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Lawn Maintenance Contracts

Lawn Maintenance Contracts

As we enter spring, the outside maintenance will switch from plowing/icing to lawn maintenance. If the board has been looking to hire a different landscaping company or revisit their bid, here are some tips to remember through this process:

Value quality.

A high-quality landscaping company will make your community look well-kept and welcoming, so you won’t have as much turnover from residents and will more easily attract new ones. Cutting corners could result in a less appealing community, and complaints from residents. Remember: maintenance work is an investment, but you should also look for a fair price.

Talk expectations.

Make it clear to the landscaping company what your expectations are for the agreement. They should take a walk through to get a proper look at the grounds, which will make sure the price is more accurate. Bids should include all of your association’s specifications so you aren’t left paying extra for services you don’t need. Review needs like: mowing, trimming, edging, fertilizer, pest control, bed weed maintenance, pruning, spring/fall cleanups, irrigation maintenance, etc. Essentially, the HOA’s needs, the size of the property, and the service frequency should be properly laid out before they give you a bid.

Check their qualifications.

Ensure the company is involved in professional associations and has the necessary licensing. Check that they have workers’ compensation insurance, general liability insurance, state licensing, and appropriate loss prevention in place. Also, when an issue comes up, you want a dedicated contact from the company that you can call to discuss issues.

We hope these tips helps your search.

Reminders on Storm Restoration Insurance Claims

Reminders on Storm Restoration Insurance Claims

Now that you’ve checked your governing documents to see what the board is responsible for when a storm hits and leaves damage, what’s the next step?

One of the board members should go around the grounds for an initial inspection to see what you might need repairs on, and they should document all of it with a photo. Is there roof damage visible from the ground? Are pieces of the roofing on the ground? Did a tree fall over? Was your landscaping damaged? Is there damage on the siding? Were outdoor amenities like a swimming pool damaged?

Look for exterior issues, which the HOA is most likely in charge of getting fixed, and then contact a professional that can perform an expert inspection. Let them know what you’ve seen so far, and then they can check for anything else that may need to be included in the claim. Ask for an estimate of costs so you can report it to the insurance and also discuss it with the board. If you contact a reputable, trusted company, they will most likely be able to help you with filling out the insurance claims.

Depending on if your documents outline the necessary process for filing insurance claims, the board may require an insurance adjuster to come out to your property. The insurance adjuster will most likely hire their own trusted independent contractor to create a report/estimate. The restoration experts will take pictures of the damages, create a report for adjuster, and then the adjuster will review the independent contractor’s report. In some cases, because of that timeline, this option takes longer if you don’t have your own photos to contribute, which were hopefully taken soon after the storm event.

Once you’ve got the estimates and claim submitted, the board should stay on top of communication with the insurance. Depending on the damage and if it also affects the interior of a unit, the claim could be disputed. Be prepared with your community’s specifics bylaws on what is considered the board’s responsibility vs. the resident’s responsibility. Hopefully, it will all be a smooth process so you can get back to normal in no time.

Storm Safety and Your Association

Storm Safety and Your Association

As we get closer to storm season and the threat of damaging weather, it’s important to review your policies on exterior damage caused by natural events. Typically, the governing documents will dictate protocol for those situations and the role of the board vs. members. Most instances will require the board to be responsible for any storm damage on the exterior of the property (following the studs out rule) while the member’s own homeowner’s policy will cover any other damage on the interior (studs in). However, this can differ somewhat depending on how the units are constructed and the association laws-for example, an association with no shared walls or roof lines could outline a much different process that requires more resident responsibility. All board members should be aware of that policy anyone because you will most likely have residents asking about it as well.

The insurance should ideally cover the type of damage that could occur during a severe storm such as hail damage, wind damage, loss of roofing, and trees falling on your property. The board should take care of the exterior damage, but if it does reach inside the unit, such as a hole in the roof causing water to get in, then the resident would be responsible for the water damage.

Additionally, when going over the insurance policy, the timeline should also be checked. Most claims on storm damage have a deadline of 2 years, starting after the date of the event. If a severe storm does pass through or a resident mentions they can see damage from the ground, then an approved storm restoration expert should be brought in for an inspection.

For the benefit of the residents, a reminder of good storm safety practices might be an ideal message to send out. Remind them of how your insurance policy covers storm damage, what that means for them, the recommended procedure to follow during a tornado event, and who they should contact if their unit does suffer storm damage.

If the need for restoration of roofing or siding does occur, which requires time and construction, it’s important to keep the residents updated on the project schedule. Sometimes an early morning start is necessary to ensure timely completion, so a heads up will benefit the community. Explain that a little inconvenience, such as that early start or workers working around the property, is worth it in the long run to restore their exterior as quickly as possible.

Pets and Living in an HOA

Pets and Living in an HOA

Sunshine and getting outside for a walk are things we are all doing more of these days and that includes our pets.

Just a few friendly reminders to be sure to pick up after your pets during this season. As more people are out walking due to the closure of many local gyms, it’s more important than ever to be diligent about picking up pet waste. The rainy weather in April also make pet waste more of a hazard for all.

We encourage you to also keep your pet on a leash to ensure the safety of all in our communities.

If this spring is the time to adopt a new pet once the local shelters are up and running again, then make sure you review your association’s governing documents for restrictions on the types of pets, breed, or size you can have in your home. There might also be a limit on how many pets are allowed.

The Benefits of Spring Cleaning

The Benefits of Spring Cleaning

With all of us being at home for the time-being, this might be your year to do a deep-down spring clean.

There are a lot of surprise benefits to spring cleaning!

  • It helps alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms. Cleaning up pollutants like dust, pet dander, dirt, mildew, mold, and more will improve your air quality and help out any residents who have allergies. Dust all of your hard surfaces, vacuum your carpet (especially under the furniture), sanitize your hard surfaces (bathroom/kitchen especially),and air out rugs/cushions since soft surfaces attract dust.
  • It curbs stress and improves productivity. A cluttered home, especially if you work out of a home office, can negatively affect your focus because of the overstimulation. Buy some organizers if you have a lot of objects without a place to store and get to work on decluttering.
  • Try turning on some music while cleaning to help boost your endorphin levels. Music and the result of a clean space has been proven to make people happier.
  • Make a pile for the things you no longer need, but are in good condition. The items will all set to move out to a donation center when they open again.
  • A deep clean of your entire home might also alert you to any damages or things that need to be maintained. It’s always better to stay on top of those issues so that they don’t get any worse.

Get a “fresh” start on 2020 by improving your mental and physical health with a good clean. If tackling the whole space at once seems too daunting, then take it one room at a time. Your home is your oasis, and it’s important to take care of it.

Things to Do During the Stay at Home Order in Minnesota

Things to Do During the Stay at Home Order in Minnesota

If you’re watched enough TV and gone on all the walks you care to for the day, you’re probably looking for other ways to pass the time.

We’ve pulled together a list of a few ideas to keep your entertained during this unprecedented time.

Facebook Live Concerts

Musicians around the country are moving their “gig” online using resources like Facebook Live. Download the MySet app, choose the music styles you enjoy and you’ll find an assortment of Live music most nights. You can request songs and tip the band using the app.

Virtually Visit a National Park

https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/national-parks/virtual-national-parks-tours

Take A Virtual Field Trip

This is a large list of places to visit.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTbUBsKt4U5tR-eXC8b2bogrvjrVlEBl8OJIesNPw6b7BRScYRuyXIaSAVIcl_q52BI4SqrK4_HVQCw/pub

We have this list helps fill a few hours for you during the next few weeks.

Sharper News – Christopher Gosse Promoted to Senior Community Manager

Sharper News – Christopher Gosse Promoted to Senior Community Manager

Sharper Management is pleased to announce Community Manager Christopher Gosse has been promoted to Senior Community Manager at Sharper Management. Gosse will continue to manager properties for Sharper, but will also become a mentor to new Community Mangers joining the Sharper Management team.

Gosse, a member of the Sharper Management family since January 2016, is a highly experienced community manager in virtually all areas of property management. “His vast knowledge in community management and his ability to put his personal touch on each situation is hugely beneficial. We looking forward to sharing Gosse’s expertise throughout our team of community managers,” states Matt Froehlich, Partner and Head of Operations at Sharper Management

Gosse is a two-time CAI-MN Vision Award winner taking home back-to-back wins in 2016 (Rookie of the Year) and in 2017 (Financial Impact).

Common Board Member Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common Board Member Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Are you a new Board member who is still “getting their feet wet” in the first year of service? Being on your board is a fulfilling role and we’d like to help you with a few tips on some common pitfalls you may encounter on your journey as a new board member.
Some of the common mistakes association board members should note:
Holding Meetings Improperly
All board meetings need to be documented and with notice given to all homeowners. Any time a majority of board members get together and speak about association business, it is considered a board meeting. That may mean a casual lunch date could become a board meeting if you meet the right criteria.
Disregard for Governing Documents
Sometimes boards do not carefully read the community’s governing documents, and then fail to abide by them. This can happen if a new board is elected and they neglect to review the declaration and bylaws of the association. This is usually unintentional, but it can cause a lot of issues. Every board member should read the bylaws and all other association documents.
Making Changes Without Having a Complete Picture
Sometimes a new Board will make big decisions without carefully reviewing all circumstances and opinions. One example we’ve seen frequently is changing vendors too quickly. Take time to discuss with as a Board and with your Community Manager to get a clear picture on vendors.
Seek Proper Advice
Legal advice is sometimes needed when making decisions. Your community manager will be a great sounding board on when you may need an attorney to become involved.
Sharper Management holds Board Training Sessions twice a year. Be sure to check this newsletter for dates in January and October each year.
Choosing Contractors for Your HOA

Choosing Contractors for Your HOA

If the ground hog was right last month, Spring is just around the corner. With that comes warm-weather maintenance projects.
When selecting vendors for your projects, keep some of these tips in mind:
Hire Licensed, Bonded and Insured Vendors
It should go without saying, but it is important to hire ONLY licensed, bonded and insured contractors. When vendors have these things in place, your HOA is protected in the event of property damage or injury. Remember to verify that vendors maintain workers’ compensation and general liability.
Also, it’s good practice to have bidders clarify what portions of their proposed services will be subcontracted when they submit a proposal. If a subcontractor will perform work, they should be subject to the same requirements as the prime contractor. Bonding may not be necessary for all work, but requiring a bond is a good way of insuring that you are dealing with a reputable contractor.
Written Vendor Contracts
Having written contracts in place when hiring a vendor will help protect the HOA. A written agreement should contain the scope of work, the timeline in which work needs to be performed, price to be paid for the work, contract termination options, methods of payment, how breaches of the contract will be addressed, warranties, indemnification of the community association for any damages brought about by the vendor during the course of the work, and a clause that makes the vendor responsible for compliance with all regulatory entities.
Develop a Clear Scope of Work
The first step in establishing a regular service contract or in starting a project should be establishing a Scope of Work. The Scope of Work can be used as part of a Request for Proposal process and then can be incorporated into a contract that is awarded. A clear Scope of Work also allows the Board to effectively compare pricing based on apples-to-apples service.
Vendor References
Check with references before hiring a vendor. Look for their online reviews. Google and Yelp can tell the story before you even speak to a vendor. The Better Business Bureau will also have a clear rating of the contractor to help in making your decision.
Competitive Bid Process
Always get at least a comparison quote if not at least 3 quotes through a competitive bid process. This will guarantee the best deal for the association.
If you have a full-service management agreement with Sharper Management, your community manager can help you with this process. Have a wonderful Spring season.
Creating a Maintenance Plan for Your HOA

Creating a Maintenance Plan for Your HOA

Creating a Maintenance Plan for your HOA
As we near the end of February, your Board conversations are likely turning to summer maintenance projects. Having an overall Maintenance Plan in place is a helpful tool to have in your pocket at this time of year. An effective approach to maintaining your Association helps to ensure you are spending maintenance dollars where they are needed the most.
Five Key Goals a Maintenance Plan Should Achieve:
  1. First and foremost, a Maintenance Plan is in place to preserve the value of all owner’s investment in the property. Enhance the property value, maintain the property value and create a comfortable place to live.
  2. Increase efficiency of HOA operations. Preventative Maintenance Plans help buildings operate efficiently. By effectively maintaining equipment, it functions at the highest levels and can reduce operational inefficiencies due to unexpected breakdown and can lessen wasteful energy usage.
  3. Prevent failures of building systems. Buildings that operate trouble-free allow the occupants to enjoy the property as intended. Preventive maintenance includes regular inspections and replacement of equipment crucial to building operations.
  4. Sustain a safe and healthy environment. Protecting the physical integrity of building components preserves a safe environment for residents.
  5. Provide cost effective maintenance. Preventive maintenance can prevent minor problems from escalating into major failures and costly repairs. Preventive maintenance can be handled relatively cheaply, efficiently and systematically through advance scheduling while major failures always happen after hours, at peak billing times and to equipment that must be special ordered.
An overall Maintenance Plan provides clear direction to the board and management on how and when to make repairs to building and grounds components. If followed in conjunction with a reserve study, the components will enjoy their maximum useful lives and related repair costs kept to a minimum.