After a long day at work, it’s sometimes nice to sit down with a lovely glass of red wine or a cocktail.  However, at the risk of sounding like an old fuddy duddy, I have to say that alcohol and HOA board meetings are just not a good mix.

Directors attend board meetings to conduct the business of their HOAs.  It is not unusual for directors to consider complex or controversial issues which require their focused attention.  While I have luckily never witnessed an intoxicated director at a meeting, directors are required to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the associations they serve and to exercise their sound business judgment.  It’s no secret that the consumption of alcohol can interfere with an individual’s judgment.  


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My household includes a Grinch and a Clark Griswold.  "Clark’ wants to put up holiday decorations last weekend.  "The Grinch" thinks holiday decorations are overly-expensive cat toys to be avoided at all costs.  The Grinch received the following poem by Nena Groskind this morning, and somehow is now in a bit of a Christmas mood.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we have, and prepare reasonable rules and regulations in the spirit of the season!


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If you are like me, you will be happy when the election is over tomorrow and the nasty political ads are off the air for a couple of years. However, regardless of your party affiliation or beliefs, I hope you take the time to cast your votes and return your ballot. After all, we live in the greatest democracy on the planet and voting is at the heart of our fundamental rights.

The election also got me thinking about HOA annual meetings and the election of directors. While hopefully your HOA is drama free and every member votes, I thought this was a great time to remind boards, managers and homeowners about the requirements for utilizing secret balloting. 

 

The Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”), at C.R.S. 38-33.3-310, requires secret ballots be utilized at membership meetings under the following circumstances:

 

●          Secret ballots must be utilized for contested positions on your board of directors. Simply put, this means secret ballots must be used when there are more folks running for the board than there are open seats. The requirement does not apply if your governing documents provide for the election of directors through delegates who cast votes on behalf of a segment of the membership. 

●          Secret ballots may be used at the discretion of the board of directors. Some boards like to use secret ballots for every item which is voted upon at a membership meeting. This gives members the ability to cast their vote without any perceived pressure from the board or their neighbors.

          Secret ballots must be utilized on any issue where 20% of the owners, present in person or by proxy at the meeting of the members, request use of a secret ballot on an issue. 

 

Once votes are cast at a membership meeting by secret ballot, here’s what you need to know:


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In 2012, the Colorado legislature changed the laws governing community association records, including requirements that Board members’ e-mail addresses be retained as official records.  At first, many of our clients balked at the new requirement.  As many of you are aware, it’s very easy to allow electronic communications to become uncivil, and Board members didn’t want these communications going to their private or work e-mails.

To address these concerns, we recommend that our association clients create e-mail addresses for the Boards, and that the Boards pass these along to new Board members as they are elected.  This ensures continuity of communications for homeowners, and it also protects Board members from the risk of having their personal or work e-mails subject to discovery in the event of litigation.  Board members can also create their own personal association e-mail addresses, although this does not have the bonus side of maintaining continuity as the Board turns over. Either way, Board members should have dedicated association e-mail addresses.


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We get questions about property insurance for community associations all the time – What insurance is the association supposed to carry? What insurance are the owners required to carry? Who pays the deductible under the association’s policy? Are there special coverages that the association should carry, even though it is not required to? These, and a whole host of other insurance questions are the topics of whole books on the issue. We don’t pretend to be experts in insurance – there are insurance professionals (and even some attorneys) who are. But it is probably useful to provide some basic understanding of association insurance coverage. This topic will warrant additional discussion in future blog posts. But for now, here’s some basic information.

As with so many other issues that an association has to deal with, when you need to know what insurance your association must carry, you should review your governing documents. Most of the time the declaration will set out in some detail what the requirements are. However, sometimes we see declarations that simply say that an association will carry the insurance required by CCIOA.


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We frequently hear people say that common areas are owned by their association. And, while that is true in many cases, it is not true when referring to condominiums. In fact, the single fact distinguishing condominiums from any other type of common interest community is how the property making up the project, other than the individual units, is owned.
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I’m the granddaughter of Midwestern dairy farmers who grew up during the Great Depression, and my parents own a small town HVAC/plumbing business. As a child, I often heard some version of the following: “I can make that.” “We don’t need to hire someone. I can fix it.” “Why would we pay someone for that work? I can do it myself.” With this do-it-yourself attitude ingrained in my psyche, I can’t help but feel guilty when I need to call a plumber to unclog a drain or when I hire someone to clean my house. The frugality—and wherewithal—that my parents and grandparents modeled for me certainly left an impression. Yet I’ve also come to realize that my life sometimes requires different choices.

Yes, I can play plumber and unclog a sink drain. I’ve done it: I’ve gathered the equipment, removed U-traps, brushed pipes clean, disposed of clogged pipe nastiness, and put everything back together. Sometimes I’ve succeeded. But on other occasions I’ve removed the drain stopper and struggled to get it reconnected, or, as one of my college roommates will recount, my work has resulted in leaks where I could not get the old mismatched pipes to fit securely. Yes, I’ve played plumber and channeled my inner DIY-er, but I’m not a plumber. I would not offer to fix someone else’s drain, and I most definitely would not venture into my HOA’s clubhouse armed with a plunger and pipe putty.


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I recently prepared a package of the nine mandatory policies for a community association. The board of that association read the policies very carefully and sent back a number of questions, asking why I had drafted various provisions the way I had, or why I had included them at all.

When drafting the mandatory policies, there is no single source. The “nine mandatory policies” or “SB-100” policies originate from Senate Bill 05-100 signed into law in 2005. Originally there were seven mandatory policies, with the dispute resolution requirement added in 2006 and the reserve study requirement added in 2009. Since SB-100 became law there have also been many other additions and amendments to the Colorado Common Interest Act (CCIOA) and Colorado Revised Nonprofit Act that affect these policies.


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It is not uncommon for homeowners to wonder where all their dues are going.  Some owners might see their dues go up with no visible changes to the property and even get suspicious.  Of course, associations often bear a lot of expenses that are not directly related to property condition, such as insurance, management, and

If you have ever served on the board of directors of an HOA, you know that some members are never happy to see their annual assessments increased.  In fact, some folks can be downright hostile when faced with an increase.  This can even be true when an assessment increase is absolutely necessary to adequately fund reserves to be financially prepared to handle major repairs and replacements to association common elements.   

When boards are unwilling to propose essential assessment increases or members are unwilling to ratify budgets with these increases, it is not uncommon to see a couple of things happen.  First, these associations tend to defer routine maintenance on common elements which reduces the remaining useful life of components like roofs, siding and asphalt.  Second, these associations may not have enough funds in reserves to cover the costs associated with these major repairs and replacements.  In such cases, without levying a special assessment or obtaining a loan to cover the associated costs, the infrastructure of these communities will begin to erode and eventually fall apart.


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