Desperately Seeking Conflict

Ken Bertolucci, CMCA   If you interact with 20 people in a business day, 19 may be pleasant encounters. But if just one is extremely disagreeable, that interaction will probably stick in your mind. You may replay it over and over throughout the day, while you think of the clever replies you wish you had said at the time. At worst, the encounter may gnaw on you after working hours and even disturb your sleep. It’s fair to say that you have allowed that person to take up space in your mind. And as a Community Association Manager, it should disturb you even more that they’re not even paying a fee for the precious real estate in your head. The High Conflict Personality When I started as a new CMCA dealing with homeowner issues, I was surprised to discover that some people didn’t seem to want a peaceful resolution. Instead, they appeared to enjoy conflict and try to increase or prolong it. Any attempt to bring the matter to a close brought resistance and caused them to raise new issues. Bill Eddy, a licensed professional as both a therapist and attorney, observed this phenomenon when dealing with such individuals in workplace or family disputes. He…Read more


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

How Millennials Are Changing the Condo and Homeowner Association Demographic

As the years progress, more and more millennials are buying condominiums, townhomes, and single-family homes. With this influx, the Condo Association (COA) and Homeowner’s Association (HOA) demographic has started to saturate and chances are you’re noticing the changes. In case you’re unfamiliar with who falls under the term “millennials,” they are also known as Generation Y. They’ve reached adulthood just as we experienced the turn of the 21st century and are projected to take over the homebuyers market in 2017. Since they are growing up, chances are they will move to a community that has a current Association in place. This represents new changes that tend to fit better with adult lifestyles. However, it is important to realize that this will also bring about a change in the way you currently manage. Communication Millennials fall into a unique category of people. They are the first generation to grow up completely surrounded by technology. Because of this, it tends to also be used to drive their behaviors. This includes the way they communicate, mainly being the fact that emails replace newsletters and texts replace calls. Some would say Millennials hate idle time. They utilize waiting time or work breaks by checking their phones. In order to…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

Why we call the Declaration & By-Laws “governing documents”

Too often, new condo owners receive their Declaration & By-Laws at closing and file them away, never to be seen again.  But these documents are the basis for governing your Association.  When there is conflict, the issue can almost always be settled by consulting your Declaration & By-Laws.  Understanding the purpose of these documents will help to decrease conflict among owners.