on the Association.    Committee members will quickly lose interest in serving if the Board “dismisses” all recommendations. 

The sample Committee Charter (Landscaping Committee) below address the operation of the Committee; however, the Board must remember to act upon the advice of the Committees and reward them whenever possible.  Rewards can be simple “Thank You” notes in the Association’s newsletters, acknowledgment of their hard work at the Board and membership meetings, and general appreciation of what the Committees are accomplishing. 

 

SAMPLE ASSOCIATION

LANDSCAPING COMMITTEE CHARTER

WHEREAS, Section X.X of the Amended and Restated Declaration obliges the Association to maintain all landscaping materials and plants situation upon the Common Area; AND

WHEREAS, Section X.X of the ByLaws requires the Board of Directors to “provide for the operation, care, upkeep, and maintenance of all of the Common Areas”; AND

WHEREAS, Section X.X of the Amended and Restated Declaration empowers the Board to appoint committees in its discretion; AND

WHEREAS, Article XX of the ByLaws permits committees established by the Board to exercise authorities of the Board; AND

WHEREAS, the Board of Directors deems it necessary to establish a Landscaping Committee to ensure satisfactory maintenance of the landscaping in the Common Area;

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved that a Landscaping Committee shall be established, and that the following procedures for this Committee be adopted and implemented herewith:

PURPOSE

The Landscaping Committee shall act in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors and be responsible for ensuring satisfactory maintenance of all landscaping in the Common Areas and Common Area’s compliance with Landscape Architectural Guidelines, previously adopted by the Association.

RESPONSIBILITIES

The Landscaping Committee shall:

  1. Familiarize itself with Association’s landscape maintenance agreement;
  2. Familiarize itself with Landscape Architectural Guidelines, previously adopted by the Association;
  3. Identify Common Areas which the Association must maintain;
  4. Oversee and ensure satisfactory performance of the Association’s landscape maintenance contractor;
  5. Inspect the Common Area, identify routine maintenance needs and meet with Association’s landscape maintenance contractor at least weekly;
  6. Respond to landscape maintenance issues reported to or noticed by residents or Association Manager;
  7. Submit written reports on maintenance activity and/or contractor’s performance to the Board of Directors at least monthly;
  8. Advise the Board of Directors of maintenance issues noted in the Common Area, which are outside the scope of the maintenance contractor.

 

ORGANIZATION

The Landscaping Committee shall be comprised of three (3) volunteer owners in good standing as appointed by the Board of Directors.  Committee members’ term shall be annual.  Members may be removed from the Committee upon their loss of good standing status or as decided by the Board.  Vacancies on the Committee shall be filled by a vote of the Board of Directors. 

One (1) Committee member shall be a member of the Board of Directors, shall act as a liaison between the Committee and the Board, but shall not be permitted to Chair the Committee.  The Landscaping Committee shall elect a Chair at their first meeting, which shall be held no later than one week after its appointment.

 

AUTHORITY

The Landscaping Committee shall act in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors, however the Landscaping Committee may authorize landscaping repairs (for example: replacement of dead plants) provided the cost of repairs does not exceed $400 in any given monthLandscaping Committee is not authorized to initiate improvements to the landscaping without prior written approval of the Board of Directors.

 

Adopted at the Board meeting held on _____ day of ___________________, 200__.

 

                             SIGNED BY:

 ________________________________

President

 

ATTESTED BY:

________________________________

Secretary

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September 20, 2009 Posted by | Governance | , , | Comments Off on How to Ensure Success of Committees

How to increase operational efficiency while retaining control of your Association’s finances.

We come across a wide range of approaches Associations take to managing and maintaining their Common Areas.  Some Associations wish to address any and all maintenance needs as quickly as possible when they arise and some prefer to go through a competitive bidding process prior to performing repairs.  We suggest developing and implementing a specific policy to provide guidance to the Board of Directors (and the Management Firm, when the Association is professionally managed).  Doing so will eliminate (or at least minimize) lengthy discussions over whether or not something should be repaired, how many proposals from independent vendors should be obtained (does replacement of a light bulb really require three proposals?), how vendor invoices should be approved for payment, etc.  A resolution will also provide consistency in Association’s operations as Board elections are held and the composition of the Board of Directors is changed.

Below is a sample Board Resolution.  There are many things that go into development of a Resolution; however, all Resolutions should include:

  • Purpose – state the reason why this particular Resolution is being adopted;
  • Authority – reference / quote applicable language from Association’s governing documents (commonly referred to as Declaration; Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs); Master Deed; ByLaws; etc.), giving the Board of Directors / Association the power to adopt the Resolution;
  • Result – this is the main portion of the Resolution and will typically describe a specific process, implementing the Purpose of the Resolution.

 

SAMPLE ASSOCIATION
BOARD RESOLUTION # 09-01
GENERAL COMMON AREA REPAIR/EXPENSE APPROVAL GUIDELINES

WHEREAS, Section X.X of the ByLaws obliges the Board of Directors to provide for the operation, care, upkeep and maintenance of all of the Common Areas; AND

WHEREAS, Section X.X of the ByLaws empowers the Board of Directors to manage and supervise business affairs of the Association and to employ services of any independent contractor and to prescribe their duties; AND

WHEREAS, Article XX of the ByLaws permits the Board of Directors to authorize any officer or officers, agent or agents, to enter into any contract and to sign checks, drafts, or other orders for payment; AND

WHEREAS, the Board of Directors wishes to maintain effective control over the Association’s expenditures while providing for efficient day-to-day operations of the Association;

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved that the following approval levels and repair procedures are agreed upon:

  1. Invoices for recurring services (contracts for services and maintenance and utilities), which were previously approved by the Board, shall not require additional approval for payment;
  2. Required repair work of non-recurring and non-emergency nature: (a) The Association Manager (or a Board member appointed to oversee Association’s maintenance) shall have authority to approve repair work and/or invoices not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).  An independent contractor’s proposal/estimate shall not be required for repairs below $1,000 unless deemed necessary by the Association Manager (or a Board member appointed to oversee Association’s maintenance);  (b)  President of the Board of Directors shall have authority to approve repair work and/or invoices not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000.00).  An independent contractor’s proposal/estimate shall not be required for repairs below $2,500 unless deemed necessary by the President.  In the event estimated repairs exceed $2,500, the President and/or Association Manager shall obtain at least two (2) independent proposals for the work;  (c) Approval of the Board of Directors and at least three (3) independent proposals shall be required for expenses exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000.00);
  3. Any one (1) Board member and/or the Association Manager shall have authority to approve repairs / expenses of emergency nature; however, such Board member and/or the Association Manager must notify all Board members of the emergency work while making the protection of life and property a first priority;
  4. Checks and / or drafts for operating expenses shall be signed by the Association Manager (or one (1) member of the Board of Directors);
  5. Checks and / or drafts for reserve expenses must require approval and signatures of at least two (2) Officers of the Board of Directors.

Adopted at the Board meeting held on _____ day of ___________________, 200__.

SIGNED BY:

________________________________
President

 

ATTESTED BY:

________________________________
Secretary

September 20, 2009 Posted by | Board of Directors, Governance | , , , | Comments Off on How to increase operational efficiency while retaining control of your Association’s finances.

Aging Associations: Helpful Strategies for Older Homeowner and Condominium Associations

Are Aging Associations different from New Associations? Maybe.

Self-Managed vs. Professionally Managed

  • Role of the Board of Directors and the management company: The Board of Directors is the main governing body of any Association.  Individuals elected to the Board are volunteers from the Community and do not always know all aspects of managing an Association.  It is important that the Board of Directors surrounds itself with experts and relies on them when making decisions.
  • Which professionals work with the Association: A professional management company is just one of those experts and provides bookkeeping services and leadership to an Association.  The management company does not have answers to all questions either; however, knows when to involve an independent professional.

Most Associations establish relationships with various professionals – attorneys, CPAs, insurance brokers, reserve consultants, and many others.  Those professionals are important to every Association and should be viewed as trusted advisors with expert knowledge in their field.   

What is an Association and what does the Board need to know?
So, you are elected to the Board.  Do you know your duties and responsibilities?  Do you know the needs of the multi-million dollar corporation you’ve been put in charge of?  Where do you start?

  • How was the Association managed in prior years?
  • Does the Association have a maintenance plan?
  • Does the budget cover all of Association’s needs?
  • Does the Association have a Risk Management Plan?
  • Do the governing documents comply with current laws? 

Maintenance Issues
The Association is generally responsible for proper maintenance of all Common Areas and in some instances must ensure individual owners maintain their Units. 

  • Routine maintenance includes regular day-to-day maintenance of common areas.  Some routine maintenance is taken care of through recurring contracts with independent vendors (elevators, HVAC equipment, fire alarms, landscaping, janitorial, etc.)  There are also non-contract maintenance needs – carpets, windows, gutters and downspouts, lighting, etc. 
  • In addition to routine maintenance, each property has its long term needs – replacement of roofs, painting of the exterior, paving of streets and sidewalks, etc.  Proper routine maintenance will pro-long the life of these major components. 

The best way to identify major components is to have a reserve study (a new law was passed in Washington on June 12, 2008 requiring Associations to have reserve studies done an independent professional).  A reserve consultant will visit the property, list major components, “inspect” them to determine remaining life, will provide a replacement estimate, and recommend a funding schedule for the Association to meet its long-term financial needs.

Financial Planning
Community Associations are non-profit corporations and must cover their expenses.  A budget should include short-term (12 months) and long-term (up to 20 years and more) financial needs of a Community. 

  • Operating or short-term expenses generally include utilities, routine maintenance, professional services, and insurance. 
  • Replacement budget includes expenses of non-recurring nature (less frequent than annual).  A reserve consultant will help with replacement budget by preparing the reserve study; however, the reserve study should be updated regularly (new law requires the reserve studies to be updated annually and at least once every 3 years by a reserve study professional) to take into account increased costs of construction and deferred maintenance of major components which may have shortened their remaining life. 

Once the upcoming expenses of the Association are known, the revenue can be calculated.  The majority of the revenue comes from member assessments.  Some Associations will have additional income – for example, interest on Association’s cash assets, move-in/out fees, use of common amenities, etc.  In addition, the Association must take into account delinquencies, if any.  Non-payment of assessments may result in Association finding itself short of operating cash.  While borrowing from reserves is possible, it should be the last resort because doing so will impact the long-term financial planning.  New “reserve study” law has some provisions and guidelines an Association must follow prior to using reserve funds for operating and/or unexpected expenses.

Insurance and Risk Management
There are various insurance policies each Association should have.  Some of them are required by State laws and governing documents.  They include property policy, general liability, D&O, Fidelity Bond/Crime, worker’s compensation, if there are employees, and an umbrella. 

Risk Management Plan of an Association should analyze Association’s exposures (physical and liability), take into account existing insurance coverage, and define ways to minimize risks. 

Disaster Planning is another component of Risk Management.  Every Association should develop a Disaster Plan and provide a copy of it to all residents.  A disaster plan would include information on where shut-off valves are located, who will shut off utilities in case of an emergency, how the evacuation will work, etc.

Legal and Governance
Governance of a Community is more than just compliance with CC&Rs.  There are multiple State and Federal Laws which govern how Associations operate and some of them may trump existing provisions in the CC&Rs.  Because laws often change, an Association must keep itself apprised of the legislature and amend the governing documents as needed. 

Staying current with industry trends is also important.  As society evolves, Associations need to revise their governing documents and the way they operate to protect their interests and their members. 

This also applies to decision making.  The Board has to identify which decisions they have the authority to make and which decisions require vote of the membership.  How decisions are made is equally important.  Before the internet and email, all decisions were made during meetings.  Now, Boards want to take advantage of modern technology and make decisions over email; however, it may not be legal.

Enforcement of Rules and Regulations – the Boards used to be able to send a violation letter to the owner and start levying fines or take other actions.  This is no longer true.  The industry trends have changed and so did the laws.  Majority of Associations now must give notice to an alleged violator and give them the opportunity to be heard before any enforcement action can be taken.  Boards also need to know which rules can and cannot be enforced.  Restrictions which were ok in the past may not be legal anymore.

So, are Aging Associations different from New Associations?
Proactive Associations do not find themselves in Stone Age

Forward looking Associations will stay on top of their maintenance needs and ever changing society, will keep their governing documents updated with industry and legislature changes, and will have enough funds to ensure smooth operations.  Community Associations Institute is an excellent resource for information and networking opportunities.

December 15, 2008 Posted by | Aging Associations | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Aging Associations: Helpful Strategies for Older Homeowner and Condominium Associations