Category Archives: cleant neighborhood pond

Get the Weeds out of the HOA Common Area.
Some people call them weeds, other just say plants growing in the wrong place. They seem to sprout overnight and can grow flowers that emerge in a heartbeat. Recent rains have resulted in vigorous growth. If left unchecked can steal water and nutrients from neighboring plants. Where do they come? What can be done to gain control so that they do not take over your garden? Read on for tips to control these pesky troublesome creepers.

Weed seeds arrive in your yard either by wind or are carried in the birds. They could be brought to the playground equipment, grass seed, organic soil ground cover or cracks in cement.  They can also ride on shoes, clothes or even on the skin of pets.

The two basic groups of weeds are grasses and broadleaf weeds. Some seeds and shoots grow, flower, produce seed and die within a season. These are known as annual weeds.

Perennial weeds can live for several years.
The control methods you choose will depend on what type of weed in question.

If you only have a few weeds in a relatively small area, mechanical removal is often the most desirable. This can be accomplished with sharp hoes, shovels, or hand-trough. This exercise is good – even therapeutic. If herbicide applications are warranted, it is important to select one that will focus on the weeds in question and not to damage the surrounding vegetation. If you use grass murderer on crabgrass or nutsedge growing in the hybrid Bermuda grass, it won’t discriminate and will kill all the grass that the contacts. A broad spectrum herbicide can kill anything green it touches.

In gravel areas both annual and perennial weeds can be controlled by applying a post-emergent herbicide. Post-emergent which means that controls the weeds which have germinated and are growing. The most common application contains glyphosate or glufosinate as the active ingredients on the label. These herbicides work for translocation of the product through the roots to the leaves where they interfere with the growth process. Control is achieved best when applied to young plants. These two products are not selective, which means it will kill any vegetation growing in both grass and broadleaf plants.

In areas of lawn in the best control of weeds is healthy turf.  Any chemical weed control should be practiced only on well established lawns, as newly installed or seeded lawns are often injured by weed control agents. Spot treatment with glyphosate is effective especially in winter, on the dormant Bermuda grass.

Pre-emergents work very well in preventing weed germination and work best in areas of gravel. Do not use a pre-emergent if you plan to establish a Bermuda lawn from seed. The same occurs in the fall if overseeding the hybrid Bermuda grass or Bermuda – which will prevent the seeds of winter rye grass from germinating! Many pre-emergents are available at your local nursery store or home improvement  center. For example, a common pre-emergent herbicide has a chemical name: 3, 5-dintro-N4, N4-dipropylsulfanilamide. The chemical name is oryzalin. Ask the sales staff at your local hardware store or nursery for help if you are unsure which product is a pre-emergent.  Apply twice a year in April for summer weeds, and September for weed control in winter.  Ultimately, the climate and seasonality will be different in different regions of our country.

Caution: Some products are labeled to kill total vegetation. These products kill all existing vegetation, but also can remain in soil for many years and leach into surrounding areas and seriously affect or kill the plants there. If you have an area in your garden where nothing grows, a killer of vegetation  could have been applied in the past.

Be careful when using products containing 2-4-D. These are designed to be applied when temperatures are below 80 degrees or less. On warm days, this product volatilizes (becomes a gas) and can cause damage to surrounding vegetation, as it moves through the air.

Always follow label instructions exactly! We sometimes think that if a little is good, more is better. The average homeowner applies 9 times more chemicals to their property than that of a farmer on land the same size. With herbicides and insecticides, it can be deadly – to plants, pets and humans. Wear protective clothing and avoid skin contact with the product.

2011 – The Year of the Missing Money

Published: 02 December 2011 – Written by JWW

If there was a single theme running through news stories and articles about condo and homeowner associations in 2011, it was the shortage of money to carry out their responsibilities.

First, the trend of owners not paying their association assessments due to a weak economy, continued strong, which meant that associations had less money to carry out their required operations.  Then, the foreclosure crisis also continued strong, again leaving associations short, as owners in foreclosure usually stopped paying assessments.  Those associations in states that gave them six month of assessments in a foreclosure process may have been a little better off than those in states without the lien priority, but they still found it was tough to collect.

Then, the mortgage banking industry started piling on, by slowing down foreclosures, so that they would not be responsible for a home’s assessments until the last possible minute.  This dragged out the time frame when associations were receiving no income from a unit, placing a tough burden on the owners who were paying, and on boards to struggle with reduced revenue.  Some states tried to help out associations, and some attorneys got creative in forcing foreclosures, but that was only in a few states.

The following news story leads from 2011 show a growing trend that is entirely preventable, but sadly, is often ignored:

  • FL: President of homeowners association accused of embezzlement
  • OH: Prosecutor’s filing indicates women may plead guilty to stealing $1.6M
  • NC: Parkwood president: Embezzler took at least $150K from HOA
  • WA: Former HOA president is headed to trial
  • IA: Muscatine woman gets probation for theft from homeowners’ association
  • FL: The former manager of a luxury Aventura condo building, accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars, turned herself in to jail officials.
  • LA: Former president of Montz associations pleads guilty to theft
  • TX: HOA dues disappear in elaborate scam
  • NC: Theft of money from Parkwood involves ‘many thousands of dollars’
  • CO: Embezzler involved with HOA in Aspen called a ‘habitual criminal’ by DA
  • OH: Man pleads guilty to theft possibly totaling $200,000
  • NY: Ex-school board member admits stealing funds
  • CA: Neighborhood-association embezzler is sentenced
  • ME: Convicted condo embezzler arrested
  • CA: Diablo Grande embezzlement is news to sheriff
  • WA: Prosecutors: Issaquah HOA president bilked organization
  • FL: Charge: President bilked own homeowner association
  • MD: Grand Jury Indicts In Theft Scheme Case
  • WI: Franklin police probe suspected condo association fraud
  • WA: Former Olympia-area homeowners association worker guilty of theft
  • NJ: Former property manager in Freehold Twp. accused of embezzling $75K
  • GA: Former HOA treasurer arrested
  • CA: Former Palo Alto neighborhood association admin accused of embezzling $65K
  • GA: Manager gets 3 years probation for fraud
  • NJ: Three charged with thefts from Aberdeen condo association
  • OH: Woman gets prison for bilking condo associations
  • NJ: Mother, daughter charged in scam – Indictment: Condo funds misused
  • Toronto condo owners allege massive fraud
  • NY: Dare’s role in Pastures cost association $100,000
  • VA: Fraud at Koger may tally $2 million
  • WI: Treasurer of Kansasville home owner’s association reportedly forged checks
  • FL: Four charged in multi-million dollar fraud scheme at Hallandale Beach condo
  • NJ: Readington condo official admits stealing $200K
  • PA: $600K Swiped From Montco Condo Association
  • CA: Sheriff’s Deputy Who Took Money From HOA Sentenced
  • FL: Four charged in multi-million dollar fraud scheme at Hallandale Beach condo
  • FL: HOA bookkeeper confesses to embezzling
  • CA: Manager steals $70K from neighborhood group
  • SC: Woman charged with embezzling $14K in HOA funds
  • IN: Mishawaka embezzler to testify against co-defendant
  • IL: Regent Realty owners indicted in fraud
  • NY: Green Mansions Manager Indicted For $162K Theft
  • MA: Yarmouth condo office manager sent to jail
  • WY: Embezzler gets lengthy sentence in Fox Park case

When times are tough, people who need money will justify taking it from others. Every community association related blog and web site wrote articles about how to prevent theft, but, as with anything, there have to be people in place who will actually do the checks to see that everything is as it should be.

The result of all of this, was all too often, delayed or ignored maintenance, assessments increasing to cover revenue shortfalls, a lot of hard feelings and a lot of litigation, all of which will have long-term effects on associations. To be honest, I don’t really see any improvement in the short term, and for the long term, that is going to depend heavily on the economy, and whether or not the housing industry rebounds.

When I used to do seminars for association board members, I would tell them that it wasn’t their job to keep assessments low, but to spend the money wisely. After this year, I think I need to change that to:

It’s your job to collect the money efficiently, watch over it like a guard dog, and then, spend it wisely!

To all of you who donate your time and talents to keep your association going through these tough times:


Courtesy of:

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. (678) 866-1436 or

“Grandfathered” Rules

OK, your HOA’s changing some rules. But the gall of some owners! They want to be exempt from your new rules, or “grandfathered in.” Should you grant their request?

Here, we discuss the pros and cons of creating exceptions for rules, give four examples of when it’s smart and not smart to grandfather residents in, and provide tips to ensure the grandfathered rules don’t last forever and are enforceable.

When to Grandfather? It Depends

“I think it’s a great question,” says David Mercer, a partner at MercerTrigiani in Alexandria, Va., who represents more than 500 associations in Virginia and Washington, D.C. “The answer depends on the specifics of what you’re trying to accomplish. It depends on how serious the problem you’re addressing is and how difficult it’s going to be for residents to change their behavior to comply. Each factual situation you confront brings different issues to the grandfathering clause.”

Robert Galvin, a partner at Davis, Malm & D’Agostine PC in Boston who specializes in representing condos and co-ops, has one absolute. “Never grandfather specific units or people,” he says. “Also, grandfathering isn’t something you do very broadly. Usually, if a rule is a good idea, nobody should be grandfathered. But there are instances where it’s appropriate.”

Here are a few examples:

1. Rental Restrictions

A change of use is a good barometer of when to grandfather, says Kristen L. Rosenbeck, a partner at the Mulcahy Law Firm PC in Phoenix, which represents associations. “I typically want to recommend grandfathering if we’re changing a use,” she says. “Let’s say it’s a rental restriction. That’s a large issue and a change in use. So let’s grandfather owners already renting out their unit and make the rule apply to future owners from this point forward. Some clients want to have the rule take effect when current renters leave. We have case law that says that’s sufficient. But because that change is controversial, I’d recommend clients say the rental would continue until ownership changes.”

2. Color Scheme

Rosenbeck doesn’t think the same reasoning applies to a change in a neighborhood’s color scheme. “We can change the scheme, and that’s not tied to ownership,” she says. “So we could grandfather the current scheme and have it be acceptable until you have to paint your house again.”

3. Pet Rules

“Assume your association is a pet community, so when a condo owner bought, he could have pets,” explains Mercer. “He recognized the condo rule could be changed if, say, 66 and two-thirds of his neighbors voted to change it. Now they’ve voted to change into a no-pet community. The board should want voluntary compliance, but it’s very unrealistic to expect people with pets to move or get rid of their pets to be in compliance. But it’s reasonable to expect that if you grandfather pets in and say, ‘For starters, you need to register your pets. Only those pets will be allowed to stay, and they can’t be replaced when they die.’ Now you’re working toward total, voluntary compliance in several years without the disruption, adversarial approach, and disenfranchisement of people.”

4. Smoking Bans

“There should be no grandfathering when there are safety concerns,” says Rosenbeck. Example? “If you take a health issue like smoking, and you want to ban smoking in the entire property, that gets a little more traction if you say, ‘Except in your unit, we’re banning smoking in all areas,'” adds Mercer. “Still, you might want to consider an area in the common elements that would be restricted as a smoking area rather than going cold turkey on all areas.”

“Every time I’ve been involved in a change that alters the fiber of a community, the association has provided grandfathering,” says Mercer. “It’s difficult enough to get an amendment that you risk it not being passed without grandfathering. The analogy I make is that of a local government authority that wants to change zoning and prohibit a light industrial use in a particular zone. The government can’t just say to someone, ‘And by the way you can’t run your business anymore. But it can say, ‘You can’t sell or change your business use, and once you end the business, it’s done.'”


Keeping Children Safe at Play

What would be more delightful or heartwarming than the sights and sounds of laughing and playing in your community?


Every effort should be made to ensure that the joys of childhood continue in associations, especially with the importance of putting community back into community associations.  From a child‘s perspective, “kid friendly” means fewer rules and restrictions. From the adult’s perspective, it means only implementing and enforcing those rules that are absolutely necessary to protect themselves, the children and association property.


The existence and enforcement of reasonable rules can protect an association from liability, but liabilities remain, especially when the association doesn’t or can’t enforce those rules all the time. Just as an owner might sue an association based on the board’s failure to enforce a nuisance rule, an owner also could sue if the association failed to enforce a rule that prohibits children from climbing common element trees or playing in common element parking areas. Theoretically, the association passed the rule because of the inherent danger associated with the activity, thus the association had a duty to enforce its rule to prevent the danger. Would such a theory hold up in court? Much stranger things have happened.


Summer Fun at the Homeowners Associaition Pool

Associations should pass only rules that are essential to the health, safety and welfare of their residents–and ones that they can and will enforce. But what rules are essential? Each association must answer that question based on the circumstances and needs of the community. However, let’s take a look at the tree-climbing and parking-lot rules mentioned earlier.


A rule against children climbing trees on common elements could recognize both that children occasionally fall out of the trees they climb and that the trees can be damaged. Often the tree is too small for the size of the climber or the climber has tried smaller and weaker branches. In both cases, the damage to the tree may be accompanied by injury to the child. These certainly are legitimate interests, but do they warrant a rule? The association should ask first whether it needs the rule as a warning. In my opinion, most courts will recognize that children are naturally interested in climbing trees and may be injured by doing so. The courts also will recognize that it would be difficult, at best, to keep children out of a good climbing tree. Moreover, every child and parent already knows that if a climber falls from a tree, he or she likely will be injured. Thus, the rule is probably not necessary as a warning


The association should explore next whether it needs the rule as a deterrent-preventing climbing through fear of consequence. If the fear of falling is not a natural deterrent, I suspect that the fear of a fine or sanction (which mom or dad would have to pay) is not likely to do the trick–at least from the child’s perspective. Nor will it have a deterrent effect on parents. Those parents who would keep their children out of trees even if no rule existed don’t need the rule. Similarly, those who feel it is OK for their child to climb trees probably would find the rule silly and would not be deterred.


Then, does the association need the rule to protect association or owner property, or limit association liability? As for the property issue, trees lose limbs and branches naturally, so the loss of a few to climbers probably isn’t a big deal. If damage occurs to a tree on a lot, the owner probably has the right to make a claim against the master policy as well as his or her homeowners insurance policy.

The liability issue is more problematic. The mere existence of the rule may invite liability because the association will not be able to monitor all trees all the time. In actuality, most associations will not watch their trees unless a board member or manager just happens along and sees a climber.


Although it might seem ludicrous, a litigant certainly could claim that he or she relied upon the association’s rule to keep his or her child out of trees, and thus out of harm’s way.


The real problem, of course, is that this rule is not kid friendly. And, if the association passes such a rule without one or more of the elements mentioned earlier being of primary concern to the welfare of the association, the rule is not likely to have a positive effect.


Similarly, a rule prohibiting children from playing in common element parking lots appears to be a no brainer because it benefits all. However, looks are deceiving. In this case, both children and parents should know that playing in the parking lot is inherently dangerous. Parents also know that smaller children must be watched because a passing motorist may not be able to avoid a child darting between parked cars. Motorists also know to drive cautiously in a residential parking lot. Accordingly, a rule against playing in the parking lots is superfluous for warning purposes.

This rule won’t deter children from playing in the parking lots. Presumably, smaller children will be kept from these areas by parents or older siblings. Older children probably will play there whether the rule is known to them or not. Kids have been playing ball and skating in streets and parking lots as long as there have been streets and parking lots.


Finally, the existence of this rule is likely to have little positive effect on the association’s liability in the event of a tragedy. Let’s say that a child is injured by a vehicle in the parking lot. The association’s liability for such an incident, if any, will probably concern the lighting level in the parking lot or perhaps poorly placed plantings that impeded the driver’s view. If these circumstances contribute to the likelihood of the injury, having a rule against playing in the parking lots will not protect the association from liability. And, as in the previous example, a grieving parent could claim that, had the association enforced its rule, the child would not have been injured or killed.


So what appear at first impression to be two reasonable rules really have no redeeming value; they are not kid friendly. They are difficult or impossible to enforce. If anything, they might add to an association’s potential for liability. In short, they’re unnecessary.


The only kid-centric rules associations must have are those related to the swimming pool. Some associations also have rules related to the minimum age for use of tennis courts. Associations with a workout facility may need to have rules about equipment use as well. Otherwise, the best rules for children are the ones imposed by their parents.  After all, the parents will be held responsible for damage done by children that is not covered by insurance.



It’s a pleasure working with such a professional, competent and customer friendly staff.

Piedmont Heights

Beautiful Condominium Community

Our experience with Riverside to date has been fantastic! We found the transition to be almost seamless to the homeowners. Everyone at Riverside has worked diligently to get the transition completed as uneventful as possible. We love the service level we have received from all the staff, but especially from Lisa Robinson, Tamara Owen and the Accounting Staff. It’s a pleasure working with such a professional, competent and customer friendly staff. They are responsive. They do what they say they are going to do and always make you feel like a valued customer. I feel that switching to Riverside has been the best decision we have made all year!

Deborah Woolf – Treasurer

Piedmont Heights Condominium Association