Condominium Maintenance By On My Watch

Condominium Maintenance By On My Watch We provide all contracting service to Condominium Associations. Routine maintenance and capitol improvements

Reserve Study Basics for Property Managers - Association Life
Reserve Study Basics for Property Managers - Association Life

Reserve Study Basics for Property Managers - Association Life

For a property manager learning the ropes of their craft and how common interest communities operate the connected reserve study industry can seem confusing; we will go over the basics of reserve studies for common interest communities in this article. What a Reserve Study Is and What a Reserve Stud...

Downfalls of Deferred Maintenance – HOA Lending Pro Blog
Downfalls of Deferred Maintenance – HOA Lending Pro Blog

Downfalls of Deferred Maintenance – HOA Lending Pro Blog

Downfalls of Deferred Maintenance A euphemism that is far too overused in the community association industry is deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance is nothing more than an admission by the governing body and home owners of a common interest community that a failure to accept the known expense...

wgen I started in tbe condo industry back in tbe 70s era. Condo loans were not heard of now million dollar loans are pre...
Should a Community Association Borrow Money? – HOA Lending Pro Blog

wgen I started in tbe condo industry back in tbe 70s era. Condo loans were not heard of now million dollar loans are pretty common

Should a Community Association Borrow Money? This commentary is colored by the horrible debt-induced recession that we have gone through. The recession was the worst and the longest since the Great Depression. Interestingly, both traumatic periods were sparked and exacerbated by speculation and over...

‘Maintenance-Free’ is Magic to Homeowners’ Ears - Houseopedia
‘Maintenance-Free’ is Magic to Homeowners’ Ears - Houseopedia

‘Maintenance-Free’ is Magic to Homeowners’ Ears - Houseopedia

One of the big advantages to buying a newer home is the use of modern building materials that reduce — and in some cases, completely eliminate — the need for costly home repairs. Check out these advances in building materials and techniques, which are also a great choice for those with older hom...

Surefire Ways to Drive Your Association to Financial Ruin - Association Life
Surefire Ways to Drive Your Association to Financial Ruin - Association Life

Surefire Ways to Drive Your Association to Financial Ruin - Association Life

Common interest communities are non-profit businesses and just like any business budgeting and financial planning are essential to the success and longevity of the business. What is everyday common sense with respects to businesses is often ignored for common interest communities. While this may see...


All Stick and No Carrot
by Julie Adamen [email protected]

Julie Adamen
Recently I was speaking to the Board President of a large-scale community. They were in-between General Managers, as their old one had left for a better job and the new one hadn’t yet started. The President was struggling with an apathetic Board and community, and in fact she herself is heading off the Board in the next few months, as were two others. They are all just burned out. She said “the community just doesn't have a good relationship with their association; all they see from us is assessment invoices and violation letters.” She went on to say that when the GM left, her parting comment was this community is “all stick and no carrot.”

“All stick and no carrot.” First, I love the allusion and the visual of that statement, but also love it because it sums up in 5 words the experience many residents have in relation to their associations when the only time they hear from the Board is when they receive a violation notice, an invoice or a finger-wagging newsletter full of “Don'ts.” The Board is acting within their authority, but without leadership. Here are some thoughts for any Board you know who may be all – or mostly – stick and just an iddy-biddy carrot.

Why the need for a carrot?

Boards spend a lot of time in their duties: Meetings, phone calls, emails, and more meetings… And many times they simply don’t think they have the time to develop better leadership strategies; i.e., carrot development skills. Fair enough; but I submit to any Board that if there are long-term plans or projects for the community, be it to fund reserves, take on major renovations, or enter in to defect litigation (just to name a few), these tasks will be vastly easier on the community and the Board if they lead the community to that place instead of telling the community where they are going.

Developing leadership skills as a Board: Start by focusing on the Big Picture

It’s not uncommon for Boards to fall into just managing and directing micro-tasks and policies because it’s usually uncomplicated, what they know and something over which they can exert control (authority). Boards that exhibit leadership not only look at what needs to be done today but also look to the future, 2, 3 or even 5 or 10 years down the road on behalf of the community. What is going to need to be done to fund reserves or replace the streets? What policies or directives do we need to adopt to begin the process? These types of questions are asked by Boards that are looking beyond the trees and above the forest.

Hold yearly Strategic Planning sessions after the annual meeting, wherein the Board can collectively set short- and long-term agendas and the goals and objectives thereof. Establish a plan and set it in motion with accountability safeguards, dates certain for achievement and reporting on achievement progress. Planning sessions require focus, commitment and discipline, especially when it comes to carrying out the accountability portion; however, this process is wholly worth that effort – not only is Strategic Planning a great leap towards developing community leadership, it helps the Board stay out of the weeds and keep their eyes on the big picture.

Set policy to ensure regular, effective communication (and then do it!). All great leaders are effective communicators, and that goes for HOA leaders as well. Are the communications that come from the Board indicative of one that is tuned to the needs of the community and the concerns of the residents? Or do those communications check the standard boxes of next meeting, contact info and stop feeding the ducks? Are those communications hit-and-miss, or can the membership count on them to come regularly? If you say either or both of the latter, you are not using your most effective leadership tool; that is, information and the manner and timeliness in which it is presented. Leaving the membership in an information vacuum for weeks or months at time foments either discontent or apathy or both. Commit to filling the vacuum for the betterment of all – on this issue you cannot NOT have the time. As John C. Maxwell says: “The greatest enemy of good thinking is busyness.”1 Indeed, Mr. Maxwell!

Hold “town hall” type meetings with the membership. A town hall is an effective way to engage with the members and understand their perspectives especially for larger communities where many residents wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk to Board members directly (the need for town halls is even more important times of community stress). You see, good leaders spend a lot of time listening and -0- time lecturing. These engagements give the Board opportunity to create a relationship with the community outside of a Board meeting; and importantly, they provide a platform for the Board to influence the attitudes of the community and as a result, its very direction. Engaging in meaningful conversation with those you serve not only develops your leadership skills; it is a hallmark of being a leader.

Can Boards develop good leadership skills? Yes!

Even the most leadership-challenged Board can make at least some changes that will help, but it will require a deliberate effort on the part of the Board and the management company. Companies (and managers) should communicate to their Boards the importance of that big picture focus and recommend planning sessions as a regular part of their management duties and give them an outline on how to do it. Also as a part of regular management recommendations should be encouragement and facilitation of well-thought out communications with the members that is less about rules and more about keeping everyone informed about the good things going on. Is it more work for companies and managers? Perhaps initially, but in the long run they will reap the benefits of Boards that have less of a tendency to wander about in the weeds and micromanage the paperclips.

The Wrap

Community associations, by their nature of being managed and governed by rotating volunteers, have a tendency to look only to the leadership-challenged short-term. The most accurate indicator of that fact is the sad state of reserve funding in tens of thousands of associations. A short-term governance model can change if the Board is willing to step out of their comfort zone and commit to actually leading the community to a better, more functional present and future. To quote John C. Maxwell: "We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are."2 The Board must start by planning for the long-term, setting community goals and openly communicating with residents regularly about issues that have meaning to them. Lastly, Boards need to recognize their role is not just to enforce rules, but to lead the community to a better future. Management companies (the experts) should always step forward and help their Boards develop the resolve to begin to develop their leadership skills.

This article appeared in a magazine in guilford years ago. It was written about On My Watch and i completely forgot abou...

This article appeared in a magazine in guilford years ago. It was written about On My Watch and i completely forgot about it and just ran across the file. So here it is. Now, we provide Home Concierge Services to homeowners but also to condominium unit owners and association directors. Enjoy

Rotted rake board being replaced at one of the associations we work for.

Rotted rake board being replaced at one of the associations we work for.

Help Your Community And Help Your Neighbors By Reporting Delinquent Owners to Credit Bureaus. - Association Life
Help Your Community And Help Your Neighbors By Reporting Delinquent Owners to Credit Bureaus. - Association Life

Help Your Community And Help Your Neighbors By Reporting Delinquent Owners to Credit Bureaus. - Association Life

A recent study conducted sponsored by a major credit repair firm and conducted by Harris Poll asked specific questions related to what people understand about credit scoring, how they are arrived at, and the information that is taken into consideration to determine them. The study revealed some surp...

Reserve Studies: Preparing for the Inevitable Maturation of Building Components – HOA Lending Pro Blog
Reserve Studies: Preparing for the Inevitable Maturation of Building Components – HOA Lending Pro Blog

Reserve Studies: Preparing for the Inevitable Maturation of Building Components – HOA Lending Pro Blog

Reserve Studies: Preparing for the Inevitable Maturation of Building Components Some things just get better with age. Wine or cheese, for example, may actually improve as they get older. The same cannot be said for the common elements of a condominium or community association. From the moment the fi...

Lending to Condominium Associations – HOA Lending Pro Blog
Lending to Condominium Associations – HOA Lending Pro Blog

Lending to Condominium Associations – HOA Lending Pro Blog

Lending to Condominium Associations Lending to a condominium association is not unlike lending to a municipality. No loan losses from condominium associations have been reported by those banks with the most lending experience, most notably in Florida and California. There are special considerations....

The Six Ways a Delinquent Unit “Settles Out” - Association Life
The Six Ways a Delinquent Unit “Settles Out” - Association Life

The Six Ways a Delinquent Unit “Settles Out” - Association Life

When interviewing a new service provider for an association, one of the first questions asked by the board of directors is: “How long is your contract for?” For most vendors, there is an absolute beginning and a defined end to their tenure as service providers, but for a collection solution, thi...



Community Associations Institute (CAI) recognizes and supports the rights of residential community associations to regulate and adopt their own rules pertaining to pets and assistance animals living in their communities. CAI also recognizes the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive the assistance they need and supports state and federal law guaranteeing such rights.

CAI supports legislation that specifically allows community associations to request documentation to verify the need for an accommodation for an assistance animal.

CAI supports legislation that imposes penalties for fraudulent requests for service or emotional support animals.

CAI does not support legislation that contains provisions prohibiting community associations from fairly adopting rules governing animals.

About the Community Association Housing Model
While community associations come in many forms and sizes, all associations share three basic characteristics: (1) membership in the association is mandatory and automatic for all property owners; (2) certain legal documents bind all owners to defined land-use requirements administered by the community association; and (3) all property owners pay mandatory lien-based assessments that fund association operations.

The community association housing model is actively supported by local government as it permits the transfer of many municipal costs to the association and homeowners. Today, many community associations deliver services that once were the exclusive province of local government.

Community associations are governed by a board of directors or trustees elected by their members. This board guides the association in providing governance and other critical services for the community usually funded by property taxes.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA) are federal laws which have provisions regarding assistance animals. The ADA applies to service animals in places that are open to the public, which may include community associations in certain cases, whereas the FHA applies solely to service and emotional support animals in housing. The ADA recognizes only dogs and miniature horses in both categories and the requirements are relatively straight forward. However, the FHA pertains to all animals and a very wide range of disabilities, resulting in varying legal interpretations. Understanding the difference becomes important for associations. A service animal is specifically trained to work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities whereas an emotional support animal is an animal (also referred to as assistance animal), that provides comfort for people with disabilities.

The FHA requires associations to provide exemptions for service and emotional support animals from certain pet policies and rules. Further, the FHA requires associations to provide reasonable accommodations when requested by residents' for service and emotional support animals if the resident has a disability, the animal serves a function directly related to the disability and is necessary to afford the resident with the equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling. However, the accommodation must be “reasonable" which does not mean “absolute." Rather, the reasonableness requirement limits accommodations to those that do not impose an “undue hardship" by causing excessive financial burdens to the community association or that fundamentally alter the nature of the community association.

According to the Fair Housing Act, people who have a qualifying disability are permitted to keep their service animals within their condominium, homeowner's association or cooperative. Emotional support animals are also given permission to stay in “no pet" community associations; however, in certain instances if the resident's disability is not readily apparent the FHA allows housing providers the ability to ask for reliable documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, or other trained professional, to confirm the need for the emotional support animal. If the disability is readily apparent or known but the disability-related need for the assistance animal is not, the housing provider may ask the individual to provide documentation of the disability-related need for an assistance animal.

This documentation serves the purpose of:

1) verifying the condition that substantially limits one or more of the resident's major life activities;

2) describes the needed accommodation; and

3) demonstrates the relationship between the person's disability and the need for the requested accommodation.

When the disability is evident the association is required to make a reasonable accommodations in its rules, policies, and practices to afford the disabled resident equal opportunity to use and enjoy the property.. Such documentation is sufficient if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal in question will provide some type of disability-related assistance or emotional support. Community associations should also ensure that they are aware of any requirements under state law that relate to emotional support and service animals, as many states have adopted civil rights statutes that are similar to the ADA and FHA.

CAI recommends that members utilize their right to request reliable documentation when a resident's disability is not readily apparent or, if the disability is readily apparent or known but the disability-related need for the assistance animal is not, the association should ask the resident to provide the same reliable documentation. CAI supports changes in state and federal laws which further defines a housing provider's ability to request documentation. CAI opposes duplicative legislation at the state level which redefines an association's ability to request documentation already allowed under the Fair Housing Act or legislation which inhibits an association's ability to request this documentation. CAI also supports legislation that imposes penalties for fraudulent requests for service or emotional support animals.

Model Legislative Language
Many states are in the process of statutorily acknowledging consequences for fraudulently misrepresenting the animal as a service animal or the need for the emotional support animal. If your state is working on legislation to do so, please consider the following language, approved by CAI , when defining a community association in the bill:

A. “Common Interest Community or Association." The organization established to operate any condominium, homeowner association, cooperative, or planned community.

B. “Housing Provider." A landlord or community association.

Consider the following model language as a guide for when an association wishes to request documentation of disability under FHA when questioning a service or emotional support animal:

Right to request documentation
A housing provider that receives a request from a person to make an exception to a relevant policy prohibiting animals or limiting the size, weight, breed or number of animals on the housing provider's property or within property controlled by the association because the person requires the use of an assistance animal or service animal may require documentation of the need from a licensed medical provider.

The person may be required to produce documentation of the disability and/or disability-related need for the animal only if the disability or disability-related need is not clear or known to the housing provider.

Policy History
For more information on the implications of pet policies within community associations, see “Pet Policies: How Community Associations Maintain Peace and Harmony – A Guide for Association Practitioners."

Approved by CAI Government & Public Affairs Committee October 10, 2019
States with Misrepresentation of Service Animals Statutes
Pet or Service Animal guide
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Upon a condominium Inspection I found this opening in the siding. I photographed it and brought into the board meeting. Association had no idea that this opening existed. I scheduled repairs before a little damage became a larger disaster. Costing not only the damage in the siding but the framing, insulation, drywall, paint, flooring and presentating a mold condition. A little maintenance can save thousands of dollars.
On My Watch, We provide Concierge Services to homeowners, condominium associations and unit owners. Call the office for information 203-931-7371
HOA Loan Structures & Long Term Budget Shortfalls has made financing for community association capital maintenance needs easily accessible. Financial institutions that are truly skilled in serving this unique industry can be particularly flexible to the differing needs of each community. Not only does each association have a unique culture but the projects all need to be approached in a tailor-made fashion to suit what they desire to have accomplished. The financing available is typically low cost because the transactions are acknowledged to be of low risk and the associations often provide the institutions with deposits that allow for buying down the interest rate or loan fees. The one aspect that permeates the vast majority of all communities is the handling of financial affairs. However, a very important responsibility has been broken in most communities. I know this to be true by virtue of years of experience as a lender financing communities throughout the country and my involvement with the Community Association’s Institute. As well, interacting with professional Reserve Study professionals that reflect most associations are typically not more than 20% funded. That is to say that Reserve Studies indicate that a certain level of reserves is needed to support expired common elements but only 20% of that specified funding level has actually been accumulated. The reason is also very consistent. No one wants to spend any money. A culture of “keep monthly association fees minimal” exists almost universally. Now, I am not a spendthrift. But, I have witnessed nothing but adverse effects to this “ostrich head in the sand” mentality. The reality is simply this: a community association regardless of size is a very complicated miniature town. The buildings and infrastructure are a sophisticated system of structural materials that are constantly in a state of deterioration and components are becoming obsolete. Because of the desire to keep the annual budget low for the sheer sake of it, there is typically a huge cost impact put upon the unit owners when a project needs to be addressed. Because of the prevalent under-funding issue, the cost has typically been accomplished via large special assessments. The availability of obtaining an association loan has smoothed the impact. Get started with your own HOA loan by simply filling out the HOALendingXchange inquiry form and HOA loan experts will get busy preparing their very best HOA loan concepts for your consideration.
Condo Owner Stuck With Repair Bill From Association-Hired Contractor April 8, 2019 K.M. from Arizona writes: Dear Mister Condo, Good morning, I purchased a new AC unit in 2013. All was well, especially living in Arizona where it’s hot as hades! We recently had a new roof put on the buildings and a few weeks later, low and behold, my AC is not working appropriately. My AC company came out and found a leak in the unit which they believe was caused by the roofing company. I am paying $700 to have this fixed. Curious if you have experience with getting an HOA to pay for this expense. Unfortunately, the unit is on the roof of a 3-story building. I am taking the word of the AC repairman. Seems a little coincidental that this is occurring a few weeks after the roofing job though. Previous Next Mister Condo replies: K.M., I am sorry that your air conditioning unit was damaged for whatever reason and by whom. You asked if I have experience with HOAs paying for damage caused by association-hired contractors and the answer is “yes and no”. Laws on such matter are vague and vary from state to state. In most cases, the underlying issue is proof. Who saw the contractor damage your AC unit? No one! There is circumstantial that almost certainly leads to the association-hired contractor but that won’t likely stand up in court. Then there is the issue of age of appliance. In this case a 6-year old AC unit that may have a 10-year life expectancy in your climate. That would equate to a replacement value diminished by 60% (6 out of 10 years). I don’t disagree with you that the association-hired contractor was the likely culprit. In order, I would first notify the association that your AC was damaged and that the likely culprit was their contractor, according to your AC repair person. If they wish, they could pursue the matter with the contractor, who may be able to submit an insurance claim and have his insurance pay for your damage or he could simply pay for it himself. My guess is that neither of those will happen. Your next step is to speak with an attorney to see if you have a case or if it is worth pursuing. My guess is that a $700 repair isn’t worth spending more money on a legal remedy. If the Board or their contractor isn’t willing to make you whole, realistically, you just may be out of pocket for the repair as if the AC unit had failed on its own. It’s unfortunate but things like this happen all the time and I’d say, more often than not, the cost of repair falls on the unit owner. The good news is that it is a $700 repair and not a $7000 repair. All the best!
Great Article
Great article
Great article
Great article.
Great Article.
On My Watch, We have about 12 days till spring. Its time to call us for a building inspection, Chimneys, roofs, siding, windows, doors, decks. All exterior of the structures. Roadways, lawns and so on. Also, time to schedule Gutter Cleaning and Washout, Powerwashing, Dryer Vent Cleaning,Parking Surface Cleaning, and Patching. We handle all facets of Condominium Maintenance and Capitol Improvements. Call On My Watch 203-931-7371. Stete Registered Contractor and Fully Insured.