By Elina B. Gilbert, Esq., HindmanSanchez
Associations are oftentimes confused with the police. After all, it is not atypical for community managers or board members to receive calls from owners complaining about crime in their communities and demanding the associations do something about it. Whether it’s alleged drug use, car theft, or domestic violence, associations seem to be the first place owners turn to for help.
Although many boards try to do the right thing and take steps to provide some levels of security in the communities, no good deed goes unpunished. Oftentimes, such boards end up in court trying to defend themselves against claims alleging a failure to protect. In other words, crime victims in the community allege the security measures were not enough to protect them, and blame the associations for not providing enough security or good security.
So what is an association to do? To minimize an association’s exposure to liability pertaining to security measures, consider the following tips:
Elina Gilbert is a shareholder at HindmanSanchez P.C. and specializes in representation of Homeowners Associations and Community Association law. Please visit www.hindmansanchez.com for more information.
Sheriff's Office Behind the Badge Newsletter Topic: Is Your Home Secure?
Put it to the Test!
Is your home ready to resist crime? Our crime prevention deputies are offering a short quiz on home security that can be taken in just a few minutes. A ‘no’ answer signifies the areas where you can improve upon your home’s security. Take the complete 75-question home security survey http://jeffco.us/sheriff/crime-prevention-safety/residential-security/
The way a house’s exterior looks, and even how it sounds, can discourage a would-be thief from approaching. Crime prevention experts recommend a well-lit exterior with a bit of stone or gravel at points around the home. Landscaping plants should not be so thick that they can conceal a person approaching. Tree limbs should not provide access to upper floors.
•Are your house numbers at least 4 inches tall (preferably 6 inches) and clearly visible from the street both day and night?
•Are trees located so they cannot be used to climb to an upper level of the home?
•Is there decorative stone or rock that makes noise when someone walks on it near the home?
•Do household members routinely secure items of value such as bicycles, lawn mowers, ladders, etc. when not in use?
•If there are detached buildings on the property (garage, shed, barn, etc.), are the doors and windows kept locked?
•Are vehicles locked and garage door opener remotes removed from them?
Doors & Windows
Structurally sound and locked doors and windows are critical components of a secure building. Doors and windows can provide false comfort if they’re cheaply made, easily compromised or often kept unlocked.
•Are exterior door strike plates secured to the frame of the house with screws at least three inches in length?
•Have locking “Charlie” bars been installed in the center of sliding glass doors in lieu of wooden dowels in the bottom track?
•Are exterior doors kept locked, even when someone is home?
•Are door locks in good repair?
•Do occupants of the home avoid hiding keys outside the residence (other than in a lockbox secured to the structure)?
•Do basement windows have security bars, grills, or other locking covers?
The garage is all too often an easy entry point for thieves. Many people do not secure their garage doors as well as other exterior doors.
•Is the overhead garage door kept closed when not in use?
•Is the pedestrian door between the garage and the home kept locked?
•Are windows into the garage covered or frosted to prevent visual inspection of valuables from the exterior?
Recording an inventory of valuables and securing important documents today can prevent future headaches if your home is burglarized.
•Have valuable papers (birth certificates, titles, deeds, social security cards, checks, tax records, passports, etc.) been secured in a fire resistant safe or in a safe deposit box?
•Do you have an accurate inventory of your valuables that includes make, model, and serial numbers?
•Does the home have a safe for storage of firearms and other valuables?
Simple steps are often the best crime deterrents, and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to educating residents about how to prevent themselves from becoming crime victims. We strongly encourage residents to be proactive about crime prevention.
Sheriff's Office Behind the Badge Newsletter Topic: The Power of Crime Prevention
Did you know about two thirds of car “break-ins” in Jefferson County happen to cars left unlocked? Meaning there’s no “break-in” at all. As of the first of October, 634 car trespasses were reported in JeffCo. Of those, 66 percent were unforced. Clearly, criminals take the path of least resistance.
Unfortunately, minor crimes like car trespasses often involve the theft of identifying materials like credit cards, licenses, or registrations – allowing thieves to commit much bigger identity theft crimes soon after.
Since criminals usually look for the lowest-hanging fruit, prevention methods are effective in keeping crime rates low. Yes, there will always be unpredictable and unpreventable crimes. But we know many of the crimes in our county can be prevented.
The Sheriff’s Office has a dedicated team of certified crime prevention deputies whose sole purpose is to work with citizens to prevent crime. Through on-site visits, phone calls, special events, child safety activities, and other opportunities, these deputies share vital information with the public on how to keep crime at bay.
Source and additional resources http://jeffco.us/sheriff/crime-prevention-safety/
Crime Prevention deputies are available to attend community meetings and events to educate on various timely topics and address safety concerns. To learn more about crime prevention contact our crime prevention deputies at 303-271-5807 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DCSO Community Resources Unit offers free surveys of your home or business to help keep you, your family, and/or your employees, customers, or co-workers safe. A DCSO staff member will come to your home or business and walk through the facility and evaluate security. They’ll give you a written assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the physical security of the facility, along with recommendations to improve it. For a security survey please call 303-660-7544.
Two deputies are assigned as Crime Prevention Specialists providing educational programs and safety information to local businesses and homeowner associations. Crime Prevention is a top priority for the Sheriff's Office, requiring the cooperation of law enforcement and the community, working together toward a common goal. Contact Deputy Brian McKnight 720-874-3750 or email@example.com.
By Chris Vetter, Transcend Security Solutions
A Community Association Board has many responsibilities including, but not limited to, setting goals and approving budgets, developing and enforcing CC&R’s, and hiring quality vendors such as landscapers, security providers, janitorial companies, pool companies, etc. While the Community Manager’s responsibilities include many areas of service, providing the board with guidance in making important decisions is certainly one of the most important.
Crime within or against a community not only has an emotional impact on the community; it has a financial impact as well. In-the-end, Community Association Boards have a responsibility to protect the investments of their community members, because a home is typically a person’s largest financial investment. Consequently, protecting property values should be a core concern of any Community Association Board.
In that vein, one of the toughest decisions for any Community Association Board is the selection of a contract security provider. Community Association Boards that make this decision based solely on price often find themselves dissatisfied with the services provided and end up moving from security company to security company, which can create a lack of confidence between the Community Association Board, the residents, and ultimately the Community Manager. This is where the expertise of a Community Manager is of vital importance.
The general goal of this article is to provide Community Managers with some guidance, useful tips, and practical tools for themselves and the community they represent before, during, and after a security program is put into place.
Prevention is the most effective action against crime. And the only way to accomplish “prevention” is to put into place an effective security program, targeted specifically for the community it is being put into practice for. Factors to consider before establishing a security program or selecting a new contract security provider:
If the determination has been made to implement a security program, it’s now time to select a capable security provider. In order to ensure that all efforts are made in selecting a capable security provider, and to make certain that their Community Association Board is obtaining all of the information and experience they require and deserve, here are some relevant questions for Community Managers to ask those security providers who enter the bidding process to provide community security services:
Reporting & Verification Process:
Equipment & Technology:
After a security program has been implemented, it now becomes essential to determine if the security program is actually working. The security provider, together with the Community Association Board, should be able to answer the following on an ongoing basis:
The bottom-line is simple, contracting with a competent security provider is not only beneficial to the community, it is essential to provide a safe environment for the community residents.
Chris Vetter is chief executive officer and co-founder of Transcend Security Solutions. Chris brings more than 20 years of leadership, expertise, and executive management experience to the company. Through Chris' leadership, the company has experienced rapid growth since inception, allowing Transcend Security Solutions to be recognized as one of the premiere contract security providers in Arizona.
By Richard Halberg, CEO, Kidstuff Playsystems, Inc.
A large part of my job as CEO of Kidstuff Playsystems, Inc. is answering questions about playgrounds, playground safety and playground safety surfacing.
Playground Safety at Your Community Association
First, there are a couple of documents that pertain. ASTM is a quasi-governmental agency that writes standards for a wide range of manufactured products in the US. ASTM F-1487 is the playground standard that we adhere to in order to provide International Plan Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) certified equipment.
It covers such possible safety hazards as sharp points and edges, protrusions, inadequate use zones around the equipment, heights of barrier walls, sizes of openings where a climber meets a deck, heights of slide side rails, and on and on. So look for an IPEMA-certified playground manufacturer when you are ready to make a playground purchase. A document available for purchase that is more consumer-oriented is the US Consumer Product Safety Commission publication #325 Public Playground Safety Handbook. It is a great resource for the lay person who wants to gain some general knowledge about safe playground design and practices.
The number one cause of accidents on playgrounds is a fall to a hard surface under and around the playground. Adequate safety surfacing is a must to protect your association from a lawsuit. If you use wood chips, the most affordable of the approved options, you must maintain a depth of 9-10” to remain safe. This will require periodic raking and replenishing, and eventual replacement of the wood chips. Other surfaces such as poured in place rubber and artificial turf require less maintenance but are up to 5 times more expensive.
The average life of a playground is about 15 years. After that time parts begin to deteriorate, maintenance becomes more extensive and expensive, and aesthetically the assets appear “old”. While not the typical case, a few well maintained playgrounds can last as long as 20 years. Maintenance is important, because as an example surface rust must be treated or it will eventually lead to structural failure.
Playground Safety for Children of All Ages
Another consideration is the ages of the children that will be using the playground. There are a different set of ASTM standards for ages 2-5 and ages 5-12. It is possible to provide a playground set for ages 2-12 but it has to be designed to the 2-5 standard. This results in a playground that is quite boring for the older age group. Ideally, your association should provide a separate playground for ages 2-5 and one for ages 5-12. Each playground should be clearly marked with a sign or a sticker on the equipment as to the appropriate age group of the users.
Playground safety is paramount. Regular routine maintenance is time well spent. See a playground professional to help you plan a playground that is appropriate for your situation and your budget.
Richard Hagelberg, CPSI, co-founded Kidstuff Playsystems, Inc. with George McGuan in Gary, IN in 1982. Richard has a masters’ degree in early childhood education and operated child care centers, leading him into the playground field.
By CAI Editorial Staff, CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter
As members of the Community Association Management industry, most of us would probably assert that, all in all, we feel relatively safe at work doing our jobs. Unlike firefighters, police officers, and others who are intentionally put in the way of danger in their line of work, as members of our industry, the fires we put out and the bullets we dodge are (hopefully!) figurative instead of literal.
However, it is still important to take your safety and security and that of your co-workers seriously, and to do what you can to minimize risks within the workplace. Below are some suggestions.
By Patricia A. Book, Ph. D., Willow Springs Community Association
Should we install large, flashing “driver feedback” signs on our neighborhood streets?
The Board called a special community meeting to discuss this issue featuring the City Traffic Technician who had conducted a traffic mitigation study for us. The study involved temporary driver feedback signs that collected traffic volume data and speeds in our community. We have 460 units (single-family, patio homes, and condos). We also have significant community amenities in our neighborhood, including walking paths, a pond, tennis courts, a playground, and a pool with a Club House so foot traffic is relatively high with residents of all ages walking with or without dogs, biking, scootering, or skateboarding.
The City and I led the wide ranging discussion of stemming the flow of speeders in our neighborhood after reviewing prior data. Based on that study, our Board's first attempt at traffic taming, was to recommend the City install driver feedback signs. The signs turn off at 11 p.m. and turn back on at 5:00 a.m. and do not require a neighborhood petition approving their installation. However, the City Technician shared his unsuccessful efforts to get homeowner approval to install large driver feedback radar signs on their property. The signs would have to be placed in homeowner’s yards, which are small on street frontage.
Over 30 people attended the meeting and emotions ran high. Perspectives ranged from “there isn’t a problem” and therefore “we should do nothing” to “we need to get City police stake-outs to write speeding tickets”. Some felt the situation was critical and that we weren’t counting the “near misses” and that it was only a matter of time before tragedy strikes. One member present finally said in frustration that he had lost a child (not on our streets) and those who hadn't were lucky.
Our neighborhood was built in the 1990s and was built out long ago. We are now experiencing turnover with many young families moving into the community. The amenities are wonderful for the children, but parents are concerned about traffic and observations of speeding particularly near the pool and playground.
We are not a through-way so the speeders are our neighbors and our service providers. Among all the options discussed, the Board's sense was that "speed tables" (not the hard bumps of yore) were the most favored option among those present and concern about speeding was validated at least among the majority of this group of homeowners. But the straw poll was not necessarily representative of the whole community.
What did the data say and is it compelling?
Our streets are fairly wide and there is little on street parking. There is little street friction, therefore, to cause the driver to feel the need to slow down. The posted speed limit in our community is 25 mph. During the period of this study, the majority of residents were within the posted speed limit. On two streets, the average speed was 24 mph. At the 85th percentile, used by traffic engineers as a benchmark for "safe, reasonable, prudent" speed, we found the majority were doing 28 mph or less. The other 15% were driving in excess of the norm at greater speeds. Of these, 43.7% were traveling greater than 25 and 8.1% were travelling at speeds greater than 30 mph. Roughly a third were travelling over the speed limit on two streets and on one, 43.7% were travelling in excess of the norm.
This later street connects to an arterial road with a stop light that favors demand on the arterial road. The “green time,” therefore, for egress out of our community is becoming increasingly problematic as growth continues and traffic volume on the arterial road grows with continued development. This causes the increased speeds on this connector street as people try catch the green light.
The bottom line is that the data analysis for our community met the three criteria qualifying us for City traffic mitigation based on volume and speed or distance and visibility.
What are our options?
What are all the options open to a community concerned about traffic safety in their neighborhood? We discussed many options and here is what I learned:
It is important to remember that traffic mitigation is designed to mitigate the upper speeds--the top 15th percentile—even though the majority of homeowners are driving safely. Traffic taming is a pressing issuing for our communities as growth around us affects traffic volumes. We have a perceived problem, with evidence to support the perception but we do not have consensus on either the problem or the potential solutions.
Our future path is not yet clear. Our hot topic is still sizzling!
Patricia A. Book, Ph.D. is President of Willow Springs Community Association and serves on the CAI-RMC Board of Directors as a Community Association Volunteer Leader. She is a medical anthropologist by training with an academic career leading university professional and continuing education programs.
By John Ganoe, CAE, CAMICB
When thinking of homeowner associations, condominiums or cooperatives many people overlook the evolving complexities of community association management. Before hiring a community association manager it’s important to understand the breadth and depth of what running a business entails, which is precisely what community association managers do.
A knowledgeable and committed community manager holds the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential. This is an important distinction. As a board member, trustee, or volunteer leader working with your association or cooperative, you have fiduciary responsibilities that obligate you to make decisions that may have a profound financial and social impact on your community. Receiving professional and accurate advice and guidance on issues such as reserves, maintenance, insurance, budgets, governance, contracts, the law, and rules enforcement can mean the difference between prosperity and chaos.
By taking and passing the rigorous CMCA examination, a CMCA has a proven and solid understanding of the business operations involved in being a community association manager, including:
Further, CMCAs must comply with continuing education requirements in order to maintain their credential. This is done through a process called recertification and is the cornerstone of best practices in the credentialing industry. Recertification is an ongoing process designed to promote and prove continued competency in the community association management profession. This competency is demonstrated through participation in continuing education in the field of community association management by participation in at least 16 hours of continuing education coursework every two years.
Maintaining High Ethical Standards
Due to the importance of community association managers' professional responsibilities, CMCA’s must adhere to very high Standards of Professional Conduct, which govern their professional activities. These Standards of Professional Conduct range from understanding laws applicable to community association management, to being knowledgeable on association policies and procedures, to carrying out fiduciary responsibilities, and participating in continuing education coursework. Abiding by these Standards of Professional Conduct help protect consumers and associations that hire community association managers.
A Community of Motivated, Educated and Dedicated Professionals
To locate a CMCA in your city or state, simply visit the CAMICB directory of Credentialed professionals: https://www.camicb.org/find-a-cmca. Here you will find a wide community of professionals who often interact with one another at networking events, continuing education programs and industry conferences. This strong network of CMCAs provide one another an opportunity to share innovative ideas, best practices, support and guidance. Every housing community is unique; more experience and more knowledge are invaluable as CMCAs actively work to provide the best possible service to your association.
Linda Warren, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, of The Warren Management Group sums it up nicely, “Owner expectations have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Managers understand they may not have all the answers but as a CMCA, they know where to find the right resources, thanks to a powerful network of experts to help answer the tough questions.“
By Heidi E. Storz, Esq., Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson, P.C.
During the last legislative session, the Colorado legislature passed House Bill 17-1279. The new law, now codified as C.R.S. § 38-33.3-303.5, creates additional hurdles for community associations to jump over to hold developers and builders responsible for shoddy construction. The law does this by creating new requirements that must be met before a community association is entitled to bring a claim in court or arbitration.
The requirements of the new statute kick in when the notice of claim process has failed, and community associations are left with no other choice but to take legal action against developers and builders. Before taking such action, however, a community association must now provide additional disclosures to homeowners and must hold a homeowner meeting. The developer/builder is entitled to attend the meeting with the presumed purpose of trying to convince homeowners not to vote in favor of further legal action. After the homeowner meeting, the association must collect written votes from a majority of the homeowners within a specific timeframe.
Happily, the additional disclosure requirements in the statute are relatively evenhanded and are disclosures that most construction defect attorneys have typically already provided to associations and homeowners. Per the statute, homeowners must now be informed that:
With respect to the homeowner vote, the legislature did try to even the playing field by limiting whose votes will count to meet the majority requirement. For example, the statute specifically excludes votes for units that the developer/builder still owns, votes from bank-owned units, votes from unit-types that do not have defects, and votes from units where the owners are deemed “unresponsive.”
If an association is within a city that has enacted a construction defect ordinance that spells out different disclosure and voting procedures, the new state statute is expected to override the city ordinance. Similarly, if the association’s governing documents spell out different disclosure and voting procedures, it is anticipated that the new state statute will override the association’s governing documents.
Though the new statute creates additional hurdles for associations to jump over to hold developers and builders responsible, the hurdles are manageable and will not stop associations and homeowners from obtaining redress in court or arbitration. Given that developers and builders were originally pushing laws designed to provide them with a complete shield from liability, the legislature did well in enacting House Bill 17-1279.
Heidi E. Storz, Esq. is the Managing Partner of Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson, a law firm that represents homeowners and community associations with construction defect cases.
By Jason Domecq, R3NG, LLC
As a licensed roofing contractor serving the HOA industry, one of the most common questions I receive when meeting with different community association boards is “What do you recommend we do about our roof situation?” For any property, the roof is one of the most important systems. An informed roofing selection, along with proper installation, will protect your investment, add immediate value, and most importantly, shelter residents from the elements.
If you’re planning to maintain or replace your roofing system, here’s are a few things to consider:
A contractor who is licensed, insured, supported by a major manufacturer and highly respected in the industry are just a few key aspects to consider when selecting a contractor. These qualifications can be validated by:
Choosing the right contractor is like choosing a great pair of shoes: there are a lot of contractors to choose from, but it’s crucial that you identify one that’s a good fit. Consider a contractor the community trusts and is comfortable with. Nancy Sinatra said these boots are made for walking. You don’t want the boots running all over you!
Think of the future when considering the type of shingle to be installed. Which direction is the board taking the community and how does the community want to look in 10-15 years? Is there a potential to paint next year, or in five years? The type of shingle selected will define the look, feel, and contribute in the future property value. When determining the type of shingle there are, primarily, three different types:
A few accessory items to consider when replacing the roof system are:
Once a contractor and materials have been selected, it’s important to know that the roof system is being installed correctly. Best practices by contractors include:
Most states require a licensed contractor to provide a minimum 2-year warranty for a roof replacement. When reviewing warranty options, consider a contractor that is supported by a manufacturer. GAF, for example, stands behind a select few contractors, supporting the availability of a 25-year workmanship warranty. These select contractors are licensed and insured, have a proven track record of superior installations, enjoy respectable relationships within the industry, and will stand behind their work. It’s important to know that you can count on both the contractor and manufacturer to be there for the community after the project is complete.
The climate your community resides within plays a huge factor on how much and how often your roof may need a little TLC. For example, a climate that experiences hot and dry summers followed by cold and wet winters needs to have the sealant used on the roof inspected on a yearly basis. This will ensure there isn’t water penetrating the building. Preventive inspections mean less maintenance, and will significantly minimalize the costs associated with larger repairs caused by water penetrating the roof.
There are clearly many things to consider when you need a new roofing solution. With my decade of industry experience with R3NG, I believe the most important is your community’s needs both today and 10-15 years from now. Once your goals are set, remember these key points:
R3NG, LLC is an affiliate of Community Preservation and Management, LLC (CP&M) a licensed and Insured, locally-owned-and-operated Colorado General Contractor with more than a decade of experience serving our residential and commercial customers.
By Bryan Farley, RS, Association Reserves, Colorado
As the population in Colorado continues to grow a steady rate, one may notice the many new housing developments, high rises, and condo complexes popping up around the state. These properties look great, with fresh paint on the walls, roofs that do not leak, and elevators that work when called. However, within a few years these buildings will start to experience the same issues that plague every other building in the area, asset failure.
This dilemma is not only limited to new projects, but also to older buildings that have just undergone a renovation or remodel. In fact, all new construction will experience a state of deterioration once the project has been completed.
How can owners be motivated to raise Reserve Contributions after the board just special assessed the owners to fund the remodel? How can a board of a brand new condo building justify raising Reserves when the majority of the owners closed on their units six months ago?
The answer of course is that as soon as the new construction has been finalized, the assets will begin to decay and deteriorate at a predictable rate until all of the assets have failed completely. However, the assets will not all fail at the same time. For example, the roof may last twenty-five years, but the carpet may only last eight years. If the failure and replacement of the assets do not occur at the same time, how will the costs of these assets be evenly distributed throughout the life of the building?
It is only fair that each owner pay for the predictable deterioration of the assets that are gradually deteriorating each month/quarter/year. That is fundamentally what a Reserve Study attempts to help owners accomplish, take all those irregular Reserve expenses and distill them down to a steady deterioration rate that the association can then offset be collecting contributions from all the current owners in order to keep pace with the ongoing deterioration of the common area.
That is why the Reserve contribution rate recommended in a Reserve Study is not for a future expense that is some other unlucky person’s problem. The recommended Reserve contribution is designed so each homeowner pays a fair share of ongoing Reserve component deterioration during the months and years that they own in the association. It’s only fair. In fact, it is unfair for any current owner to pay less than ongoing deterioration, forcing some unlucky future owners to over pay due to past under-reserving.
Moving forward, how much should current owners contribute to Reserves? In our experience, “adequate” Reserve contributions typically make up anywhere from 15% to 40% of an association’s total budget. The cost of Reserve component deterioration can be expensive, so there are ways to minimize your Reserve contributions:
Reserve components are expensive and are deteriorating every day. A Reserve Study will provide guidance on how much money will be needed each year to pay for the ongoing asset failure. Each year, owners should hire a professional to review and update their Reserve Study.
By commissioning a Reserve Study, a board takes the first step toward a calmer and proactive future. Prudent planning for inevitable repair and replacement costs will benefit future owners, but present owners benefit also. With a Reserve Study boards and managers can help the present generation of owners understand that they, too, can enjoy their share of the benefits of prudent reserve planning.
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