Social Media in Your Community

Post responsibly: How to avoid legal risks and negative effects on social media in your community by Kiara Candelaria | CAI, May 14, 2019   Social media tools are a great way for community associations to increase engagement with their residents, but they can leave communities vulnerable to potential legal risks if managed inappropriately. Adopting a social media policy can allow communities to assign responsibility over its use and minimize abusive practices, says attorney Katrina Solomatina of Berding & Weil in Walnut Creek, Calif. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor, as well as websites, online newsletters, and email blasts, allow community associations to facilitate communication between homeowners, provide real-time updates, and give members the ability to offer instant feedback to the board. At the same time, social media can be abused by users through practices such as cyberbullying, defamation, and invasion of privacy, Solomatina notes. Comments made through social media can have a negative effect on a community. That’s why it’s important for communities to determine who will manage and update social media platforms, who will monitor and respond to comments, who can control or remove content, who can post, and what type of content is prohibited. Community associations should adopt a policy that…Read more

HANG UP YOUR SUPER SUIT

Ken Bertolucci, CMCA   Sometimes it seems that homeowners think community association managers have superpowers. They are all-knowing, have x-ray vision, and are able to resolve all matters with a simple decree. But when you’re actually in the trenches of your job, you know superpowers aren’t exactly part of the package. Misunderstandings about the responsibilities of the manager, misconceptions about the roles of the board vs. management, and lack of knowledge about the proper functions of community associations often leave homeowners confused. Let’s face it, few buyers read — much less understand — the pile of association-related legal documents they receive at closing. You can’t really blame homeowners, especially newbies, for being a little fuzzy on the details. Sometimes even management could use a little refresher on what their roles really are. Let’s clarify some common misconceptions about the role of association management. New Rules and Policies — Who Decides? A medical doctor whose daughter was a resident in one of our communities wanted the association to be declared a non-smoking complex. When he contacted me (CMCA with the management company), I explained that this not a decision made by management. Rather, it would require an amendment to the declaration. He was not dissuaded, and…Read more

What Are Governing Documents?

Governing documents are the set of rules that homeowners and HOAs must abide by. This set of documents is usually made up of: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and Rules and Regulations. These documents can be confusing and full of legal jargon so here is what you need to know:   Articles of Incorporation: These short documents declare the HOA as a nonprofit mutual-benefit association and identify key players in the HOA such as the initial agent who is authorized to receive legal notice on behalf of the HOA. The Articles of Incorporation establishes the HOA as a legal entity giving it certain rights as well as certain law that they need to follow. The document may be more extensive for some HOAs if they decide to include information on voting and amendments.   Bylaws: HOA Bylaws are the rules that govern the organization of the Association. They list the procedures for filling positions and what the positions entail. This ensures that there is continuity in the way the HOA is governed as people come and go. These also dictate how meetings, voting, and communications with residents are carried out. They have little to do with the residents besides providing…Read more

Associations, big and small, must have two funds

Q: I am the acting treasurer of a small condominium association in Chicago. We were recently advised by a Realtor that the new Illinois condominium law requires that we maintain two separate accounts, one for daily expenses and a second for major expenditures. Does this requirement really apply to small associations? If so, what percentage of our condominium assessments should be set aside every month for major expenses?   A: Associations must have operating funds and reserve funds. The purpose of a reserve fund is to require associations to save monies for future capital expenditures and deferred maintenance. All associations have been required to include reserve fundings in their budgets since 1990, so this is not new.   Regardless of size, a reserve fund in place for a major expenditure will help to defer or minimize a special assessment for a major expenditure. There is no mathematical formula for reserve funds in Illinois. To determine reasonable reserves, directors should review the factors in Section 9(c) of the Condominium Act, particularly the repair and replacement costs of major components and building surfaces. The Federal Housing Administration requires associations to allocate at least 10 percent of their operating funds to a reserve account each year. Depending on…Read more

No volunteers? Building still must have a board

Q: I am an owner in a condo association where I have lived for 10 years. We had a board that did a fantastic job. The directors held meetings four times a year, completed many improvements and were always active. They were hard-working and dedicated, but they grew tired of the beating their heads against a wall for owners who did not appreciate the effort. Now those who complained have the opportunity to run for the board, but we have no volunteers. What happens when an association does not have a board? Will the state take over? I am very concerned. A: You should be concerned. A condo association cannot operate without a board. If owners do not volunteer to serve on the board, there are two alternatives: The property ceases to be a condominium by a vote of the ownership or a court will appoint an individual to run the property. Section 16 of the Condominium Act says that owners may vote to remove the property from the provisions of the act. For your association, 75 percent of the ownership may then vote to sell the property. In that case, owners will receive a share of the total purchase price equal to their percentage of…Read more