About steve@bayintegratedmarketing.com

Steve Ulrich is a principal at Bay Integrated Marketing: www.bayintegratedmarketing.com. I have been working with people to maximize their use of social media and internet publishing, optimize their websites to turn prospects into customers, and establish their personal brand on the internet. We are also working with Eco Distribution, Inc. to find and implement practical solutions to help clean up our air and the environment. Eco Distribution, Inc. is a California based Distributor and Representative Firm dealing in environmentally friendly and Green solutions. We have leveraged 30 years experience in responsible construction management to provide solutions for some of the most impactful challenges facing our air, water, and land. We have an oil/hydrocarbon remediation system that is effective on everything from simple oil stains on a driveway, to complex oil disasters in the ocean. My approach to social media and internet marketing is simple. Instead of spending a fortune “buying” keywords and ads that don’t return anything we concentrate on three areas: I CAN GET YOU FOUND ON LINKEDIN - NUMBER ONE, PAGE ONE.

HOA Earthquake Insurance, To Buy or Not to Buy?

I am going to give my annual plug for earthquake insurance for HOAs. I have written a whole article about it which appears in the Articles section on my website at http://www.californiacondoguru.com. Here is an excerpt explaining something few boards think about when deciding how to approach the question. Too many people dismiss it because of the cost. That in my view, without delving deeper into the possibilities of risk balancing, and options, and how to get owners enrolled in a more protective system, could be a breach of duty on the part of a Board. Boards, I know you have a lot on your plate, but I am one knowledgeable homeowner who understands that having some kind of foundation to rebuild from in the event of an earthquake that destroys ANY building in the condo development that I live in is critical to each and every person’s investment in the property. I am one savvy owner that understands those who have equity in the properties will stay and rebuild if they can, but those who have little equity – like investors and anyone mortgaged to the hilt, will simply walk away, leaving the entire burden of rebuilding to those who want to stay.

Here is the excerpt from the Article on the website on the topic many miss in the consideration of whether to have earthquake insurance:

“It’s only fair to talk about the reality that some owners whose master plan is to “walk away” from their homes if the big one hits, and let the banks foreclose, for this too is an honest concern. If an association carries master earthquake coverage, all owners must share in the premiums, thus sharing in the price of balancing of the risk ­ thus all owners have participated in laying the “foundation” to recovery. If an association has no master policy, those owners who plan to walk will avoid all responsibility toward protecting the association’s financial health with protective coverage. Which seems the most fair, especially to the folks who have built up equity in their property? After the fact the association does have foreclosure rights and also personal debt action rights against owners who do not pay special assessments but as most know, it is not easy to collect debt these days. So why let these owners avoid the up-front participation in risk sharing?”

Advertisements

Homeowners Association Frequently Asked Questions

* * *
What is the HOA’s role versus Homeowner’s role or the Builder’s role?
HOA CONTRACTOR HOMEOWNER BUILDER
(*Maintenance Free Homes) (All Homeowners) (Refer to Builder Landscape Policy)
*Weekly mowing Flowers in beds if desired Installs initial lawn
*Lawn fertilizations Plant Fertilizations Installs initial mulch
(5per season) (If desired)
*Replace Front yard mulch Backyard Mulch & Shrubs Grading or drainage issues?
(↑One time/year) (If desired)
*Trim Front yard shrubs Seed lawn bare spots
(↑One time/year)
*Weed Front mulch beds Individual irrigation system
(open/close/repairs)
Common Area Irrigation Replace dead plants/trees
Start up & shut down
________________________________________________________________________
What is included in my Homeowner Association Dues?
*Maintenance Free Homes receive the following services:
 Spring cleanup (1x)
 Weekly mowing
 Re-mulching beds(1x)
 Weeding mulch beds
 Fall clean up (1x)
 Snow removal
(snowfalls over 2”)
*All Homeowner’s dues include maintenance of the Common Areas. For detailed specifications, please
reference the HOA budget in the Offering Plan.
________________________________________________________________________
What is NOT included in my Homeowner Association Dues?
 Plant & shrub fertilizations
 Lawn disease
 Opening, closing + repairs of
individual irrigation systems
 Watering of shrubs & lawns
 Calcium chloride treatments
after snow removal
__________________________________________________________________________________
Why does my new lawn have weeds?
*Newly emerging grass receives applications of fertilizer and insecticide. Because young grass is
typically somewhat fragile, newly seeded lawns generally require three mowing occurrences before
any weed control products can be applied. You will see a fair amount of weeds germinating the first
growing season until your lawn is established. We thank you for your patience during this process.
_________________________________________________________________________________
Page 2
How many lawn fertilizations are included in the grounds maintenance contract?
*Five lawn fertilizations per year and includes grub control.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Does the grounds maintenance contractor take care of bare spots?
*Seeding is not part of the grounds maintenance contract, although they may carry some seed in
their trucks and may treat some bare spots at homes. Homeowners are encouraged to treat & seed
their own bare spots.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Is plant or tree fertilization included in the HOA contract?
*No; plant, shrub and tree fertilizations are not included in the HOA contract.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Can I pay for additional services if they are not included in the grounds maintenance
contract?
*Yes. Homeowners can call the HOA contractor directly to receive a quote for additional services.
Some of these additional services may include:
 An extra lawn fertilization (if more than 5 are wanted)
 Plant, shrub or tree fertilization
 Back yard mulching
 Disease treatment for lawns if a disease occurs on lawns
__________________________________________________________________________________
What if our trees, shrubs or plants die?
*Trees, shrubs and plants are a Homeowners responsibility. Although the HOA contractor contract
includes pruning shrubs once per year, it does not include replacement at all.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Will the HOA close my lawn sprinklers for me in the Fall and open them in the Spring?
*No. Closing and opening of sprinklers is a Homeowners responsibility. The HOA budget covers the
opening & closing of the sprinklers in the Common Areas only if applicable.
__________________________________________________________________________________
When are the monthly HOA payments due?
* The HOA is dependent upon all members to pay their monthly dues by the first of every month, as
they have a budget to maintain and bills to pay for the operation and maintenance of the common
properties.
________________________________________________________________________________
Can I pay my dues in advance?
*Yes, you may pay ahead on your dues. Some customers who travel to warmer climates in the winter
like to pay in advance so they don’t have to worry about their dues while they are gone.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Can I pay my dues electronically and transfer the money directly into the HOA account?
*Yes! In most of our HOA communities, we are offering auto withdrawal, so please contact your HOA
representative for the form to fill out. This form insures prompt and secure payment of your HOA
dues.
__________________________________________________________________________________
If I run out of dues coupons can I send my check without a coupon?
*Yes, just write the month(s) you are paying for on the memo line.
*You can also print more coupons directly from the HOA website if applicable.
Page 3
__________________________________________________________________________________
Do I have to submit an Architectural Review Form for all outside projects?
*Generally speaking, all outside projects require approval. Any modification to the exterior of the
home or permanent landscape projects requires Board Approval. Please refer to your Homeowners
Association Offering Plan for guidance and if in doubt, we recommend you submit a request.
__________________________________________________________________________________
How can I sign up for one of the Volunteer Committees?
Homeowner involved communities make for a smooth process, so we encourage your input and
involvement. Volunteers are encouraged to become involved in the Architectural Review or Grounds
Maintenance Committees.

Homeowners Association Frequently Asked Questions

* * *
What is the HOA’s role versus Homeowner’s role or the Builder’s role?
HOA CONTRACTOR HOMEOWNER BUILDER
(*Maintenance Free Homes) (All Homeowners) (Refer to Builder Landscape Policy)
*Weekly mowing Flowers in beds if desired Installs initial lawn
*Lawn fertilizations Plant Fertilizations Installs initial mulch
(5per season) (If desired)
*Replace Front yard mulch Backyard Mulch & Shrubs Grading or drainage issues?
(↑One time/year) (If desired)
*Trim Front yard shrubs Seed lawn bare spots
(↑One time/year)
*Weed Front mulch beds Individual irrigation system
(open/close/repairs)
Common Area Irrigation Replace dead plants/trees
Start up & shut down
________________________________________________________________________
What is included in my Homeowner Association Dues?
*Maintenance Free Homes receive the following services:
 Spring cleanup (1x)
 Weekly mowing
 Re-mulching beds(1x)
 Weeding mulch beds
 Fall clean up (1x)
 Snow removal
(snowfalls over 2”)
*All Homeowner’s dues include maintenance of the Common Areas. For detailed specifications, please
reference the HOA budget in the Offering Plan.
________________________________________________________________________
What is NOT included in my Homeowner Association Dues?
 Plant & shrub fertilizations
 Lawn disease
 Opening, closing + repairs of
individual irrigation systems
 Watering of shrubs & lawns
 Calcium chloride treatments
after snow removal
__________________________________________________________________________________
Why does my new lawn have weeds?
*Newly emerging grass receives applications of fertilizer and insecticide. Because young grass is
typically somewhat fragile, newly seeded lawns generally require three mowing occurrences before
any weed control products can be applied. You will see a fair amount of weeds germinating the first
growing season until your lawn is established. We thank you for your patience during this process.
_________________________________________________________________________________
Page 2
How many lawn fertilizations are included in the grounds maintenance contract?
*Five lawn fertilizations per year and includes grub control.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Does the grounds maintenance contractor take care of bare spots?
*Seeding is not part of the grounds maintenance contract, although they may carry some seed in
their trucks and may treat some bare spots at homes. Homeowners are encouraged to treat & seed
their own bare spots.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Is plant or tree fertilization included in the HOA contract?
*No; plant, shrub and tree fertilizations are not included in the HOA contract.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Can I pay for additional services if they are not included in the grounds maintenance
contract?
*Yes. Homeowners can call the HOA contractor directly to receive a quote for additional services.
Some of these additional services may include:
 An extra lawn fertilization (if more than 5 are wanted)
 Plant, shrub or tree fertilization
 Back yard mulching
 Disease treatment for lawns if a disease occurs on lawns
__________________________________________________________________________________
What if our trees, shrubs or plants die?
*Trees, shrubs and plants are a Homeowners responsibility. Although the HOA contractor contract
includes pruning shrubs once per year, it does not include replacement at all.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Will the HOA close my lawn sprinklers for me in the Fall and open them in the Spring?
*No. Closing and opening of sprinklers is a Homeowners responsibility. The HOA budget covers the
opening & closing of the sprinklers in the Common Areas only if applicable.
__________________________________________________________________________________
When are the monthly HOA payments due?
* The HOA is dependent upon all members to pay their monthly dues by the first of every month, as
they have a budget to maintain and bills to pay for the operation and maintenance of the common
properties.
________________________________________________________________________________
Can I pay my dues in advance?
*Yes, you may pay ahead on your dues. Some customers who travel to warmer climates in the winter
like to pay in advance so they don’t have to worry about their dues while they are gone.
__________________________________________________________________________________
Can I pay my dues electronically and transfer the money directly into the HOA account?
*Yes! In most of our HOA communities, we are offering auto withdrawal, so please contact your HOA
representative for the form to fill out. This form insures prompt and secure payment of your HOA
dues.
__________________________________________________________________________________
If I run out of dues coupons can I send my check without a coupon?
*Yes, just write the month(s) you are paying for on the memo line.
*You can also print more coupons directly from the HOA website if applicable.
Page 3
__________________________________________________________________________________
Do I have to submit an Architectural Review Form for all outside projects?
*Generally speaking, all outside projects require approval. Any modification to the exterior of the
home or permanent landscape projects requires Board Approval. Please refer to your Homeowners
Association Offering Plan for guidance and if in doubt, we recommend you submit a request.
__________________________________________________________________________________
How can I sign up for one of the Volunteer Committees?
Homeowner involved communities make for a smooth process, so we encourage your input and
involvement. Volunteers are encouraged to become involved in the Architectural Review or Grounds
Maintenance Committees.

HOA Governing Documents Explained

  BY   –

Q: I recently purchased a home in a development that is under a homeowners’ association. When I purchased, I received “the documents” for our community. I am confused how these documents relate to each other and what the different documents are supposed to mean. Can you clarify the differences between the documents for me? I was also wondering how the “rules” are created. Is this something that homeowners are consulted on? (G.M., via e-mail)

A: According to Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, the “governing documents” of the community include the declaration of covenants, the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, and the rules and regulations.

The declaration is much like your “constitution” and sets forth the basic covenants and restrictions for the community. For example, covenants include the obligations to pay assessments and be a member of the association arising from the declaration. The requirement that your lot can only be used as a single family home, or can only be rented for certain minimum periods arise from the declaration are examples of restrictions.

The articles of incorporation, called the “corporate charter” in many states, establishes the association’s existence and basic structure and governance. It may address important powers, such as the association’s authority to borrow money.

The bylaws (which I often refer to as “the corporate housekeeping rules”) govern the operation and administration of the association. Bylaws will typically address the composition of the board, how meetings are called, and numerous other corporate procedures.

The rules and regulations usually supplement the restrictions in the declaration, and typically address matters of everyday policy, such as parking or use of the community’s recreational facilities.

In addition to “do and don’t” rules, most HOA’s also have what I refer to as “administrative rules”. For example, the Homeowners’ Association Act grants the board authority to adopt certain rules governing the frequency, duration, and other manner of member statements during board meetings. An official records inspection rule is another example of an “administrative rule”.

The various governing documents are each subject to their own amendatory procedure. Typically, declaration amendments require the highest level of owner vote, whereas rules are most often amended and created by the board of directors. Rules must be reasonable and cannot conflict with the rights provided for in the other governing documents. Amendments to all governing documents must be recorded in the public records to be valid.

The bylaws usually establish the board’s rulemaking authority, and may include limitations on this authority, such as a board only having the ability to create rules governing use and operation of the common areas.

The law does not contain any requirement for owners to approve rules, which are most often adopted by the board, assuming adequate rulemaking authority have been granted to the board. However, owners have the ability to attend board meetings where they can voice their opinions and raise any concerns regarding any items the board plans to vote on, including rules and regulations.

Q: My neighbor wants to erect a flagpole in his yard. I am concerned that it will block my property’s view. Is there anything that can be done about this? (S.S., via e-mail)

A: Probably not much.

Section 720.304 of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act provides that homeowners may erect freestanding flagpoles of no more than twenty feet in height on any portion of their property, regardless of provisions in the governing documents to the contrary. However, the flagpole cannot be built on an easement, and must not obstruct sightlines at intersections.

The law also lists certain flags that may be displayed from the flagpole, again regardless of contrary provisions of the governing documents, including a United States flag, an official flag of the State of Florida, or of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, or POW-MIA.

The law does state, however that flagpoles and corresponding flags are subject to all building codes, setback requirements, and all other applicable governmental restrictions. If your community’s covenants pre-date the enactment of these laws, there is an argument that they cannot be applied retroactively. However, that is far from settled on this topic.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to jadams@beckerlawyers.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.

The benefits of a structured community

 

My dad was a cattle rancher, my mom  a farmer from Iowa.  They had little experience with suburbia growing up. I, however was born in OakTown.  Kaiser Hospital, Grand Avenue.   Thankfully, they left that environment before my lack of pigment got me more than a couple of stiff beatings.  That was back when “down and out” was good.   No need for the .44 going off in your ear.

Having spent most of my life thereafter in country suburban settings, where “dogs run free,” I have never been exposed  to real estate developments as a remote possibility for a residence.

I am a minimalist.  My lovely and attractive wife is not. So now we live in a 5 bedroom 3 bath monster of a home in a brand new subdivision.  I have a 60’ x 60’ lawn in the back.  Like I need this at the age of 65.

At this age, I am retired from the 9-5.  I keep some rental property in California, but we have moved to Washington State to be near my wife’s aged parents, and her siblings. I still write my blogs and keep my tenants happy, but it only takes a few hours a day.  There are countless things to do in this playland of lakes, farms, parks, and trees.   Especially with my 4 year old Lab buddy, Lexie.

The neighborhood homeowners’ association was recently handed down to the community, from the developer.  Having all this extra time, and an interest in the community, I volunteered for service on the board.  It was the best decision I’ve made up here.

There is so much to learn, and we do every day. It seems as though we are reinventing the wheel, as this has to be happening in thousands of developed communities across the land. We find new resources every day, and have diverese opinions regarding exactly how far an HOA should go to “maintain order.”  My  philosophy is to live and let live,  just as long as the lawn are trimmed and nobody trys to paint their house bright red.  Others on the board are far more “by the book.”  There are rather obvious special interests that some of the members are sensitive to, and  others that we just ignore.

Responsibility and enforcement are key issues that we continue to struggle with.   Although the Community “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” or CC&Rs, spell out some guidelines, but the board has to interpret how literally we wish to enforce them.It’s harder to be objective when its your best friend and next door neighbor who has his panel truck parked in his driveway.  But, if its OK for one, then its OK for all.  There are issues with which we all agree, but are just too petty to inforce.  Then there are others that simply get taken out of our hands.  We agreed that the kids in our development could have those movable basketball hoops.  I hate them, but the kids gotta do something, right.  One of the members just would not leave it alone, and kept on digging.  You know what, he was right!  The County has forbidden it so it is now out of our hands.  Who would have known.   Now we have a set of rules that has been written down all along.  That would have been nice to have tucked into the “welcome to the Board” kit we never got.

It is  an evolution, but one I am proud to be part of.  It does remind one to keep an open mind, and an active participation.  I recently found myself in a development very near my house that did not put forth the effort to maintain these standards.   Let’s just say that I  feel the effort we are putting towards this is well worth it.   We got one rock, and we all gotta live on it.  Done blow  it!