Monthly Archives: October 2011

Your Lawn in the Fall. Not Done Yet.


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Looking forward to when you can leave the lawnmower alone? With the end of summer come cooler temperatures and potentially higher moisture, making your job as a lawn care specialist a little easier. As we head into this season, keep a few things in mind that can help maintain the good lawn health you’ve cultivated this summer.

Put your soil to the test.

Apply some back-to-school spirit to your lawn by considering a soil test to determine the quality of your soil. Soil testing is easy; you can usually find access to a local soil testing lab online or through your local greenhouse or hardware store. Having a few samples of your lawn area’s soil tested will let you know how your lawn is doing, how nutrient-rich it is (i.e. nitrogen and phosphorous content), and how many contaminates it contains.

Experts recommend soil testing during the fall to give time for using the results for the next growing season.
Weed, or warn weeds away.

Late summer / early fall is a good time to tackle those weeds, but keep a few things in mind:

  • Some herbicides used in weed killers can prevent new lawn seeds from germinating, so if you’ve just fed your grass, take a pass on herbicides.
  • No weeds yet? Be proactive by using herbicides for “pre-emergent” weeds. These products can help keep your lawn weed-free during the fall.

Loosen things up.

This time of year is also good for aerating, which loosens up the soil beneath the lawn and can be a good time for seeding. Waiting for some rain to get the soil in good condition first is wise, and waiting until after you aerate to seed is even wiser. Do you live in a hot, dry climate? You may want to wait to aerate, since aerating an overly dry lawn can damage your soil.
No need for any of these three tips? Then just keep mowing, watering, and wait for cooler temperatures. Fall and winter are lower maintenance seasons for lawns, freeing you to do some more creative things with your landscape; or, to simply relax!

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.
Riverside Property Management is a Homeowners association management company management company proudly serving Roswell, Alpharetta, Buckhead, Marietta and all of North Georgia. Riverside is also an expert Georgia condo association management company and high rise Atlanta association management company. To find out more about Riverside Property Management and why it is one of Georgia’s fastest growing property management companies, go to http://www.riversidepropertymgt.com. You’ll be glad you did.

From: http://activerain.com/blogsview/2156085/should-your-atlanta-hoa-adopt-the-georgia-property-owners-act-

What are Some Ideas of Social Activities Grow Community Spirit?


Just little things that can be organized on a budget that people might be interested in participating in… Any thoughts?

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A few things you can do…

Games Night

Get some board games (Clue, Monopoly, cards, UNO, etc.) and pizza and soda (or not, your choice) and play games!  I’ve found that people  really like games more than you would ever realize.  Get some interaction games (like charades or taboo) that really get people talking to each other.

Scavenger Hunt (FAVORITE!)

Encourage them to make teams and join a HUGE scavenger hunt.  Scavenger hunts are a. free and b. lots of fun.  You can also use them to get the acquainted with the town or neighborhood better.  It doesn’t have to be a crazy big hunt, but those tend to be really wild and fun.

Movie Night

At my school, showing a movie in a dorm was considered a private viewing so we didn’t have to buy the rights. This is key because it means you can show a popular movie.  Eat popcorn or pizza, show a great movie, and maybe chat about it after.  Bonus points if your school has a projector and screen you can borrow to put it on a bigger screen than a TV.

Cookie Decoration

Get a ton of sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies and have vats of icing and candy for decoration.  You can get or make cookies really cheaply. Icing and decoaration stuff can be cheap too.  Then invite everyone to come decorate and eat cookies.  Again, the idea is that they’ll start to chat.

Group Dance Lessons – swing dancing is best

Dancing is social.  Swing dancing is fun and easy to teach.  You can usually get a fairly inexpensive group rate if you are near the college.

Pot Luck dinner

If they do have the ability to cook – hold a pot luck dinner.  One, the cost is all on the homeowners to bring the food.  Two, dinner is always social.

Go trick or treating.

Find an area that is good for trick or treating, get them to dress up kind of early in the evening (before the big parties) and go trick or treating.  One: free.  Two: candy.  Three: walking around and being social.

Have a craft night!

Do some crafts while watching a movie or chatting.  Better yet, do crafts to donate (like making Christmas ornaments for kids in the hospital or scarves for the poor or something).  Get some fun, cheap craft supplies and let people go wild.  Encourage them to bring other stuff like knitting to do while they chat or watch a movie.

OH, and Movie Night!!

If the weather permits, set up an outdoor movie theater and show some fun film!  You can have people bring blankets or low chairs, make popcorn, have candy available.

Foods of the World.

Or, have a “Foods of the World” night, with different foods in each neighbor’s home.  Mexican, Chinese, Italian, etc.

Bonfire.

A bonfire is always fun, if you can do it.  Don’t forget the s’mores!

That’s all I have for now.

Four Ideas for Trimming Your HOA’s Annual Budget


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More and more associations are collecting less and less dues as a result of the housing crisis. Here are four tips for trimming your budget to ensure that your association still provides key services with a smaller pool of funds.

1) Shop around. A good way to shrink your budget is to shop your insurance policies and other ongoing contracts around. If you’ve been with your current insurance carrier for years, it may have been a while since you’ve compared rates. Do it now. While you’re doing that, ask whether increasing your deductibles will net a worthwhile savings. Sometimes the savings are minimal—and probably not worth the added risk. But you’ll only learn that if you ask.

2) Conserve energy. Minor conservation efforts can make a big difference in your budget. If you’ve got timer-controlled sprinklers that run for 30 minutes each morning, cut them back to 25 minutes for a month to see if the plants still get enough water and you save any money on your water bill. Do the same with your hot water heater. Dropping the thermostat a degree or two may make no difference to residents, but it will create savings. Finally, depending on the size of your association, swapping old-fashioned light bulbs out for more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs can save money. Compact fluorescents aren’t inexpensive, so you’ll take an initial budget hit. But you’ll see lower energy costs over time.

3) Do it yourself. If your association is in dire straits, evaluate all your expenses to determine if you can bring any functions in house. If you have a management company, is it possible to eliminate that expense and run the association yourself? (The opposite may also be true. If you’re self-managed, you may save money by having professionals keep an eye on your budget and get you discounts from their trusted vendors.) If you have landscapers, can you cut back on their work and let residents pick up the slack? You could pay for a spring and fall grounds cleanup while bringing grass cutting and flower planting in house. Finally, explain the situation to homeowners and ask owners who are professionals for discounts or freebies. For example, if you have a resident accountant, ask if she’ll prepare the association’s annual tax filing for free or at a discounted rate.

4) Fix it now. Homes are like cars. Routine maintenance helps prevent larger, more expensive problems from creeping up on you. Create a checklist of your major mechanical and building systems. Then ask residents with expertise or outside contractors to check those systems to see if a minor upgrade or repair now will extend the life of the system. For example, if you’ve got a roofer in the house, ask if he’ll volunteer to inspect the roof and do minor patching on areas that may become a problem in the near future.

If your budget is still in the red after all of your trimming efforts, you may have to take more drastic measures—like raising assessments. Before you do, however, consider whether you can generate income. For example, your governing documents may permit you to rent your clubhouse to nonresidents for a fee. Or if your state allows you to earn money on reserves (some don’t), consider putting a lump sum that you don’t expect to use immediately in a safe investment with a higher return than a savings account.

The Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Community Association Management Company


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1. How many households (or units) are each community manager responsible for in your company?

Throughout the industry, Homeowners Association Management Company overload their community managers, giving them too many homeowners associations operate. The industry average is about 1,800 houses by the  community manager, which is about 500 too many homes. If the portfolio manager of a community is very large, some of the clients in the  HOA can be neglected.

2. How many people support the administrator of the community in their efforts?

A management company HOA should not only assign an administrator to a community homeowners association, but a team of people to operate smoothly for the association. A well organized team should include a community manager, accounting manager, a compliance inspector, a customer service representative, and a director of community management .

3. Is the community regularly inspected? How often? Who answers the phone when the community manager is absent or inspecting the property?

The homeowners association must be inspected for violations at least once a month. The compliance inspector should take a picture of the violation, which is sent with the letters of violation.

4. How long does your team take to respond to calls and emails?

The management company must respond to homeowners and the homeowners association board members correspondence as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. However, Board members must also have the number of community manager’s cell phone for emergencies.

5. Does the community manager have a college degree and / or industry certifications?

Directors of the community must be college educated. They must have training and industry designation as well. Community managers must also attend seminars and industry events to stay current on changes in legislation.

6. Does the management company aggressively pursue homeowners who do not make payments on time for collection?

It is the responsibility of an owner to pay HOA dues in accordance with the rules of the homeowners association. However, when an owner fails to pay their dues, it is the responsibility of the management company to collect the funds. The board of the directors should work with the management company to delineate an HOA collection policy, including the final letters, notices of demand and eventual liening of the home.

7. Is a community web site included in our monthly management fee?

A website for your community association is a great way to help build a sense of community throughout your neighborhood. Other features should include access to forms, governing documents, closing forms, payment online access and emergency contact.  There should also be an option for accounting integration.

8. What hours can the property manager be reached?

A community manager should be available 24 hours a day. During the day which should be available through the office phone, email and cell phone and in the evenings and weekends, the management company HOA must provide an emergency service response, if a situation becomes an emergency.

9. Does the management closing account information before being transferred (sold) from one owner to another?

When a request is escrow by a title company, this information should be shared with the title company and documented in the system of the management company.

10. It is the management company Owners Association a professional team of experts?

The management company should be a team of experts with experience in professionalism and a commitment to quality service in order to properly service its customers the homeowners association.

With over 40 years of combined industry experience, the Executive Staff of Riverside Property Management  knows that the most successful communities are those where there is a sense of unity and pride among the membership; this unity and pride begins with a firm foundation comprised of:

Well defined policies and objectives
A strategic plan and future vision
A proactive Management team
Mutual team trust and respect
Timely and open communication
Excellent customer service
Industry knowledge
“Out of the Box” Thinking
Services designed to meet your needs

Give us fifteen minutes of your time and we can show you how to put your community on a fast track to success; if you don’t believe us, feel free to call upon any one of our satisfied clients.

Halloween Safety Tips for Trick or Treating in Your Neighborhood


For the Love of Candy!
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Kids look forward to Halloween for many reasons. They like the dressing up in costumes but the mostly they like it for the candy and treats! Who wouldn’t? Even some adults still like to go our trick or treating. It makes them feel young and happy again. While this section sticks mainly to guidelines for kids, they are just as useful for adults.

Some parents like to take first dibs on some of the candy that the kids have picked up during the night. It’s their reward for taking them around from house to house! We suggest that you watch the candy intake when you all get home, too much at one time can lead to stomach aches and indigestion. That includes mom and dad as well!

Make your child‘s Halloween a memorable holiday and they’ll have good memories that last a lifetime! If you are taking your kids out for the night, dress up as well. Mom and dad should get into Halloween as much as the kids do!

Trick or Treating should be one of the great adventures of Halloween for kids! They can get dressed in scary costumes and go door to door, begging “Tricks or Treats!” from neighbors or at the local mall. Lots of small towns have a Halloween Safe Night at the community center or school so kids can Trick-or-Treat safely but going door to door is the stuff of childhood memories! It should be a fun time, without trouble and pain, so following some easy tips can keep your child safe every Halloween.

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Children should always go out trick or treating accompanied by a responsible adult. If you have a group of kids going, the parents should choose two or three of them to go along and keep an eye on things.

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Some towns set a curfew for trick or treating which makes it easier for townsfolk to know who’s coming to their door. Make sure and stick to the curfew times and stick to subdivisions and areas with a lot of homes so your kids can get in as much trick or treating as possible in a few hours time.

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Plan a safe route so parents know where their older kids will be at all times. Set a time for their return home. Make sure that your child is old enough and responsible enough to go out by themselves. Make sure that they have a cell phone.

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Let your children know not to cut through back alleys and fields if they are out alone. Make sure they know to stay in populated areas and not to go off the beaten track. Let them know to stay in well lighted areas with lots of people around. Explain to them why it can be dangerous for kids not to do this. If they are going out alone, they are old enough to know what can happen to them in a bad situation and how to stop it from happening.

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Instruct your children not to eat any treats until they bring them home to be examined by you. This way you can check for any problem candy and get the pick of the best stuff!

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Instruct your child to never go into the home of a stranger or get into their car. Explain why this is not a god idea and what to do if someone approaches them and tries to talk to them.

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Make sure your child carries a flashlight, glow stick or has reflective tape on their costume to make them more visible to cars.

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Let them know that they should stay together as a group if going out to Trick or Treat without an adult.

With over 40 years of combined industry experience, the Executive Staff of Riverside Property Management  knows that the most successful communities are those where there is a sense of unity and pride among the membership; this unity and pride begins with a firm foundation comprised of:

Well defined policies and objectives
A strategic plan and future vision
A proactive Management team
Mutual team trust and respect
Timely and open communication
Excellent customer service
Industry knowledge
“Out of the Box” Thinking
Services designed to meet your needs

Give us fifteen minutes of your time and we can show you how to put your community on a fast track to success; if you don’t believe us, feel free to call upon any one of our satisfied clients.

This is the source for HOA, Condominium and Property Owners Associations.

How to Organize a Fall Festival for Your HOA or Condo Association


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Many Homeowners Associations plan fall festivals. Some celebrate the end of the harvest, while others use a fall festival to provide a safe alternative to traditional Halloween trick-or-treating. Whatever the reason for thecommunity activity, with a little bit of planning the festival can be a lot of fun for all home owners.

Instructions

    • 1

      Decide who is eligible to participate. For a project like this, the more community involvement you have, the more likely that the event is fun and successful.

    • 2

      Set a location and time. Advertise it on the street corners. Schools regularly host fall festivals, as do churches. In larger communities, the neighborhood holds the fall festival in one of its parks or grassy areas. Whatever location you choose, secure a backup location in case of bad weather.

    • 3

      Check out any insurance coverage you might need. Also, apply for any legal permits.

    • 4

      Enlist volunteers. This is sometimes the trickiest part of the equation. Recruit dependable people for key positions so you don’t have to scramble to do their job at the last minute.

    • 5

      Arrange for food kiosks. You might have apple pie stands, pumpkin bread stands and chili booths. Or, you might just decide to have a potluck-type meal where everyone brings a covered dish or two. Rent a cotton candy or hot dog machine.

    • 6

      Decorate your fall festival site. It can be as simple as setting out some pumpkins or more elaborate.  A decoration committee is well advised for this chore.

    • 7

      Set up games. Carnival-type games, such as cake walks and fish ponds.  Rent a bounce house…these are great for children. Going along with the fall theme, pumpkin carving competitions are fun as well.

Enjoy!  But alas, make sure there is a clean-up committee designated to tidy up after all of the fun!

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Adopt a Clear Policy on Dues Collection in the HOA or Condo Association


Assessments are the lifeblood of the HOA and Condominium Associations. However, only in very few condominium associations is the collection of dues a process of laissez faire. Most condo associations need to have a consistent process and procedure to thrive … Continue reading

CC&Rs Definition of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions


Definition: Covenants, conditions and restrictions are limitations and rules placed on a group of homes by a builder, developer, neighborhood association and / or homeowner association. All condos and townhomes have CC&Rs; however, so do most planned unit developments and established neighborhoods.

Some CC&R’s involve restrictions that are against the law and unenforceable involving race. These often prohibited sales of property to people who were not Caucasian. They are still in the public records today but are not enforceable. There are social movements across the country to physically remove these documents and rewrite them, rather than leave them in place with the racist and offending verbiage blackened.

Some neighborhoods restrict the color you can paint your house, for example. A neighborhood in Savannah, GA, has CC&Rs that demand every house be painted white. CC&Rs can place restrictions of almost any kind of nature, as along as the group writing them agree to it.

Always read CC&Rs before buying a home. Ask for a copy. You may find you cannot park your car in the drive for more than two hours or put a basketball hoop in the street. Conformity can be a good thing, but it’s not for all people.

From: http://ping.fm/jgIXe

HOA Website Information


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A Home Owners Association that has accurate and reliable information is extremely important for your community. Prospective buyers, realtors and title companies need to know who to contact to provide closing documents. Members of the HOA need to know who to contact for general information, the application of architectural standards and money matters.

Providing online information provides for 24 / 7 self-help and reduces the time requirements for both the board and management. Providing contact information conveys the openness and responsiveness of the association Board. Try these steps to ensure that your contact information is useful to your community:

1. Provide board member contact information, as long as the person approves the release of this information. If you do not have a phone number with voice mail and HOA email address create an email such as info@myhoa.com  for your Owners Association.

2. If you have committees, describe the duties of each committee and the names of those who serve.

3. Post a calendar that includes due dates, annual meetings and the committee meetings, as well as social events and pending repairs (painting, roofing, etc.).

4. Add photos of members of the board.

5. Provide the greatest amount of self-help and information possible, such as newsletters, governing documents, the approved budget, the reserve study and rules/regulations.

6. Update contact information when a change occurs. While the organization and updating of this information takes some time, in the long run, it will save you time and time is money.

With over 40 years of combined industry experience, the Executive Staff of Riverside Property Management  knows that the most successful communities are those where there is a sense of unity and pride among the membership; this unity and pride begins with a firm foundation comprised of:

Well defined policies and objectives
A strategic plan and future vision
A proactive Management team
Mutual team trust and respect
Timely and open communication
Excellent customer service
Industry knowledge
“Out of the Box” Thinking
Services designed to meet your needs

Give us fifteen minutes of your time and we can show you how to put your community on a fast track to success; if you don’t believe us, feel free to call upon any one of our satisfied clients.