Florida residents use billions of gallons of water every day. Even though we experience high levels of rain in Florida, different conditions in our landscape do not always allow for proper water storage. There are various steps and changes that an Association can make to improve the retention of water in their landscape, saving money and making it more attractive.
Condos and HOAs can avoid paying costly water bills by implementing strategies to regulate and conserve their water costs by following these 9 Florida-Friendly landscaping principles:
Click here to view this Slideshare and others like it.
By using these Florida-Friendly landscaping principles, your association will not only be saving on water costs but will also be lessening pollution in your area and benefiting the environment as a whole. To view the full list of Florida-Friendly yard practices, click here.
On the market for a home covered from head to toe in beer cans? A home for sale in Lake Worth has been lined with Budweiser beer cans from the ceilings to the master closet, with the exception of the bathrooms. The owner, who since passed away was a lifelong Budweiser beer fan and made it his mission to wallpaper his home in beer cans.
Click here to see more pictures of the home on the listing site. The pictures began to get shared so much online that Budweiser took notice and posted about the condo on their Facebook account!
By Ashley Dietz Gray, Marketing Director, Campbell Property Management
The FLCAJ (Florida Community Association Journal) Readers’ Choice Awards give communities and board members an opportunity to select their favorite service providers. These prestigious awards recognize service providers that offer superior service and demonstrate a commitment to the success of their communities.
Campbell Property Management has been voted South Florida’s highest rated community association management company the past SEVEN years, winning the highest level of recognition with the Diamond Award.
If you would like to cast a vote for Campbell, click here.
If you would like to cast a vote in the landscape management category for CPM (Complete Property Maintenance), click here.
To cast your vote in other categories, click here. Voting will run from now until December 31, 2020.
by Ashley Dietz Gray, Marketing Director, Campbell Property Management
Gary Sheres is President of the Woodfield Country Club Master Association, which includes 20 sub-associations consisting of 1,297 homes in Boca Raton, Florida. Woodfield Country Club has approximately 3,500 residents. Originally from Montreal, Gary moved to Woodfield with his parents and brother, who all still reside in the community in August of 1992. After some time away for school and work, Gary returned “home” to Woodfield 5 years ago with his children (Tara and Lindsey), and his wife (Karen), who also grew up in Woodfield.
Shortly after returning to Woodfield, Gary felt that certain things needed to be improved in his neighborhood and he joined the Hamilton Place sub-association Board of Directors. Only twelve months later, he joined the Woodfield Master Association Board. At the end of 2020, Gary will have completed his third year on the Master Association Board and fourth year on his sub-association Board.
This past week, I sat down with Gary to discuss his experiences working as President of the Woodfield Country Club Master Association:
What do you enjoy most about being on the board?
The enjoyable part of being on the board is witnessing the inner workings of a master association and being able to create positive change that most homeowners are not aware of. People often ask, “What are you really doing?” It may not always be obvious, but I like to know that I am working to improve the community for my family, friends, and neighbors.
What kind of challenges do you face being the President of a Master Association?
As President of my sub-association and President of the Master HOA, I must approach all situations from a neutral unbiased perspective. I cannot take anyone’s individual interest or sub-association’s interest above another. We must always treat everyone fairly and equally. Most members of the Master Association are also members of their sub-association boards, so it is a challenge we all face.
How has the Board dealt with the COVID-19 challenge at Woodfield?
Woodfield HOA has no amenities of our own. We are a Country Club community; all amenities fall under the Country Club’s control. While we have open lines of communication with the club and a strong working relationship, we have not had the tough job or responsibility of closing or operating facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some sub-associations control their own pools and playgrounds, but of course that does not fall under the Master Association purview as they all have their own management teams. In response to the pandemic, we have had to close our HOA office to all foot traffic. This has propelled us to find new ways to conduct business remotely while still delivering the same high level of customer service and support our homeowners expect.
What has been your proudest achievement during your time on the Board?
Improving our strong working relationship with our Campbell staff who are responsible for running our community every day, and a rejuvenated security team are my proudest achievements thus far. Safety and security are always a high priority to residents living in gated communities. Our Residents expect a certain level of protection and professionalism. We have one of the best security teams in the area and I am proud that we built it up so well. The key is our solid partnership with Campbell and Titan International Security. If an issue arises, we all work together and get it solved. We have accomplished a lot in the past 3 years, but there is always more to be done. Our goal is to make all our neighbors proud of the community they live in. That is what is most important!
What advice would you share with other Board members?
Each member of a board comes with a unique set of skills, experiences, and knowledge. Working together as a team enables us to come together and create the best result for our community. I do not feel I can advise others how best to keep their community strong, but I do believe it is imperative to work cohesively and truly listen to each person’s viewpoint.
Although, I am currently the president of the HOA, I am only 1 vote out of 8 or 9. The title of president does not give you any intrinsic special powers. Therefore, working with other board members and listening is essential to getting things done. One of the hardest things to understand, especially for businesspeople is that there must be a certain level of respect even when you disagree with someone. In the end, you are all neighbors, not co-workers. I highly suggest those wanting to join the Master Board should get involved with their sub-association and Master sub-committees so they can get an understanding of how things really work and why.
One of the most important things is having a really good management staff. We as Board members are not paid for these jobs and it takes a lot more time than one might anticipate to do things correctly. Without a solid management team and the corporate back-up; the work would be overwhelming. Thankfully with the Campbell staff we have a great team.
What major projects has Woodfield done in the past year.
Recently, we have focused a lot of our energy on improving the technology available to our security team. We have installed a new antenna and distributed upgraded radios to our security personnel. We have equipped all our roving vehicles with the WatchGuard system which includes body cams and automatic recordings. Each unit has also been provided dedicated tablets that serve as mobile workstations and reduce our reliance on paper reports. Over the last two years due to technology and policy improvements, we believe we have set our security team up for success in every possible way, and ultimately have created a better and safer community for our residents.
“Meet the Director” is an ongoing series where we recognize an outstanding Director from a community association in South Florida.
Serving on the Board of a Community Association is a challenging and often thankless job. There are thousands of dedicated volunteers in South Florida that have stepped up to lead their communities and we hope this series serves as a reminder to us all – to thank those that have invested their time and energy to make their communities a better place to live.
by Ashley Dietz Gray, Marketing Director, Campbell Property Management
It is not uncommon for boards to try to keep assessments down especially during times like COVID-19. One way that a board can accomplish the “appearance” of keeping assessments down while still covering the day-to-day expenses is to waive or underfund the reserves. At the time, waiving or underfunding reserves may not seem like a big deal but association reserves serve a very important purpose to slowly save money over a longer period of time for big ticket items, capital expenditures and deferred maintenance for which the association may be responsible for maintaining, repairing and/or replacing.
In the short run, owners tend to be happy that reserves are waived or underfunded because it can save an owner quite a bit of money per month depending on the size of the association. However, inadequate or no funding for future major repairs and replacements may adversely affect the ability of owners to sell or refinance their units, because of concerns of prospective buyers, or because of the difficulty of obtaining mortgage financing under programs of various local, federal, and quasi-federal lending and lending-related organizations. Inadequate reserve funding also creates the necessity of future special assessments which can become quite burdensome and expensive and possibility become unaffordable for owners to pay.
Under 718.112 of the Florida Statutes, reserves must be established for roof replacement, building painting, and pavement resurfacing regardless of the amount of deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost, and for any other item for which the deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost exceeds $10,000. The purpose of reserves is to assure that funds for major repairs and replacements will be available when needed.
Currently in South Florida, the real estate market is hot. Interest rates are at an all time low, inventory is low and sales are booming. In recent weeks, I’ve seen real estate deals fall apart because buyers cannot qualify for FHA loans, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac due to those particular associations having less than 10% reserves. In those situations, the lenders required the buyers to put 25% down. Those real estate deals all died due to the lack of reserves and the buyers not having the funds to put down on the purchase.
This budget season, I strongly urge boards to consider reserves. Some reserves are better than no reserves and boards may want to take into account the minimum amount lenders are requiring for buyers to qualify for loans so that the community is a marketable community.
The waiving or reducing reserves requires a membership meeting in addition to the Board’s budget meeting. Both meetings can be held on the same night but the budget meeting should take place first so that the budget is passed with full reserves. When that meeting is concluded, a membership meeting may be opened to vote on whether reserves should be fully funded, reduced or waived. The vote must be very specific. A majority vote of those owners in attendance at the properly noticed membership meeting is required in order to not fully fund reserves.
If your association has any questions regarding budgets and reserves, please be certain to seek out competent legal counsel that has the requisite expertise in the area of community association law. If you currently do not have legal counsel or if you are interested in contacting me with respect community association legal issues, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Lindsay Raphael, Esq. of Raphael Law, P.A., legal practice consists of representation of condominium, homeowner, commercial association as well as developers who build them. Lindsay has been selected to the Florida Super Lawyers Up and Coming List for multiple years and is a Martindale Hubble AV rated attorney. Lindsay Raphael can be reached at 561-961-0918.
Phantasma scale (Fiorinia phantasma) is a pest of several ornamental plant species, especially those in the family Arecaceae (palms). This type of pest is prevalent in Hawaii, having a significant effect on the ornamentals in the area.
This pest has made its way to South Florida, adding to the list of invasive species that reside in our area. An infestation of this phantasma scale was found on 27 roadside palm trees in Miami-Dade county in March of 2018. This type of scale primarily eats away at palm leaves, which of course are very common in South Florida. When the scale feeds on the palm leaves, they leave behind a blotchy yellow appearance, eventually causing leaves to drop. The effects left by the scales can cause significant harm to ornamental growers, homeowners, and landscapers in South Florida, including economic harm.
Adult females are sometimes distinguishable by their red stripes. However, some females are clear or are completely red in color. Samples collected in Florida tend not to have the striped females. Owners and landscapers should keep an eye out for this invasive scale.
by Shane Humble, President, Complete Property Maintenance, Inc.
It is widely anticipated that beginning September 8, 2020, Palm Beach County will move to incremental phase 2 re-opening. We have had a flood of questions from property managers and board members, and are happy to address as many concerns as we are able to with the information we have available. There has not yet been a definitive Order on what will be re-opened and the requirements to re-open, however, based on the proposed guidelines, we have a good idea.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Q: Are there any changes to the current order for our community pools? Do we still have to monitor them? Can they be open without staff on site? Can we reinstate our water aerobics classes? Are there any limitations on the maximum number of owners who can be at the pool at one time?
A: We do not anticipate any changes to the current order regulating community association pools in the incremental phase 2 re-opening. Community association pools were permitted to re-open by Palm Beach County Emergency Order Number 5, and certain requirements were clarified in Order Number 7. Among the requirements were that CDC guidelines and social distancing guidelines be adhered to, locker room and shower facilities remain closed, but restrooms may reopen with regular cleaning and adequate hygiene supplies provided by the Association such as soap, water, hand sanitizer, and/or disinfectant wipes in each restroom. Additionally, the association is required to provide personnel to monitor the pool area to ensure compliance with the order. This does not mean that you need to have an attendant at the pool at all times, but you do need to have regular oversight of the pool to ensure that social distancing is being adhered to. There has been no specific prohibitions on pool based classes, however all of the guidelines that apply to the regular usage of the pool also apply to classes.
Q: Can we reopen the Association’s gym and fitness centers? Do they need to be supervised? Do we need to restrict usage of some of the machines? Can we reinstate exercise classes? Can locker rooms re-open?
A: Under the Incremental Phase II Reopening Plan, gyms and fitness centers may open and operate at full capacity with appropriate physical distancing and with enhanced sanitization protocols. The CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces can be found here https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-139.pdf. It is not anticipated that the association will be required to supervise the gym, but it is responsible for ensuring that social distancing guidelines are adhered to, and the gym is cleaned per CDC guidelines. Additionally, guidance thus far does not mandate closure of any machines, cancellation of exercise classes, or closure of locker rooms. You need to evaluate your particular facilities and their demands, to determine what should remain closed in order to comply with the social distancing guidelines. If there are any concerns regarding liability, please make sure to reach out to your Association’s attorney and/or insurance agent to discuss them.
Q: Can we reopen playgrounds and other recreational facilities without supervision? Does the association need to clean these amenities when they are open? Would signs stating that you must use the facilities at your own risk be sufficient?
A: Parks, playgrounds and exercise equipment have been permitted to re-open pursuant to Palm Beach County Emergency Order 21, dated August 27, 2020. Tennis courts and other spa facilities were allowed to re-open pursuant to Order 11. The Orders do not require supervision of the facilities by your association. A sign advising that the use of the facilities would be at your own risk is not required and most likely will not be effective for prevention of any claims arising from owners and residents. The CDC guidelines in place for the cleaning of gyms and fitness facilities also apply to playgrounds and other recreational facilities.
Q: Can we open the clubhouse and recreational facilities? Can we start allowing owners to rent and utilize the clubhouse for social events with the limited capacity size in place? How can we ensure residents will follow the rules if staff is not on site, for example on the weekends? Can we resume social events for residents with limited capacity (i.e. Bingo, Mahjong, Bridge, etc.)?
A: We have not received guidance on the number of persons that may gather in an area. The Governor’s order moving other counties into phase 2 encouraged people to avoid congregating in groups larger than 50 persons. Bingo parlors are slated to re-open at 50% capacity in the middle of October. Your association should wait for further guidance as to the number of persons that may congregate inside your clubhouse. However, your association should keep in mind that the government mandates are only the floor and your association will have to evaluate its own circumstances when deciding how and what to re-open.
Q: Should our Association continue using zoom if we anticipate more than 50 people in attendance at meetings?
A: Your association attorney can help guide you through the meeting process including the proper format to comply with the requirements imposed by your governing documents and Florida law.
Q: Cafes and Restaurants in Associations – What are the new rules and restrictions for operating cafes and restaurants in Associations?
A: Palm Beach County Emergency Order 15 permits restaurants to open indoor seating at fifty percent (50%) capacity with appropriate partitioning in place between the parties. The incremental phase 2 re-opening plan does not appear to affect restaurants.
Q: Golf Courses and Clubs – Are there any changes to golf courses and golf facilities under the current guidelines?
A: The incremental phase 2 re-opening will likely not affect golf courses or facilities. The current restrictions are still in effect from Palm Beach County orders 5 and 7.
Q: Schools are slated to reopen in phase 2. How should we handle communications to the owners regarding bus stops and other areas where school children congregate on Association property?
A: Your association can only create rules and regulations to set standards of behavior on its common elements or common areas. School children waiting for the school bus must adhere to social distancing requirements set forth by the CDC, the Florida Department of Health and other local authorities. If you have any concerns regarding these issues, please contact your Association attorney for guidance.
The emergency orders are changing rapidly and our goal is to keep you up to date with current information as it is received. Please feel free to send any additional questions that you may have to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you in the near future at our webinars and other educational events.
By Steven R. Braten, Shareholder & Michael Casanover, Senior Associate, Rosenbaum PLLC
Cypress Head, a Homeowners Association in Parkland, with over 450 homes has, and always will be considered a high-end community with an understated elegance. In recent years, the Board of Directors have elected to renovate many of the amenities to bring them up to date. One of the amenities that was not up to par with Cypress Head’s standards was their fitness center. A poll of the community indicated that most residents were in favor of enlarging the community’s fitness center thus setting in motion their fitness center renovation project.
Prior to the renovation, the community had outgrown the fitness center and some of the fitness equipment no longer met the standards necessary. The fitness center took up half of the small clubhouse’s space, while the other half remained largely unused by residents. Since the other half of the clubhouse was rarely used, it was decided that the fitness center would be expanded into the remainder of the clubhouse.
Once the gym renovation project was approved by the board there was a host of parties involved. Interestingly, the project was led and managed by one of Cypress Head’s homeowners and well-known Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Jeremy Frank, who encouraged expanding the fitness center into the unused clubhouse space. The community’s Property Manager, Lori Belfatto, also employed the help of a local architect, general contractor and a world class gym renovation company along with Cypress Head’s gym renovation group.
The Board of Directors took advantage of the mandated amenity shut-down period during the COVID-19 pandemic to complete the renovation project while the facility was already closed. The contractor indicated that the project would take about 45 business days to complete. With that timeframe in mind, the Board began the project on June 8th in order to complete the work by the targeted opening date of August 7th. Subsequently, the renovation project was successfully completed on August 1st, allowing plenty of time for final touches.
Upon completion, the fitness center more than doubled in size from 600 square feet to 1584 square feet. The updated facility was designed and constructed to best utilize the new expanded space and provide a modern functional gym that complimented Cypress Head’s existing amenities. New equipment was chosen to complement the existing workout equipment by providing additional cardio, weight training and strength training machines, and a separate dedicated area for stretching. Residents now have the following machines to choose from: (3) treadmills, (3) ellipticals, (1) Step Master Climber, Les Mills Stationary bike, airdyne bike, recliner bike and an Octane dual resistance rower. There is a dedicated stretching area and ballet bar. Also added was a strength training section dedicated to free weights ranging from 5 to 75 lbs. Multi-functional trainers were added to complement the existing machines. Residents now have access to a pull up/chin up/dip assist machine, core ab machine, leg press, smith machine, heavy bag, battle ropes, resistance bands and kettle bells. The new fitness center has something for all levels of fitness in a new clean environment.
Many residents are finding the facility to be a better option and plan to cancel their memberships at outside commercial gyms. Cypress Head has also laid out specific guidelines to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions set by local government. Residents who enter the new fitness center must adhere to the following:
- The Fitness Center is for Residents ONLY – 13 years of age and older.
- No guests or personal trainers are permitted at any time.
- All Residents must be registered and issued their own key fob.
- Key fobs are not transferable and cannot be shared.
- Masks must always be worn, including during cardio exercises.
- We will be implementing a sign-in system to prevent groups of more than 16 people at one time. (50% building capacity)
- Hands MUST be washed before and after using machines.
- ALL equipment MUST be thoroughly wiped down before and after use.
Lori Belfatto, Dr. Frank, and the Cypress Head board have done an excellent job of planning and renovating their fitness center. The facility is now at the elegant standard which their residents expect and should act as an example for any community that is planning on renovating their current fitness center.
By Diego Hernandez, Marketing Assistant, Campbell Property Management
Do you find that your Association constantly has unexpected repair or replacement costs that you don’t have money budgeted for? If so, it may be a good idea for your Board to look into having a reserve study done for your community.
I recently spoke with Will Simons, RS, President of the Florida office for Association Reserves. The firm has been providing reserve studies since 1986 and has performed over 50,000 of them. They have 12 offices all over the United States and provide reserves studies to community associations. A reserve study is a document used to help forecast and budget for the major projects that the community will need to undertake in future years. I talked to Will about how they would provide a reserve study for condos and HOAs.
The things typically included in a reserve study will vary based on the type of community, but in general, they include:
- Major Repair costs
- Major Replacements costs
- Costs for upgrades or modernizations of common elements
The goal of a reserve study is to help determine the life expectancies and the replacement costs of different components of HOAs and condos, and to provide a reliable financial analysis based on the timing and costs of future expenses. Preparing a good budget with adequate reserve funding is important because it will reduce the likelihood of needing to impose a special assessment or seek out a loan for major projects. In addition, a reserve study is valuable because it incorporates objective, professional guidance from trained experts with many years of experience working with other communities that have similar needs.
Having a current, professional reserve study also helps to protect and maintain property values, as it allows associations to fund projects on-time and without outside assistance, making for a more financially stable community. These days, homebuyers are increasingly sensitive to the risks of buying into a community with a history of special assessments. If an association can demonstrate that it’s actively working to reduce those risks, it may be a more attractive place to own than those communities that aren’t doing so.
It is an industry best-practice to get a reserve study for your condo association or HOA about every three years, in order to ensure the component data and resulting funding plan are kept current. The Florida statutes do not require reserve studies for associations; however, every year a reserve schedule is required with the association’s annual budget. Completing a reserve study ensures that the board is using accurate numbers from a third-party professional with no other financial interest in the property.
The cost of getting a reserve study done would depend on the time the experts need to analyze the property, but in general, the turnaround time is usually about six to eight weeks. Properties with more common area components tend to pay more for a reserve study, as there’s more work and detail involved in the process. Location is also a factor that can also affect the cost, as travel expenses may need to be added.
Most community associations have the same fiscal year ending December 31st, meaning most are close to finalizing their budgets in September or October. Since the reserve study typically needs to be done before the budget is adopted, the summer and fall months tend to be the “busy season” for reserve study providers. However, communities that get an earlier start in the year, such as January or February, may have the advantage of more time to ask questions or request revisions from reserve study firm. In some cases, the fees for the reserve study itself can also be lower based on the time of year.
by Ashley Dietz Gray, Marketing Director, Campbell Property Management
If you are restricting traffic to your onsite office, but still want to be available to your residents, here is a creative solution!
At Whitehall Condominium in Boca Raton, the initial solution to limit residents from entering the office was to keep the door shut. However, after doing so they received many complaints from residents that felt like the office was no longer available to them for questions or concerns.
To make the residents feel like the office was still available to them, Paula McIntosh, Property Manager of Whitehall had the maintenance staff build a half door that fit perfectly within the door frame allowing them to still close the actual door without interference when necessary. The half door stays latched with magnets. The staff still do not let residents into the office but will gladly speak to them through the opening or step out into the lobby to have a conversation. This innovative idea has completely remedied the issue.
By Diego Hernandez, Marketing Assistant, Campbell Property Management