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4 Mar 2016

HOA Insurance Overview

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

I often use Dan Davis for my clients’ insurance needs, but I do not receive any recompense for mentioning him in my blog. I’ve worked with Dan for over six years now, and he has consistently increased coverage and lowered premium prices for my clients. He’s just a good guy. Example: All of my clients use blanket Workman’s Comp insurance, which has been creeping up in cost by small increments over the last 3 years. He found an insurer who charged $80 less per year. Now, changing insurance carriers takes a lot of time for the agent, but it is important to the client to save the money, and it is also important for all of the insurers out there to know that a drop in rate will be rewarded with more business. It’s all the ways he looks out for his customers that has earned him my business.

Here is Dan’s overview of HOA insurance:

Helpful to know… Insurance coverage for homeowner associations is known by many different names. Some examples are: Association Insurance, Homeowners Association Hazard Insurance, Homeowner Associations Master Insurance Policy, HOA Insurance, Condo Association Insurance, Condominium Association Insurance, Townhouse Association Insurance, Common Interest Developments Insurance (CIDs) Planned Developments Insurance (PD) and Planned Unit Developments (PUD) insurance.

What is Homeowners Association Insurance?
HOA insurance consists of a cluster of coverages that meet or exceed the association’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (know as CC&Rs) insurance requirements. Your Condo Association or Planned Unit Development insurance policy should also meet or exceed the Davis-Stirling Act Civil Code’s minimum insurance requirements. This coverage can be provided by one policy or through multiple policies tailored to the HOA’s specific requirements. The components that make up HOA insurance coverage are; Building Insurance, also known as Hazard Insurance; General Liability Insurance; Fidelity Bond, also known as Crime Insurance; Directors and Officers Insurance, also known as D&O; Excess Liability, also known as Umbrella Insurance; and Workers Compensation. Optional coverage may include HOA Earthquake Insurance and HOA Flood Insurance.

Are You an HOA or PUD?
One of the primary differences between a Condominium or Townhouse Homeowner Association Master Insurance Policy and that of a Planned Unit Development (PD or PUD) policy is that the condo and townhouse association policies insure the buildings containing the living units while in a Planned Development the individual homeowner typically insures their own home. However, both types of policies should be designed to insure the association’s common areas which may include a clubhouse, business personal property such as common area furniture or exercise equipment, swimming pool, association signage, landscaping, parks, fences, tot-lot climbing structures, walkways and other facilities such as sports courts, jogging trails, golf courses, lakes, association-owned streets, irrigation systems, community municipal services and even the association’s airport!

For more info on HOA insurance, visit Dan’s blog at http://dandavisins.com/

To insure the fiscal health of your HOA, visit my website at www.Orlando-HOA.com. Or give me a call at 408.263.8888


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1 Mar 2016

Priorities

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

Okay, say you have $150,000 in your Homeowner Association’s reserve fund, and you have $200,000 worth of work to be done. Houston, we have a problem.

Ideally, we would repairing and replacing components on time and on budget. But we all know stuff happens, and then…what do we do? I am never a fan of deferred maintenance, but I do find from time to time we need to triage. Triage is what the nurses do when they assess urgency level of injuries on the battlefield or in the emergency room to decide the order of treatment for a large amount of patients. You need to do the same with your construction projects. You have to set priorities.

Your first priority is, fix the thing that is doing the most damage and creating the most chaos to your structures. In my case, that was the roofs. Every building’s roof was leaking, and once the leak is draining through all the layers of construction from the roof to your living area so you can see it, your structure has already sustained some damage. The same story goes with siding and asphalt. Roofing, Siding, and Asphalt are the components that keep your structure sound and standing. Many people will let asphalt go, but if you don’t maintain it you end up pulling it up and replacing it and that’s a very big expense.

I get a lot of questions regarding landscaping since we’re in a drought. Water is certainly a consideration. But if you have one of the above big three on the list and you can’t afford to do everything, you might want to just give the landscaping less water for now and put the drought-tolerant landscaping on the list for next year. One of my clients is filling in all areas that will go brown in with wood chips until next year when they will be able to address the entire landscaping issue.

Finally, if you find you have to defer maintenance, make a plan as to when and how you’re going to make that maintenance up. My HOA had to defer painting for one year because the asphalt had been ignored for so long we were afraid of ending up with a big, gaping hole. So we deferred for one year. But only one year, because paint is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to maintain the seal on your siding and prevent internal damage to your exterior walls. Never skip a full maintenance cycle. Put it off one, MAYBE two years, but get it done. And in the meantime, fix the budget issue that is keeping you from doing your regular maintenance. Yes, no one is happy when you raise Condominium Dues, but they will much less happy when the structures start to fall down around their ears.

 

Do you need an expert? Orlando HOA Services can help your HOA stay fiscally healthy through sound financial management. Check out our webpage and blog at www.Orlando-HOA.com.

For great information on Davis Stirling law, check out www.davis-stirling.com


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29 Feb 2016

Leaky Roof? No Problem!

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

Although California has been through a long drought, this season is actually wetter than the last couple years. If you live in a planned-unit development, this maybe a good time to finally get that leaky roof fixed up. Depending on your HOA, your board may even notify you to repair it or face steep fines! This article will help you with your headache and give you tips to help you save money on repairing your roof. For more tips visit http://homeguides.sfgate.com/tips-getting-roof-repaired-80256.html.

roofing-1

Article #1: Why you should hire a professional

A roofing repair project does not have to take you to the cleaners when you know what to look for from roofing contractors. Avoid using day laborers or hourly workers if you want a professional roofing job. While you can definitely save money by hiring laborers and managing the job yourself, you could end up paying more in the end for an unprofessional job. And you’ll have no way of knowing if they did a good job or not until it rains.

Licensed Contractors

To make certain your roofing project comes in on budget and on time, only use a licensed and active roofing contractor to do the job. Most state contractor’s licensing boards offer online access to check a contractor’s license status or to see if any complaints were lodged against a company. Besides being qualified, licensed active contractors carry the right kind of insurance or bonds to protect you in case something goes wrong with the work. Choose between five and seven contractors, and let your fingers do the research online. Verify active addresses, phone numbers and look for customer reviews on their sites. Narrow the list to three contractors from whom you will entertain bids.

 

 

Do you need an expert to keep your self-managed condominium association fiscally healthy? Orlando HOA Services can help you set up good financial practices that will keep your association financially strong well into the future. Contact us at JR@Orlando-HOA.com or check out our website at www.Orlando-HOA.com


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22 Feb 2016

Personal Food Gardens Becoming a Nuisance?

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

Home-grown food is gaining popularity as people become more aware of the health benefits and fun in having their own personal secret garden.  But it isn’t all fun and games when rodents and pests come to party in your yard. Here is a Q&A found on http://hoalaw.tinnellylaw.com/2015/02/personal-food-gardens-becoming.html that gives all the nitty and gritty details.

potted plant

Asked – Fallen and decayed vegetables from a homeowner’s garden are attracting numerous rats and other pests. With the new law permitting personal food gardens, is there anything our HOA can do to address this issue?

Answered – Probably. AB 2561, effective January 1, 2015, added Section1940.10 and 4750 to the Civil Code. In sum, Section 4750 grants homeowners within HOAs the right to use their backyards for “personal agriculture,” regardless of any provisions contained in a HOA’s governing documents to the contrary. However, that right is not absolute. HOAs still have some authority to restrict and regulate personal food gardens in the following respects:

  • Personal Use/Donation Only – The crops must be grown for personal use or donation. Crops grown for sale or other commercial purposes do not fall within the definition of “personal agriculture” for the purposes of Section 4750.
  • No Marijuana or Unlawful Substances – There is no right for a homeowner to grow “marijuana or any unlawful crops or substances,” as those items do not constitute a “plant crop” permitted by Section 4750.
  • Only on Owner Property or Exclusive Use Common Area – The right to keep and maintain personal food gardens extends only to the owner’s backyard or areas designated for the exclusive use of the homeowner (i.e., exclusive use common area patios), not general HOA common areas.
  • Reasonable Restrictions Permitted – The HOA may still impose “reasonable restrictions” on the use/maintenance of homeowner’s yard for personal agriculture. “Reasonable restrictions” are those that “do not significantly increase the cost of engaging in personal agriculture or significantly decrease its efficiency.”
  • Clearance of Dead Plant Materials and Weeds – Section 4750 still allows for HOAs to apply rules and regulations requiring that “dead plant material and weeds, with the exception of straw, mulch, compost and other organic materials” that encourage vegetation and soil moisture retention, be regularly cleared from the backyard. A rule or regulation requiring such clearance may be successful in resolving your rodent and pest problem.

As indicated above, the right to have a personal food garden would not necessarily insulate a homeowner from his obligation to comply with related provisions of a HOA’s governing documents that serve as “reasonable restrictions” on the use of a yard for personal agriculture. For example, virtually every set of CC&Rs contains a provision prohibiting homeowner from conducting any activity on their property that poses a nuisance to neighboring homeowners. If the way in which a homeowner’s food garden is being maintained is resulting in a nuisance (i.e., attracting rats and other pest populations), the nuisance provision would likely constitute a “reasonable restriction” that the HOA may enforce against the homeowner.

In addition to the issues noted above, HOAs may, in some instances, have the authority to restrict food gardens that violate other provisions of the Association’s governing documents that serve as “reasonable restrictions” allowable under Section 4750 (i.e., a height limitation within the HOA’s landscaping standards may serve to prohibit crops that grow to unreasonable heights). HOA Boards that are encountering problems with food gardens should consult with their legal counsel for guidance as to how their governing documents may be tailored to address these types of issues.

 

Do you need an expert to keep your self-managed condominium association fiscally healthy? Orlando HOA Services can help you set up good financial practices that will keep your association financially strong well into the future. Contact us at JR@Orlando-HOA.com or check out our website at www.Orlando-HOA.com.


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15 Feb 2016

How to win friends and influence people in your HOA

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

Last time, we discussed what to do before starting your own personal garden. Today we’ll offer tips to keep everyone happy with your garden. You can become the hero your HOA need and deserve. For more gardening tips, visit https://bonnieplants.com/library/gardening-with-an-hoa/

 

garden hero

  1. Bond with your neighbors in a positive way.
    If the bylaws prohibit your gardening the way you would like, find out which neighbors share your point of view. Appeal to fellow would-be gardeners, yes, but also those who simply seem friendly and reasonable. They may be willing to back you up if you decide to lobby for a rule change. (The easiest way to educate and inspire? Share your bounty, of course!)
  2. Garden under the radar.
    Of course, you want to abide by your HOA’s regulations if you can. But if that’s just not going to work (and you’re willing to face whatever consequences might come your way), look for ways to improve the existing landscape by gardening incognito, making sure each edible you add improves the look of your yard. Try these suggestions:
    • Replace declining shrubs with ornamental edibles like blueberries and rosemary.
    • Add flowering trees such as crabapples and cherries.
    • Replace annuals with peppersor kale, depending on the season.
    • Line walks and paths with a fragrant, beautiful herbs such as parsleydill, and lavender.
    • Train tomatoeseggplantscucumbersand other willing-to-climb veggies on trellises painted to match your home’s trim. Nestle them among sunny perennials and shrubs to add interest and texture (as well as camouflauge).
    • Get creative with containers. Pair Swiss chard with pansiesmint with marigolds. Fill hanging baskets with strawberries rather than geraniums.
    • Go above and beyond the call of duty to keep the yard looking great at all times.

 

  1. Be an agent for change.
    Document your process and make note of what worked and what didn’t. Take photos, keep records of yields donated to neighbors and churches, and be ready to show others how to do it themselves. When the time comes to review bylaws, you’ll have smart ammunition to build a “growing” case for gardening with an HOA.

Do you need an expert to keep your self-managed condominium association fiscally healthy? Orlando HOA Services can help you set up good financial practices that will keep your association financially strong well into the future. Contact us at JR@Orlando-HOA.com or check out our website at www.Orlando-HOA.com.

 

 


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8 Feb 2016

Gardening with an HOA

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

gardening-in-suburban-backyard_iStock_web

 

Being organic and healthy is the trend these days. More and more people begin to wonder if they can make their own personal secret garden as well. To help people get started with their new found leisure activity, here are some tips to save you from future headaches so you can just sit back and enjoy home-grown food! For more gardening advice, visit https://bonnieplants.com/library/gardening-with-an-hoa/

 

Article 1: Knowing the rules

If you live in a subdivision, development, or condo, chances are you have to deal with an HOA (Homeowners Association). While the goal of this organization is to protect the value of your land by enforcing the rules, sometimes those rules can seem a bit unfair to those who like to grow their own food. Some communities limit gardening to back or side yards only, while others prohibit it altogether. (Of course, if you’re lucky, your HOA may not have any limits on growing edibles.)

Before you plan or plant your garden, here are five things to consider:

 

  1. Find out what’s allowed.
    Your first step to co-existing peacefully with both your neighborhood and the HOA is to know what regulations you’re expected to abide by. Read all bylaws, covenants, and deeds. These can sometimes be found in your mortgage documents, or you may request a copy from your HOA. In addition, many associations now post these documents online. If you are considering a move to a new neighborhood with an HOA, ask for a copy of the bylaws before you commit, so you’ll know what you’re getting into.

 

  1. Know your limits.
    If you’re new to the community, find out how strict your association is by asking neighbors how the bylaws are enforced. If you overstep your boundaries, will you be charged a costly fine or just receive a courtesy call? Some HOAs are relatively laid-back and might consider making changes to existing laws. Others, however, are more strict and may even have the power to foreclose on a home.

Next Up: How to win friends and influence people gardening edition

Do you need an expert to keep your self-managed condominium association fiscally healthy? Orlando HOA Services can help you set up good financial practices that will keep your association financially strong well into the future. Contact us at JR@Orlando-HOA.com or check out our website at www.Orlando-HOA.com.

 


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21 Jan 2016

Right people, Right material

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

In the last article, we began to learn how to start planning to repair your roof. Now that you know you want to find a professional to do it instead of hurting someone’s back, here are some additional tips to help you find the right professional for the right price. For more renovation tips visit http://homeguides.sfgate.com/tips-getting-roof-repaired-80256.html.

Would you trust them with your roof?

Would you trust them with your roof?

Article #2: How to pick the right people and material

Bid Estimates

Request estimates from three contractors for your roofing project. Set a date when you need the bid and eliminate any contractor who fails to follow through. A lack of response to your roofing project offers a clue as to how he will or will not work with you. If the bid only contains one figure without details broken out for individual aspects of the job, ask for more detail. A roofing project usually entails removal of the old roof and tar paper, removal of bad valley flashing and any of the roof deck that was badly damaged. The removal process is a labor-intensive project. After removal, the bid should list materials, costs and estimate the labor to install the new roof. A professional roofing contractor also is able to tell you how long the job should take.

Calculate Material Costs

Contact local roofing supply companies and ask for roofing material costs. If you know what the roof covering costs beforehand, you can compare this to your bid estimates. Complete a rough measurement of your roof area to determine how many shingle bundles you need. Composition shingles or wood shakes come in “squares,” a roofing term that equates to 100 square feet. For instance, a 20-by-40-foot roof area contains 800 square feet, or eight squares, three or four bundles per square, depending upon the composition shingle chosen. You also need roof felt or tar paper, roofing nails, new flashing and plywood to replace damaged flashing and roof deck.

Ways to Save

You can save money on your roofing project by doing the removal work yourself. If you have a house with a slight roof slope, such as a 3:12 or 4:12 roof pitch, where the roof rises 3 or 4 feet across 12 feet, have the local garbage company drop off a large dumpster close to the house, because the pitch is not a dangerous one. As you work, throw away the old shingles and tar paper in the dumpster right from the roof. While it is brutal work, with a good pry bar, strap-on roofing cleats and a safety harness tied off to keep you from falling off the roof, you can save some big bucks on your roofing project. Another way to save is to order and buy the needed materials yourself, as most contractors add a mark-up to roofing materials.

Do you need an expert? Orlando HOA Services helps self-managed California condominiums stay fiscally healthy through sound financial practices. Visit my website at www.Orlando-HOA.com, or give us a call at 408.263.8888


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14 Jan 2016

You Want To Do What?

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

If you are doing a remodeling project within a condo The New Year is finally here, and one of your new year’s resolution is to finally get some remodeling done to bring fresh life into your home. But wait, if you live in a Condo complex, there are certain things to keep in mind before you start tearing down walls and tinkering whatever that’s inside the walls. Here is a good article that points out tips to know as you go on your renovation adventure through this spring.

Remodeling

If you are doing a remodeling project within a condo complex (whether it’s 20 units or 300), don’t forget to check in with your condo association. Do it before any construction starts to make sure your grand vision is in line with what these friendly overlords will allow.

Each association has its own set of rules and restrictions (often referred to as CC&Rs) to prevent individual condo owners from going hog wild during remodels, and potentially impinging on other owners’ safety and comfort. Some are stricter that others, but cover things like:

  • work to the systems inside your condo, such as ventilation or electrical;
  • changes to the structure of the space, i.e. removing walls;
  • matters outside, such as parking and dumpster use during construction;
  • choices in certain materials;
  • guidelines around dangerous pollutants, such as lead paint and asbestos.

In the case of my family’s Florida vacation home, I am only doing basic cosmetic changes, which means that no plumbing needs to be moved or walls need to come down. Before we got rolling, I had to fill out a short application, describe the scope of work, and provide our contractor’s license number. Pretty easy stuff. As the process moves forward, I am also responsible for clearing the type of sound and moisture barrier I’ll use underneath any hardwood floors. Decorating choices are fair game though, so those hot pink cabinets and teal carpet I have planned are all good to go.

In short, the more you change, the more they’ll want to know. Ask a bunch of questions in advance, provide what they ask for, get their official stamp of approval, and you should have no worries down the road.

Happy renovating!

Source: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/you-want-to-do-what-dealing-with-your-condo-association-renovation-quick-tip-167030

Next: Tips on Roofing

Do you need an expert? Orlando HOA Services helps self-managed California condominiums stay fiscally healthy through sound financial practices. Visit my website at www.Orlando-HOA.com, or give us a call at 408.263.8888


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11 Jan 2016

What California HOAs Need to Know About New Drought Restrictions #3

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

So now we know what the governor ordered, how to start the compliance process. What if your owners refuse to comply? Here’s a quick overview of noncompliant owners. Again, this comes to your from the great information you can get at www.hoaleader.com. Feel Free to browse more information there.

Compliance_topic

Article 3: Handling Noncompliant Owners

Andrew Schlegel, CCAM®, executive vice president of community management for Orange County and Los Angeles at FirstService Residential-California in Aliso Viejo, is like McCormick in that his company doesn’t yet have firm, “this-is-exactly-how-you-comply” answers for its clients when they ask how to handle the latest round of water restrictions.

But he knows one thing for sure: “The big impact for HOAs is that if they’re trying to enforce a landscape guideline that includes green turf, and owners have decided to minimize their turf or do more drought-tolerant landscaping, the HOA will have a very difficult time trying to penalize or fine owners whom they believe are violating the HOA’s landscape guidelines,” he says. “The big challenge for HOAs is to update or upgrade their guidelines to include provisions for drought-tolerant landscape and still keep the community looking good.”

Among owners who are sticking with traditional landscaping, you’ll probably run into two types of noncompliance: Those who let their yard go to pot and then blame the restrictions, and those who surreptitiously overwater. “In fact, both are examples I’ve seen,” says McCormick. “We’ve had some homeowners who were just letting their yards look horrible, and they’ve done so for the last three years. There’s one in particular we’re dealing with and, thankfully, the manager has been able to negotiate a resolution. This was a glom-on, who said he wasn’t watering because of the drought. The truth is that he wasn’t watering because he’s a jerk, and now the drought is a convenient excuse.”

 

Next Up: Remodeling in an HOA

 

Do you need an expert to keep your self-managed condominium association fiscally healthy? Orlando HOA Services can help you set up good financial practices that will keep your association financially strong well into the future. Contact us at JR@Orlando-HOA.com or check out our website at www.Orlando-HOA.com.


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7 Jan 2016

What California HOAs Need to Know About New Drought Restrictions #2

Posted by Orlando HOA Services. No Comments

On Monday we learned what exactly the Governor ordered regarding the new drought restrictions. Now we’re going to address your homeowner association’s response. I’m sharing this great article courtesy of www.hoaleader.com.

Meeting

Article 2: How Your HOA Should Respond

What steps should your HOA be taking now to comply with the new provisions? Well, that’s not completely clear yet.

“The hard part is that this order is potentially changing again based on what the local water organizations do to carry out the governor’s newest proclamation,” says James R. McCormick Jr., a partner at Peters & Freedman LLP in Encinitas, Calif., who represents associations. “You can’t fine or assess people for violations because of a lack of water, but people still have to maintain their lots. Their lot can’t be a fire hazard, and the lot can’t look horrible. Owners have to do something so their lot doesn’t look unkempt.

“What’s problematic with the newest proclamation is that for those associations and individual owners who have already cut back, how do we go from where we were to now having to cut another 25 percent on top of that or face additional fines?” asks McCormick. “That’s penalizing people who already took steps and were proactive and tried to conserve without being forced to do so.”

Though his advice may change as facts on the ground change, McCormick is currently telling his clients to try to meet the governor’s order. “I’m telling them, ‘Look at what you can do right now; it’s going to help regardless of the final order—but document everything you’re doing,'” he explains. “That way, if you’re faced with a potential fine or something, you can say, ‘I understand the concept, and here’s where we started. We already complied prior to the date it was imposed as an obligation.’ I’m not telling people to hold off on compliance because this is something important for our state.”

 

Next up: Handling Noncompliant Owners

Do you need an expert to keep your self-managed condominium association fiscally healthy? Orlando HOA Services can help you set up good financial practices that will keep your association financially strong well into the future. Contact us at JR@Orlando-HOA.com or check out our website at www.Orlando-HOA.com.


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