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Sharper Management Expands Condominium Management Contracts in St. Paul, MN

Sharper Management Expands Condominium Management Contracts in St. Paul, MN

April 23, 2019 — Sharper Management, a locally-owned, mid-sized property management company located in Eden Prairie, MN has recently been brought on board to manage the Hague Commons Condominium Association in St. Paul, MN. Sharper Management’s ability to customize financial-only management contract was one of the key factors in the associations decision to bring Sharper on board. Known for their professionalism and transparency, Sharper Management manages several other HOAs in the area including Dakota on the Park in the Lowertown area of DT St. Paul.

“We’re excited about our growing presence in St. Paul,” states Dan Cunningham, Partner and Managing Broker. “Our clients truly appreciate our ability to tailor services to their specific needs. This flexibility along with the exceptional and reliable property management services we offer is continuing to be a deciding factor in many local association’s choice to hire Sharper. We’re happy to grow with our clients and help board members throughout the area.”

Known for their reliable and committed approach to services for condominium and townhome associations in Minnesota, Sharper Management specializes in providing exceptional property management solutions. Offering a full-suite of premier services to the Minneapolis-St. Paul seven-county area, Sharper Management continues to expand their service area and look forward to building more new relationships throughout the Twin Cities.

How Associations Work – Sharper Management’s Role

How Associations Work – Sharper Management’s Role

While the elected board of a CIC, or Common Interest Community, operates on behalf of preserving their community, they will most likely hire a management company to aid them in the day-to-day duties.
The management company will act under the board’s orders and takes direction from them on how to manage the association under their specific regulations. In some cases, the management company will also assist with the budget process, prepare board meetings, and serve as a consultant in the event of issues in the association’s community. Essentially, management companies are there to make it easier for the board to uphold their community’s standards and investment in their homes.
Our role as a management company to many association communities includes helping the board in their administrative, maintenance, and communication duties. Our high-quality service revolves around a culture of communication, teamwork, and growth; we show this through our typical services, which we further outline on our website. In general, our team helps the board manage the maintenance of the community, staffing a 24-hour emergency phone line and help facilitating emergency services, providing and maintaining a web portal that all homeowner and board members can utilize, taking care of all aspects of the financial management of the association, help facilitating various needs or questions from homeowners within the association, and so much more.

 

Our services may differ slightly by type of CIC we are managing, but we follow our overarching values as a locally-owned company dedicated to supporting our partnered associations. We help protect each association member’s investment in a home by preserving the property and streamlining communication between unit owners and the board, the most important relationship in a Common Interest Community. We are proud to be managing the properties you call home, and look forward to continuing to support all members of the association.
Understanding Your Governing Documents

Understanding Your Governing Documents

After joining a CIC, or Common Interest Community, each member receives governing documents they must follow in respect to how the community and individual units are operated and used. In most cases, governing documents include a declaration, bylaws, articles of incorporation, and rules and regulations. Those documents will describe important administration or financial info like the association’s rights and responsibilities, the homeowner’s rights and responsibilities, how the annual budget is created, and the procedure to follow when electing a board.
Most importantly, the governing documents will also outline the powers granted to that elected board, which exists to help operate and preserve the association. The board will typically have the power to create or amend rules and regulations in the CIC, create procedures and parameters for fining when owners are not compliant, adopt an operating budget (which sets “dues”), hire vendors to provide services to the association, etc.
Additionally, if damages or other issues occur on association property, the governing documents disclose the insurance coverage of the CIC and how the responsibility between the association and unit owner differ. In many cases, documents may define that anything outside an individual unit becomes a responsibility of the association, while maintaining and repairing damage inside the unit boundaries becomes a responsibility of the unit owner. It’s important to understand that distinction while owning the unit, which the governing documents and board will uphold.
When a homeowner decides to sell their unit, the governing documents will most likely include regulations to follow during that process. In Minnesota, under the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act, the seller of a unit must provide the governing documents to a prospective buyer to view before purchasing.
In every step of the association member’s ownership, the governing documents are necessary to read and learn in order to understand the operation of their Common Interest Community.
Signs It is Time to Update Governing Documents

Signs It is Time to Update Governing Documents

Perhaps the most important tool you have as a Board member to help in your governing responsibilities and decision-making process is the association’s set of governing documents. It is the foundation for every decision you make and the playbook for how those decisions will be executed into action. Like everything else in the association, however, governing documents also need maintenance and updating.
Here are a few key areas of the governing documents that might suggest it is time to either amend sections or re-state the entire document:
Developer/Declarant Rights – most Declaration of Covenants (other common titles: Declarations or Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) have language and numerous sections that instruct how the association should be run and give rights to the developer/declarant when the association is first incorporated and still under “declarant control.” Once the association turns over to the membership and starts to be controlled by a Board of Directors, those sections are irrelevant. They are worth removing to clean up the document and eliminate any confusion.
Ambiguous or Missing Information – the older the document, the more confusing the language can be. Some common examples of ambiguous information can be the definition of unit boundaries, listing of common elements and limited common elements, clear description of maintenance responsibilities, and scope of insurance requirements. If you find yourself spending the money to seek legal opinions for clarification, it’s a good sign you might need to amend and re-state the document(s).
Alignment with State Laws – it can be common for governing documents to contradict state laws. Under the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (“MCIOA” or 515B), most sections of the statute preface by saying “unless the association’s documents say otherwise…” If the association’s document predates MCIOA, the association could be missing out on key provisions of the statute that better position the association for success. For example, MCIOA gives the Board authority to levy a special assessment. If the association’s governing documents, however, require the membership to approve a special assessment, state statute would default to the governing docs, and the Board would have to seek approval. It’s an example of a significant hamstring the Board could have on the operation of the association. In most instances, it befits the association to be a part of MCIOA and re-state the documents to both align and reference state statute.
Outdated Communication & Voting Requirements – some simple but powerful components should be a part of all governing documents. The bylaws should allow for proxy voting. Options for voting by mail and electronically should be incorporated. Delivery methods for communications should extend beyond the dated “mail only” option. Voting and communication requirements in the governing documents are a telltale sign of the age of the documents, and a good signal that it is time to amend or re-state.
Language Style – typically, the older the document, the more it sounds like a room full of lawyers drafted it. While modern day documents certainly use legal phrasing and key terms, they tend to be more clear and easier for a layman to understand.
Amending or re-stating governing documents can be a complicated endeavor. But again, they are your most powerful tool. If your documents are dated and issues listed above interfere with your interaction with them, it is a worthy cause to update.
Year-End Requirements for Associations

Year-End Requirements for Associations

Did you know that associations, as a registered non-profit corporation, are required to file Federal and State taxes? It is also important to be aware of any requirements of your governing docs for an annual financial review or audit. If you are governed under MCIOA (Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act,which effects all condominium associations and any association incorporated after June 1, 1994),you are required to have, at minimum, an annual financial review. Note: you can have a vote of the membership to waive this requirement.

Financial reviews and audits do differ; however, they achieve the same goal. That is to have an independent, licensed CPA review the association’s financials and the accounting practices of its management company. It should also be noted that MCIOA puts this criteria on who performs the financial review or audit.

Your property manager and staff at Sharper are working hard behind the scenes to provide the engaged CPA firm with all of the materials required. Bank statements, reports, invoices, etc. all must be provided.

Construction Chat: Navigating a Bad Ice Dam Year

Construction Chat: Navigating a Bad Ice Dam Year

The up and down temperatures and the record-breaking February snow totals have been the perfect recipe for ice dam formation on various types of roofs this year. Ice dams are particularly tricky for associations because the line between Homeowner vs. Association responsibility can become rather blurred.

First, it is important to understand how and why ice dams form. In short, they form when snow melts on your roof and then re-freezes over the eave-typically over the soffit area. The ice “dam” then prohibits further melting snow to drain properly off the roof, which can (but not always) cause leaking water into the home.

There are many factors as to why ice dams form-the inevitable freeze/thaw cycle; excess snow pack; clogged gutters or frozen downspouts-but the primary culprit is excessive heat loss from the unit and/or a lack of ventilation. Which is why, many times and depending on your governing documents, ice dams and the leakage they can cause are not necessarily the association’s responsibility. They are not caused by roofing deficiencies; they are caused by insulation and ventilation deficiencies INSIDE of the home.

It is important to understand how your association’s governing documents define “unit boundaries.” Does the boundary of the unit include “unfinished surfaces” or “no upper or lower boundaries”? If so, this could imply that the attic space (or the space between the roof deck and the ceiling) and insulation inside of it would be a homeowner responsibility; therefore, the heat loss causing the ice dam is the homeowner’s deal.

Once there is an understanding of who is responsible for what, it is very helpful for associations to review their ice dam situation and have a policy in place for how they are to be addressed.

New in 2019

New in 2019

Resource Directory!

We strive to continually add valuable content and resources in our newsletters and on our website. To serve you better, we added a Resource Directory to our website. If you’re looking for carpet cleaning or other services, be sure to check this great source for local businesses. We will be adding to the list throughout the year. If you know a local business that would be a great addition, have them call us at 952-224-4777.

Resource Directory

Selling in 2019?

Selling in 2019?

Are you thinking about selling your townhome or condo this year? If you are, here are some important things you will want to keep in mind moving forward:

You will need to order resale documents

When selling in an HOA, there are a few special considerations to remember. The Minnesota State Statute that governs homeowner associations (Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act – 515B) states that the unit owner must furnish to a purchaser before the execution of any purchase agreement the following documents: [MOU1] the complete set of Governing Documents including the Articles of Incorporation, Declarations, Bylaws and Rules & Regulations, and a release disclosure certificate. To help you gather all of these materials, we have your Association’s Governing Documents on your Association’s website. The important resale documents you need can be found here. https://secure.condocerts.com/resale/

Look for a realtor with HOA experience

Hiring a realtor with HOA experience will make the selling process easier for both you and your buyer. HOAexperienced realtors understand the steps needed to sell a condo or townhome and other important information like why resale documents are necessary.

Don’t Forget to Stage Your Home

  • Get rid of clutter.
  • Aim for a light and bright look.
  • Stage important rooms first.
  • Remove and/or rent furniture.
  • Rearrange furniture.
  • Add little extras. The finishing touches are always in the details.

 If you need further information about your property, contact us.

Snow Removal Reminders

Snow Removal Reminders

It has not been a typical snowy Minnesota winter, yet. However, we would like to take a minute to remind everyone about factors that may come into play during a snow event.

Trigger Depth
Most HOA contracts will state an accumulation total that must be met before snow removal services will commence. For most places, the trigger depth is between 1-2 inches of snow.

Accumulations
Your contract’s definition of “trigger depth” is extremely important. Depending on the wording, trigger depth can be met when all of the snow on the ground is at or above a certain amount. In other cases, trigger depth might only apply to “single-event” storms; this method disregards how much snow is already on the ground and only measures how much new snow has fallen. If the amount of new snow is less than the trigger depth, snow removal will not occur. It is important to know the difference between these plans and which one you have; if there are 5 consecutive snowstorms where less than 1-inch falls and you have a single-event contract, snow removal services will not be triggered. Most contracts are written “by event.”

Timing
The second most important clause of your contract is when the snow removal service must be completed. In most cases, “final cleanup” is required somewhere between 6 – 12 hours after the snow has stopped falling. In some cases, the timeline can change based on how much snow has accumulated. The more snow that falls, the more time is allowed for cleanup.

Open-ups
Open-ups are another clause in the snow removal contract that is put into action after the snowfall exceeds a particular total. For example, if 4 inches of snow has fallen and there is still a forecasted 4 inches, the snow removal company will perform an open-up. They will perform a single pass through the roadways with a plow so that vehicles can enter and exit the complex. One important section of the open-ups clause to look over is whether open-ups include driveways or just the main roadways. Typical language will state that an open-up will occur prior to ___ AM and/or after ___PM.

While we hope we don’t get any major snowfalls, it is always good to be prepared.

Winter in Minnesota

Winter in Minnesota

Now that we’re in February, Minnesota’s winter is roughly halfway over. Whether you love the cold or hate it, it is part of everyday life in the northland.

If you’ve recently downsized into a smaller townhouse or condo, you might be dealing with a worse case of cabin fever than normal. To help cheer you up, here are some fun ways to get through the rest of winter

Stay Active
While it might not look like it, there are tons of fun outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the winter. For the thrill seekers, Afton Alps has skiing, snowboarding, and downhill tubing. If you like to run, visit Theodore Wirth Park at 1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Golden Valley, MN. Located just 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, this expensive park has miles of trails ranging from flat and paved to steep and winding; it is perfect for every type of runner. Theodore Wirth Park is also pet-friendly, so your favorite pup can get in some exercise too.
While helping your pet get exercise during the winter can be challenging, there are a multitude of pet-friendly parks in the area. Also, remember to pick up after your dog. While no one likes to be out in the cold for longer than necessary, parks and the common areas of your association are used by all.

Get Organized
While a single-family home has room for anything and everything, condos and townhomes traditionally have less square footage. Especially around the holidays when people are getting gifts and buying sale items, it is very easy for the clutter to build up. One way to help stay on top of it and keep from being buried in a pile of stuff is to stay organized. For some great tips, check out this blog entry we did called “Simplify Your Space.” https://sharpermanagement.com/2017/04/simplify-your-space/

Taking a Vacation?
A vacation to somewhere warm is always a nice change. If you do decide to leave town for a while, remember these important tips:

  • Always leave your heat ON, set no lower than 55 degrees.
  • Inform your management and neighbors that you will be leaving, and give someone emergency contact information and/or instructions to get into your unit in case of an emergency.
  • Contact us about doing winter maintenance checks if you’re planning to be gone for an extended period of time.

We hope these tips will help make the rest of your winter more enjoyable.