Tag Archives: North Georgia

Keeping Children Safe at Play


http://genomaru.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/00005134.jpg

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.

 

Source: http://www.communityassociationmanagement.com/rules/violations-and-enforcement/2473-children-at-play.html

Keeping the Peace Among the Neighborhood and Condo Associations


Body Language

Clubhouse Meeting

As the Treasurer of the board, you’re at a homeowners meeting explaining why fees need to be increased.  “I’m confident that this is the right thing to do and I’m open to your comments,” you say.  A homeowner in the audience is staring at you with arms crossed, lips pursed and fists closed.  Should you be concerned?

People’s gestures often give away their true feelings.  Holding eye contact can signal an impending challenge; tight lips may spell defiance; the position of the arms and fists often indicates a closed an hostile attitude.

Most of us miss body language cues- and miss the chance to communicate effectively.  You may not even realize what your non-verbal messages tell others, but they’re important.

Body language accounts for more than half of your message, while words and tone make up the rest, according to experts.  If your words say, “I’m confident,” but your body says otherwise, people are more likely to believe what your body is communicating.

Here’s how you can use body language to enhance your face-to-face communications.

Make sure your verbal and non-verbal messages are in sync.  As the board treasurer in the example; you need to convey confidence by walking tall, sitting upright, and standing straight when speaking.  You’ll gain credibility if you make eye contact with people you’re talking to- but don’t hold their gaze too long or you’ll create discomfort.  Keep your palms visible and open to show you’re receptive.

Harmony

Keep your facial expression neutral.  It will show that you’re unbiased.  If you cultivate a neutral attitude-by admitting that you have an opinion and consciously setting it aside – then a neutral expression will follow.  Avoid silent feedback, like nodding your head in agreement or disagreement, when you’re listening to a residents comments or a contractor’s pitch.  The last thing you want to do is give the impression that you’ll take a position and then later vote to do the opposite.

Be aware of your own body language.  Learn how your feelings affect your gestures.  What do you do when you’re anxious, angry or elated?

Adjust your body language in response to the signals others give you. For example, when you’re standing chatting with a resident, start by standing at a distance that works for you.  If the other person moves back, don’t step forward again.  This will make your neighbor feel comfortable because you’re not invading their personal territory.

Be Natural.  When you believe what you say and feel, your body language will support your message and you’ll appear genuine.  If you try to adopt mannerisms that don’t support your true feelings, you’ll seem phony.

Dress for success.  As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to dress slightly more professionally than the person you are meeting.  It shows respect because you’ve taken the time to present well.

But back to the meeting – how should you respond to your neighbor who seems disgruntled, not just cold?

Tell yourself that you will not lose your cool, and your body language will show that you remain confident and in control.  Be conscious of what you do when you’re threatened or angry and curb those behaviors.  Don’t look menacing in return by mirroring the offending body cues.  If all else fails, take a break.  Then you can all come back refreshed and ready to start communicating again.

Read from the source at http://www.communityassociationmanagement.com/dispute-resolution/preventing-disputes/193-body-talk-.html

Gallery

Homeowners Association Board Protocol


PROCEDURAL RULES FOR CONDUCTING MEETINGSOF THE ASSOCIATION Organization principles – rules of conduct – are necessary to shape a strong and effective Board of Directors for the betterment of the entire community.  Based on freedom of speech, respect for fellow members, … Continue reading

Financial Checks and Balances for Atlanta Condominiums « Atlanta Condominium Management


Condo Association Accounting

Financial Checks and Balances for Atlanta Condominiums « Atlanta Condominium Management.

Homeowners Associations Expectations


Atlanta at Night

Real estate developers usually create a homeowners association to control the appearance and managing of common areas in the land being developed. Upon selling a preset number of homes in the developed residential subdivision, it is turned over to the homeowners of the subdivision. There comes a time though that this association would need some form of help from experts to make sure that the subdivision will be a great place to live in.

This is where HOA managers come in. If you are living in Georgia and you think that your homeowners association is in need of professional guidance, you are in luck as there are good HOA managers in the city.  When searching you might want to consider this helpful website.  Before you work with one though, make sure that they offer plenty of services that will satisfy the needs of the association and that you have a good understanding of what your associations needs are so you can communicate those clearly to the community association management company.

Common features include HOA managers attending annual board meetings. This way, they would be able to gauge properly the progress of the association in terms of obtaining its goals. It would also enable them to see in what facet is the association lacking in terms of focus. This would allow them to be able to provide enough input that the whole association would benefit from.

The annual budget of the homeowners association is a delicate matter and it needs to be properly managed. Thus, it would be a good thing to have an HOA management company that would be able to provide professional guidance to the board of directors in formulating the annual budget. This way, the association would be able to make the most out of its budget. With that in mind, all residents of the subdivision would be able to benefit greatly from the money they have put in the association.

On the meeting that HOA managers would attend, they also have to be able to present a recap of the past year’s budget and its appropriations. This would allow the members of the association to see where the money went. This would provide transparency which is a very important thing especially with money involved.

These are the most common things that you should look for in an HOA manager or HOA management company. They would be handling very vital functions and thus should have the right background for the job. Apart from having these most common features as part of their service, they should be able to provide you with enough proof that they have extensive experience in such endeavors.  Also ask them to show you the certifications the staff has from the industry educational organizations.  This educational experience will allow you to understand the time and energy the HOA property management company has invested to prepare to help your Homeowner Association or Condominium Association.

It is important that your Condominium is professionally managed and has reserve funding. « Atlanta Condominium Management


It is important that your Condominium is professionally managed and has reserve funding. « Atlanta Condominium Management.

Community Associations and Social Media


Community Associations and Social Media

Get Plugged In

Social Networking concepts and sites have become increasingly popular among condominium and homeowner residents as a medium to:
Share news, documents and ideas:

  • Organize activities and events
  • Enhance owner participation, communication and feedback
  • Gauge the pulse and public opinion of the community
  • Improve delivery of services, and
  • Strengthen the bonds of their communities

Unlike websites that are updated weekly or monthly–at best–Social Networking sites offer up-to-the-second information; thus, increasing exponentially the level of interaction and information exchange between homeowners.  I believe the most popular sites are: Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

There is an explosion in the use of Social Networking concepts and sites for business and personal use.  It’s only a matter of time before these tools are used by homeowner associations.  Be on the forefront of this technological wave by jumping in today and creating association-specific groups on one or more of these sites to enhance communication and community.

Wonderful post by our partners at HOAManagement.com.

Aside

Riverside has helped to make the transition from a “self run HOA” to a management company simple, fast and effective. « Atlanta HOA and Condo Association Reviews.

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

Three Keys to Handling Architectrual Reviews in Your HOA


Streamline Architectural Reviews and Eliminate Headaches

Atlanta, GeorgiaArchitectural Review is a vital part of maintaining the aesthetics and property values in Atlanta Homeowners Associations. Most Atlanta Community Associations have architectural restrictions designed to maintain a pleasing and uniform aesthetic by limiting the types of  fences, outdoor sheds and garden structures that owners can erect and controlling neighborhood paint schemes. From a practical perspective, this process is typically administered by an Architectural Review Committee or Architectural Control Committee that is appointed by the Homeowners Association Board of Directors.

Where do they get the authority to tell me what I can build?

The authority of an HOA Board or Architectural Review Committee to review plans prior to construction can typically be found in your HOA’s Covenants and Bylaws.   In addition to your Covenants and Bylaws, many HOAs adopt Architectural rules or restrictions designed to help streamline the process. These rules may provide specific guidelines about what sorts of structures will be approved. For example, there may be limitations on height, color or setback requirements. Other rules are procedural, outlining a process for submitting plans, obtaining a hearing in front of the committee, or appealing an adverse decision to the Association Board of Directors.

Why is it important to observe your Governing Documents and Rules carefully?

With the recent downturn in the economy and plummeting real estate market, Architectural Review has become an increasingly contentious issue. Many aggrieved owners turn to the court system to resolve architectural review disputes. Lawsuits often arise in two contexts: either (1) an owner receives an adverse decision preventing him or her from building their dream home; or (2) A neighbor of the builder is unhappy with the structure going in next door and seeks to have construction halted. Occasionally, neighbors have sought to have an existing structure torn down for being in violation of the Association CCRs.

Architectural review litigation is highly unpleasant, costly and time consuming for HOAs.

What can my HOA do to prevent the disputes and resolve them quickly if they do come up?

1. Draft Written Rules to Supplement your Covenants. Many Covenants and Bylaw provisions relating to architectural review are ambiguous. For example: “No home built in the subdivision shall erect a nonconforming fence.  That statement, without more, can be problematic and can lead to lawsuits.  Many Atlanta Homeowners Associations adopt rules or guidelines that clarify or interpret vague Architectural Standards. Carefully drafted rules often prevent disputes.

2. Enforce Your Rules Uniformly. Once your Homeowners Association has a clear set of rules in place, it is critical that the Board enforce them with every homeowner int he neighborhood, including the Board members themselves. Members are often more angry about “selective enforcement” than they are about having their plans denied. These owners may argue that the HOA denied their plans based on a set of rules that other neighbors violated without penalty. This is unfair to the members of the Association, and can undermine the Board’s ability to resolve the dispute. Worse still, it can affect your HOA’s ability to enforce other important rules and undermine the Board’s credibility.

3. Treat Everyone Fairly. Give a full and fair review of any an all plans and proposals for architectural changes.  For example, if your neighborhood has established a rule requiring garage doors to be painted the darkest color on the house and an owner wants to vary that color scheme to keep up with the current trend in nearby neighborhoods, it may be time to reevaluate and update the approved neighborhood paint colors and scheme.  Rather than arbitrarily deny a request, try to find a way to give homeowners something to be happy about.  If you can’t approve their request “as is,” approve what you can and let them know what needs modification.  Look for ways to make peace with your neighbors and to find an outcome that is satisfactory to them to avoid alienating neighbors, which often leads to other compliance issues down the road.  Remember that each person’s home is an essential part of their self-expression and the situation can quickly get out of control when  homeowners believe they are not being treated fairly.

Riverside Property Management is a Homeowners and Condominium Association management company management company proudly serving Roswell, Alpharetta, Buckhead, Marietta and all of North Georgia. Riverside is also an expert Georgia 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 www.riversidepropertymgt.com. You’ll be glad you did. 9YVMRAG7SBC5