How To Prepare For Your Association’s Annual Meeting

The association’s annual meeting is perhaps the most important management-related event of the year. Because this meeting is so essential to the association’s future, it’s important to begin planning for the annual meeting well in advance. Below are some tips from Mediate Management Company to follow as you prepare for your association’s most highly-anticipated gathering.

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Prepare Early

Long before the meeting, take the time to create both a pre-meeting and post-meeting checklist. The pre-meeting checklist should include reserving the venue, planning an agenda, advertising the meeting to association members and checking the status of any open issues from the previous year’s meeting. For the post-meeting checklist, include following up on issues brought up in the meeting, updating records appropriately and making notes to help with the next year’s meeting.

During this preparation process, you should also make a list of important documents and other helpful items, such as projectors or PA systems that need to be brought to the annual meeting. Finally, consider the questions you are most likely to face from members and draft a list of possible responses.

Get Organized

Bring structure to the association’s annual meeting with a detailed agenda. When creating the agenda, be sure to:

  • List the question and answer portion of the meeting on the agenda as “member comments.”
  • Leave plenty of time to tabulate any ballots from the meeting.
  • Schedule appropriate speakers to cover each topic.
  • Acknowledge community helpers and committee members.
  • Schedule time for election of directors. (Keep in mind that officers should not be elected during this meeting).
  • Use scripts when possible to make the meeting run smoothly.
  • Create a structured sign-in process that allows you to keep track of every member present at the meeting and ensure that all attendees are current on dues.

Leverage Professionals

It may be prudent to retain professionals, such as lawyers and CPAs, to help you prepare for the meeting and deal with the issues that arise during it. For example, if you believe any governing documents could be amended at the meeting, you should have an attorney present to oversee the process. These professionals can also help you during any of the planning meetings you schedule before the main event.

Acknowledge the Meeting’s Strong and Weak Points

When your annual meeting is over, sit down with your support staff to discuss the meeting’s successes and failures. Make notes about the procedures that worked well, as well as those that need to be changed before the next year’s meeting, and file them away until planning time rolls around again. You should also take this time to go over your post-meeting checklist.

Keep in mind that the post-meeting checklist should typically be completed and submitted to the appropriate recipient within two days of the meeting. If changes to association records were ordered at the meeting, associations should update these records as soon as possible. Finally, associations should always mail a copy of the meeting’s highlights, action item list, questions and comments within 10 days of the annual meeting.

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Stop Winging It: How Boards Can Avoid Decision Failure

Condominium boards exist to make decisions in the best interest of the community and then follow through. However, when it comes time to act, the board may find reasons to stall or back down. In such cases, the board becomes essentially ineffective. Some of the most common sources of decision failure include:

Fear of Backlash – Some board members may be afraid to act because they know the decision that needs to be made will anger their neighbors, and they don’t want to be held responsible.

Lack of Information – In some cases, the board may see that an issue clearly needs to be solved, but it make not have enough information to come up with a proper solution.

Fear of Change – Because board members are often residents too, they may be just as likely as other residents to be afraid of the changes that come with big decisions.

Avoiding Increased Workload – Many decisions the board is faced with involve a significant increase in workload. If board members are already busy, they won’t want to add to their responsibilities.

Denial – Sometimes, the board may avoid making a decision because members are in denial that a viable solution exists. They may not like the options presented, or they may be afraid of choosing from among them.

Regardless of the source of your board’s decision failure, the situation can usually be rectified by enacting a clear procedure for decision making and action, as well as for dealing with roadblocks.

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1. Create a Timeline

To prevent the board from stalling on a difficult decision, create a clear timeline that applies to every issue you face. The timeline should include a specific deadline for discussing the issue once it has been brought up.

2. Listen to Board Members

In some cases, board members may simply be stalling when they bring up potential roadblocks. However, that doesn’t mean that the roadblocks won’t pose a problem, so listen to each member’s issues and try to formulate solutions for each.

3. Form a Committee

When dealing with a particularly difficult problem, establish a committee of board members that will continue working on the issue outside of regular meetings.

4. Consult Third Parties if Necessary

Sometimes, you simply can’t come to a decision on your own. In such cases, you can resolve the problem by hiring a third party such as a property project management services company to review the issue and make the decision for you. Make sure that the party you hire is agreed upon by the board, and that the board agrees to follow whatever recommendation the third party makes about the issue.

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An Effective Moving Policy Saves Money

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An effective moving policy helps associations avoid the costs of repairing building entrances and common areas, as well as other significant fees, after residents move in or out of condos.  Boston property managers at Mediate Management Company recommend associations create moving policies before the summer months and certainly prior to the heaviest day of student rental turnover, September 1st.

As part of the moving process, furniture, boxes and odd-shaped items must be maneuvered and may collide with doors, walls, floors and fixtures if extra care isn’t exercised.  People tend to prop doors open during moves for convenience and perhaps to help avoid scraping doors.  Unfortunately, as they attempt to move their belongings, they may inadvertently allow the entry of an uninvited person or animal slipping through an unwatched doorway.

Aside from the bumps and scrapes, people rushing on their moving day tend to leave trash in units, hallways or on the curb, even if it’s not a trash day.  This can result in trash disposal fees if the waste isn’t properly disposed of, and in worse situations, trash left in basements of buildings can attract vermin.  Within days, people moving in also have a large number of cardboard boxes to dispose of and need to flatten them down for recycling to avoid fees.

A moving policy protects the association from moving costs by maintaining order and helping to ensure buildings are cared for during moves.  In some condos, a majority of units are rented and the building operates much like an apartment building with a high rental turnover.  Rules and guidelines, when applied to moving activities, help facilitate moves while protecting the building and the association from unwanted costs.

The following moving policy is an example intended to provide specific rules used to guide moving activities:

  • The Property Manager must be provided with a seven (7) day written notice of the scheduled move date and time. This notice can be submitted via mail, email or fax. Any special moving arrangements must be made prior to the seven (7) day notice.
  • All moving activity must be scheduled and performed during the following times:  Monday-Saturday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM. If you need to conduct your move outside of these days and hours, please contact Management to request approval of your move day and time.
  • The respective unit owner(s) will be required to pay a fee of $100 each time a new owner/tenant moves into the building. A check must be made payable to The Condominium Trust and included with the seven (7) day notification. The memo line on the check should indicate “moving fee”. The $100 fee covers both the move in and the move out for an individual owner/tenant.
  • The $100 moving fee is non-refundable. Any damage or debris-removal that exceeds the $100 fee will be repaired or removed by the Trust at the unit owner’s expense.
  • Moving companies are required to provide a Certificate of Insurance.
  • Maintaining the safety of the residents of the Condo is a primary concern of its Board. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the owner/tenant to ensure that the doors to The Condo are properly secured during the entire course of the move. Doors shall not be propped open for any reason, unless the owner/tenant can provide someone to watch said door. Likewise, at the close of the move, it is the owner’s/tenant’s responsibility to ensure that all doors have been properly closed and secured.
  • Items that do not fit in the unit or that the owner/tenant no longer wants are NOT to be stored in the common areas/basement of the building. These items will need to be disposed of by the owner/tenant at his/her own expense.
  • A copy of the Condominium Rules and Regulations should be attached and provided to all owners/tenants.  They must adhere to the Rules and Regulations for the building or applicable fees for non-compliance will be applied.

Some associations struggle to find a source of income to pay for damages and fees associated with moving and look to raise association fees.  A better way is to create a financial incentive for residents to care for the Condominium during their move.  A moving policy, by asking individuals who create costs to bear those costs, serves to align incentives among the people moving and the unit owners and Trustees.

Moving policies come in many different shapes and sizes, with varying amounts charged for reimbursable and non-reimbursable deposits or fees. If unit owners prefer, they can charge these costs back to their tenants and incorporate these charges into their leases. If the sample policy above does not seem to fit the needs of your association, feel free to take a look at these examples to help shape your association’s policy.

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AirBnB and Subletting: 5 Keys You Must Know To Succeed

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Boston is home to numerous colleges and universities including MIT, Harvard, Boston University and Boston College. The student population puts pressure on the demand of rental properties, making property management in Boston necessary. Consequently, many students turn to sites such as AirBnB or Timeshares to find tenants willing to sublet.

boston apartment rentals for college students

What is subletting?

Subletting is when a tenant who has a current lease contract decides to either rent a room in their apartment or the entire apartment to another tenant on a short-term basis.

Why tenants sublet

According to Property Investment Project website, tenants can opt to sublet their apartments if they will be away for some months. Some tenants sublet as a way of raising finances to meet rent and utility bills.

5 Keys of Subletting For Effective Property Management in Boston

 

  1. Add a Subleasing Clause to the Rental Agreement

According to Raleigh Werner, a relocation expert, in his article on JumpShell, subletting should be an official agreement. To protect themselves in subletting situations, landlords should add a clause that allows for this. To be included in the lease is the fact that renters shouldn’t sublet any part of the leased premises without prior written permission from the agent or owner. Property owners can seek help from a real estate lawyer in Boston to help them draft and add this clause.

  1. Let Tenants Find a New Tenant for Subletting

Remind tenants that it’s their duty to find new tenants interested in subleasing, but assist them where necessary. For example, you can charge the advertising cost to the existing tenant.

  1. Run a Background Check on Potential Subtenants

Once potential clients express interest in your property, screen them to determine their eligibility for being good tenants. Each landlord has his or her qualifying standards. If they meet your standards, approve them. According to Off-Campus Housing, landlords should evaluate a sublessee based on a financial assessment; not discrimination.

  1. Let the New Subtenants Know the Regulations

Although they’re subtenants, they will reside on your property, and it’s essential they know what’s expected of them. You may want to take them though the tenants’ regulations so they know the dos and don’ts of staying on your property.

  1. Get an Insurance Company that Allows Subletting

Some insurance policies don’t allow for subletting. In such cases, if the landlord allows for subletting then the property insurance becomes void. However, some companies dealing with property management in Boston offer specialized services inclusive of insurance that allows property owners to sublet. Landlords can work with such companies and benefit from subletting.

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In closing, property owners should carefully weigh their options before deciding whether to permit subletting. Depending on your situation, you can use subletting to ensure no part of your property remains vacant. Our expert property managers at Mediate Management can help you determine if subletting is a viable option for you.

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How to Master Energy Efficiency for Your Rental Property

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Mastering energy efficiency offers property owners numerous benefits – one major benefit being lower energy bills. You may be surprised to know that maximizing energy efficiency also benefits the economy, both at the national and global level. It saves the economy billions of dollars in energy production costs while increasing the national gross product. To help you make a positive impact on your wallet and the environment, below are the top 3 energy concerns for property management in Boston and their solutions.

Property Management in Boston – Energy Concerns and Their Solutions

Boston property owners can renovate their buildings to add equipment that save energy as follows:

  1. Air Conditioning

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According to the Real Estate Boston website, air conditioning accounts for up to 48% of the overall utility bill for rental property owners. In addition, air conditioning releases significant amounts of carbon in the air.

Solution: Use the appropriate size of AC units in relation to your building size and design. Often, property owners assume that the bigger the AC unit the better, but the truth is an oversize AC unit doesn’t perform optimally. Another option is to automate air conditioning systems.

  1. Lighting

managed rental property in Boston Some tenants notoriously leave lights on even when not using them. The accumulative effect of this behavior is that at the end of the month the property owner receives a high energy bill.

Solution: Install sensors and dimmers. They sense lack of activity in the corridors and either dim the lights or put them off. Use compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps. You should see a considerable reduction in your energy consumption and bill after that.

 

  1. Insulation

Poor insulation puts pressure on the heating and cooling systems as they attempt to sustain favorable thermal conditions in the property.

Solution: Go for quality insulation materials. Ideally, the building should be checked for air leaks before insulation. Specialists perform the blower door test to detect air leaks in the building. To prevent leaks, you should seal chimneys, access points, pipes and electrical conduits.

Weatherizing Boston Rental Property

The Greenovate Boston Organization points out that weatherizing property will significantly reduce carbon pollution, and enhance energy efficiency in it. Weatherization is achieved through proper insulation and plugging air leaks.

Working with a property energy specialist to assess energy efficiency in rental property is the first step to mastering energy efficiency. Those in charge of property management in Boston stand to benefit by saving substantial amounts of money and making the lives of their tenants more comfortable.

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Notably, there are numerous building automation systems available on the market such as automatic thermostats, lighting automation systems and HVAC automation systems that centralize and computerize energy efficiency efforts. Speak with one of our rental property managers at Mediate Management about the best ways to improve energy efficiency for your property rentals.

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How To Save For A Real Estate Down Payment: 20 Financial Experts Share Their Tips

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It was backbreaking work for a five-year-old — but it was totally worth it.

I spent six grueling hours cutting down brush in my backyard with my dad, clearing an area that would soon become a place for Mom to send us when my siblings and I were being too loud in the house. When we finished clearing the brush, he handed me a crisp five-dollar bill. It was so much money I tried giving it back to my dad, assuming that my family wouldn’t be able to eat for a few days because of his immense generosity toward me.

Of course, he made me keep the money and used it to teach me about the power of saving money. So I put that money in a bank and continued to save – until I had $20.

Then I blew it candy, comics, or some other pleasure that I’m sure felt worth it at the time.

I realized then – I was terrible at saving money!

Like my five-year-old self, most Americans have a hard time saving money. An increase in income usually results in an increase in spending. In fact, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve, 47% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency.

Savings, however, are incredibly important, especially if you are looking to someday buy a house or get an investment property loan. RealtyTrac recently reported that the average American down payment was around 15% in 2015. With the median sales price for a house hovering around $250,000, house buyers may need to save $40,000 or more to buy a house. Even low down mortgages like an FHA loan can cost you 3.5% plus closing costs, requiring $10,000 or more.

So, how can people save up the massive down payments needed to purchase a property? Rather than getting just my ideas and opinions, I asked this question to a variety of financial writers and bloggers to share their top tips, which you’ll find below.
1. Prioritize It

“I think people need to get laser focused and remember their value system with every purchase. Every time they make a purchase (at Target), they need to realize that the foolish purchase is making their goals get pushed further and further away. They need to make their spending a reflection of their value system and put that down payment at the very top of their value list.”

Lauren Greutman | Author of the book The Recovering Spender, Financial Counselor, and Founder of LaurenGreutman.com
2. Automate It

“Create a separate savings account and name it ‘down payment.’ Automate savings deposits from your paycheck or checking account into the account each month. Start with a small amount and increase the amount over time once you get comfortable with the process. Banks require a down payment for a reason; they want to know that you are financially responsible enough to live within your means. Prove it!”

Phillip Taylor, CPA | PTMoney.com, Founder of FinCon

 

Read Full Article Here:  How To Save For A Real Estate Down Payment: 20 Financial Experts Share Their Tips