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THE LEGAL TEAM

COMMITTED TO ASSOCIATION LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

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6 Tips for Community Safety

The Importance of Security and Tips for Community Safety

As a community association or property manager, you’re responsible for meeting your bottom lines and running the association smoothly, but you’re also responsible for community safety. Your residents are the livelihood of the community- and without their safety the overall value of the community will not be as high. Whether it’s a condo or a large neighborhood, you need to make sure that your residents are protected and that they know it.

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Here are 6 tips for community safety

  1. Install Cameras: This one seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people fail to install cameras around the property. Having cameras not only allows you to keep watch over common areas and those prone to crime, but it also deters crime in the first place and lets you check past history in case a crime does occur.
  2. Hire Security: Having security at all entrances to the property and making sure that someone is checking the grounds sporadically is important. It makes residents feel secure and makes it more difficult to commit a crime.
  3. Keep Grounds Maintained: Safety isn’t just about crime, it’s also about personal safety so you need to ensure that the grounds are maintained and there are no areas where someone can easily hurt themselves.
  4. Keep Residents Informed: You should always make sure that all residents are kept up to date with what is going on in the area. If police are looking for someone nearby, you should let residents know to be careful. The more they know about what is going on, the more precautions they will take themselves.
  5. Screen Residents and Employees: Always screen all residents and employees to make sure that you’re not making it easier for someone prone to crime to get in the building or neighborhood. The last thing you want is a crime that could have been prevented had you done your homework.
  6. Constant Assessment: Just because you’re on top of safety now doesn’t mean that you always will be. You should be constantly assessing the area to see where security can be improved and you need to stay up to date with the latest in security technology.

Don’t let safety be the reason that your community isn’t as successful as it could be. It’s your responsibility to keep residents happy and secure and these tips for community safety will help. Remember, prevention is always the best thing when it comes to crime and safety- so think ahead and look towards the future. Click here to learn more about tips for community safety.

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6 Tips for a Productive Meeting

Essential Tips for a Productive Meeting

When it comes to community association board meetings, you need to make sure you have a productive meeting with a group a people, and that’s not always easy. Everyone has their own opinions, people want to be heard, people aren’t prepared etc. The list of things that can hold up a meeting are endless, but to properly run your community, you need to make sure that you get what you need to get done during the limited time you have together. So how do you ensure that your meetings are productive?

6 Tips for a Productive Meeting
Here are 6 tips for a productive meeting:

  1. Create an agenda: Figure out the purpose of your meeting and get it on paper. You want to make sure that you address everything that needs to be addressed and in order to do this you need to allocate times to each subject and stick to them. If you run out of time for a specific topic, another meeting can always be planned between the whole group or just the members who are most directly involved with that particular subject. Having an agenda will help keep you on track and make sure that your meeting meets its purpose.
  2. Send out the agenda beforehand: Once your agenda is set, send it out to everyone who is going to be in attendance at the meeting. You want to make sure that everyone is prepared, and the best way to do this is to make sure they know what is going to be covered during the meeting.
  3. Enlist a note taker: It’s good to have someone whose role it is to take notes to ensure that everything is being recorded. Instead of having everyone take their own notes, have a note taker record the entire meeting and send out the notes afterwards.
  4. Ask everyone to save their questions: One of the biggest things that can hold up a meeting is questions. Questions are important and must be addressed, but it’s best to save them until after everything the moderator needs to say has already been said. End each topic with a quick question period so that everyone can contribute without holding up the meeting.
  5. End with a review: At the very end of the meeting, schedule a quick review of everything that was spoken about and what the next steps are. If you have a meeting where you discuss a lot of different topics, it can be difficult to remember what was resolved at the beginning of the meeting once it has ended. A recap will ensure that everything is fresh in everyone’s mind as they leave.
  6. Send out action item recaps: Once the meeting has ended, send out a recap of notes from the meeting along with action items and who is responsible. This is help you make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that you stay on schedule and get key action items completed.

Meetings are not the time to just “wing it.” You need to go in with a set plan and these tips for a productive meeting can help. With preparation comes productivity, so get prepared and make sure that you effectively accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished. Click here for more information on tips for a productive meeting.

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6 Tips for Working with Different Personalities

Strategies for Working with Different Personalities

When you’re a part of a community association, it is inevitable that you will at some point or another be working with different personalities. You need to work with other board members, vendors, tenants and residents etc. The list goes on and one, but one thing stays the same: everyone is different and approaches situations differently. It can be difficult to come to a resolution or conciliation with someone that seems to be on a completely different planet, but it is possible.

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Here are 6 tips for working with different personalities:

  1. Listen: This is one of the biggest parts of working with someone else. Most of us have so much we want to contribute that we don’t listen to what other people have to say, even when they may have a good point. Try to remember to take a step back and listen every once in a while and working with others will immediately become easier.
  2. Learn about your colleagues: Everyone works differently. Some people are more energetic and other people may work better behind the scenes, and one is not better than the other. By learning more about your colleagues and how they work, it’s easier to see how to best approach working with them.
  3. Try to see it from their point of view: Try to take a walk in their shoes and see where they are coming from. Chances are they aren’t just rambling nonsense and that there is a reasoning behind what they have to say.
  4. Respect that they are there for a reason: Everyone has their strengths and everyone has their weakness and you need to remember that there is a reason each person is on your team. You may be great when it comes to management, but that doesn’t mean you know more about budgeting than your finance guy or that you know more about what the grass needs than your landscaper. You need to respect each person you work with and remember that they too have a role they must fill.
  5. Choose your battles: Not everything has to be a battle. It takes practice but you need to learn what is worth fighting over and what isn’t. Sometimes, its better to let some things go.
  6. Remember that you’re on the same team: You’re all on the same team and working towards the same thing: making sure the community association is a success. It can be difficult when some people have different priorities, but you’re a team and you need to act like one.

Working with different personalities is never easy, but these tips can help you. It really is all about being conscious of the fact that you’re on a team and that in life you need to work with people that you won’t necessarily agree with or get along with. With some patience, you can reach a decision that everyone is happy with. Click here to learn more about tips for working with different personalities.

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Building Relationships with Contractors

How to Build Relationships with Contractors

Building Relationships with Contractors PeytonBolin.jpgSo you need a contractor for your community, but where do you start. With so much information out there, it can be difficult to know who to choose and how to build a mutually beneficial relationship with them. If your clueless as to how to build relationships with contractors or if you just want tips on how to do it better, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 5 tips for building relationships with contractors

  1. Get Referrals: When it comes time to choose a vendor, you want to make sure that you are choosing someone you can trust. Ask around and check reviews online. Don’t just look at their website. Websites can be misleading and are always from the company’s point of view. Reviews are the other hand come straight from the customers and since that is the position you’ll be in, that’s the opinion you want to hear.
  2. Be a good client: Being a good client can go a long way. Remember, you shouldn’t treat your contractors like just another vendor. They bring they own skills and expertise to the table and by treating them as a part of your team instead of as just another vendor, you can leverage their strengths to your advantage. Treat them the way you would want a client to treat you.
  3. Make it a long term investment: When you look for a contractor, it’s best to keep in mind that what you want is a long term relationship with them. You are likely to get better rates as a perpetual client than as just a one time client and building a relationship with the future in your mind will make it easier to communicate and build trust.
  4. Be careful when you negotiate: You need to stay within your budget, but be careful when negotiating on price. You don’t want to push the contractor too far. You want them on your side and you want to work together with them as a team.
  5. Communicate openly: Communication is always important, especially with a contractor. To get the job done right the first time around, communication is absolutely key to success.

Using these tips, you can find a contractor to be your partner for the long term. Building a community takes effort and involves many aspects that come from many different people. You need to look at everyone associated with making the community better as a team, not as separate pieces. Only by working together can you efficiently hit your bottom line and make your community association a success. Click here to learn more about building relationships with contractors.

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Why You Need to Worry About Community Association Landscaping

The Value of Good Community Association Landscaping

Ever heard the phrase “first impressions are the most lasting?” We’re betting you have, and were betting you’ve experienced the truth in it. As much as many don’t want first impressions to be so important, the bottom line is that they are, and when it comes to communities and homes, the landscaping and outdoor environment is often the first impression that potential residents will get.

One of the hardest parts is landscaping is upkeep. While it is time consuming to initially get your community grounds looking the way you want them to, it’s often done all at once with one company- so it’s not necessarily a difficult process once you’ve picked what you want. When it becomes difficult is through regular maintenance. People are driving over the grass, the weather is getting colder and plants are dying, and generally you just have a lot on your plate. That’s where we come in.

PeytonBolin Why You Need to Worry About Community Association LandscapingHere are 3 tips for maintaining community association landscaping:

  1. Find the right vendor: This is one of the biggest parts of maintaining your community landscaping. You can’t afford to have potential residents come on a tour and see brown grass, and you certainly don’t want current residents to be embarrassed of the way their community grounds look. You need to find a vendor you can trust to do a job well done, on time and on budget.
  2. Choose the right materials: When you initially picture what your community landscaping will look like, you need to think about the future. Don’t buy plants that die quickly or need a lot of care to upkeep. Think about how much you can afford on water bills and choose landscaping materials based on your budget, the weather (luckily for us, it’s pretty standard year round in Florida), and how often you want to have your landscapers come to the property.
  3. Get on a schedule: This one probably seems obvious, but you would be surprised how often we see communities that aren’t on a regular landscaping schedule. If you have the right vendor picked out, then you should be comfortable having them come routinely. It makes it easier for you because you won’t have to think about planning for landscaping work, and you will likely be able to get a better deal with the vendor.

Humans are visual people, so don’t let your landscaping make a bad first impression. Just as it’s important to keep your community office clean and presentable, you need to keep the grounds of the community clean and presentable as well. Click here for more information on why community association landscaping is so important.

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5 Tips for Choosing the Right Board Member

Choosing the Right Board Member for Your Association

Boards are an important part of any association, and choosing the right board members is essential to the success of a board. Some may think that choosing a board member is easy, and it can be, but you need to make sure you have the right practices in place to ensure that you’re not just choosing any board member, but that you’re choosing one that will bring value to the association and the community.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Board Member PeytonBolin
Here are 5 tips for choosing the right board member

  1. Assess Current Board: The first step when bringing on a new board member is to assess the current board. Are you bringing on a new member to replace someone or because you don’t have enough resources with the amount of people currently on the board? What requirements are being met and what isn’t? What are the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on the board? Figuring our where your current board stands and how they can improve will go a long way in finding a board member that will really add value.
  2. Determine Responsibilities: Once you asses the current board, the next step is to figure out exactly what the responsibilities of the new board member will be. If you and the rest of the board aren’t sure what the new member should be doing, how will they know? Make sure that everyone applying for the position and everyone currently on the board is in agreement and understands exactly what will be expected of the new board member.
  3. Listen to the Nominating Committee: Most boards have a nominating committee, but that doesn’t mean they take their opinions into account when choosing a new board member. It’s always important to listen to opinions before making a final decision. Some members may have insight that others do not and regardless of if the decision made matches that of the opinions of the committee, it’s important to at least reflect on them before choosing a new board member.
  4. Conduct an Orientation: Just as an orientation is important when starting any new job, it’s also important with new board members. They are entering into an atmosphere that they aren’t familiar with, and it isn’t easy to acclimate without the help of current board members. Give them the opportunity to lean about the way things are run and meet the other members of the board.
  5. Don’t be Afraid to Do Something Different: Oftentimes board members are chosen based on seniority or experience, but that isn’t always what is best for the association. Every association is different, so doing what every other board does isn’t always in the best interests of the decision. Figure out what you want and then decide who is going to best provide those services.

Board members often come and go, and it’s important to ensure that with so much going on in associations, that you’re going to find the board members that will be able to keep up and bring value to the association- and the only way to do that is to implement practices for choosing the right board member. Remember, being a board member is a job. The actions of the board affect everyone in the community, and thus you don’t want just anyone sitting on that board- you want someone that you can trust to get the job done well and on time. Click here to learn more about choosing the right board member for your association.

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5 Tips for Collecting Association Dues

Ease the Process of Collecting Association Dues

Associations have financial responsibilities among others, and one of the main financial responsibilities they often encounter involves the collection of association dues. This process can often be grueling- but it doesn’t always have to be. From the association’s point of view, collecting these dues is absolutely necessary because they must meet their obligations to provide the maintenance and services that are a part of managing a community. Residents aren’t always as cooperative as associations would like them to be, but there are steps you can take to make the process less daunting.

5 Tips for Collecting Association Dues PeytonBolin5 Steps to Collecting Association Dues

  1. Get clear on necessary dues: The first step when it comes to collecting dues is to ensure that you are clear on what types of dues you are collecting and that everyone who must pay the dues is also clear. Oftentimes, problems with collecting dues comes from misunderstandings- so make sure everyone is clear on what is owed and why.
  2. Put a process in place: In order to effectively collect dues, you need to have a process in place for doing it. When is the deadline for dues and how will they be collected? Your procedures need to include the penalties for noncompliance and you need to make sure that you stick to them. Everything becomes easier with a process in place- including collecting association dues.
  3. Communicate with residents: We say this often, but communication really is necessary when it comes to running an association, especially with collecting dues. If you’re not being clear with what dues are required and when they are required by, your residents may miss deadlines, which could lead to problems for your association. Every association does things differently, so you shouldn’t just expect that your residents know as much as you do when it comes to collecting association fees.
  4. Treat residents fairly: This one may seem obvious, but it’s really important to treat all your residents fairly and equally. Be understanding with residents and they are much more likely to cooperate, which makes the collection of dues a much easier process. You don’t want hard feelings to arise between management and residents, so treat residents fairly and equally to encourage cooperation.
  5. Take legal action as a last resort: No association or resident wants the process of collecting fees to end in legal action, but sometimes it must. Before taking this step, try suspending privileges or implementing late fees. Once all other options have been exercised, then take legal action when necessary.

Collecting association dues doesn’t have to be something you dread as an association. With proper processes in place and effective communication, residents are more likely to cooperate which makes your job easier. Of course, there will always be some cases which require more attention than others, and sometimes the situation may result in legal action, but by using the tips above, you can ease the association fee collection process. Click here to learn more about collecting association dues.

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4 Steps to Building a Better Community

Building a Better Community in 4 Simple Steps

Having a great community isn’t just about meeting your bottom lines, it’s also about ensuring that residents and employees are happy. Your community may be doing just fine, but we’re betting it could be doing better by taking steps towards creating a sense of unity and properly managing the property. As a community association or property manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the community is a great place to live, and we’re here to help.

 4 Steps to Building a Better Community PeytonBolinHere are 4 steps to building a better community:

  1. Honest Assessment: The first step to building a better community is to first complete an honest assessment of the current state of the community. What needs improvement and why? What has been falling through the cracks? What is working and what isn’t? Only after a proper assessment can you take steps towards improvement.
  2. Proper Budgeting and Planning: For any community to be run effectively, there needs to be proper budgeting and planning in place. Take the time to sit down and figure out your budget and how much money you have to spend. Once you know what you can spend, it’s time to sit down and allocate the money. What needs attention now and what can wait? Having a great new pool doesn’t mean much if the rest of the community is run down, so make sure you really understand where your money is going to be most useful.
  3. Communication: Communication is key in any association. As a community association or property manager, you need to ensure that you are properly communicating with not only the other people working in the community, but also the residents living in it. They want to feel as though someone is on their side, and while you may not always be able to accommodate what they want, you should at least be available to them.
  4. Develop a Sense of Community: To have a great community, it’s not just about how the community is run and what it looks like, it’s also about how people in the community interact. Hold events for neighbors to get to know each other and encourage people to use common areas. Take efforts to turn them from residents into neighbors.

To build a better community, you need to focus on the exterior, as well as the interior. Make sure that the building or neighborhood is one that you would want to live in (clean, safe etc.), and encourage neighbors to interact. A close community is a happy community so use these tips and start building your way to a better community.

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Turn Homeowners Into Neighbors In 4 Easy Steps

How to Turn Homeowners Into Neighbors

When we think of a successful community we think of not only one that is one properly run and that meets its bottom lines, but also one that has taken steps to turn homeowners into neighbors. It’s not just your specific home that’s important, it’s the overall community you live in. A wonderful home can be ruined by awful neighbors, and a home that isn’t necessarily up to one’s standards could be amazing because of the people surrounding it. So how do you turn homeowners into neighbors? It’s all about fostering a sense of community and encouraging open communication.

Turn Homeowners into Neighbors in 4 easy steps peytonbolinHere are 4 tips to help you turn homeowners into neighbors

  1. Orientation for new homeowners: When new homeowners move into the neighborhood, they should receive some sort of orientation packet or welcome tour. The more comfortable they feel with the neighborhood, the more likely they are to interact with their neighbors and immediately make their new house their new home.
  2. Invest in common areas: It’s not going to be easy for residents to get to know each other if they have nowhere to do this. Invest in and maintain common areas like lounges, pools and tennis courts to give your residents a place to meet outside of their homes.
  3. Hold events: Holding events like resident appreciation events or holiday parties is a great way to get a lot of residents in one place at a time, and common areas are a great place to do this. As a property manager or community association, you and your team should be doing your best to get the conversation flowing and make everyone feel at ease.
  4. Build an online portal: Building an online portal is great for communication that isn’t face to face. Have forums for residents to voice their opinions and give them a space to post job offerings, furniture for sale, questions about the neighborhood etc. Some people aren’t always comfortable immediately when meeting people face to face, so this lets them communicate in a less personal way.

When it comes down to it, it’s your job as a property manager or community association to turn homeowners into neighbors and ensure that they get more out of your neighborhood than just a roof over their heads. Whether it’s a condo building where neighbors see each other all the time in elevators and hallways or a huge neighborhood that makes it difficult to interact outside of events, you need to get creative and find ways to bring everyone together. A community is more than just a row of homes, it’s a community of people sharing a neighborhood and living in the same space- so do your best to turn homeowners into neighbors.

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American Opinions on Community Associations

Statistics detailing the perceived relationship between residents and community associations

CAI recently released a report discussing findings from a national survey conducted in early 2014 by Public Opinion Strategies, and the findings reaffirm what we’ve learned from previous surveys in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2012. We’ve highlighted the most important information for you below, but to see the full report, click here (http://www NULL.caionline NULL.org/about/press/Documents/2014%20National%20Homeowner%20Survey NULL.pdf).

The 2014 survey found, among other statistics, that 90% of residents rate their overall community association experience as positive or neutral (65% positive and 26% neutral). 92% say they are on friendly terms with their association board and 83% of residents said that their community managers provide value and support to the residents and association. 70% of residents believe that their association’s rules protect and enhance property values, and only 4% say that the regulations harm property values.

The report also details the best and worst aspects of living in an association. Residents agree that a clean, safe attractive neighborhood is the best aspect of living in a community association, and that paying assessments is the worst aspect. The report also discusses disagreements with associations and found that 24% of respondents have experienced a significant disagreement or issue with their association.

American Opinions on Community Associations PeytonBolin
So what’s the biggest key takeaway from the findings in the report? Community Associations work. The number of community associations in the US has increased from 10,000 to over 328,000 since 1970, and they help build a sense of community in a neighborhood. Part of the increase in popularity of community associations is a result of the benefits they provide including amenities and options, expanding affordable homeownership, maximizing efficiencies, privatizing public functions and a useful collective management structure.

To learn more about community associations and how to make sure that as an association, you’re protected, click here.

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