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

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

Bullies should not be tolerated in HOA meetings

Q: I’ve been on our HOA board for a number of years. At a recent meeting, one of the homeowners started to yell at me. We have five members on the board but at the time of the meeting, we only had three positions filled. A motion was made and this homeowner made horrible remarks. He kept shouting and pounding on a table. He thought that the board was illegally voting on the motion because we only had three board members. He came across the table. He did not hurt me but I was scared. Our management representative and other board members tried to intervene and we tried to keep the meeting moving but he wouldn’t stop. What should we have done? A: The moment that anyone, be it a homeowner or a board member, acts in a most disrespectful and possibly harmful manner, the meeting needs to be either recessed or adjourned. If recessed, the board and the community manager can try to settle down the member; if this fails, then the meeting needs to be adjourned. A warning letter should have been sent to the member by the association’s legal counsel. The letter should have stated that if he continues to conduct themselves…Read more

Associations and Open Meetings

One of the great truths of the association culture is that the board shall not conduct its’ business behind closed doors or have “secret” meetings as this deprives the owners of their rights. In concept it sounds like a fine principled idea. In practicality, there are more exceptions than rules and more urban myths than exceptions. Beginning with the minimum legal obligation, we can dispel the biggest myth first. Illinois does have a law called the Open Meetings Act. It is set forth in Ch. 50 ILCS 120, et seq. of the Illinois Statutes. It requires open meetings for public bodies only. Public bodies are duly elected or appointed governmental bodies such as village boards, park districts, etc. It does not apply to private organizations such as condominium and homeowners associations. All of the scuttlebutt about violations of the Open Meetings Act at association meetings is not applicable. Associations are subject to certain “open meetings” requirements set forth in other statutes and often in their operating documents. The following requirements appear in the Illinois General Not-for-Profit Corporation Act, the Illinois Condominium Property Act and many declarations and bylaws: 1. All meetings of the Board where business is conducted are open to the members; 2. Notice…Read more