HOA sues over bars installed on windows, doors after burglary
A family in Kent, Wash., decided to put bars over the doors and windows of their home after they were burglarized, but a homeowners association is threatening them with a lawsuit and a fine of $200 for each month the bars stay up. "As a homeowner, as a parent, I feel like I have my full rights to do what is best for my kids and my family. So I'm not taking those bars out," said one of the homeowners, identified only as "Mrs. Singh." KOMO-TV/KOMO-AM (Seattle)


How HOA board members can avoid conflict-of-interest situations
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)/Condos and HOAs blog


Study: Guilt is connected to successful leadership
People who experience guilt are generally more apt to lead, according to a study by researchers at Stanford University. "Guilt-prone individuals are really sensitive to their obligations, so they follow through on those duties," study co-author Becky Schaumberg says. "... When people experience guilt, they want to fix the bad thing that they did." Inc. online


The path for great companies
The most successful companies follow three principles: They value their employees, they have effective communication strategies and the CEO always leads communication efforts through motivation and providing vision, Jim Shaffer says. "Open communication -- linking people and what they do to the business -- doesn't happen by accident. It starts with leadership. It's driven home with leadership," Shaffer says. Leadership Now/Leading Blog


Oklahoma HOA honors late soldier with monument
The Freedom Park Homeowners Association in Sapulpa, Okla., erected a monument to honor Army Staff Sgt. Kirk Owen, who was killed in Afghanistan last year when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. "We come together," resident Everett McCullough says. "This is what America is about. That's what Americans are. We come together in occasions when we need to come together." KOTV-TV (Tulsa, Okla.) 


Michigan HOAs rebuild after tornado
Residents in Dexter, Mich., are rebuilding four months after a tornado damaged hundreds of homes and businesses, totaling more than $9.1 million in losses. HOAs are hosting celebrations for rebuilt homes and seeking more tornado sirens to ensure that residents have enough time to react to future storms. Detroit Free Press 


How to resolve conflict in meetings
When conflict arises in meetings, a leader can dissipate negative emotions by clearly stating each side's perspective. If this doesn't work to calm anger, managers can help each side acknowledge and appreciate the opposing idea to move toward an agreement.SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership 


Colorado community is recognized for fire-protection efforts
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF |
Residents of the Falls Creek Ranch Homeowners Association in Colorado may be able to breathe a little easier during wildfire season because they have come together to help fireproof their community with grants and help from Firewise, a national program that promotes wildfire safety. "Implementation of the plan is a work in progress," said Pam Wilson, director of Firewise of Southwest Colorado. "But recognition comes because they have a plan approved by the Colorado State Forest Service and Firewise, spend at least $2 per resident per year on fire-mitigation measures and hold an annual work day or educational event."

 

Colorado considers a license requirement for HOA managers
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF |
Colorado may join nine other states in requiring the licensing and certification of homeowners association managers, after the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies received many complaints regarding the misuse of HOA funds by compensated managers. The measure's goal is to create accountability for Colorado HOA managers, who do not have to answer to anyone besides the HOA volunteer boards.

 

Bird lover and HOA join forces for classes, research
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 24, 2012
Bird lover Tony Head is partnering with the Highlands Ranch Community Association in Highlands Ranch, Colo., to provide classes for residents to help tag birds for research purposes. "The backcountry is loaded with birds,” Head days. "... We will be trapping older birds for educational purposes and banding them if they haven't been already."

 

3 ways to promote successful community leaders
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 24, 2012
HOA members asked at a conference in Orlando, Fla., how they can pass the baton to new leaders and how to improve current leadership. Donna DiMaggio Berger writes that board members can cultivate an effective group of leaders through free classes, informal training that involves challenging assignments and an internal succession plan to discuss which members in the community wish to serve their neighborhood.

 

Michigan HOAs rebuild after tornado
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 17, 2012
Residents in Dexter, Mich., are rebuilding four months after a tornado damaged hundreds of homes and businesses, totaling more than $9.1 million in losses. HOAs are hosting celebrations for rebuilt homes and seeking more tornado sirens to ensure that residents have enough time to react to future storms.

 

Oklahoma HOA honors late soldier with monument
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 17, 2012
The Freedom Park Homeowners Association in Sapulpa, Okla., erected a monument to honor Army Staff Sgt. Kirk Owen, who was killed in Afghanistan last year when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. "We come together," resident Everett McCullough says. "This is what America is about. That's what Americans are. We come together in occasions when we need to come together."

 

HOA sues over bars installed on windows, doors after burglary
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 17, 2012
A family in Kent, Wash., decided to put bars over the doors and windows of their home after they were burglarized, but a homeowners association is threatening them with a lawsuit and a fine of $200 for each month the bars stay up. "As a homeowner, as a parent, I feel like I have my full rights to do what is best for my kids and my family. So I'm not taking those bars out," said one of the homeowners, identified only as "Mrs. Singh."

 

Community renames Independence Day party after beloved resident
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 10, 2012
The North Landing HOA in Georgia's Cobb County honored a resident by renaming its Fourth of July celebration the Paul Anderson Independence Day Celebration. Anderson has lived in the community for more than 30 years and has helped build bridges, landscape, repair telephone wiring and perform many other tasks that have improved the neighborhood. "Paul Anderson has made tremendous contributions to North Landing for many years, so it seemed very appropriate that we should salute him by naming our neighborhood's biggest party of the year in his honor," NLHA President G.W. Hall said.

 

12 steps HOAs should take to prepare for hurricane season
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 3, 2012
Tropical Storm Debby should come as a reminder to HOAs to review their policies regarding natural disasters, Adam Sinclair writes. He cites a list by Wendy Murray of Associa Gulf Coast that outlines 12 steps HOAs should take -- including disaster plans, evacuation routes and acquiring emergency generators and supplies -- to prepare their communities for a severe storm.

 

Mich. HOA gets grant for garden project, literacy program
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 3, 2012
The Douglass Community Association in Kalamazoo, Mich., was awarded a $1,000 grant to fund a neighborhood garden and a literacy program. "We are elated that OMNI decided to fund this program as it will not only provide fresh vegetables for the participants, it will also serve to increase the reading literacy level of the participants," said Jim Greene, executive director of the association.

 

Condo residents want N.J. township to ban some pesticides
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUL 3, 2012
Condo residents in the Society Hill community in Basking Ridge, N.J., oppose the association's decision to bring back the use of lawn pesticides that contain Trimec 992, which some say is a carcinogen. Members of the Society Hill HOA say the pesticides are safe and that they are trying to maintain home values, but several residents want Basking Ridge's Township Committee to outlaw the use of such pesticides.

 

Florida lawyers answer HOA questions
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 19, 2012
Several Florida lawyers offer answers to common questions in this article to promote more effective leadership in HOAs. Discover the best ways to record meeting minutes, how to open lines of communication between board members and residents, and what to do if a condominium lien for assessments has expired.

 

W.Va. HOA wins lawsuit but still has legal battle ahead
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 19, 2012
The Patrick Henry Estates HOA in Charles Town, W.Va., won a four-year lawsuit against its developer, Dr. Gerald Miller, but residents still have work ahead of them. The HOA sued Miller when it discovered the developer wanted to build an apartment complex on a vacant lot that had been zoned for a single-family house. Although it was awarded $243,000 in the lawsuit, members of the board say the money will be used for community repairs and for ongoing attorney fees, as Miller has petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court to have the case heard.

 

County may take steps to help communities upgrade infrastructure
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 26, 2012
Condo owners at the Whitehall Forest East community in Georgia's DeKalb County are facing about $300,000 in water and sewer bills because aging and leaky pipes cost the residents more each month than they can afford. County commissioners may create a special tax district that would help to update water and sewer systems to reduce monthly costs. "It takes the burden off the homeowners association and homeowners from trying to pay one large bill that's extremely, extremely high," says Corey Turner, president of the HOA. "Each unit is going to have a water bill of its own."

 

N.J. court says HOA residents can display political signs
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 19, 2012
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that residents of home and condo associations can display political signs after one resident at the Mazdabrook Commons condo community in Parsippany was told to take signs down that supported his campaign for office. "Political signs advancing a resident's candidacy are not incompatible with a private development; rather, they are a small but important part of the fabric of our society," the court wrote. "On balance, the importance of [the resident's] right to promote his candidacy for office, and the relatively minor interference his conduct posed to private property, outweigh Mazdabrook's interests."

 

Top HOA legal questions are answered
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 12, 2012
The latest "Ask an Attorney" forum sponsored by the Association of Condominium, Townhouse and Homeowners Associations offered attendees professional advice on legal issues surrounding community associations, including ways to recoup delinquent payments, proper discussion procedures at community meetings and eligibility to enforce smoking bans.

 

How volunteer HOA board members manage everyday challenges
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 12, 2012
Serving on a community association board can give a resident the sense they are making a difference in their community, but it can also add stress when they need to enforce rules, are subject to unrealistic demands by fellow neighbors and have to navigate the fine line between governing and overstepping their legal bounds. "It's a lot of responsibility," says Dave Biemel, who serves on the Arielle Condominium Association board in Sarasota, Fla. "Even something like towing a car that's illegally parked -- if we do tow it, does the association stand some chance of being sued?"

 

Plea deals in Nev. case offer details on HOA takeover scheme
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 5, 2012
Plea deals from 14 defendants accused of planning a takeover of Las Vegas-area homeowners associations reveal the extent of the conspiracy that included real estate agents, notaries, lawyers, community-management employees and a political consultant. Straw buyers who were falsely elected to association boards swindled more than $8 million from the HOAs between 2003 and 2009, according to prosecutors.

 

Homeowners have a right to see HOA financial reports
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 29, 2012
Homeowners who pay into an HOA have every right to see the board's financial statements, certified property manager and broker Barbara Holland writes. If a homeowner suspects the board is using reserve funds for unlawful use, or wants to see where their dues are going, they should request the documents from their management company.

 

Las Vegas HOA becomes Nevada's first state-certified association
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 29, 2012
Board members of the Sun City Aliante HOA in Las Vegas sought to boost HOAs' image by being the first to participate in Nevada's certification program at the Community Associations Institute. The members took courses to learn more about community management, ethics and finances. "This is a tremendous community, and I think our board is unique in the sense that there are seven people all working for the betterment of the community," HOA President Mark Smith says. "Nobody has an individual agenda or is looking to make a name for themselves. We work to make the community better."

 

The top reasons foreclosures in your HOA are delayed
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | JUN 5, 2012
The volume of foreclosure cases has delayed bank takeovers in many community associations, but that's just one factor impeding the process, Donna DiMaggio Berger writes. If a delinquent owner signs up for a payment plan or if they file for bankruptcy, the foreclosure process can be delayed for months or even years. Also, more borrowers are securing mortgage defense attorneys to keep their homes, particularly in states known for being lender-friendly.

 

8-year-old can stay in adults-only community, judge rules
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 22, 2012
A judge in Clearwater, Fla., ruled that the Lakes Homeowners Association cannot evict an 8-year-old child from her grandparents' home in the 55-and-older housing community. The HOA sued the family in 2007 because the association's bylaws state that children can only live in the community 60 days out of the year, but the judge ruled that the child's welfare set precedence over this policy.

 

HOA raises funds for developing a park
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 8, 2012
A community association in Tuxedo, N.C., held a fundraiser Saturday as part of its plans to develop a park. "We hope to see a community building," said David Hill, president of the Green River Community Association. "It will be a good central site for people to gather."

 

Florida HOA evicts a tenant over homeowner's lien
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 8, 2012
The Bridgewater homeowners association in Wesley Chapel, Fla., evicted a renter, giving her 24 hours to leave. The association, which has a lien against the owner of the home, has attempted to evict tenants in six houses this year, according to this article.

 

Property manager is sentenced to 6 years for embezzling HOA fees
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 8, 2012
Theresa Tierney, former property manager at Strickland Farms condominiums in Freehold Township, N.J., last month was sentenced to six years in prison for embezzling more than $400,000 in homeowners association fees. She had pleaded guilty to the criminal charge late last year, after being arrested in April 2011.

 

Unsealing of Las Vegas HOA cases IDs suspected "straw buyers"
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 8, 2012
A federal judge has unsealed 14 criminal cases that include eight alleged "straw buyers" of homes in an ongoing investigation of homeowners associations in the Las Vegas area. There are 25 known criminal cases in the probe, which has uncovered the possible rigging of elections for condominium development boards.

 

Documentary alleges HOA injustices
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAY 1, 2012
Rodney Gray is producing and directing a documentary film, "The HOAX," that focuses on corruption and injustices in the homeowners association industry. He cites the case of Joseph Bitsky, former president of the Autumn Chase Homeowners Association in Las Vegas, who has been accused of misappropriating funds and violating association rules.

 

Las Vegas HOA targets lawyer's estate in takeover litigation
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | APR 17, 2012
The Vistana homeowners association in Las Vegas is adding another name to the list of defendants it accuses of a scheme to take over the association's board. The HOA is targeting the estate of lawyer Nancy Quon, alleging that she participated in an attempt to commit fraud and attempted to take over more than a dozen HOAs. Quon died in March.

 

County, HOA go head-to-head on Lucasfilm property
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | APR 17, 2012
Officials in Marin County, Calif., are scrambling to sway filmmaker George Lucas, who recently pulled the plug on a digital movie-making complex after residents of the Lucas Valley Estates HOA cried foul. The county says it's prepared to offer Lucasfilm its legal support if the HOA should file a lawsuit. "[The county's Board of Supervisors] appeared to be unanimously prepared to approve the project," delaying only after last-minute environmental concerns were raised, county Supervisor Steve Kinsey says. "... Our board could join with Lucasfilm in a robust defense of any litigation that might occur following board approval."

 

Md. case could change the way HOAs collect debt
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | APR 3, 2012
A resident of Norbeck Grove Community Association in Maryland filed a lawsuit against the HOA, saying the organization didn't have a right to enforce a lien against her property as a tactic to collect unpaid housing dues. If the court rules in her favor, other HOAs may need to reconsider methods for collecting dues from members.

 

Miss. HOA heads to court over right to ban rentals
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | APR 17, 2012
The Northbay homeowners association in Madison, Miss., along with the support of Madison Organization of Neighborhood Associations, is seeking court backing to enforce its ban on rental homes. "Rental properties are often not adequately maintained and degrading to the neighborhood. ... We believe this issue is important to all neighborhoods in Madison. MONA has long supported any covenant that increases the value of property, which we think this one does," MONA Chairman Carl Crawford says.

 

HOAs can cut off facilities, but not utilities, to delinquent owners
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAR 27, 2012
Homeowners associations cannot turn off utilities to a delinquent owner's home, even if the utilities are self-contained in the community, lawyer Joe Adams writes. Instead, HOAs can cut off the member from common-facility use or other association property to encourage the member to pay their bill.

 

Arizona lawmakers want to restrict HOA jurisdiction
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAR 13, 2012
Arizona lawmakers are trying to keep HOA rules from governing public domain with several bills that would block HOAs from banning overnight street parking on streets that are public and city-controlled. The state House Judiciary Committee recently killed a bill by Sen. Nancy Barto that would have banned HOAs with fewer than 2,000 members from making any rules about the use of public roads.

 

HOAs should choose quick resolutions over courts, former judge says
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | APR 3, 2012
A jury in Hawaii awarded a couple about $3.9 million after they sued their condo association alleging negligence and conspiracy. The amount was more than 10 times what the couple had suggested be paid to them in a settlement, according to this article. "This case, if nothing else, should be the poster child for the idea that alternative dispute resolution is the way to go," former Judge Joel August said of the case.

 

Lawsuit is filed during Las Vegas HOA investigation
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAR 13, 2012
A lawsuit has been filed that claims several parties, including homeowners associations, a construction company and a community-management company, schemed to take over Las Vegas Valley homeowners associations, causing home values in the subdivisions to drop. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants planned to fraudulently take over HOA boards, file various construction-defect lawsuits and then pay construction contractors to "make superficial repairs that did not address the real underlying defects in the buildings."

 

Volunteer security could become major pitfall for HOAs
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAR 27, 2012
After the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch member in Florida, experts are warning homeowners associations of the possible detriments of volunteer security patrols.

 

Colorado considers a license requirement for HOA managers
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | FEB 28, 2012
Colorado may join nine other states in requiring the licensing and certification of homeowners association managers, after the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies received many complaints regarding the misuse of HOA funds by compensated managers. The measure's goal is to create accountability for Colorado HOA managers, who do not have to answer to anyone besides the HOA volunteer boards.

 

Upkeep on foreclosed homes gets a helping hand from neighbors
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAR 27, 2012
HOA presidents such as Sammie Sias of the Sandridge Community Association in Augusta, Ga., are picking up the slack when foreclosed homes become vacant and quickly turn into eyesores in his neighborhood. Sias cleans up trash and cuts the lawn of homes that banks have taken over, and he's not alone. A report forecasts that the number of foreclosed homes is set to rise 25% this year, indicating more neighbors will need to pitch in to keep up unoccupied properties.

 

Texas community residents want exotic-deer trapping outlawed
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SMARTBRIEF | MAR 13, 2012
Ruby Ranch residents near Buda, Texas, are sparring over the right to trap exotic deer and antelope within the subdivision. One resident assembled an HOA oversight group to draft an amendment calling for a $1,500 fine for trapping exotic animals and for the creation of a wildlife committee. The amendment would need to be signed by more than 75% of lot owners before the restrictions could be legally changed.



§  HOA hopes meeting will quell concerns
The Columbia Association in Columbia, Md., is planning a work session with hopes it will educate concerned homeowners about its potential reclassification from a homeowners association to a nonprofit community service corporation. Homeowners are worried the reclassification will stifle transparency within the association and limit their rights. ExploreHoward.com (Howard County, Md.) (8/29)

§    HOA to revive neighborhood-watch program after slaying
Communities in Kettering, Md., are re-evaluating their neighborhood-watch programs after a 17-year-old was shot to death in her home on Aug. 22. The Towns of Kettering Homeowners Association announced it would revive a program that lapsed years ago. "It heightens awareness when things like this happen. People are more aware of their neighbors and what goes on, and they take more of an interest," Kettering Civic Federation President Deborah Spencer said.

Gazette (Gaithersburg, Md.)


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