Monthly Archives: February 2011


Condominium – Riverside Property Management Awarded Management of 75 Wade Green Business Center


Condominium – Riverside Property Management Awarded Management of 75 Wade Green Business Center.

Should Your Atlanta HOA Adopt The Georgia Property Owners Act?


Why Your Atlanta HOA May Want to Adopt the POA.

In 1994, the Georgia Legislature adopted the Property Owners’ Association Act (“POA”). The POA provides significant advantages to homeowners associations. Here are some of the most important advantages of the POA:

1.   Automatic Statutory Liens

After submitting to the POA, an association no longer needs to file liens at the county courthouse for unpaid assessments or other charges. Instead, the POA creates an automatic statutory lien against a delinquent owner’s lot for any sums owed to the association. The POA provides that the declaration of covenants itself serves as notice that there is a lien on every lot in the community for any unpaid assessment or other charges. As a result, closing attorneys, title examiners, purchasers or owners must contact the association for a statement of any amounts owed to the association prior to concluding a sale or refinance of the lot, or risk the existence of a lien. If the association is not paid out of the proceeds of the sale or refinance, the lien continues against the lot and will generally have priority over subsequent liens and mortgages.

Another benefit of the POA’s automatic lien is that it protects the association even if the association’s records have incorrect or misspelled owner names. Recorded liens are only effective if filed under the correct owner names. If the association’s records have an owner’s name misspelled the recorded lien may be ineffective. The POA makes the lien effective, even if you have incorrect or no information about an owner.

2.   Buyers and Sellers are Jointly and Severally Liable to Pay Assessments
The POA includes another provision that helps strengthen an association’s assessment collection powers. The POA makes buyers and sellers jointly and severally liable for all unpaid assessments. This means that, if the automatic statutory lien is not paid at the closing, the association can proceed against the new owner, who will be personally liable for all amounts owed prior to the closing.
3.   Tenants are Obligated to Comply With Association Regulations
The POA also requires that both owners and tenants must comply with all the provisions of the declaration of Covenants and the association’s rules and regulations.
4.   Fines and Suspension of Privileges
The POA gives homeowners associations a statutory power to assess fines against violators and to suspend the common area use rights of violators, if allowed in the Covenants. Fines constitute a lien against the violator’s lot, and the ability to fine significantly strengthens the association’s powers to enforce the Covenants and the rules and regulations.
5.   Late Fees and Interest
Submission to the POA allows homeowners associations to charge a late fee equal to the greater of $10.00 or ten percent (10%) of the amount due, and interest at a rate of ten percent (10%) per annum on unpaid assessments and charges, if allowed by the Covenants.
6.   Recovery of Attorney’s Fees from Owners
The POA authorizes the recovery of the association’s costs of collection of the delinquent assessments, including reasonable attorney’s fees actually incurred. This provision is extremely helpful with judges who otherwise are reluctant to grant the association its attorneys fees, when it sues delinquent or violating owners.
7.   Perpetual Duration
Prior to 1993, Georgia law at Code Section 44-5-60(d)(1) generally provided that Covenants expire after twenty years. That statute was amended in 1993 to permit Covenants to automatically renew, but the Georgia courts have held that Covenants in communities that were recorded prior to 1994 do not receive the benefit of the new 1994 law. One of the most important benefits of the POA is that it has a provision that states Georgia Code Section 44-5-60(d)(1) shall not apply to any Covenants contained in any instrument submitted to the POA. That means that if a community’s Covenants were recorded prior to 1994, submission to the POA now will eliminate the possibility that the Covenants will expire after twenty years.

8.   Ease of Adoption
In most communities, Board members can quickly and easily adopt the POA by obtaining the consent of the association members by mail or by going door to door, depending upon the specific amendment provisions within a community’s governing documents.

Once in place, the POA provides clear advantages to homeowners associations seeking to maximize their collections.

Maintaining Your Residential Or Commercial Retention Pond


Brought to you by Riverside Property Management, Inc.
by Joe Archer

When a new neighborhood or office building is constructed, the natural flow of the land is disturbed. Most of the trees, natural grass and soil are destroyed and replaced with concrete, pavement, sidewalks and other unnatural structures. The topography of the land is likely altered and the former natural flow of water has now been dramatically changed.

Riverside Property Management

The direct result of all the changes is that rainwater that used to be soaked up by the natural land will now flow off the developed land at a much faster rate. The amount of water flowing out of gutters, down driveways, streets and parking lots is much larger then the land can handle. In order to handle the rapid rate of water runoff, both residential and commercial properties are required to establish and maintain retention or detention ponds.

In the State of Georgia and many other states, the Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) and property management companies are required to maintain the retention and detention ponds to ensure that all rainwater on any given property is collected in a manner that does not disturb the surrounding land.

All retention ponds are subject to annual or biannual city or county inspections. The inspector will want to see the retention pond is capable of running at full capacity and that the retention or detention pond meets most of the requirements that we discuss below.

Retention and detention ponds need periodic maintenance. If you are a property manager or part of a homeowners association, you will want to ensure that your retention or detention pond is cleaned out on a regular basis to ensure compliance with city and county codes.

Retention Pond or Detention Pond Maintenance Checklist

* Keep the earth and dam around your retention pond in good order. The vegetation around your retention pond will reduce the pollutants in the storm water; however, the vegetation should be well maintained and any overgrowth should be reduced. It is also a good idea to remove any new trees that may cause future problems.

* On a periodic basis remove any debris and any silt buildup from your retention pond.

* Communicate with the homeowners in your neighborhood or the tenants in your commercial space and make sure everyone understands the importance of reducing the chemicals, pollutants and waste products that make their way down the storm drains in the neighborhood or office park.

* Inspect the headwall, the weir, the exhaust and other key components of the retention pond on a regular basis to ensure the pond is operating as intended.

* Remove any silt or sediment that may have accumulated at the basin forebay on a regular basis.

* Inspect the storm water drains that are delivering water to the retention or detention pond and make sure they are free of debris and in good working order.

Items like grass clippings, pet waste and other various organic materials that find their way down the storm drains causes algae to grow at much faster rates in the pond and increases the maintenance needed to keep the pond in working order.

Taking great care of your retention and detention ponds ensures that the water we are returning to our streams and rivers is cleaner then it would have been had it just passed over a greasy pavement? If we educate people on the roll the retention or detention pond is playing in their neighborhood or office park; people will be more careful the next time they are going to blow their grass clippings or send their pet waste down the closest storm drain.

Most reputable landscaping companies are well equipped to work with the HOA or property management group to come up with a reasonable maintenance plan that will keep the retention or detention pond working as intended. A properly maintained retention or detention pond helps all of us.

Joe Archer is the owner of Mobile Joe’s Landscaping. Mobile Joe’s Landscaping is a full service landscaping and landscape design company based in Atlanta, GA. Joe’s company can help any HOA or property management group maintain their retention or detention pond.

Retention and detention ponds play a critical role in controlling and cleaning the water runoff from neighborhoods and office parks. A properly maintained retention pond helps all of us.

Contact the Riverside to Learn More About Detention Ponds

How to Run an HOA Board Meeting


The Secret to Good Board Meetings.

Board meetings should be productive, efficient meetings where the board conducts business.  Are your board meetings productive and efficient? Does the board meet to conduct business or socialize? Are you getting the most out of your meetings?

Consider doing a few of these things:

Prepare a Realistic Agenda. Five page agendas with 50 objectives set out may be impressive but they are unrealistic and counter-productive.  You need to set a list of priorities for each meeting and focus on those issues.  If you have 50 issues you want to address, spread them out over the course of the year.  You will be more efficient and see better results if you are able to manage your agenda.

Set an end time to your meetings. Meetings should last no more than an hour.  Start the meeting when it is scheduled to begin and get straight to business. If you collectively have the focus to get done in an hour you’ll be amazed with how much you can accomplish. If you have no time limit, the meeting will typically drag on and a lot of time will be wasted. When time is wasted at a meeting then people are less likely to volunteer because they feel their time is wasted.  One hour meetings have a major impact on volunteers. Associations that hold focused, one hour meetings have more people volunteer. It’s also important to note that those volunteers stay active the in the community for much longer. Length of your board meetings may seem like a trivial matter, but it really does have a large impact on how the volunteers of the association view the organization and, in turn, how they view their role.

Be familiar with the Covenants and Bylaws. Key elements with which board members should familiarize themselves are the association’s governing documents that define the board’s authority. If you have a management company, they should provide guidance on your role as a board member, your fiduciary responsibility, specific board responsibilities from decision-making to administrative tasks, and how to conduct and participate in board meetings. Other vital information will include how to avoid personal liability, professional conduct at meetings, parliamentary procedures, the operating and reserve budgets, federal, state and local laws that impact your community, and appropriate insurance coverage.

Come prepared. Be familiar with the issues that will be addressed at the meeting.  If you have questions, ask them prior to the meeting so that your manager (if professionally managed) can have ample time to find the answers. This will help the meeting be more effective and brief. There is nothing more frustrating to those attending the meeting than for fellow board members to come unprepared and want to discuss issues at great length.

Make the meeting a time for action. Next, hold action oriented HOA board meetings.  Don’t just discuss issues, make decisions. Every item up for discussion should end in a vote to move forward in some way or table the issue with a clear understanding of why the item is being tabled and when it will be revisited. When taking action on an item make sure it is clear who will be responsible for getting that task completed. Ambiguity cripples a board.

Don’t be confrontational. Board members should recognize they are part of a team and not take a confrontational position with fellow board members or their management company. No one should have to work or conduct business in a hostile environment. Realize that at times you will not always agree, but take the position that even disagreement can bring compromise and consensus. Be concise with your opinion and thoughts and then be sure to listen to others. Always be respectful of your fellow board members and staff, as well as the homeowners. The tone of the board can set the tone of the community. So, if you want to have a healthy, vibrant and successful community, you should reflect that image as a board member.

Treat your Community Manager with Respect. Your community manager is your agent, not your employee. They act on behalf of the board and facilitate the decisions of the board.  Remember that they are professionals and should be treated as such. It can be detrimental to a board and its community to consistently be at odds with their management company. They are there to offer their expertise based on their experience, training and education to ensure that the board doesn’t compromise their fiduciary responsibility. A board should trust and rely on their management company’s vast experience and unlimited resources.  If your board has lost trust in the management company, have a frank discussion with the company’s CEO regarding whatever problems exist. Perhaps a different manager can restore your trust, eliminating the need to start all over with a new company.

Be a Team Player. If you recognize that, as a board member, you are part of a team of volunteers and management experts, you will be rewarded when you use those resources to make decisions that are based on sound business judgment. This, in turn, will inspire others to serve and build a team of future leaders who will want to emulate your leadership. By doing so, you will find serving on the board is not a burdensome chore, but a rewarding experience that you will value for years to come.

Be determined to have one of the best HOA’s in Atlanta by having an HOA management company that focuses on helping you have effective meetings.

Get the Right Insurance for Your Atlanta HOA or Condo Association


What Kind of Insurance Does Your Atlanta HOA or Condo Association Need?

Atlanta homeowners associations (HOA’s, POA, Property Owners Association and Community Improvement Associations) normally carry four different types of insurance:  property, fidelity, general liability, and directors and officers (D&O) Insurance.

Property Insurance. Property insurance covers all of the common structures and amenities in the association.  Some examples of structures that property insurance will cover include monuments, common walls and fencing, clubhouses, pools, play structures, and sport courts.  For example, if a person crashes into a monument with their car and drives off, the association’s property insurance will cover the costs to repair the monument.  Another scenario that often plays out is when a driver fails to negotiate a curve along the main street in the neighborhood and runs into the association’s perimeter fencing.  If the driver does not have insurance to cover the damage, the association’s insurance will pay to have the fence repaired.

General Liability Insurance. Another type of insurance that the association should carry is general liability insurance or what some people call “slip and fall” insurance.  If a homeowner slips and falls running on the wet deck of the pool area and sues the association, the General Liability insurance will pay for a legal team to defend the association.  General Liability insurance becomes even more important if the association has a pool, pond, lake, or playground.  These are the places where homeowners are most likely to get hurt while on association owned property.  Association’s can protect themselves somewhat, by having homeowners sign a liability release form before they are issued keys to the pool, playground area, etc.  This liability release form should state that the homeowner understands that there are certain risks associated with using amenities and releases the association from liability should an accident occur.  The homeowner should be required to initial certain areas of the form and sign at the bottom.  It is recommended that all homeowners sign a liability release form before enjoying the association’s amenities.

D & O Insurance. The third type of insurance that an association should carry is directors and officers (D & O) insurance.  This insurance protects the board members from personal liability.  All associations, whether they are under developer control or homeowner control, should carry directors and officers insurance.  Board members can be held personally responsible for acting on behalf of the association. For this reason, most board members demand that they be protected from claims being filed against the association and the board.  Also, homeowner board members are volunteers and are not willing to serve on a board of directors if they are not personally protected from liability.  Please note, however, that directors and officers insurance typically will not cover a claim of discrimination of any kind.   If a homeowner files a claim of discrimination against the board of directors, typically the association will be responsible for paying any legal fees to defend the board and any judgments that may be awarded to the opposing party.

Fidelity Insurance. Fidelity insurance covers theft of association funds.  Unfortunately, theft happens all too often so fidelity coverage is essential for every association.

Get the right insurance for your Atlanta HOA or condo association so you can sleep at night with one less worry.

Isn’t It Time You Joined Your Neighborhood ACC Committee?


Help Keep Your Neighborhood Beautiful.

If you live in a Homeowners Association, HOA, Property Owners Association, Community Improvement Association, Planned Unit Development or POA, you are required by the governing documents in your Association to submit an improvement request to your association Architectural Control Committee before you begin any work on your improvement.

The Architectural Control Committee or ACC protects property values in Atlanta, Alpharetta, Marietta, Kennesaw and surrounding areas from possible detrimental impact of uncontrolled exterior changes by homeowners. It does this by reviewing and then approving or disapproving homeowners’ applications for such changes based upon conformance of the proposed changes to the architectural standards outlined in the governing documents.

In a higher-density living environment, the investment each of us has made in our property is vulnerable to actions of other homeowners in the neighborhood. Therefore, the Architectural Control/Review Committee has been chartered in the ACC or ARC Article of the CC&R’s to protect the property values from possible uncontrolled exterior changes by other homeowners.

In protecting property values, members of the Architectural Control/Review Committee have serious responsibilities. As a member you must be able to remove yourself from personal and social considerations and evaluate applications objectively relative to the architectural standards. You must be prepared to make hard decisions. There may be times when you will have to deny an application for someone you know.

The ACC/ARC helps maintain the appearance of the community and serves and important function in every neighborhood.  If you want to make a difference in your neighborhood, considering signing up to be a member of the ACC committee.

Take Action Against Delinquent Homeowners



Straight Talk on HOA Collections

When homeowners don’t pay their dues, HOA and condo associations have a variety of tactics available to them to collect unpaid fees.
As difficult as it may be, there’s really only one way to deal with homeowners who aren’t paying dues or making arrangements to pay a portion of their dues on a  regular basis: get tough.

No one enjoys forcing payment plans, filing liens, or even foreclosing on their neighbor’s home. But when homeowners don’t pay their homeowners association fees, the association has to try some or all of those tactics.

That may seem harsh, but when homeowners can’t (or won’t) pay HOA fees, the rest of the neighbors must pick up the slack through higher fees, special assessments, or reduced spending on community upkeep and amenities.

Delinquencies Lower Resale Values

Nationwide, non-payment of HOA fees is among the top problems facing condo, single-family, and other planned development associations today, says Thomas M. Skiba, chief executive officer of the Community Associations Institute in Alexandria, Va.

Just a few homeowners who stop making HOA fee payments can cut into an association’s budget quickly. Annual HOA fees average $420 for single-family homes and $2,400 for condos, the U.S. Census Bureau says.

If too many homeowners stop paying their HOA fees, lenders may be unwilling to make mortgages or refinance properties in the community.    Fannie Mae, for example, won’t guarantee loans in condominiums where more than 15% of the homeowners are 30 days or more overdue on HOA fees. That can hurt property values.

The Sooner You Act to Collect HOA Dues, The Better

The sooner action is taken to collect past-due accounts, the better off everyone is.   In this economy, you want to work with people who are willing to pay a reasonable amount to reduce their outstanding debt as long as they stick to a payment plan.  But when they refuse to pay anything or default on an agreed upon payment plan, you need to take the gloves off and act for the good of the entire community.

How to Collect HOA Dues without Breaking Your Budget

First, read your Covenants. If they allow you to shut off water, suspend access to the community’s gate, eliminate parking privileges or deny access to the community amenities, such as the pool, tennis courts and fitness room, you want to notify the homeowner that their privileges will be suspended if they do not pay and use the Covenants as the main weapon in your arsenal.

Second, consult an attorney to determine the best way to suspend HOA’s privileges for delinquent owners . For non-essential services, you may require as little as a certified letter tot he homeowner before cutting off access to the amenities.  In other cases, where essential services are involved, you may be required to obtain a judgment against the homeowner before suspending their access to the amenities and other privileges.   In either case, homeowners act quickly when faced with a potential interruption in services or other inconvenience.  That’s when they way to talk and work out an agreeable payment plan.

Third, file a lien against the property. A lien is a court document that tells title companies the HOA has to be paid when the home is sold or the homeowner refinances his mortgage.

Fourth, make renters pay fees if their landlords don’t. Adopt a rule that requires all renters to assume responsibility for HOA dues if the landlord-owners don’t.  This gives the HOA a backup source for payment.

Fifth, try to negotiate with homeowners after foreclosure. Notify delinquent homeowners that you will be filing a 1099-C Cancellation of Debt form with the IRS if they don’t pay their HOA dues.  When filing your taxes, the amount listed on the 1099-C form is claimed as income.  Because the homeowner never paid their HOA dues, it is considered money that you gained.  Many homeowners will negotiate with HOAs to avoid receipt of a 1099-C, which would result in more taxes.

Finally, don’t waste money paying lawyers to file suit against delinquent owners. Suing delinquent homeowners who don’t have the means to pay is a waste of your HOA’s operating monies.  In most cases, the HOA ends up paying far more to the attorneys than they could ever hope to recoup if a judgment is obtained against the owner.  Taking a case all the way to trial could cost the HOA several thousand dollars.   Having an HOA officer take the case to small claims court is often the best option for an HOA.

Collecting HOA dues doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.  Be firm with delinquent homeowners and be  smart about every HOA dollar you spend on collections and you will enjoy the results!

Homeowner’s Association Board – HOA Services


A Recap of the Board Member’s Role:

Acting through the board as a whole, a board member should:

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Enforce the documents

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Establish sound fiscal policies and maintain accurate records

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Develop a workable budget, keeping in mind the needs, requirements and expectations of the community

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Establish reserve funds

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Act on budget items and determine assessment rates

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Collect assessments

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Establish, publicize, and enforce rules and penalties

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Authorize legal action against owners who do not comply with the rules

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Review local laws before passing rules or sending bylaws to membership for approval

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Appoint committees and delegate authority to them

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Select an attorney, an auditor, insurance agent and other professionals for the association

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Provide adequate insurance coverage, as required by the bylaws and local governmental agencies

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Inform board members of all business items that require their vote

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Inform members of important board decisions and transactions

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See that the association is protected for the acts of all parties with fiscal responsibilities

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Attend and participate at meetings

via Homeowner’s Association Board – HOA Services Group LLC.