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2019! OHIO COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS ARE CHANGING! By David W. Kaman, Esq.

The times are rapidly changing.  In the past, many of us were skeptical of technology, against funding of reserves, and felt completely comfortable with the status quo. Today, a growing number of enlightened board members are aggressively addressing association issues and radically improving their communities.

Declarations and Bylaws that have not been brought up-to-date in years are being amended and modernized.  Rules that no longer make sense are being eliminated and replaced with common sense, relevant, and clear rules that protect safety and property values.  Boards have enacted collection and enforcement policies and procedures so that all owners are treated equally and their due process rights   protected.  Civil discourse is now less of an issue as a result of most boards enacting a Code of Ethics.

With the economy thriving and unemployment down, having the lowest assessments is no longer a badge of honor, but rather, a troubling sign of large special assessments to come. As a result, more boards than ever properly budgeted for 2019 so that association income is more than sufficient to meet expenses.   Waiving full funding of reserves is no longer a sign of frugality, but rather, a sign that physical deterioration and the resulting loss in real estate values will continue. As a result, most boards are avoiding the “underfunded” label and in 2019 are fully funding reserves.

Board members are also now tackling long overdue improvement projects that will ensure their community can compete with new construction.  Common elements such as lobbies, hallways, and grounds are being updated.  Numerous associations have installed energy-saving LED lights and others have replaced outdated  equipment with that which is state of the art and energy efficient.  Electric vehicle charging stations are being found in more and more community association parking areas and garages.

In the past, owners were willing to wait for their U.S. mail to arrive to receive association information. Today, most of the owners within our community associations have spent well over a decade communicating electronically both in their personal life and at work.  As a result, they are now demanding to receive association information immediately by having it sent to their email address.

Ten years ago an association having a website was rare.  Today association websites are the norm and are the single best source for up-to-date and accurate association information.  Association websites give all owners a feeling of being connected, openness, and transparency when it comes to association operations.

Many boards have eliminated the bulging binders of papers that represent the association’s “books and records” and have “digitized” their records and posted them on the association’s website.  Digitizing of records as well as posting meeting minutes, and financial reports on the website have all but eliminated the dreaded “records request.”

If you have not already done so, I urge you to make 2019 the year of change at your association.  Rather than letting buildings deteriorate, reverse the trend and make them physically competitive with newer properties.  Instead of unreasonably low assessments, protect the owners’ investment by assessing adequately and fully funding reserves.  Finally, I urge that you take advantage of new technologies and use them to communicate efficiently and effectively with your owners.  By making 2019 the year of change, your community association will be a better place to live!

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