Ohio community association board members are unpaid volunteers. Most association governing documents clearly stipulate that the board members “shall serve without compensation” or “shall be unpaid volunteers.” Under Ohio nonprofit corporate laws, board members are required to perform the duties of a director in good faith (known as the duty of care) and in a manner they believe to be in the best interests of the entire association (known as the duty of loyalty). If a community association board member is using their position for personal gain, such as paying themselves or waiving the requirement that they pay their association assessments, their judgment and decisions will clearly be called into question. More significantly, a disgruntled owner may very well charge that board member with a breach of the Ohio mandated duty of care and loyalty. If such an allegation is made, board members are generally covered under the association’s “Directors and Officers” (D & O) insurance p...
Board Members Should Never Use Their Board Position for Personal Gain
Seminar Survey Shows that Community Association Board Members Overwhelmingly Appreciate their Manager
We surveyed the in excess of 2,000 board members who attended one of our fall, 2015 seminars held in over 20 different locations. We asked those board members who currently had professional management what they viewed as the most advantageous aspects of management services as well as those aspects deemed not as favorable. An overwhelming 95.03% stated they viewed the management company’s handling of the community association’s financial matters as an advantage of being managed. From balancing budgets to collection of dues, to various accounting services, financial planning, and report preparation, board members value the time and effort that their managers put into this difficult task. Of second most importance, 90.58% of those surveyed are grateful that management acts as a buffer with the owners, fielding phone calls, emails, and complaints as well as handling the day-to-day association issues. 85.64% appreciate that their management responds to those issues quickly, including ...
U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Impacts all Ohio Community Associations
28 Jun 2015
Federal & Regulatory
28 Jun 2015
Federal & Regulatory
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide. The decision of the High Court invalidates gay marriage bans in more than a dozen states, including Ohio. In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples and to recognize such marriages performed in other states.Ohio's constitution has prohibited same-sex marriages until now, and the State has refused to recognize same-sex marriage licenses issued by other states. The refusal of Ohio and similar states to recognize gay marriage was previously upheld in federal court; however, this decision means that will no longer be the case. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, same-sex marriage couples are now entitled to the same legal rights as opposite-sex marriage couples in Ohio regardless of where the marriage license was issued.One such right that impacts all Ohio community associations is the ability for...
Spring Thunderstorms Bring... Falling Trees!
Spring and summer in Ohio often means heavy rains and thunderstorms that cause trees and large branches to fall, sometimes causing damage to property. As a result, many community association board members inquire as to who is responsible for falling branches and trees. The basic Ohio rule is that when a branch or tree falls, where it lands, not where it came from, determines who is responsible for the cleanup of the tree and any damage the fallen tree or branch may cause. There are, however, limited exceptions to the basic Ohio rule.The typical scenario is an owner wakes up the morning after a heavy Ohio windstorm to find a tree or branch from a neighbor’s home has fallen and caused damage to the community association’s common elements. Even though the tree or branch did not originate on the community association’s property and is owned by the neighboring home owner, the cost to repair the damage is still the responsibility of the community association. The only time the liability for ...
Elderly Residents Who Need Assistance
Many of our communities started with residents that were baby boomers. Now that population has aged and many community members are past retirement age. Unlike past generations, our residents are choosing to stay in their homes instead of moving in with a relative, into a retirement community, nursing home, or assisted-living community. Some Ohio condominium and homeowners associations are experiencing new problems that they never faced before such as the resident who has declining health, can no longer care for him/herself, or competence issues. During the year we receive calls from Board members with questions on how to help an elderly resident who may need assistance. This year many of our attorneys attended a national community association law seminar on associations with an aging population. At the seminar, questions of ability and liability of associations/board members to intervene were discussed and unfortunately there are no clear answers. At this ...
Community Associations Prosper in 2015
Ohio condominium and homeowner associations have successfully weathered substantial challenges during the past few years. Problems ranging from major storms to substantial delinquency rates have forced volunteer board members and their professional property managers to make difficult, but well informed decisions on how best to maintain and operate our communities and neighborhoods.In 2014, associations faced a new challenge: disastrous legislation that would have had a substantial, negative impact on communities around the state that subjected volunteer board members to criminal punishment, raised fees the owners pay in every community, and crippled the ability to preserve property values by enforcing deed restrictions. Thankfully, board members, property managers and industry professionals united with us and worked tirelessly to see this bill defeated.Going forward, our firm continues to pro-actively be involved in the legislative process to help ensure that any legislation will help, not hinder, our reg...
Association Residents Overwhelmingly Satisfied
According to a recent survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the Foundation for Community Association Research, almost two thirds of community association residents rate their association experience as positive. Significantly, 90 percent of residents said association board members serve the best interests of their communities, 83 percent say their community managers provide value and support to residents and their associations, and 70 percent of residents say their association rules protect and enhance property values.Community associations continue to be the preferred method of residential development across the United States and Ohio, and this study confirms that the volunteer board members and the professional property managers who administer community associations continue to provide value and effective leadership to our neighborhoods. Kaman & Cusimano applauds and is honored to exclusively work with these dedicated people for the invaluable services they provide to O...
Funding Reserves by Percentage Does Not Work
Some board members misinterpret the Ohio Condominium Act and the Planned Communty Act to mean that condominium associations only have to put away 10% of the budget toward reserves. Not only does this misinterpretation expose associations to potential litigation, the 10% figure likely does nothing to achieve the primary goal of the law: to cause owners to be informed as to future repair and replacement costs that can lead to special assessments. Both condominium and homeowners associations must project future expenditures to determine an appropriate funding level for the reserves. Blindly putting 10% of the budget into reserves is arbitrary and will likely lead to special assessments.To address this issue, HOAPulse.com recently published an article entitled Funding Condominium Reserves by Percentage of Assessments. To view the article, please visit the following link: http://www.hoapulse.com/index.php/component/k2/item/12465-funding-condominium-reserves-by-percenta...
Only You Can Prevent Potting Soil Fires
Potted plants are a great way to improve outdoor space and add color to a balcony or patio. However, many people do not realize the latent fire hazard that potted plants pose. In fact, we learned of this issue last summer when a fire that started in a potted plant on a second floor wood balcony.Contrary to popular belief, potting soil does not really contain much actual soil. The potting mixture available in most stores is a blend of aged, composted wood and bark, mixed with elements such as peat moss, Styrofoam, and other chemicals. Further, many potting mixtures have fertilizers included as well. The purpose of these potting mixtures is to aerate and retain water inside the pot, not to resemble the dirt that ground plants live in. While the potting mix is successful in its goal of promoting plant life inside the pot, the mixture of chemicals and wood products tends to become very flammable as the mixture dries out over time.Many potted plant fires are started accidentally...
Seminar: Effective and Efficient Board Meetings
Kaman & Cusimano is pleased to announce our spring seminar series:Effective and Efficient Board MeetingsTopics to be discussed include: 20 Suggestions for More Efficient Meetings Open vs. Closed Meetings Outbursts From Owners Parliamentary Procedures Email Decisions Timed Agendas - Limiting Endless Discussion Board Ethics/ConfidentialityThis seminar is offered during the months of April and May at over 18 locations around Ohio. Board members and property managers of Kaman & Cusimano service option clients may register for the seminar by either calling our office at 888-800-1042 or by registering online by logging into ATLAS.
Most Owners are Happy With Their Community Association
22 Jan 2013
22 Jan 2013
Nationwide, independent research has confirmed once again that most owners are satisfied overall with their community association. Pollsters IBOPE Zogby conducted their annual community association poll and the results strongly corroborated with those from years past. On a scale of 1–5 (1=very bad; 5=very good), how would you rate your overall experience living in a community association? About 70% of owners are satisfied with their communities, scoring either a 4 or 5 when asked. Less than 10% said they were dissatisfied with their communities (a score of 1 or 2). Do you think the members of your elected governing board strive to serve the best interests of the community as a whole? This year’s survey indicated an even higher rate of satisfaction with respect to Board members. About 90% of respondents said they felt the Board members were absolutely or mostly serving the best interests of the association. Do the rules in your community protect and enhance property values, harm them, or make no difference? Co...