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Articles Posted in Association communications

EvonneAndris-srhl-law-200x300The firm’s latest Miami Herald “Real Estate Counselor” column is authored by partner Evonne Andris and appears in today’s edition of the newspaper.  The article, which is titled “Response to Negative TV News Report by HOA Shows How It’s Done,” focuses on a recent case from San Antonio, Texas, involving a homeowner’s car that was wrongfully towed by her HOA.  As often happens in such instances of community association missteps, the homeowner responded by reporting the incident to her favorite local TV news station.  Evonne’s article reads:

. . . “We looked into the claim,” begins the story from KENS 5, the city’s CBS affiliate. Jennifer Holmquist tells the station her son’s car was suddenly gone from their driveway, and they were about to report it stolen when they learned it had been towed by the Mountain Lodge Homeowner’s Association with no advance warning.

“Nothing on the door, no phone call, no email,” she complains to the reporter. She also bemoans that she was told by the towing company it would cost $300 to get the car back.

EAndris-Herald-clip-for-blog-11-20-22-103x300In similar situations of community association disputes across the country, what typically follows is an account of how the reporter attempted to get a response from the association, but none was forthcoming. In some cases, the journalists receive a written response from the association’s attorney that defends its actions and holds firm that they were in accordance with the community’s policies and regulations.

However, when the acts taken by an association are in error, simple no comment responses or those focusing on community policies and regulations may not be the best position to take. Such cases highlight the importance of a well thought out response. In this situation, it was verified that the removal of the vehicle on the community’s behalf was the result of a miscommunication with the HOA’s towing company, so the association and its board of directors had a decision to make.

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Shari-Garrett-002-200x300The firm’s latest Miami Herald “Real Estate Counselor” column is authored by partner Shari Wald Garrett and appears in today’s Neighbors section of the newspaper.  The article, which is titled “Increases in Community Association Budgets Require Careful Deliberation, Communication,” focuses on the budgetary strains that Florida community associations are now beginning to experience.  It notes that directors and property managers are finding it particularly difficult to reconcile required increases with many community home and condominium owners, but there is no avoiding the difficult work that lies ahead.  Her column advises:

. . . One of the best budgetary approaches for associations to consider is the use of a finance/budget committee, which is able to give all the important financial questions that come into play the attention and consideration they deserve.

Ideally, finance/budget committees should be composed of three or more dedicated owners who have professional financial/accounting or budgetary oversight experience. This committee should meet year-round to discuss all matters pertaining to changes to the association budgetary plans and finances. SGarrett-clip-for-blog-11-6-22-102x300The committee’s focus should be on the implementation of the annual budget for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as all the other financial and budgetary requirements based on the association’s bylaws.

Once the committee completes and submits its proposed annual budget to the board of directors for final approval, its members should attend the coming board meeting(s) to discuss the budget and address any questions or concerns.

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On March 2, 2020, York Condominium Corporation of Ontario, Canada, advised its residents that one of its security guards, who had traveled overseas, had been diagnosed with COVID-19.  For the residents of the community involved in this case and all those who reside or work in communities with associations, chatting and interacting with one’s fellow neighbors and association staff can be one of the greatest joys of condominium or community living.  However, being in proximity with others is the most typical pathway to contagion when infectious diseases such as the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus are circulating.  In response to the expected rise in COVID-19 cases, now is the time for associations to dust off and review their emergency plans and implement some important precautions.

To protect against catching and spreading COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.  If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.  It is also recommended to avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home when you are sick.

Community associations should take a proactive approach toward preparing for the potential spread of COVID-19.  Associations should consider installing and using hand sanitizer dispensers in high traffic areas, including the lobby, management office, meeting rooms, social rooms, dining halls, package rooms, fitness center and elevator vestibules.  They should also focus on upgraded cleaning measures and protocols to help ensure that high-touch surfaces, including lobby reception desks, elevator buttons, handrails and door handles, are being cleaned and sanitized on a regular and frequent basis.  Common-area restrooms should be cleaned and inspected with frequency, and special attention should be given to refilling all essentials such as soap and towel dispensers.

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GaryMars3For the second consecutive day, an article on important community association issues authored by one of our partners has served as the featured guest commentary column in the pages of the Daily Business Review, South Florida’s exclusive business daily and official court newspaper.  The article in today’s edition of the newspaper is by Gary M. Mars, and it is titled “Community Associations Should Make Effective Use of Social Media.”  Gary’s article reads:

There is no doubt that the use of social media can save community associations time and money with some of their communications and outreach efforts aimed at their owners and residents. Adding new posts with photos and videos to an association’s social media pages is simple and free, and millions of Americans are now visiting Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and others on a daily basis.

Some associations are now including community calendars in their Facebook group site as well as meeting notices, agendas and notes. dbr-logo-300x57These group pages are also ideal for posting links to copies of annual reports, community bylaws, and other helpful items and forms.

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