Newsletter | November 2018 Print

Register for upcoming CAI Alabama Chapter Luncheon!

Our Holiday Luncheon is going to take place this Thursday, November 29th from 11:30am-1:00pm at the Hoover Country Club!

Don't miss the last luncheon of the year: Sarah Merkle of law firm Bradley is going to make a presentation about everything you need to know about the law and the rules for your next Annual Meeting or Board Meeting. And meet the 2019 Board of Directors and 2018 Member Awards recipients!

Register Today!

Thank you to our luncheon sponsors!
Coulter & Sierra LLC     

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Condominium Unit Buyer’s Check List: Due Diligence needed prior to purchasing in a Condominium Association

By Joel W. Meskin, Esq., CIRMS, CCAL Fellow, MLIS

During my tenure in the community association industry, I have touched in one way or another probably over 6,000 director and officer ("D&O") Liability claims.  I have sat back and thought at length what, if any, commonality there is between and amongst these claims.  I have come to these conclusions and I presume that there are other community association professionals that would come up with more:

  • Proposed Unit Buyer's do not do their due diligence/homework before moving into a community association. This due diligence is critical for a Unit Buyer to understand what it means to buy into a community association, and the cost benefit analysis of what they are giving up versus what they are gaining.  Once you buy in, your home is still your castle, but subject to the covenants, conditions and restriction you agreed to by signing your deed, and the rules and regulations of the association. "Ignorance of what you have agreed to is not a defense!"  I cease to be surprised that many Unit Buyers do not have time to do their due diligence, but they have time to fight and litigate matters for years causing the association and its insurers to incur significant amounts.

  • The second commonality is that many volunteer board members are very often the same Unit Buyers who did not do their due diligence. As a result, often their motivation for joining the board was to fight what they after the fact believe is not fair, or to try and change things that are in their self-interest as opposed to the best interest of the community association that is a foundation to the board member's fiduciary obligation.

  • Finally, the volunteer board members often do not understand their role as a board member. This item will be an article in and of itself.  At a minimum, there should be a requirement that a prospective board member should declare that they have read the governing documents and have asked any questions they may have to clarify their duties and obligations.  Additionally, boards should have a mandatory annual board training.  Many managements do this, but just as many, if not more do not.  This can be done by their management company, local attorneys or one of the many CAI offerings you can get on line or a attend a course that CAI may make available.

A number of years ago, when my daughter and son-in-law thought about buying a condo.  They presumed I would not recommend that they buy a condo.  I surprised them by indicating that I had no problem with a condo.  However, they must do their due diligence first!  Their presumption was based on the many stories I shared with them over the years regarding association and unit owner problems, disputes and challenges, stories I could not make up.  I believe, however, that 95% or more community associations in fact operate fine with minimal issues.  I attribute this to my participation in CAI all around the country which exposes me to the good and not just the bad and ugly. 

My daughter and son-in-law, the teaching coach and the engineer, asked me what due diligence I would recommend.  The Condominium Unit Buyer's Check List was the product of that question.  The check list is equally applicable, but not limited to Cooperative Housing Corporations, Single Family HOAs, Commercial Condominiums, Townhomes and Timeshares.  As a result of my daughter and son-in-law conducting their due diligence, they did not buy the condo.  Specifically, the realtor and the unit owner at the 11th hour submitted a supplemental disclosure statement indicating that the tile flooring in the kitchen and the hardwood floors were installed on the second floor unit without board approval.  The board would not grandfather this in, nor would the unit owner pay to have it remediated.  I am curious whether the supplemental disclosure statement would have been submitted had they not pursued their due diligence.

It is my humble opinion that if 75% of Unit Buyers were to do a substantial amount of this due diligence, the potential problems and challenges would be significantly reduced.  I further believe that if association boards and managers were to be asked these questions on a regular basis, this would have a very positive impact on the associations risk management.  Accordingly, the Condominium Unit Buyer's Check List is just as valuable to the association and its board.  On the one hand, the check list will weed out prospective Unit Buyers who do not fit in a common interest development and on the other hand it can act as an audit check list for the association.

Click here to download the Condominium Unit Buyer’s Check List.

 

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Get Involved! Call for 2019 Volunteers



It is hard to believe but 2019 is around the corner! We are in the middle of planning for next year and we would love it if you got involved with us next year!

We have the following volunteer opportunities available:

1. Become a Chapter Ambassador!

Ambassadors Committee
Attend chapter events and arrive at least 15 min earlier and help welcome event attendees and connect guests and new members to other members, assist CED and Board in reaching out to new members and guests before and after events, help make calls to (new) members and friends of the chapter to invite them to chapter events.

2. Social Media Lovers: Help us spread the word!

Like-Share-Tweet Committee
Like, comment and share chapter posts on your own social media pages (facebook, twitter, linkedin, ...) and help promote chapter activities on other local social media pages.

3. Help us put on the 2nd Annual Golf Tournament!

Golf Committee
This year's 1st Annual Golf Tournament was so much fun. Help us make the second one in 2019 bigger and better! Committe members plan, promote and carry our golf tournament including reaching out to members/non-members to sponsor the tournament and prizes and/or to play.
No golf skills necessary :)!

4. Calling all Party Planners!

Social Events Committee
Join the Social Events Committee and help put on social and fun events for our members and friends in 2019. Part of your involvement will be finding event locations, plan, promote and carry out events including reaching out to members/non-members to attend and sponsor (if necessary).

5. Writers and Speakers wanted!

Education Committee
Interested in writing an article for our chapter newsletter or speaking at one of our meetings, luncheons and workshops?

Let us know in what area you would like to be invovled in 2019 by filling out a short form by clicking here or the link below!

If you would like to volunteer in an area that we haven't listed, please comment at the bottom of the form.

Yes, I would like to be involved in 2019!

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The M-100 is coming to Alabama in 2019!

The M-100: THE ESSENTIALS OF COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT course is coming to Birmingham!

February 28 - March 2, 2019!


This 2.5 day long course is a practical overview for new managers, an essential review for veteran managers and an advanced course for board members. Take advantage of this course being offered locally and register for it as soon as possible!

Click here for more information about this course!

 

Register by December 15, 2018
and enter into a drawing for
a $200 visa gift card!

Register for M-100


10 registrations are needed for the class to be held. Please register as soon as possible and spread the word!

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Is Your Stormwater Pond Ready for the Next Big Rain?

Kyle Finerfrock, Environmental Scientist

You may not realize it, but if you live in a heavily-populated area, most waterbodies you see are man-made. While they often provide aesthetic beauty and serve as a small habitat for birds and fish, they are primarily designed to collect stormwater and capture pollutants during rain events. Without these stormwater ponds in place, our communities would suffer from increased flooding, erosion and nutrient pollution. This is why it is critically important to ensure your stormwater pond is functioning properly at all times. Practicing the following proactive management strategies will go a long way in keeping your pond in peak condition:

  1. Keep trash and natural debris to a minimum
    Trash in your stormwater management pond is not only unsightly, it can create a blockage in your stormwater structure. Large tree branches or logs in your stormwater pond can also be difficult to remove, prevent proper water flow at the structures, and even cause costly damages. Make sure you and your neighbors are properly disposing of debris near these facilities. And if you suspect a structure is clogged, do not attempt to clear the blockage yourself. Contact a professional to safely remove the debris.

  2. Manage nuisance aquatic plants
    Many types of aquatic plants can grow in the areas around stormwater structures. While native plants are often beneficial when properly maintained, emergent species such as cattails may grow in thick patches directly in front of inlet or outlet structures, keeping water from freely flowing in and out of the stormwater pond. This could cause flooding upstream and on to the sidewalk or roadways. Preventing the growth of nuisance and invasive vegetation is key to ensuring your stormwater management pond functions as designed during a rainstorm. EPA-approved herbicide applications by a licensed professional are extremely effective at eradicating problematic vegetation without affecting native plant life, but proactive strategies are ideal and most sustainable over time. Talk to your stormwater pond manager about integrating aeration, nutrient remediation, beneficial bacteria applications and more to prevent nuisance plant growth.

  3. Limit woody vegetation growth
    Trees and woody vegetation can help enhance the aesthetics around a waterbody, but they can be extremely dangerous to the structure of a stormwater management pond. Dam embankments and inlet and outlets structures must be cleared of any trees or woody vegetation. When trees become large they can potentially fall during storm events and create major holes in a dam’s structure. Deep, strong tree roots can also crack concrete structures and clog pipes, causing extensive and costly damages. Worst of all, woody vegetation can attract pests like beavers and muskrats, which burrow and cause further damages embankments. Work with your community association or municipality to ensure woody vegetation and trees are removed from the area before the rain season begins.

  4. Prevent erosion
    It’s not uncommon to find small erosion areas around improperly managed stormwater ponds. Though small, these areas can become major washouts during heavy rain events. If the washout is located on the dam, areas downstream may become flooded. Any areas of exposed soil along the banks of a stormwater pond should be properly re-vegetated, and restoration and repairs should be made to any areas where erosion has already significantly the damaged the banks. A properly managed vegetative buffer can significantly prevent erosion problems by keeping soil in place. A buffer of native grasses, rushes and flowering plants should be allowed to grow about 18 inches tall and three to five feet around the shoreline. Your lake manager can recommend plant species that are native to your region and beneficial for stormwater pond shorelines.

  5. Complete regular bathymetric surveys
    Stormwater ponds are designed and constructed to hold a certain capacity of water during a rain event, but excessive sediment accumulation over time can greatly reduce the overall storage volume of the pond and increase area flooding. If proactive strategies are not in place, it may be necessary to complete a bathymetric survey. This survey is the most effective way to measure the size and depth of your waterbody—and track changes in this data over time. That information can then be used to calculate the current storage volume of the stormwater management pond. Most importantly, a bathymetric study can help property managers accurately budget and prepare a large-scale dredging project to restore the depth of a pond., which is one of the costliest expenditures a community will ever face.
  1. Ask an engineer to inspect the structures
    When in doubt, it’s best to turn to the professionals. Regular inspections by a stormwater management pond expert help ensure all structural components are working properly and within the local municipal code. Proactive inspections are critical to identifying and resolving problem areas before a large rainstorm occurs and will allow you to rest easy knowing your stormwater management pond is ready to function as originally intended.

Still have questions? Contact a stormwater management professional to learn more about proper pond management and proactive strategies to enhance the health and longevity of your waterbody.  

Kyle Finerfrock is an Environmental Scientist with SOLitude Lake Management, an environmental firm providing sustainable lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management solutions. Learn more about this topic at www.solitudelakemanagement.com/knowledge.


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