Don’t Fall Into the Pit

pitfalls-1Being on the board of a homeowners’ association or condo association can be a very fulfilling experience.  Many board members enjoy getting to know their neighbors better, offering guidance on association matters, and playing an active role in the operations and health of the community.  Most board members take their positions seriously and truly want to do an excellent job.  However, being a board member can be challenging at times and there are certain mistakes that are easy to make and can be detrimental to an association.  This is why it can be advantageous to work with a community association manager (CAM).  CAMs can help board members avoid common pitfalls to ensure the association runs smoothly and legally.  Here are some of the common mistakes boards can make:

  • Not following the governing documents: Sometimes boards do not carefully read their documents and then fail to abide by them. This can sometimes happen if a new board is elected and they try to follow a previous board’s example as opposed to reviewing the declaration and by-laws of the association. Typically, this is unintentional, but it can cause a lot of potential issues. It is extremely important to follow the documents as they are written both from a legal standpoint and to ensure fairness for all residents of the community. An association manager can assist with questions a board might have about documents. CAMs will also review the documents and help advise boards when a policy or procedure may not be in line with the by-laws.
  • Becoming overzealous: Board members are understandably excited about their position and sometimes in their ambition to make positive changes in their community, they can make large decisions too quickly. Smaller changes can lead to big changes. It is best to weigh any major policy changes very carefully. As mentioned before, documents need to be reviewed before procedures change. Also, there is a risk of alienating fellow residents if a major change is implemented too quickly. Sometimes hasty decisions can backfire. For example, sometimes a new board may decide to fire all current vendors believing it is in the best interest of the association. However, in doing this, all ongoing projects lose momentum and it becomes impossible to determine which vendors were actual problems and which were not. Take the time to speak to your association manager. In the case of vendors, if you are unhappy with someone your CAM can likely recommend alternate qualified vendors for your association. They can also give you advice about how to implement changes within the community.
  • Holding improper meetings: All board meetings must be documented and noticed. Anytime a quorum of board members gets together and speaks about association business, this is considered a board meeting. Boards often may do this at a casual lunch or other social gatherings not realizing this is a violation of association law. Conversations at social gatherings need to steer away from any type of discussion about the community. If you have questions, speak to your CAM to help clarify what is and is not okay to discuss amongst your fellow board members when there is not an official meeting taking place.
  • Mismanaging the association budget: Budgets can be a complicated issue for any community. Too often, boards make errors in judgment when it comes to association funds. Common mistakes are spending too much too quickly, not establishing funds for emergencies and other incidentals, and keeping costs artificially low in order to please homeowners. It is crucial to look at finances in the long-term. While a board may want to add an amenity, execute a requested repair, or fulfill other homeowner requests, it is important to think how the association might be impacted in five to ten years from a large financial decision today. Boards should review prior year budgets and learn from them. Also, as hard as it may be to consider raising assessments, sometimes it is necessary to continue to meet your fiduciary responsibilities. CAMs usually have a lot of experience assisting boards in different types of associations. They can likely provide guidance and advice throughout the budget process and also help make sure that any work that is completed is done so at a reasonable price.
  • Losing patience: Being a board member can be a very stressful position. As rewarding as it can be, there are times when it can feel thankless and frustrating. Sometimes board members may feel like they are hearing a broken record when they get similar complaints from multiple homeowners. It can be easy to lose patience and become aggravated with explaining a situation multiple times, but try to remember that to each member, this is a new conversation. Residents come to boards with their concerns because they are the trusted representatives of the association. As hard as it can be sometimes, it is vital to maintain a respectful rapport with the homeowners in your association. Having poor relationships can make things challenging during board meetings. Community association managers can assist with the stressful task of listening to owner concerns. They often act as the middleperson between the owner and the board and can typically field most questions and concerns before it ever needs to make it to a board member. Many boards find this to be one of the best parts of working with a community association manager. It is beneficial to residents as well since they can become familiar with one designated contact.
  • Not knowing when to seek legal advice: This can be a very tricky topic. Boards do not want to overuse their attorneys since this can become costly, but there are definitely times when legal advice should be utilized. If you are dealing with a challenging situation with a homeowner that could potentially turn into a lawsuit, this would be a time to seek legal counsel. Additionally, when statutes change, it might be a good idea to consult the association attorney to see if the board needs to do anything to be in compliance with the law. Talk to your association manager if you need help on finding the right balance for your community.

Volunteering for a board comes with a large amount of responsibilities and decisions that have to be made. It can be very easy to make common errors in judgment that can cause a lot of issues down the road. Reviewing these tips and keeping an open line of communication with your association manager are good ways to ensure you have checks and balances in place to make sure your association continues to thrive and operate successfully.

 

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Why Calcium Supplements Don’t Guarantee Women Strong Bones

Women are at higher risk than men to develop osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. In an effort to prevent this, you may have been advised to take calcium and/or vitamin D supplements. While thistock_90374421_large-333x500is is good advice if you’re not getting enough calcium or vitamin D in your diet, it may not protect you from getting brittle bones.

Recent research shows that a thyroid condition, hyperparathyroidism, is linked to weakening bones in women and is more common than once thought. When your parathyroids aren’t working correctly, your body can’t get the calcium it needs. If you have this condition, no amount of supplements or change in diet will help.

If you are experiencing hyperparathyroidism, you probably wouldn’t know it. That’s because many times there are no symptoms, and the symptoms that do show, like depression, kidney stones, muscle fatigue, bone and joint pain, and memory loss are often confused with something else.

If you have high blood calcium levels, you should have follow-up testing for PTH and vitamin D levels. Together these three tests can confirm hyperparathyroidism.

If hyperparathyroidism is confirmed, surgery is most often the recommended treatment. The affected glands are removed, and the healthy ones continue to regulate calcium.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Pets and HOAs

DakotaMany of us have pets which are considered members of our families. In fact, nearly half of Americans have a dog and around thirty-five percent have a cat.  These furry friends can provide many emotional benefits and give affection and companionship to their human families.

If you are a resident of a homeowners’ association or condo association and you have pets, it is important to make sure you are following the rules in regards to possible restrictions. Most communities are proud to be pet-friendly, but usually have sets of reasonable guidelines to make sure you and your pets can coexist peacefully with all residents of the community.  Here are some tips to ensure that your four-legged friends will continue to be welcome in your association:

  • Review the rules. Some associations require approval for pets or they have weight restrictions. If you currently own a large dog and are considering moving into an HOA, make sure you read the governing documents to see if your pet will meet the requirements. Additionally, if you already reside in an HOA, make sure before you get a new dog that it will not violate existing rules and regulations.
  • Clean up after your pet. This is very important since your neighbors probably do not want to step in anything left behind by your pet. A lot of associations have doggy bag stations which make cleaning up after your dog much more convenient. This is a simple step to take that will help keep your fellow owners happy and therefore less likely to make complaints about you or your pets.
  • Be mindful of noise caused by your pets. All dogs bark from time to time, but sometimes barking can become excessive and become a nuisance to surrounding neighbors. Sometimes a pet owner may become accustomed to the sound of their own dog barking, but this is likely stressful and upsetting to neighbors who might be trying to relax or sleep. If your dog barks excessively, try to isolate the cause. Maybe playtime or a walk will help relax your furry friend and reduce barking. In some cases, it might be a good idea to research the problem online or even seek out the help of a professional. Not only will this help keep the peace with neighbors, but it will likely strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
  • Do not allow your pets to wander. Anytime your pet is outside, he or she should be on a leash. Even if you think your dog will not run off, all it takes is a nearby squirrel or another distraction to gain your dog’s attention and create a potentially dangerous situation. Also, some people are afraid of dogs and should not have to feel nervous if your unleashed dog is wandering towards them. You may know that your dog is friendly, but a stranger might not realize this. Additionally, leashing your dog is Sadieusually not only a regulation for the association, it is often a city law. For the safety of your pet and other residents, always leash your pup.

Pets are great members of our families and usually a very positive addition to any neighborhood. Just remember to be respectful of others and follow regulations within your association. If you do this, even residents that might not be as keen on pets will likely be perfectly fine with having you and your pets as neighbors.

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Community Spotlight: Ironwood

This community is a hidden gem on the south side of Jacksonville, Florida.  Ironwood Village HOA was founded in 2005. This gated, 550 home community is a mixture of both single family homes and townhomes.Ironwood Sign

Ironwood has two amenity centers; each one offers its own fitness facilities and pools.  These amenities are a favorite place for many Ironwood residents. Some residents state this was the reason why they moved to the community in the first place!  One amenity center also offers a large community room which is used for board meetings, parties, and holiday celebrations.

The location of the Ironwood community is one of the things that sets this community apart from the other Jacksonville communities. Many residents drive from many miles around the region to get to where we are located. The reason is Ironwood is close to many premier medical facilities, shopping centers, office buildings, and major highways.

Leland Management began managing the Homeowners Association in June 2014. Since then, Leland and the Board of Directors have worked together updating the amenity centers with new painting, state of the art flat screen TVs, LED lighting for interior and exterior illumination, fitness equipment upgrades, new pool furniture, and a major landscaping update. These and many other upgrades have presented Ironwood as a clean, upscale community with a newer feel to it. Ironwood Pool

The Board President Stanley Hayes says, “The Board of Directors have followed the same philosophy, and that is ‘Our mission is to do our best to make Ironwood a great community to both live in and in which to raise our families in as well.’”

Leland will continue to assist the board in making Ironwood a desirable place to live.

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Choosing the Right Breakfast Foods

We all know breakfaiStock_77367931_LARGE-500x333st is the most important meal of the day. It jump starts your metabolism and gives you energy for the day. But depending on your breakfast choice, you could be cheating yourself.

Many of the breakfast foods we love contain large amounts of white flour, sugar and corn syrup — all ingredients that are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. Foods like cereal, waffles, toast, waffles and pancakes are usually made from processed white flour that raises your blood sugar and will cause your body to produce a spike in insulin. This is often followed by low blood sugar – which makes you feel hungry, tired, and less focused. So you reach for a quick snack, probably something that will give you a quick burst of energy (empty carbs again) and this starts the whole process over again.

To avoid this seesaw kind of day, start your day with whole grains and some kind of protein. These will take your body longer to digest, so you won’t experience that spike in blood sugar.

Here are some examples of easy-to-make breakfast foods that will sustain your energy levels:

  • Peanut butter – It’s a great protein. Spread it on toast instead of jelly or top a banana with it.
  • Oatmeal — Because oatmeal is a whole grain it will give you energy. Plus it is high in fiber, which will help you feel full longer.
  • Eggs – Any way you prepare them, eggs are a great protein for breakfast. Try combing an egg with a complex carb, such a whole-grain bread. Add fresh vegetables to your scrambled eggs for an added dose of vitamins and fiber, Just avoid frying your eggs in fat.
  • Greek yogurt – It offers almost double the amount of protein of regular yogurt. Top it with fruit and granola, or mix it in a smoothie and you should feel full until lunchtime. Avoid flavored yogurt, because it has high levels of sugar.
  • Beans – They’re not a common breakfast food in the United States, but people in other countries are accustomed to beans first thing in the morning. Beans are full of fiber and protein, making them a great breakfast food. Try adding beans to a breakfast burrito.

Get your day off to a great start by giving your body the fuel it needs.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Meet the Team: Frank Pelot

This edition of Meet the Team features Orlando CAM Frank Pelot. Frank’s family came to Florida in 1854.  He was born in Ocala and raised in Belleview with his parents and older sister.  Frank has also lived in Ohio, Michigan, and Utah, but largely remained in Florida. Frank

Frank enjoys education and learning which is apparent when looking at his college history.  Frank holds two degrees including a Bachelors in Mechanical Design Technology obtained from the College of Central Florida and a Bachelors in Business Education from the University of Phoenix.  Frank spent many years working in the aerospace industry.  He worked on many important projects during this time, one of which was the cruise missile program.  He also worked in the stainless steel business before retiring.

Though Frank may have retired from the aerospace and stainless steel industries, he was nowhere near finished working.  Frank was and continues to be active on the board of his HOA; in fact, he is currently president of his association.  He had a friend that worked in the community management industry also so his interest in the field led Frank to obtain his license.  At an FCAP event, he met the owners of Leland Management, David & Rebecca Furlow, and ended up joining Leland three years ago.  Frank says he likes working for Leland because of the people, the open and friendly atmosphere, and the technology that Leland utilizes.  Frank has obtained his CFCAM designation so he is definitely enjoying the field!

When Frank is not at work, he enjoys playing golf, working with computers, and teaching adult classes at his church.  He lives with his wife of 42 years, Judy, and has a son named John who lives in Jacksonville.  For the future, Frank wants to continue to remain healthy and active.  He currently works out four to five days a week.  He also wants to keep working as long as he possible can.  We are proud that Frank is a member of the Leland family and hope you enjoyed learning more about him in this installment of Meet the Team.

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Summer Fun in Tampa

With only a couple of weeks left before school begins again, we wanted to share some tips for summer fun so you can enjoy the last weeks of summer.  This edition takes us to Tampa where there are many options that are sure to please the entire family.

Tampa Summer Florida summers are always hot and this year has been no exception.  If you are trying to beat the heat, then Tampa is a great choice to find indoor entertainment.  Many theaters in the Tampa area and surrounding regions offer free or discounted movies.  Check with your local theater for times and options.  St. Petersburg even offers a “dive-in movie” which will allow the family to enjoy the water while watching a movie on an inflatable screen.  Also check with your local bowling alley.  Some AMF Lanes offer deals that allow kids to bowl for free!  This is another great indoor option for the family.

If you would like your children to participate in activities that are fun and educational, there are options to help your child stay sharp during the summer break.  Most county libraries offer summer reading programs.  Look up your local library to see what types of activities are available.  Most events have options for K-12 so there is fun for all ages.  Apple offers free summer day camp.  This includes workshops designed to inspire imagination and creativity all while learning new skills.  Maker Camp also has free options which allows kids to build many different types of objects.  Make sure to also check out the great museums available in the Tampa area such as MOSI, Glazer’s Children’s Museum, and Sunken Gardens which is the oldest living museum in St. Petersburg.

Many families want to plan one last extended trip before the school year begins.  Tampa has a lot of great activities available that will bring a smile to everyone’s face.  Check out Adventure Island, a 30-acre water park that offers thrills while helping beat the heat.  Busch Gardens is another exciting place that merges large roller coasters with animal viewing experiences.  The Florida Aquarium is a great place to visit.  Attendees can see all types of marine life in multiple aquatic environments.  Of course for many Floridians, summer time is synonymous with beach time.  The Tampa area has several beaches such as Treasure Island Beach, Madeira Beach, Sand Key Park, and of course popular Clearwater Beach.  Dip your toes in the water and enjoy the peacefulness of the ocean view.

Summer may be coming to an end soon, but there is still plenty of time to plan out some fun activities.  A trip to the Tampa area is sure to offer many options for entertainment that the whole family can enjoy and remember even once the temperatures start to (finally) dip.

 

 

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