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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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
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.
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.
Sharper Management is pleased to announce their Associate Director of Community Management, Josh Reams, has earned the Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) designation. The PCAM is the highest designation possible awarded to community management professionals.
Earned by only an elite group of community professionals nationwide; the PCAM is a pinnacle achievement for community management professionals.
Requirements for earning the PCAM include:
- Five years of direct community association management experience.
- Successful completion of all six M-200 level courses (with the last PMDP course completed within the past five years). These courses cover topics such as risk management, financials, and board members and their roles.
- Completion of the PCAM application case study and earning a minimum total of 125 points. The case study consists of a two-day intensive experience learning about an example association and then completing an 80-100-page case study essay.
The PCAM is awarded by the Community Association Institute, an international membership organization dedicated to building better communities.
Sharper Management is pleased to share that in November, seven nominations for the Community Association Institute – Minnesota (CAI-MN) annual Vision Awards were received by our staff.
The ceremony was held on December 6, 2018 at CAI’s annual Vision Awards and Holiday Gala. This event is an opportunity for community association managers, business partners, homeowner leaders and other various industry professional to come together and celebrate with one another for a very special night.
Sharper’s seven nominations were received for the six categories that recognized individual efforts or collective community association achievements.
- Miguel Pariona and Matthew Vitek (finalist) for Rookie of the Year
- Sam Nichols for Excellence in Service (finalist)
- Natalie Martynow for Excellent in Service
- Miguel Pariona for Financial Impact (finalist)
- Michael Miller for Financial Impact
- Michelle Waldroff for Above and Beyond
- Bearpath Homeowner Association for Outstanding Community Building by an Association (finalist)
“What an amazing honor to have so many nominees at this year’s Vision Awards,” said director of community management, Candy Lee. “The community association industry is not an easy career path. We work so hard to support our managers and provide them with the tools they need for success. But to be honored by industry professionals for these prestigious awards is a reflection of their hard work, passion for their field and their amazing content of character. We are so proud that these managers are getting the recognition they so richly deserve.”
Miguel Pariona took home the award for Financial Impact.
In previous issues we’ve discussed the importance of a strong meeting facilitator; we’ve suggested agenda formats to create better meeting efficiency; and recently we wrote on the principle that meetings should be regulated to making decisions. There’s no denying that we live in a culture of meetings. In this issue’s Board Tips, we offer one thought for you to consider regarding meeting frequency, and one tip for you to try to make your meetings more meaningful.
Meeting Frequency – how often are you meeting as an association Board? This will certainly vary. Your Governing Documents may dictate a number of meetings to be held within a calendar year. The size and complexity of your community may require more or less meeting regularity. And situational issues or projects may dictate the volume necessity for a “meeting of the minds.” Consider the notion, however, that the more often you meet, the less productive you may be. Fewer meetings force focus – and therefore motivation to have tangible outcomes and measurable initiatives.
Consider evaluating your meeting productivity. If you find that decisions are often times delayed or tabled, if your meetings are more social than business, and certainly if you have a limited number of items on your docket, consider having fewer meetings. See how it goes. The results might surprise you!
Action List – to ensure that the meeting was, in fact, constructive with measurable outcomes, it is helpful to have a summary at the end of the meeting to identify and assign action items. Make a list! These can even be incorporated into the Meeting Minutes if it reflects a new business decision or resolution of the Board. Towards the end of a meeting, it is natural for people to just want to get home. Verbally summarizing and capturing, in writing, all action items is imperative.
Make your meetings matter by ensuring they are productive and with measurable results.
* Roles & Responsibilities of the Board
* Financial Fundamentals
* An Overview to Governing Documents & State Statutes
* How to Run Effective Board Meetings
* Insurance Basics
* Property Management Practices