How to Choose the Perfect Management Company

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There are many choices when it comes to association management companies.  While finding the right company for your community may seem challenging, we’re here to make it easier. Here are the main aspects you should look at when considering a management company:

How long has the company been in business?

The management of your association can directly impact the property values in your community so it is important to engage a qualified and experienced management company. If a company has been in the business for a while, they will be able to provide more references, quality vendors, and a high level of confidence in their abilities.

What is the average tenure of the Community Association Managers?

Experienced managers that hold professional designations bring a higher level of professionalism to the position.  They have the knowledge, dedication, and commitment to their industry and will be both a benefit to community and a resource to the boards in which they serve.

Does the company participate in education for both employees and board members? 

Reputable management companies invest in and provide education and training for both their employees and the board members in which they serve.  It should be the management company’s priority to provide educated, professional and accurate training, advice and guidance on important issues relating to Association Management to their board members.

What services does the company offer? 

It is important that the management company offers the services needed for your community.  Understand what type of company, their mission and values and make sure you know what services are included prior to signing the contract.

Can you visit their office?

Being able to visit your community association management can be a relief. It provides a higher level of connection and allows you to gather insight about the company and how they are able to meet your community’s needs.  Your management company will effectively be part of your team and getting to know them and the culture of the company can make the difference between a decent experience and a great one.

How do they manage associations similar to yours?

Any management company should be able to provide names of HOA and condo associations they manage as well as specific references you can contact.  These communities should be well-run and similar in size and type as your community. If your community is unique in many ways, find out what they will be able to do specifically for the quirks in your community.

What is their communication style?

Clear communications between the board and the management company is the basis for a productive and successful relationship.  Ask about responsiveness, find out if they have any additional support teams, and how the management company typically communicates with the board to determine if this will meet your expectations. Make sure to get any necessary contact information to make it easy for your residents to know who to call.

Final Thoughts

Finding a good fit for your community can be a rewarding venture. Make sure to go into the meeting expressing the expectations and priorities of the board and any and all requirements you will have.  In your initial meeting, have these main aspects in mind and you will have an easier time determining the capabilities as well as the “personality” of the management company and identify if they would be a good choice for your community.

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How to Tell if There are Microscopic Guests in Your Home

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Dust Mites are microscopic, pest like insects that make their homes in household dust. They typically go unseen by the naked eye and pass their time by eating dead skin flakes and dander.

Are Dust Mites in MY Home?

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You may be thinking that dust mites are only common in extremely dirty households but Dust Mites occur naturally and can appear in nearly all homes, especially if you’re in a humid climate. Dust Mites love tropical weather because they absorb moisture in the air instead of drinking water. They thrive in older homes and lower income residences where mold may be present.

How Do Dust Mites Affect My Health?

Environments with excessive dust mites can cause an array of issues for people sensitive to allergies or anyone who has asthma. Dust Mites are known by the American Lung Association to trigger asthma attacks. These allergens can cause an immune system response inducing either milder symptoms, like an occasional runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing or severe symptoms resulting in coughing, congestion, facial pressure, or a severe asthma attack.

How to Detect & Evict Your Tiny Unwanted Guests

sylvie-tittel-673971-unsplash.jpgDust mites love to live in your bedroom, snuggled in your bedding. They also like persisting deep in the stuffing of sofas, chairs, mattresses, pillows and carpeting. Keep in mind that Dust mites are NOT bed bugs and while unpleasant, are generally not harmful.

Here’s our general plan for keeping Dust Mite populations low:

Cover mattresses and pillows in zippered dust proof covers. These covers are made of a material with pores too small to let dust mites and their waste product through. They are also called allergen-impermeable.

Avoid fabrics that cannot be washed in hot water. Cold water isn’t as effective. Dry cleaning kills all dust mites and is also good for removing dust mites from living in fabrics. If possible, it’s best to avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, curtains, blinds, upholstered furniture, wool and synthetic fibers, down-filled covers and pillows in the bedroom. Switch traditional stuffed animals with washable ones. Consider replacing carpeting to help alleviate allergies in your home.

Use a certified filter with your central furnace and air conditioning unit. This can help trap dust mites from your entire home. Freestanding air cleaners only filter air in a limited area. Avoid devices that treat air with heat, electrostatic ions, or ozone.

Keep the humidity in your home less than 50 percent. This can be done with a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner.

Maintenance

Wash your sheets and blankets weekly in hot water. You have to wash them in water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit or more to kill dust mites. Non-washable bedding can be frozen overnight.

Have someone without a dust mite allergy clean your bedroom or wear a filtering mask when dusting or vacuuming. Try to stay out of the bedroom for a while after dusting and vacuuming as it stirs up dust. When dusting, use a damp mop or damp cloth to reduce the amount of dust stirred up.

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Vacuuming is not enough to remove all dust mites and their waste but it can help. CERTIFIED vacuums with high efficiency filters are scientifically tested and verified as more suitable for making your home healthier and can keep dust from flying back into the air. Make sure it has a double-layered micro filter bag or a HEPA filter.

Minimize cluttered areas in your home. Stacks of papers, books, and piles of junk – anything can collect dust and if it isn’t being used or cleaned frequently, is likely the perfect dust mite home. Regular de-cluttering will help control the allergens present in your home.

 

Even if you find that you have Dust Mites, it doesn’t mean your home isn’t clean. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation if America, dust mites live in almost every home in most areas of the world, no matter how clean. The goal should be lower their effects and reducing their numbers rather than trying to completely rid your home of them. Start in the bedroom and work your way out throughout the rest of the home.

Further Reading:

American Lung Association: https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/dust-mites.html

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://www.aafa.org/dust-mite-allergy/

Your Stress-Free Holiday Hosting Guide … With an HOA

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Planning a party for the holidays is stressful enough without the added concern of HOA guidelines and policies to add to the mix. Before you throw in the towel, here’s our tips to stress free hosting for the holidays.

Decorations

Does your HOA have guidelines on when you can put up holiday decorations and when you need to have them down by? Are there policies on lawn ornaments, inflatables, or lights? As a community member, keeping safety in mind and decorating to the enjoyment of all residents is part of the responsibility. Knowing these regulations will also prevent any Holiday mishaps from happening and prevent violations from the HOA.

For more HOA friendly tips, check out our article on Holiday decorating here.

Parking

When guests start arriving, cars will start adding up in front of your house. Is street parking an option in your community or is there a designated visitor lot for non-residents? Talk to your neighbors ahead of time so traffic doesn’t come as a surprise. Some communities make special exceptions for Holiday parking, make sure to ask your main office about any details.

Noise

Keep in mind that most communities have a noise ordinance one made by the HOA and another by the city. Nothing disrupts a party like someone knocking on your door with a noise complaint but luckily most HOA’s have a guideline on what types of noise and – how much – is acceptable.

Location

Does your community have a Clubhouse that would fit your guests more appropriately? It may be easier to coordinate, provide more room for guests and parking, and a buffer for noise between your party and your community. Each community will have their own set of Clubhouse policies so make sure you take a look at those in advance and keep an eye on how long you have the room booked for. Always book for a little longer than expected for adequate clean up time.

Pool & Outdoor Amenities

Not all Holiday parties have to be Winter Wonderland themed. If you’re planning on a tropical theme and it includes pool access, coordinate with your main office to let them know how many guests will be attending to make sure there won’t be any code violations. Each community has their own pool area max capacity and food and drink policies so make sure you’re well aware of those before planning. It’s always good to give your community a head’s up on any parties to ensure everything goes more smoothly.

Keep the Community Aware

Whatever party you are planning to have, regardless of theme, keep your community board in the know. This can make it easier for you to plan and can even help you organize your resources better. They may have specified parking areas you weren’t aware of or ways to reserve certain amenities to guarantee they will be available for your party.

Decorating with Flair… While Keeping it Fair

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Decorating is one of the most fun aspects of the holidays. It’s the time of the year when your lawn goes from the same everyday style to a winter wonderland. If you’re in a community with an HOA or are looking to keep everyone in your neighborhood happy, this one’s for you.

Keep it Tasteful

It’s very easy to get carried away with holiday decorations, Christmas and Halloween especially. Keep in mind, that while it’s on your own lawn, everyone in the neighborhood will be subjected to anything you place on display. If your Holiday lights create too much light pollution, you may need to keep them off during respectable hours so as to not wake any of your neighbors up. Lights that blink or are too bright can be subject to local ordinances as well. These rules vary by city or county and violations could result in ticketing and fining.

As tempting as going extreme Holiday decorating is, it’s not worth giving yourself a record.

Talk With Your Neighbors

If you’re new to the area or want to start decorating this year, try asking a community member about decorating policies for your community. Talking with the people who live around you creates a sense of Holiday cheer and helps you stay in good graces with people you could be living next to for a while. It’s not always possible to please everyone but stick with a good balance of your own tastes with your communities.

Community Policies

Does your community have an HOA? Does that HOA prohibit year round decorations, lights, or signage? Some communities are more lenient for the Holidays and are worth the quick chat with your association members to find out. Keep in mind that these rules and regulations are contractually enforceable in your neighborhood.

Keeping the Peace

There are a multitude of ways to celebrate this Holiday season. It may be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or maybe nothing at all. Many neighborhoods are multi-cultural, and part of being a good neighbor is to respect everyone’s right to celebrate how they choose.

This is the time of year to think about each other.

If you have a theme for your front yard, be polite and kind about your presentation and do your part to keep peace in your neighborhood for the Holiday season.

Bottom Line

The best way to keep your Holiday Decorating stress-free is to research, talk with your neighbors and community members, and to be thoughtful in your planning.

 

Fall Fun in Florida

maple-leaf-3680684_960_720The official start of fall has arrived (according to the calendar at least.)  While the weather is still quite warm here in sunny Florida, it’s still not a bad time to start planning some fun, autumn activities with the family.

Fall is probably the best time to enjoy the outdoors in Florida.  Hiking and camping are popular this time of year as well as biking.  Florida has a plethora of trails to explore throughout the season.  Homosassa, FL is another wonderful place to visit to enjoy wildlife in the great outdoors.  Manatees are active this time of year and plentiful in the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

If you are a fan of the theme park scene, head over to Epcot for the annual International Food and Wine Festival.  You can taste culinary delights from around the world without ever leaving your state!  For more low-key fun, check out your local farmers market or head to downtown Jacksonville for the their Jaxtoberfest celebration.  There will be plenty of delicious food and fun to kick off your fall celebrations.

When people think of fall, they usually think of leaves.  Contrary to popular belief, Florida does have a fall leaf season!  You will most likely have to travel a little to see it.  If you want to enjoy our state’s version of fall leaves, you can head to Torreya State Park in the Panhandle.  This area looks a bit different than most of the state and you’ll get to see some beautiful colors around late October.  You can also view lovely, red sugar maples in Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park which is located south of Tallahassee.  It’s worth these day trips to get a little exposure to one of the things people love most about autumn!

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to get out and enjoy all of the fun things happening across Florida during the fall season!

What to Know About Spring Allergies

AllergiesWhile springtime means warmer weather and beautiful blooms, it also means allergy season. With the trees and flowers popping up all around us, pollen becomes a major player when it comes to allergies.

Types of pollen

At the beginning of the season, tree pollen is most common, and as the season moves to mid-spring, grass pollen comes into play. Eventually, as we approach summer, we see weed-related allergies added to the mix.

Signs of pollen season

Common indications that pollen season has arrived include not only the trees and flowers in full bloom, but also the yellow-colored residue we see on our cars and other places. That is actually pollen itself and a clear sign that the stuffy nose you have may not be a cold-it could be allergies.

A cold vs. allergies

Many people have frequent colds and struggle distinguishing between a cold and allergies. However, fevers, chills and discolored nasal mucus are clear signs of a cold-not allergies.

Allergies are commonly distinguished by nasal itching, ear itching, throat itching, clear nasal discharge and sneezing. All of these are more likely to be seen with allergies than with the common cold, although the symptoms can overlap in some cases. Common sinus infections are also an indication of an individual with allergies.

Providing relief

There are over-the-counter medications available for allergies. Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec and Xyzal are common medications you can purchase at a drug store. These are all 24-hour, non-sedating medications known as second-generation antihistamines. These are safe to take daily for relieving chronic allergy symptoms. It is typically safe to switch between antihistamines if one isn’t working for you.

First-generation sedating antihistamines include Benadryl and Diphenhydramine, which work short-term for about six hours and aren’t recommended for chronic allergy symptoms.

If nasal congestion or drip continue to be a problem for you, consider adding a nasal steroid (brand names like Flonase, Fluticasone and Nasacort) along with your antihistamine. Some of these are available over-the-counter. One spray per nostril is recommended while your symptoms persist.

Other nasal sprays, such as Afrin, aren’t intended for allergy relief and are recommended to relieve cold symptoms only. Ask your allergist or primary care physician which is right for you.

Immunotherapy

Not all patients find relief from antihistamines or nasal sprays. If this is the case for you, you may want to explore immunotherapy. There are two kinds of allergy immunotherapy: allergy shots, or subcutaneous immunotherapy, and sublingual immunotherapy, such as tabs or drops taken orally. Allergy shots are known to be more effective, but if you aren’t fond of shots, the sublingual treatments are an alternative. The long-term goal of immunotherapy is to alter your immune system in order to relieve your allergy symptoms for good.  This result can’t be guaranteed and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Other culprits

Because we live in the Sunshine State, many pollen sources can bloom year-round along with other allergy culprits. Some wide-spread factors causing allergies all year include dust mites, mold and pet dander.

If you have any questions about your allergies, visit an allergist who can test you to find out exactly what you are allergic to and work with you to find relief.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

What Can You Do to Avoid the Flu?

Flu PicThis year has been a particularly tough flu season.  The strain going around this year has infected many people and has been more severe than recent years.  The flu is a contagious virus that spreads through droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.  It can also live on surfaces and be introduced into the body when a person touches his or her eyes, mouth, or nose.

How do you know if you have the flu?  Some people can easily mistake it for a cold.  Flu symptoms often come on very suddenly and can include a fever, sore throat, body aches, cough, headache, and fatigue.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is recommended that you visit your doctor.  Though antibiotics will not help the flu since it is a virus, your doctor still might be able to prescribe you a medication that can lessen the length and severity of the illness.  It is also important to stay home from work or school if you think you may have the flu to avoid spreading it further and risking getting others sick and then possibly getting infected again yourself.

Of course, none of want to have to deal with having the flu!  What are the best ways to protect yourself?

  • Get the flu vaccine. Even though this year’s vaccine is not as effective due to the type of strain, it still offers some protection.  It is not too late to get the vaccine and many insurance companies will cover it as well.  Each year, doctors recommend getting the flu shot since it is your best protection against contracting the flu.
  • Wash your hands regularly. Try to scrub your hands with soap and water often, especially after being in contact with someone that is ill or touching common surfaces. If no soap is available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with sick people if possible. Sometimes this may not be practical if you are caring for a sick family member, but try to limit unnecessary contact with those that are ill with the flu.
  • Sanitize surfaces. Keep common areas in your home, work, and school space clean.  Disinfect things like door handles, desks, and don’t forget your technology!  Keyboards, phones, remote controls, etc. can often harbor a lot of germs since they are touched so often.  Wipe them down with a sanitizing wipe often.
  • Protect others. If you are sick and must be out, cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue away.  This will help protect others and also keep you from risking infecting yourself again.

These precautions can help keep you well during this flu season as well as future flu seasons.  Stay well!

5 Tools Everyone In The Community Association Management Industry Should Be Using

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The community association management industry is large and can sometimes feel difficult to navigate  Whether you are a board member, resident, or a community association manager there are tips and tools out there that can help make your life easier.

  1. If you are a board member, consider hiring a community association management company if you do not have one. Managing a community on your own can be both challenging and stressful.  Board members are volunteers and often other life demands are competing for your attention.  A community association management company can be a powerful tool to help you successfully manage your community and keep up with the ever-changing laws and regulations surrounding HOA and condominium management.
  1. Utilize a community website. A community website is a great investment for any homeowners or condo association.  A regularly updated website can be a great way to answer frequently asked questions from residents.  This can be a timesaver since it will cut down on phone calls and emails.
  1. Work with an attorney well versed in association law. Statues sometimes change and even existing ones can often be interpreted in different ways.  An association law attorney can be a great resource for your community anytime you need help understanding how certain laws apply to situations within your community.
  1. Get people involved. Managing a community is tough work.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  See if members of the community want to get involved in a committee or if they wish to volunteer for special events.  This will take some pressure off of you and also give your residents an opportunity to make a different in the neighborhood.
  1. Your governing documents. This sounds like a given, but it is still worth a mention.  Read your documents thoroughly and be sure to review them anytime you need a refresher.  This is your most important tool for effectively managing the community and deciding whether or not future amendments should be added if times have changed or if the culture of the community has changed.  This is another area where a community association management company can help.  They employ CAMs that are experts in governing documents and can help keep a community from making a costly mistake due to a misunderstanding.

We hope you find these tools useful when working with your association.  Leland Management has been in the association management business for 20 years and are well versed in all of these areas.  If you have questions about managing your association or are interested in community association management services, please reach out to us at info@lelandmanagement.com or 407-447-9955!

The Benefits of Being Thankful

giving-thanks-2Once again, the holiday season is upon us!  While there are many exciting and joyous times ahead, sometimes the stress of the season can get to us and cloud the purpose behind some of these festivities.  Let’s take Thanksgiving, for example.  Many of us get anxious about purchasing groceries, cleaning our homes in preparation for guests, and then cooking what is often the largest meal of the year!  What if we tried to take a moment to slow down and appreciate this holiday for what it is intended to be – a day to be around our loved ones and to think about what we are grateful for.

Being thankful is not just about being polite.  There are some real benefits to it that are backed up by science!  Spending just five minutes each day focusing on what you are grateful for can improve your physical and emotional health more than 10%.  This impact is the same as what you would feel if your income doubled.  Additionally, those that focus on being thankful often have better social lives.  Showing gratitude in our day to day lives makes us kinder and more appreciative which tends to have a positive effect on how others perceive us.

Thankfulness can also make us more optimistic and less materialistic.  Sometimes during this time of year, we can get caught up in the value of objects, but if you make it a point to practice gratitude in your daily life, you may find that you focus more on things like family, friends, and hobbies instead of material objects.  This can help improve your general outlook on your own life and circumstances.

With so many benefits associated with being thankful, what better time a year to start practicing?  Consider keeping a journal for the rest of the year and each day write a couple of lines of things you are grateful for.  Take your growing positivity and share it with others!  Consider working to get your neighborhood together for a Thanksgiving celebration.  You could do a potluck to spend time together or perhaps invite neighbors that might be alone during the holidays over to share in your celebrations.

This is also a good time to help the community.  Your association could consider hosting a food drive or get a group of volunteers together to help out at a local shelter or soup kitchen.  This is something that people of all ages can participate in and it can help remind you of all you have to be grateful for!

The holidays only come around once a year and can fly by in a blur of activity.  Try to take a moment to close your laptop, put down your cell phone, and truly enjoy the special things that happen this time of year and most of all, enjoy spending extra time with family, friends, and neighbors.  That is something to truly be thankful for!

 

 

Four Swaps To Upgrade Your Diet

Healthy SwapA healthy diet consists of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and lean proteins such as chicken, fish and eggs. It is possible to switch to a healthier diet without making a dramatic change. Here are a couple of simple food substitutions that can transform your diet:

Have a protein smoothie or shake for breakfast

Sometimes, with our busy schedules, we do not have time to make breakfast. Instead of skipping breakfast or choosing bad options, try a protein smoothie. Ingredients like peanut butter, oats and Greek yogurt are natural ingredients that provide a protein boost. They will help you burn more calories all day, keep your energy high and balance your blood sugar. Smoothies from many retail outlets are loaded with sugar. When making your own, opt for fresh or frozen, no-sugar-added fruits which make your smoothie sweet. Sneak in some greens – like spinach or kale – to add to your veggie intake. (You’ll never taste them.)

Eat quality meats

When it comes to meat, try to avoid antibiotics, pesticides, hormones and mercury from grain-fed eggs and meats. Swap them for products from grass-fed, pasture-raised and free-range animals. If you are looking for fish, shop for wild-caught varieties.

Increase Healthy Fats

Some fats are good for you! Foods such as avocado, wild-caught salmon and olive oil are healthy. So are nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Try increasing these foods in your diet.

Cut the coffee

The caffeine in coffee can rev up your stress hormones. Try reducing your caffeine intake by switching to green tea. The caffeine is less, and you get the added benefit of healthy antioxidants. You can also try cutting down caffeine by mixing your regular coffee with decaf, or look for lower-caffeine varieties.

Source: UCF College of Medicine