More Books Heading To Buddies

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C&S team members continue their support of the Literacy Buddy Project of the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County.  Above is a picture of some of the C&S team getting the books ready to be sent off to their Literacy Buddies.  The purpose of the Literacy Buddy Project is to teach children about correspondence, communication, and promote early literacy while providing children with quality books that they take home. The project also supports parents as partners in their children’s learning. For many of the children, a Literacy Buddy provides the only opportunity for them to have books of their own at home. 

Anyone, any age, anywhere can become a Literacy Buddy and it doesn’t take much time, but makes a large impact in the life of a child.  Exchanges occur three times per year.  For more information about the Literacy Buddy Project and the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, please check out their website:  http://www.earlylearningcoalitionsarasota.org

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Phone Apps For Home Fix Up Jobs

Ready to tackle a few home improvement projects? There’s an app for that.

Houzz Interior Design Ideas

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This highly-rated app—4.5 out of 5 stars in the Apple store—lets you discover ideas for your home through a large database of design ideas. You can browse photos by style, room and location, and save them to a virtual idea book. You can also find product and local professionals, and read articles by renovation experts. You can save your ideas for offline access and ask for advice from the app’s community. Available free in both Apple and Android stores.

MyPantone

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There are many paint color apps, but this one lets you save colors based on their PANTONE ID and create colors palettes from inspiration. You’ll be able to share the exact hue you like with designers, manufacturers, family and friends. It suggests complementary colors too. Available for $9.99 in the Apple store and $7.99 in the Android store.

iHandy Carpenter

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This app turns your phone into the tools you need to complete your improvement project. It features:

-          A surface level

-          A bubble level bar

-          A protractor to measure angles from 0 to 180 degrees

-          A ruler with both inches and centimeter readings

-          A plumb bob to verify the verticality of lines or walls

Once calibrated, the plumb bob, surface level and level bar also can be used as an inclinometer/clinometer by reading the angles on the screen. Available for $1.99 in both Apple and Android stores.

Have fun!!

by Chris Brown

So Many Board Member Friends

It was so nice to see so many of our board member friends today at CA Day.  Our booth stayed busy throughout the day.  We wish to thank everyone that stopped by and said hello.  Here are a couple of pictures from today.  

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CA Day Booth 406: Come Visit Us!

C&S is set up and ready for everyone to come visit us tomorrow (Friday 03.21.14) at CA Day at the Manatee Convention Center.  We are in booth 406.  Be sure to put in an entry to win the money tree and we hope to see you tomorrow.   

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UPDATE: Email, Data Lines Damaged

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UPDATE:  3:55 PM (03.18.14) Finally data lines have been repaired and email is again working.   

ORIGINAL POST:  During the rain storm today (03.17.14) at around 1:30 PM, the Verizon FIOS line servicing our main office encountered problems, leaving our main office, as well as all of the surrounding offices and businesses with no working data lines.   Since the C&S mail server is on this FIOS service, no email can come into or out of any C&S office.   

Verizon has tried to fix the problem remotely throughout the afternoon but have now informed us that they are very busy and will not be able to send field technicians out until tomorrow morning at the earliest.   

Attempts to contact C&S through our website will also not work as the website messages are sent to us by email.  Our phones are working and Facebook messaging is working.    We apologize for any inconvenience to our clients and hope that Verizon will fix their FIOS line quickly.  We will update you as more information becomes available.      

CA Day is Friday, March 21st

Come visit with us at the C&S booth at Community Associations Day!  We will be giving away a money tree again this year!

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Humane Society Walk-A-Thon Recap

The 2014 Humane Society of Manatee County Walk-A-Thon was a major success. Team C&S finished in second place raising over $3,000.  In total the Humane Society had over 400 walkers and raised over $60,000.  We wish a very big thank you to everyone who donated and supported Team C&S.   As some of you know Annie and I were sidetracked to the vet instead of making it to the Walk Saturday morning.  Annie had an allergic reaction to something still unknown.  I am happy to report that she is doing fine and was back home after a few hours but I could tell she was very disappointed to not make the Walk.  Katie pictured here ended up being C&S' only four legged walker and she did a great job!  We look forward to competing again next year and are very proud to support such a great organization.

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C&S Board Member Forum Videos

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If you missed the C&S 2014 Board Member Forum, you can watch the morning speakers' presentations by clicking on the links below.  

There was a lot covered that is not on the videos so plan to come next year and not miss any of the forum. February 19, 2015 at the Manatee Performing Arts Center.   

Part One: Introductions and the first speaker, Bruce Campbell, State of Florida Condominium Ombudsman.

Part Two: Conclusion of Bruce Campbell, State of Florida Condominium Ombudsman followed by Garrett Shinn CPA and Timothy Gruters, CPA, both from Shinn and Company CPAs.

Part Three: Attorneys Stephen Thompson and Jeff Nichols from the Najmy Thompson Law Firm.

Part Four:  Conclusion of Attorney Jeff Nichols followed by Janna Jackson of Citizens Insurance.

 

Team C&S Walks For Humane Society

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Team C&S is a sponsor and participant in the Paws in Motion fundraiser for the Humane Society of Manatee County. The big event is Saturday, March 8th and the walk begins at 9:00 AM along the beautiful downtown Bradenton River Walk.  

In what is becomming an annual event, Team C&S will have several dog walkers and others from our team will be handling our booth.  The above photo is from last year.  Everyone is invited to come out and visit with us (and walk if you would like).   You may help our donation drive by clicking on our Team C&S Link to give a donation to the Humane Society of Manatee County. Thanks and hope to see you there.

 

Forum Was Big Success

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The Board Member Forum turned out great today and we had over 220 attend. Here are a few pictures from early this morning. We will have more pictures and video of the forum in a few days. Thanks to everyone who came!

 

Board Member Forum Today

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Today is the day!! The C&S Board Member Forum is about to start. Registration opens at 7:30AM. Hope to see everyone soon at the Manatee Performing Arts Center!

Association Board Member Forum

C&S Management is very excited to be presenting Bruce Campbell, the Florida Condominium Ombudsman, Christine Ashburn of Citizens Insurance, Patrick Flynn from the Department of Business and Profession Regulation, along with Attorney Stephen Thompson of the Najmy Thompson Law Firm, and CPA Timothy Gruters from Shinn and Company CPA's, together in our annual Association Board Member Forum for HOA and condominium board members.  

The February 27th forum takes place in the morning and then following lunch, board members may attend the board certification class which is required by the State for HOA and condominium board members. Seating is limited so please RSVP quickly, 941-758-9454 ext 118 or email AnnualAssociationForum@gmail.com.  

See below for more information.  

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C&S 2014 New Years Message

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Upcoming Major Education Forum

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We are very pleased that the Board Member Forum will be at the new Manatee Performing Arts Center.  Here are a few photos of the center.  

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Forum seating area:
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Luncheon room:
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Lobby:
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C&S Christmas Message

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Condo/HOA Board Certification Class

C&S' Ellen Brown, CAM, CMCA, AMS, will be one of the presenters for the below Board Certification class.  

This class is in Venice and you may click here to register.  


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Power Outage by Main Office

altUPDATE 12:20 PM:  FPL has made the necessary repairs and power has been restored throughout the area. All systems at C&S are back up and now fully operational.

UPDATE 10:30 AM:  FPL still is not able to give any information on when they believe the power outage will be resolved.  We are in the process of setting up our generators to be able to handle email and phone calls shortly.  
  

An FPL transformer has blown near our main office and we have no power. Since all servers are now down, we are not receiving phone calls or email messages.   FPL hopes to give us an update between 9:30 and 10:00 AM. 

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At that time we will decide if we will need to take our generators from storage and set them up.    

C&S Thanksgiving Message

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CAI Offers Mortgage Regs Advice

altCommunity Associations Institute (CAI) has offered advice and support for proposed federal rules that accomplish two important CAI goals: helping more homebuyers obtain safe mortgage financing and stimulating a housing market that has struggled since home prices began falling in late 2006. Both will provide more stability to community associations across the country.  

In addition to protecting consumers from unscrupulous lending practices, the newly proposed rules are expected to accelerate the housing recovery by generating a greater flow of private capital to the mortgage market.


Importantly, the proposed rule gives condominium and HOA communities limited lien priority on foreclosed homes. That means associations would be able to collect all or at least a portion of the money that is owed to them after a foreclosure.

"This is welcome news for tens of thousands of community associations and the tens of millions of Americans who call them home," said CAI Chief Executive Officer Thomas M. Skiba, CAE. "We appreciate regulators considering various perspectives and applaud them for developing these important consumer protections. This is how the process should work, with regulators being open and responsive to the views of critical stakeholders."

Click here to link to the Community Associations Institute for more information and the full press release.


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Honoring All Who Have Served

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Books Heading to Their Buddies

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C&S team members continue their support of the Literacy Buddy Project of the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County.  Below is a picture of some of the C&S team getting the books ready to be sent off to their Literacy Buddies.  

The purpose of the Literacy Buddy Project is to teach children about correspondence, communication, and promote early literacy while providing children with quality books that they take home. The project also supports parents as partners in their children’s learning. For many of the children, a Literacy Buddy provides the only opportunity for them to have books of their own at home.
 
Anyone, any age, anywhere can become a Literacy Buddy and it doesn’t take much time, but makes a large impact in the life of a child.  Exchanges occur three times per year.  For more information about the Literacy Buddy Project and the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, please check out their website:  http://www.earlylearningcoalitionsarasota.org

 
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by Chris Brown

Condo Board Member Workshop

Workshop for Condominium Board Members is this September 25th.  Here are the details:

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Happy Labor Day!

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DBPR Offers Hurricane Warnings

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The Bottom Line

August 23, 2013

Dear Friends,

This week, FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate, warned that Floridians are in denial about the devastating impact that hurricanes can have on their way of life. I also feel that it is important to remind you to be as prepared as you can be as we venture through this Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Although we haven’t experienced a serious storm so far this year, it is crucial to have a plan for both before and after a storm. For more information on developing a disaster plan for your business or home, please visit www.floridadisaster.org. Here, you can find helpful tips that will allow you to develop a well-thought-out plan not in the heat of an emergency.

Additionally, after a storm or natural disaster strikes, unlicensed construction activity may increase as clean-up begins. Consumers should always ask to see the State of Florida 
professional license, which can be verified online at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling 850-487-1395. Consumers should also avoid paying cash or writing checks to an individual, especially when the work is being done through a company.


If unlicensed activity is suspected, consumers within Florida should call 1-866-532-1440 or email ULA@myfloridalicense.com to report it. Any person who acts as an unlicensed contractor during a state of emergency as declared by executive order of the Governor is committing a third-degree felony.

As Floridians, we are vulnerable to these serious storms and it is vital that we take them seriously and do all that we can to protect our homes and our businesses. Please take advantage of the many resources that are available to you and stay safe!
 
Sincerely,
 
Ken Lawson

Secretary
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
1940 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Customer Contact Center:
850.487.1395
www.MyFloridaLicense.com
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Good Time to Send Clutter Packing

alt          Do you have piles of clothes, papers and “stuff” collecting in your home or condo?  You’re not alone.  It’s time to clean up that clutter and make your abode a more enjoyable and relaxing place to live.
 
         Create a schedule.  Depending on how high those piles are, you may not be able to accomplish the task in a single weekend. So, try tackling one room at a time. It may seem like a daunting project, but it will be less scary if you break it down into segments.

         Practice a one item in, one item out rule.  When you buy an item of clothing, for example, throw out one item of clothing. Not only will it keep down the clutter, but it will also make you rethink whether you really want to buy a new item.

         Create a stress-free environment in the bedroom.  That means no piles of toys and no mounds of clothes. It should be a place where you can rest without worry.

         Make cleaning up fun for kids by turning it into a game.  Kids are often the clutter culprits; involve them in the process to make things neater and more organized.

         Know your vision for the room.  What do you want from a room? Is it a place where you work, a space where you unwind, a playroom for the little ones or something else? If you can answer that question, you’ll be able to decide what items stay and what items go.

         Try to make decluttering a part of your everyday life.  If you do it at the same time every day—like before you go to bed—the piles won’t accumulate and you won’t have to set aside a block of time to do a major cleaning.

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Citizens Ins. Hearing Coming to Tampa

Citizens Property Inaltsurance Corp.
Public Rate Hearing

WHO:   Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens)
 
WHAT:   The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) will conduct a public hearing to discuss Citizens’ proposed rate increases for its business in the Coastal Account, formerly known as the High Risk Account (HRA), and the Personal Lines Account (PLA). These accounts include, but are not limited to, homeowners’, mobile home, and dwelling/fire lines of business. Additional filings on behalf of Citizens will be forthcoming. Evidence regarding such filings may be received at the hearing.
 
Listed in the chart below are the proposed rate changes (by file log number) that have already been filed by Citizens with the Office. These filings can be accessed via the “I-File Forms & Rate Search” system using the following search criteria: file log numbers (provided below) or by entering Citizens as the “company name”. Scroll down to the bottom of the results page for the most recent filing information.
 
File Log # Overall Proposed Rate Change Account
13-12319 8.7% increase Commercial Lines Residential – Condo Only (Commercial Lines Account)
13-12323 0.0% increase Commercial Lines Residential – Excluding Condo Association (Commercial Lines Account)
13-12470 9.6% increase Commercial Lines Non-Residential (Commercial Lines Account)
13-13047 9.8% increase Homeowners (Coastal Account)
13-13048 7.3% increase Homeowners (Personal Lines Account)
13-13335 10.5% increase Dwelling Fire Wind Only (Coastal Account)
13-13336
 
9.9% increase Dwelling Fire (Personal Lines Account)
13-13467
 
10.0% increase Commercial Lines Non-Residential (Coastal Account)
13-14239 2.2% increase Mobile Homeowners (Personal Lines Account)
13-14240 9.4% increase Mobile Homeowners (Coastal Account)
13-14277 11.5% increase Commercial Lines Residential – Condo Only (CoastalAccount)
13-14278 10.3% increase Commercial Lines Residential – Excluding Condo (CoastalAccount)
 
Any comments or concerns not addressed at the public hearing may be submitted by consumers and other interested parties by sending an email to: ratehearings@floir.com. Please include “Citizens” in the subject line of your email. Under Florida law, written communications to the Office are public record; this would include email addresses. They are subject to public disclosure, including being available to the public and media if requested.
 
Comments will be accepted until August 30, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. for all rate filings except for the Commercial Lines Accounts File Log #’s: 13-12319, 13-12323, and 13-12470. Commercial Lines Accounts rate filing comments need to be received no later than August 20, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. for consideration as the Office is required, per statute, to render a decision on these filings within a few days of the hearing.  
 
For more information about this hearing, visit the “Citizens’ Property Insurance Rate Filing” page on the Office website.
 
WHEN:   August 20, 2013
                   4:00p.m. – 8:00p.m.
                                   
                   A copy of the agenda is available for review.
                            
WHERE:   Tampa Convention Center
                      Ballroom D
                      333 South Franklin Street
                      Tampa, FL  33602
 
The Florida Channel will stream the hearing live online. A videotaped recording of the hearing will be available on the Office’s website at a later date.
                
CONTACT:   Amy Bogner
                          850-413-2515                           
                         Amy.Bogner@floir.com

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Happy Birthday United States of America

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New Law Guides: Condos, Coops, HOAs

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The Community Association Leadership Lobby (CALL) has made available their 2013 Legislative Guides for Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Homeowners' Associations.  Review the new laws of which most became effective today.  Click the links below to view and download each guide.

Condominiums

Cooperatives

Homeowners' Associations


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New HOA Law Begins Today

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House Bill 7119 which was commonly referred to as the HOA Bill became law today.  The new legal requirements for Homeowner Associations are significant.  The Community Advocacy Network (CAN) last month presented a great outline of the law prior to Governor Scott signing the legislation.    

  • Subjects community association managers to disciplinary action for violating provisions of Chapters 718, 719 or 720 during the course of performing their services.
  • Requires that HOA official records be maintained within the state for at least 7 years and be made available within 10 business days after receipt of a written request to any parcel owner for inspection or copying within 45 miles of the community or within the county where the community is located. HOAs can also comply with this requirement by making the records available to an owner electronically via the Internet or by allowing the records to be viewed in an electronic format on a computer screen  and then printed out.
  • Allows HOA members to use a smartphone, tablet, or other portable devices to take photos or images of association documents at no charge to the member. 
  • Allows an HOA to charge for the personnel costs incurred to retrieve and copy records if the time spent doing so exceeds 1/2 hour and if the personnel costs do not exceed $20 per hour. Personnel costs may not be charged for records requests that result in the copying of 25 or fewer pages.
  • Requires an HOA budget to designate the components for which a reserve account may be used if such reserve account was established by the developer.
  • Creates new annual reporting requirements for the association manager or the board if the community is self-managed. Each year a report containing the following information must be sent to the Division by November 22, 2013: Legal name of the association; federal employer ID number of the association; association’s mailing and physical addresses; total number of parcels; and total amount of revenues and expenses from the association’s budget. For HOAs that are still under developer control, the report must also contain the following information: developer’s legal name; developer’s mailing address; the total number of parcels owned by the developer on the date of reporting.
  • Requires the DBPR to establish and implement an online registration system for the foregoing reporting requirements no later than October 1, 2013.
  • Requires the DBPR to present the data collected on Florida’s HOAs to the Governor, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House by December 1, 2013 each year.
  • Provides an expiration date for these reporting requirements of July 1, 2016 unless further re-enacted by the Legislature.
  • Requires certification of HOA directors in the same manner as currently required of condominium directors. 
  • Requires contracts in which a director has a financial interest to be disclosed and approved by the affirmative vote of 2/3 of the directors present.
  • Allows HOA members to cancel any contract in which a director is financially interested at the next regular or special membership meeting following execution of that contract. Clarifies that if the membership cancels such a contract, the association is only liable for the reasonable value of goods and services provided up to the time of cancellation and is not liable for any termination fee, liquidated damages or other penalty for cancellation.
  • Requires the board to immediately remove any director or officer who is found to have accepted any good or service of value without paying for same for himself or herself or his or her family. The exception to this rule is that a director or officer may accept food to be consumed at a business meeting with a value of less than $25 per individual or a service or good received in connection with trade fairs or education programs.
  • Requires the immediate removal from office of any director or officer who is charged with a felony theft or embezzlement offense involving the association’s funds or property.
  • Requires an insurance policy or fidelity bond for all persons who control or disburse funds of the HOA. Such policy or bond must cover the maximum funds that will be in the custody of the association or management agent at any one time. Persons who control or disburse funds includes persons authorized to sign checks on behalf of the association and the president, secretary and treasurer of the association. A majority of the association’s voting interests can vote to waive the requirement of this insurance policy or fidelity bond annually at a duly called association meeting.
  • Requires the HOA to provide copies of amendments to the members within 30 days after recording such amendments in the Public Records.
  • Clarifies that an HOA does not have to allow nominations from the floor the night of an election if there is a process in place for candidates to be nominated prior to the election meeting. Further clarifies that an election is not required unless more candidates are nominated than vacancies exist.
  • Adds abandonment or desertion by a developer as a triggering event for turnover of association control. Creates a rebuttable presumption of abandonment and desertion if the developer has unpaid assessments of guaranteed amounts for more than 2 years.
  • Adds a developer’s filing a petition for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code as a triggering event for turnover of association control.
  • Adds a developer losing title to the property via foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure as a triggering event for turnover of association control unless the successor owner has accepted an assignment of developer rights and responsibilities.
  • Adds the appointment of a Receiver for more than 30 days as a triggering event for turnover of association control unless the court determines that such turnover would be detrimental to the association or its members.
  • Allows members other than the developer to elect at least one member of the board if 50% of the parcels in all phases of the community have been conveyed to members.
  • Prohibits a developer from unilaterally amending the governing documents in a manner which is arbitrary, capricious or in bad faith. Further prohibits the developer from making such amendments as would destroy the general plan of development, prejudice the rights of non-developer members to use and enjoy the common property or materially shift economic burdens from the developer to the existing non-developer members. Developer amendments will now be subject to a reasonableness test which is a welcome change!
  • Clarifies that an HOA which forecloses on a delinquent property is still entitled to collect unpaid assessments which accrued prior to the time the association took title from third party purchasers at the bank’s  subsequent foreclosure sale.  

For the history and full text of the new HOA law (HB 7119), click here.

For more information about the Community Advocacy Network (CAN), click here

UPDATE: CAN and the KGB Law Firm have now released their 2013 Legislative Guidebook for Community Associations

Power Outages and Food Safety

altPower failures can be one of the most annoying—and disabling—occurrences in a community. Whether caused by summer storms, power lines crippled by high winds, equipment failure, an overloaded regional grid or an animal disrupting a power line, electrical outages can be costly, uncomfortable—and without forethought—sometimes even dangerous.
 
Residents can face many hazards when a power failure occurs,usually without any warning, including losing refrigerated and frozen foods. Some food items can be salvaged, however, if you’re prepared.
 
In anticipation of a power failure:


  • Have at least one or two coolers on hand, and at least one spare 5-pound bag of ice in the freezer.
  • Know where to get bag, block or dry ice quickly when you need it, particularly if you anticipate a long-term outage. (Caution: Dry ice is made from carbon dioxide, so it requires safe handling. Never breathe in its vapors or touch it with your bare hands.) According to the Food Safety Branch of Kentucky’s Department of Health, a 50-pound block of dry ice will keep a tightly packed, 18-cubic-foot freezer cool for up to two days.
  • Have an instant food thermometer or appliance thermometer available to ensure your freezers, refrigerators and coolers are staying cool enough to store food safely.
  • Arrange the refrigerator and freezer efficiently. Frozen food will last longer in a full freezer—up to 48 hours if tightly packed—and refrigerated food will last longer—up to four hours—if there is room for air to circulate around items.

When the electricity goes off:

  • Avoid opening and closing the refrigerator unless absolutely necessary.
  • Cook and use perishable food before using canned food.
  • Check the temperature of refrigerated foods if the power is out for more than a few hours. Discard any food item than has been at 40° F or warmer for two or more hours. Exceptions include butter and margarine; hard cheeses like parmesan and Romano; some condiments like mustard, peanut butter, soy sauce, olives and vinegar-based salad dressing; and fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables.
  • Check the temperature of frozen foods as well. While tightly packed freezer foods will stay frozen for many hours, some items that may have thawed can be refrozen if they still retain ice crystals or have remained at a temperature lower than 40°. Fruit and vegetable juices; breads, rolls and pie crusts; flour, cornmeal and nuts; meat and chicken; and prepared foods and casseroles can be refrozen safely if they have not been at 40° F or warmer for more than two hours.
  • After the power comes back on, you may need to deodorize the refrigerator and freezer by washing surfaces with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. Place an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to absorb any lingering odors.

Since the appearance and odor of a food item isn’t an accurate indication of its safety after a power outage, use the 40° rule-of-thumb. And when in doubt, discard the food.
 
While the power can go out any time, most power failures occur between mid-July and late September. But no matter when your community experiences an outage—and it inevitably will—knowing how to handle frozen and refrigerated foods can help you keep your food supplies safe until the lights come back on.

 

C&S Management Receives Award

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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

C & S Condominium Management Services, Inc. Receives 2013 Best of Bradenton Award

Bradenton Award Program Honors Achievement

BRADENTON June 15, 2013 -- C & S Condominium Management Services, Inc., has been selected for the 2013 Best of Bradenton Award in the Property Management category by the Bradenton Award Program.

Each year, the Bradenton Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Bradenton area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 Bradenton Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Bradenton Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Bradenton Award Program

The Bradenton Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Bradenton area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Bradenton Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Bradenton Award Program

CONTACT:
Bradenton Award Program
Email: PublicRelations@awardprogram.org
URL: http://www.awardprogram.org

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Study: Health Insurance Costs To Rise

altScanning through different articles in a news publication today, I saw that Center Forward, a nonpartisan organization, had prepared a comprehensive study of changing health insurance costs for 2014.  Florida was one of six states studied which grabbed my attention so I wanted to see what they had reported.   Since, in addition to our own company employees, many of our client community associations have on site employees whom we manage, insurance costs are an important issue for us to follow.   

Unfortunately rates in Florida, for individual coverage for those not receiving a government subsidy, are predicted to increase the most of the six states.  The increase is expected to be 40% to 60%.  Twenty-seven year old males as an example will see an increase of 60% to 135%.    To see the Center Forward study results, click here.   To see the full Florida Report, click here.

On May 30, 2013, Center Forward hosted a discussion at the National Press Club about the study.  The panelists were:  Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum, James O’Connor, Principal and Consulting Actuary, Milliman Consulting, and the Hon.Earl Pomeroy, former U.S. Representative, North Dakota.  To listen to their panel discussion on the study, click here

2013 Miracle League Season Ending

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Baseball season is well underway and Jessica Christianson, C&S VP, has just finished her second season volunteering with the Miracle League of Manasota.  Through the ten week season Jessica assisted the Yankees team.   The season ending Miracle League Yankees Team Party was sponsored by C&S.  The Baltimore Orioles Mascot attended the day’s festivities and the Yankees players were happy to spend the time with him.  The Miracle League is a wonderful organization and C&S is very proud to be involved and a sponsor.  

The Miracle League of Manasota is dedicated to providing an opportunity for all children and adults to play baseball, regardless of their ability. For the 14,000 school-aged children with disabilities and also for adults with disabilities in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the Miracle League of Manasota will build a synthetically surfaced baseball field and all the requisite amenities at a site that would serve the children and adults from both Counties.

For the first time, children and adults challenged by any form of disability will be empowered to enjoy the joys and thrills of baseball regardless of their ability to play.  Click here for more information on the Miracle League of Manasota.

Ducks Unlimited Sponsorship

altC&S is proud to again sponsor an event by Ducks Unlimited, the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Ducks Unlimited started in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows. 

Determined not to sit idly by as the continent’s waterfowl dwindled beyond recovery, a small group of sportsmen joined together to form the organization that became known as Ducks Unlimited.  Thanks to decades of abiding by that single mission of habitat conservation, Ducks Unlimited is now the world’s largest and most effective private waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization.

Important Update on House Bill 87

 altWe talked about House Bill 87 back in early March (click here) and that many good bills do not make it through the legislative process to become law.  Well, this bill has seen many ups and downs in the past several months but has made it to the Governor’s desk for signature.     The bill gives associations in a streamlined process, the right to ask a judge to force the bank or mortgage company to speed up their foreclosure process. Within certain limits, the association will be able to be awarded attorney fees.     

There is some opposition to House Bill 87 so contacting Governor Scott requesting his support of the bill will be helpful.  You can contact Governor Scott requesting his support by clicking here or calling him at (850) 488-7146.   
 
You may find the history of this bill proceeding through the legislature interesting so I have listed it below.   


Event Date/Time
Ordered enrolled Friday, May 03, 2013 11:23 AM
In Messages Friday, May 03, 2013 11:23 AM
05/03/13 S CS passed; YEAS 26 NAYS 13 Friday, May 03, 2013 10:29 AM
05/03/13 S Read 3rd time Friday, May 03, 2013 10:24 AM
05/02/13 S Placed on 3rd reading Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:24 PM
05/02/13 S Read 2nd time -SJ 1017 Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:18 PM
05/02/13 S Substituted for CS/CS/SB 1666 -SJ 1017 Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:09 PM
05/02/13 S Placed on Calendar, on 2nd reading -SJ 1017 Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:09 PM
05/02/13 S Withdrawn from Banking and Insurance; Judiciary; Appropriations -SJ 1017 Thursday, May 02, 2013 2:09 PM
04/29/13 S Received -SJ 784 Monday, April 29, 2013 8:55 PM
04/29/13 S Referred to Banking and Insurance; Judiciary; Appropriations -SJ 784 Monday, April 29, 2013 7:19 PM
04/29/13 S In Messages Monday, April 29, 2013 12:04 PM
Message sent to senate Monday, April 29, 2013 12:02 PM
CS passed; YEAS 87, NAYS 26 Monday, April 29, 2013 10:42 AM
Passage on third reading Monday, April 29, 2013 10:42 AM
Read 3rd time Monday, April 29, 2013 10:23 AM
Added to Third Reading Calendar Friday, April 26, 2013 6:19 PM
Placed on 3rd reading Friday, April 26, 2013 2:43 PM
Amendment 102561 Failed Friday, April 26, 2013 2:43 PM
Read 2nd time Friday, April 26, 2013 2:03 PM
Amendment 102561 filed Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:29 PM
Bill added to Special Order Calendar (4/26/2013) Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:39 PM
Added to Second Reading Calendar Monday, April 22, 2013 2:58 PM
Bill referred to House Calendar Monday, April 22, 2013 2:58 PM
1st Reading Thursday, April 18, 2013 8:17 PM
CS Filed Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:52 PM
Laid on Table under Rule 7.19(a) Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:52 PM
Reported out of Appropriations Committee Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:45 PM
Favorable with CS by Appropriations Committee Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:30 AM
Added to Appropriations Committee agenda Monday, April 15, 2013 4:13 PM
Now in Appropriations Committee Wednesday, April 03, 2013 1:32 PM
Referred to Appropriations Committee Wednesday, April 03, 2013 1:32 PM
1st Reading Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:22 PM
CS Filed Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:39 AM
Laid on Table under Rule 7.19(a) Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:39 AM
Reported out of Judiciary Committee Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:20 AM
Favorable with CS by Judiciary Committee Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:30 PM
Added to Judiciary Committee agenda Tuesday, March 26, 2013 4:20 PM
Removed from Meeting Agenda of Judiciary Committee Tuesday, March 12, 2013 6:06 PM
Added to Judiciary Committee agenda Tuesday, March 12, 2013 4:14 PM
Now in Judiciary Committee Wednesday, March 06, 2013 5:44 PM
Reported out of Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday, March 06, 2013 5:44 PM
Favorable by Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday, March 06, 2013 3:30 PM
1st Reading Tuesday, March 05, 2013 11:59 PM
Added to Justice Appropriations Subcommittee agenda Monday, March 04, 2013 4:09 PM
Now in Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday, February 07, 2013 6:42 PM
Reported out of Civil Justice Subcommittee Thursday, February 07, 2013 6:42 PM
Favorable by Civil Justice Subcommittee Thursday, February 07, 2013 12:00 PM
Added to Civil Justice Subcommittee agenda Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:14 PM
Now in Civil Justice Subcommittee Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Referred to Judiciary Committee Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Referred to Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Referred to Civil Justice Subcommittee Friday, January 11, 2013 3:34 PM
Filed Thursday, January 03, 2013 10:05 AM

The Board Did What?!?

Since you are reading the C&S News Blog, you likely reside in a community association such as an HOA or Condominium.   Your community has a Board of Directors to help the HOA or Condominium run smoothly.  The board consists of volunteers who execute a wide variety of tasks you may not be aware of; however, their work affects every single resident.
 
One of the most important things the board does is create and enforce the association rules. While some residents may not like being told what they can and can’t do, ultimately the board is looking out for the greater good of the community and all the residents.  By enforcing the rules, the board is doing its best to keep property value up and conflicts down.  Of course, the board wants to make sure the rules are beneficial for the majority—and hopefully all—residents.  Any member of the community is welcome to discuss a rule or raise concerns about a rule with the board but the board through their evaluation and review may continue to believe that the rule is necessary in the best interest of the community as a whole.   

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Another major responsibility of the board is to collect assessments from unit owners and home owners.  Collecting this money is important for the stability of the association, because the assessments pay for the common elements and services enjoyed by all residents. Assessments also help to replenish the reserve funds, which pay for any major repairs the association will need in the future. The board adopts and presents the budget and then is responsible for the association’s finances.  Collecting assessments is how the board ensures that the association remains solvent.  The board will take strong action against owners who do not pay their fees which includes recording liens and even ultimately, foreclosing the home or condominium unit.  While this may seem harsh, the board must make every effort to protect those owners paying for the services.  It is not fair that they should pay extra due to those not paying.

The board also reviews requests by owners to make changes to their home or condominium unit.  The board evaluates the change along with the esthetic and uniformity effect it will have on the community and is it within the allowance for change permitted by the association governing documents.  It can be very difficult for board members to refuse a neighbor from making a change that the neighbor believes will be beautiful for the community.  Again the board has to make its decision based on what is best for the whole community. 
 
The board acts on behalf of the association by hiring a management company such as C&S, attorneys, contractors and other professionals who help better the association.  Board members also help conceive and lead many of the projects that will improve the HOA or Condominium.
 
While it’s a big job, board members are generally very happy to serve the residents and make the community a great place to call home.  In addition to thanking your board, you may want to consider becoming involved and volunteer for a committee by talking to your board members, or simply start attending board meetings and sometime in the future even running for a seat on the board. The more people that are involved and looking out for their community association, the stronger and better it will be.

Zogby Community Association Survey

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The Zogby polling organization recently completed a national survey commissioned by the Foundation for Community Association Research.   Their report states:  “Difficult economic times typically create more negative public views toward most institutions—whether Wall Street, the U.S. Congress or industry.  But that hasn’t happened in the case of the more than 315,000 U.S. community associations.  Despite serious economic and housing issues, community associations continue to get high approval ratings from their residents—the people who know best.”   Only 8 percent of those polled expressed negative feelings about their community.  To read the full report and see the actual questions and results, click here.  

Although the positive national results are very high, we want to do even better!  Please tell us what you think we can do to make your community a better place to live. We encourage everyone to get involved so please volunteer with the Board or Committees of your community.   There is no substitute for active and constructive involvement and no better way to build a true sense of community.

Click to watch John Zogby discuss the latest results or for more information about the Foundation for Community Association Research.

Lost Wallet? Lost Purse? FTC Advice

altTake action the minute you notice your wallet or purse is missing. Thieves often want more than cash when snatching your belongings; they want to assume your identity. The immediate steps you take can make the difference between some missing money and months (or years) of headaches and frustration.
 
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following suggestions:
 
File a report with police immediately. This provides needed proof of the crime for your bank, credit card company and insurance company.
 
Cancel each credit card. Ask for new cards and new account numbers. Then, call the major credit reporting agencies to report missing cards and place a fraud alert on your accounts. Equifax: (800) 525-6285. Experian: (888) 397-3742. TransUnion: (800) 680-7289. Ask for credit reports, too, to search for any discrepancies.
 
Call your utility companies. Inform them someone may try to receive new service with your identification.
 
Contact the Social Security Administration. Call (800) 772-1213.
 
Report the loss to your bank. Cancel checking and savings accounts. Open new ones, and stop payments on outstanding checks. Ask for a new ATM card, account number and PIN or password.
 
Call the state department of motor vehicles. Report your missing driver’s license. Get a new number that’s not your social security number.
 
Change the locks. If keys to your car or home were taken, you don’t want to give an identity thief access to more personal property and information.
 
Contact your insurance companies. Prevent an identity thief from adding himself or herself to your policies.
 
Once you take these steps, pay close attention to your accounts. Be your own fraud investigator by taking notes of everyone you speak to, the date and time of the call and what you talked about.
 
It’s always important to be wary of thieves. Try not to stuff your purse or wallet with all your things—from your checkbook, pay stubs and credit cards to ATM cards, driver’s license and health insurance cards. It can take years to recover from identity theft because thieves can hold onto your information and trade it with others. Order your free credit report annually to watch for suspicious charges or accounts.

Secure Association Approval First

altAre you getting ready to fence the yard, make an addition to your house or move a wall inside your condo unit? Before you break out the miter saw, make sure to get your plans approved by your community association.  Many associations will have an Architectural Control Committee (ACC) or the task may be left to the Board of Directors.   
 
While it may seem arbitrary from an individual homeowner’s standpoint, the architectural control committee or Board of Directors, looks out for the entire community. Aside from stopping residents from painting pink polka dots on their houses, or putting in different windows in a condominium unit, the board or committee’s job is to make sure that the size and style of the project, the type of building materials being used and the overall look of the new structure adhere to the association’s design requirements.

Not only does this keep the community looking cohesive, it also helps to keep property values up by preventing individual structures or changes from standing out. Of course, it’s also important to note that unapproved structures or changes might legally have to be removed at the owner’s expense, so save yourself money and headaches by getting approval before building or making changes that require an approval.
 
So when you’re ready to start your new project, or if the design of your project changes midway through building it, send your plans to the architectural control committee or board first so that they can make sure everything is in compliance with the association’s design standards. If they do find any issues, they will let you know what they are and try to help you come up with other options.  Your association always appreciates all the hard work residents have done to make their homes and the community beautiful—help keep the association looking great by keeping the Board or ACC in the loop regarding your building projects that require an approval.

Go a Little Green and Save Money

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Looking to cut back to tighten the budget or ready to go little green? Here are 10 quick and easy tips to save a little energy and save a little money:
  • Unplug appliances and electronics. TVs, computers and kitchen appliances, as well as cell phone and laptop chargers, all use energy when they are plugged in—even if they are turned off.
  • Use power strips. “Smart” power strips automatically turn off when electronics are off or when one main unit (like your personal computer) is powered down.
  • Turn off lights. When you’re not in the room or not in the house, there’s no need for all the lights to be on.
  • Clean and replace furnace or air conditioner filters. Dirty filters block air flow, increase energy bills and shorten equipment life.
  • In the warmer months, keep the shades and blinds down on south-, east- and west-facing windows. In the colder months, open them up and let the sun in.
  • Activate “sleep” features on your computer and office equipment. When they go unused for a long period of time, they power down.
  • Lower the thermostat. Wear a sweater around the house and put an extra blanket on the bed at night.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning when possible or combine their use to turn down the air temperature a bit.
  • Close vents and doors to unused rooms.
  • Wash your laundry with cold water. It’s just as effective.
Click here to check with the Alliance to Save Energy for more energy-and money-saving tips or to subscribe to their free online newsletter.

Right Smells Can Help Sell Home

So your house is on the market and you’re ready to make a dynamic first impression on potential buyers. Besides ensuring that your house looks and feels inviting, making sure it smells pleasant can help generate interest during showings. While traditional wisdom suggests that freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies will add a homey and enticing scent to your abode, new research indicates that the smell of these baked goods may be overwhelming to purchasers.

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According to The Wall Street Journal (“Using Smell to Make a Sale,” February 15, 2013), complex scents—like cookies and potpourri—can accidently distract potential buyers from focusing on your home because they could be subconsciously trying to decipher the aroma. Researchers tested this theory by adding various scents to a home décor store in Switzerland: Of the 402 people observed, consumers on average purchased 31.8 percent more when the store was scented with a simple scent—such as orange or vanilla—than when it was scented with a complex scent; consumers on average purchased 23.6 percent more when the store was scented with a simple scent than when it wasn’t scented at all.
 
Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University and a member of the research team, says people selling their homes can apply the same principles as well. He recommends using simple scents such as lemon, pine or basil to scent your home for showings because it’s easy for people to process these aromas. Without having their focus pulled away by complex smells, potential buyers can give more focus to the house and in turn be more open to spending. To ensure you’re home smells great, try using cleaning products that have a citrus smell, or use vanilla-scented candles or sprays in your home. Better yet, use the real thing to freshen up your house by bringing a basil plant into the kitchen during showings. Try to stick to one simple scent that unobtrusively permeates the house, and make sure your scent matches the atmosphere of your home. 

CA Day Has Much To Offer

Chris Brown, PCAM of C&S will be one of the instructors for the Condominium Board Member Certification Class at CA Day this Friday.  The class is beneficial to all Board members.   The four main topics to be covered are Elections, Budgets and Reserves, Official Records/Records Retention, and Dispute Resolution.   There is much to see and do at CA Day.  CA Day is offered each year by the West Florida Chapter of the Community Associations Institute.  C&S is a proud Gold Sponsor of CAI.  The day begins at 8:00 AM.  The Board Member Certification Class is at 2:00 PM.   Please drop by and visit with C&S at our booth and complete a chance to win the C&S Money Tree! 

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Team C&S Completes Walk-A-Thon

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The weather was beautiful along the Bradenton River Walk as Team C&S completed the Humane Society Walk-A-Thon along with five hundred other walkers.   C&S raised over $1000 and helped the Humane Society of Manatee County exceed their goal of $50,000.  We made new friends and saw many of our clients and vendors at our booth.  Everyone had a lot of fun.  To see more pictures click here for our Facebook page.    

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Some Help From House Bill 87

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This time of year you can view many bills proceeding through the Legislature.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, most will not become law.  Keeping that in mind I have learned to not get too excited that a bill will become law until it happens.  

There are many bills worth following but one bill caught my eye yesterday and I want to share it with you.  House Bill 87 could help struggling associations that have homes or condo units not paying their fees while the bank does nothing.  You can read the full text of the bill here.   You can also follow it through the Legislative process here.  

Miracle League Manasota New Season

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Baseball exhibition season is about to start and C&S VP, Jessica Christianson, is again volunteering with the Miracle League of Manasota.  The above picture is from last year.  The 2013 season starts on Saturday, March 16, 2013.  The games will be played every Saturday for ten weeks, with the final games of the season to be played on May 18, 2013. This is Jessica’s second season helping with the Miracle League. 
 
The Miracle League of Manasota is dedicated to providing an opportunity for all children and adults to play baseball, regardless of their ability. For the 14,000 school-aged children with disabilities and also for adults with disabilities in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the Miracle League of Manasota will build a synthetically surfaced baseball field and all the requisite amenities at a site that would serve the children and adults from both Counties. For the first time, children and adults challenged by any form of disability will be empowered to enjoy the joys and thrills of baseball regardless of their ability to play.
 
Jessica is also volunteering at the 3rd Annual Birdland Golf Classic on February 20, 2013, which benefits the Miracle League of Manasota.  Click here for more information on the Miracle League of Manasota.   

 

Small Percent Achieve Accreditation

altLooking at the numbers, it truly is an honor for C&S to have completed the stringent criteria to be awarded the Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC) designation, by the Community Associations Institute (CAI)1

There are 1,986 currently active association management companies in Florida as reported this week by Manta2.   Of these, only 16 management companies in the State of Florida have successfully achieved the AAMC designation.   For more information on the AAMC designation and why accreditation is important, please click our AAMC link here.   

 
1Community Associations Institute (CAI), is an international organization dedicated to building better communities, provides education and resources to community association homeowner leaders, professional managers, association management companies and other businesses and professionals who provide products and services to community associations

2Manta is the world's largest online community for promoting and connecting small business. With more than 87 million company profiles Manta, serves as a unique resource for more than 22 million unique global users. 

Team C&S Walks for Humane Society

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Team C&S is a sponsor and participant in the Paws in Motion fundraiser for the Humane Society of Manatee County. The big event is Saturday, March 9th and the walk begins at 9:00 AM along the beautiful downtown Bradenton River Walk.  

Team C&S will have six dog walkers and others from our team will be handling our booth. Everyone is invited to come out and visit with us and if you would like to help in our donation drive you may click on our Team C&S Link,  to give a donation to the Humane Society of Manatee County. Thanks and hope to see you there.

 

Breaking Rules

altTo one degree or another, we all want to maintain some individuality and personalize our home. Clearly our home is our castle.   Community associations often appear to subscribe to the exact opposite of this, but a closer look shows this is not really the case.  Community associations strive to strike a balance between the preferences of individual home/condo owner and the best interests of the community as a whole.  

A typical community association has well-established rules and use restrictions that homeowners and condominium unit owners agree to follow when they purchase their homes and units. These rules involve exterior decorations, paint colors, fences, storage sheds, pets, basketball poles, signs, flagpoles, vehicles, satellite dishes, landscaping, even smoking and doormats. Issues often arise when owners are either unaware of the rules or actually choose to ignore them.

Since our nation is built on individual freedom, it is natural and easy to side with an individual homeowner or condo owner who violates a rule of the community association. But one should consider that the rules were created to preserve the character of the community, protect the property values and maintain the established expectations that led you to purchase in your community in the first place. While some rules may at times seem outdated or unnecessary, one should ask: What if every resident did the same thing?

Humane Society Calendar Reminder

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Everyone is reminded that the Humane Society of Manatee County 2013 Calendar is still available.   C&S is a sponsor of one month and you will see a beautiful lab pictured for the month.   The calendar can be mailed to you or picked up at the HSMC.   Click here for more information and to order.   Enjoy your calendar while you help change the fate of animals in Manatee County.

 

 

New Federal Mortgage Guidelines

The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has long been following and offering assistance during the development process of the federal mortgage guidelines.    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has this month released the new guidelines and we have received the below information from CAI.


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On January 10, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its long-awaited federal Qualified Mortgage (QM) standard. The new federal guidelines, which are required by the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (commonly known as the Dodd Frank Act), establish minimum requirements for all mortgage loans.
 
As anticipated, the QM standard considers community association assessments a key factor when determining if a borrower is qualified for a mortgage. Ensuring borrowers can afford to pay association assessments will lead to stronger communities and prevent foreclosures.
 
“The Ability-to-Repay standard will ensure home buyers are able to fulfill all their financial obligations related to owning their home—including their association assessments. This will create a greater degree of financial stability for community associations, while at the same time helping to ensure fairness and equity for all owners in the community," said Thomas M. Skiba, CAE, chief executive officer of Community Associations Institute.
 
Under the QM standard, lenders are required to prove borrowers have the financial resources to pay mortgage principal and interest, insurance premiums, property taxes and association assessments. Lenders that extend mortgage credit without fully documenting a borrower’s income and assets and ensuring the borrower has the ability to make all monthly mortgage payments will face stiff penalties and fines.
 
Lender documentation of association assessments and special assessments required to meet the new ability to repay standard will be a key issue for CAI members. CAI will continue to work with the CFPB and the banking industry to ensure that all parties understand the role played by community associations to provide lenders assessment information in a reasonable and cost-effective manner.
 
Key features of the QM standard include:
 
  • Ability to Repay—lenders must document that borrowers have sufficient assets and income to make monthly mortgage payments and pay other mortgage-related obligations such as community association assessments.
  • Borrower Debt-to-Income Ratio—borrowers may not spend more than 43 percent of their monthly income for payment of mortgages and mortgage-related obligations such as association assessments.
  • Legal Safe Harbor for Lenders—except in the case of high-cost mortgages, lenders that comply with the ability to repay standard will be offered protection from borrower litigation.
  • High Risk Loan Terms Prohibited—lenders are no longer permitted to offer mortgages that allow loan balances to increase (negative amortization) or interest-only payments. Mortgages may not have terms of greater than 30 years.
  • Transitional Standard—all loans eligible to be guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or for Federal Housing Administration insurance will be granted QM status during a transitional period.
  • Delayed Effective Date—lenders will have one year to comply with the QM standard, which is effective January 2014.
 
CAI is reviewing the final QM standard and will provide additional updates to CAI members once a full analysis has been completed. Summary documents provided by the CFPB may be viewed here.
 
With more than 32,000 members dedicated to building better communities, CAI works in partnership with 59 domestic chapters, a chapter in South Africa and housing leaders in a number of other countries, including Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. CAI provides information, education and resources to community associations and the professionals who support them. CAI’s mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership and responsible citizenship—ideals reflected in communities that are preferred places to call home. Visit www.caionline.org or call (888) 224-4321.
 
 

Property Management Sarasota

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We are so excited for all of the new projects we have coming up in 2013. C&S Management is one of a select few Sarasota property management companies to be an Accredited Association Management Company. We are very proud of this accomplishment, the highest designation a company can receive, and are looking forward to another year of success and satisified customers.


C&S Management and all C&S managers are licensed by the state of Florida. We, as a property managment company in Sarasota, are a member of the Community Associations Institute along with the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. 

We are well known as one of the best Sarasota property management companies and would love the opportunity to show you what our company can accomplish for you in the New Year. Give us a call and we can talk about all the services we can offer you. Property management is so important and we are your number one resource for Sarasota to make it happen.

Property Management Bradenton

Bradenton Harbour

We are so excited for all of the new projects we have coming up in 2013. C&S Management is one of a select few Bradenton property management companies to be an Accredited Association Management Company. We are very proud of this accomplishment, the highest designation a company can receive, and are looking forward to another year of success and satisified customers.

C&S Management and all C&S managers are licensed by the state of Florida. We, as a property managment company in Bradenton, are a member of the Community Associations Institute along with the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. 

We are well known as one of the best Bradenton property management companies and would love the opportunity to show you what our company can accomplish for you in the New Year. Give us a call and we can talk about all the services we can offer you. Property management is so important and we are your number one resource for Bradenton to make it happen.

Property Management St. Petersburg

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We are so excited for all of the new projects we have coming up in 2013. C&S Management is one of a select few St. Petersburg property management companies to be an Accredited Association Management Company. We are very proud of this accomplishment, the highest designation a company can receive, and are looking forward to another year of success and satisified customers.

C&S Management and all C&S managers are licensed by the state of Florida. We, as a property managment company in St. Petersburg, are a member of the Community Associations Institute along with the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. 

We are well known as one of the best St. Petersburg property management companies and would love the opportunity to show you what our company can accomplish for you in the New Year. Give us a call and we can talk about all the services we can offer you. Property management is so important and we are your number one resource for St. Petersburg to make it happen.

New Year's Greeting for 2013

The C&S staff wishes everyone a happy, safe and prosperous 2013!

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Condo/HOA Board Member Class

Jessica Christianson and Ellen Brown from C&S will be the instructors for the class: How to Run an Effective Board Meeting.  All community association volunteer leader (CAVL) members of CAI are invited to attend.  See flyer below.

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C&S Thank You and Holiday Greeting

Thank you to all our clients and we wish you a very happy and safe holiday season.  

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C&S 2013 Holiday Schedule

C&S follows the County Holiday Schedule.  For this reason, C&S holiday closings will sometimes be different than the State and Federal Holiday Schedules. 

2013 C&S HOLIDAY SCHEDULE

New Year’s Day          January 1, Tuesday
 
Martin Luther King Day          January 21, Monday
 
President’s Day          February 18, Monday
 
Memorial Day          May 27, Monday
 
Independence Day          July 4, Thursday
 
Labor Day          September 2, Monday
 
Veteran’s Day          November 11, Monday
 
Thanksgiving Day          November 28, Thursday
 
Thanksgiving Day After          November 29, Friday

 
Christmas Eve          December 24, Tuesday
                                               
Christmas Day          December 25, Wednesday

 

Help Stop Crime

altEveryone wants a safe place to call home, and our communities strive to make all residents feel secure. While the Boards of Directors and management are diligent in their efforts to reduce possible dangers in our communities, we can’t do it alone. It’s up to everyone to pitch in to keep crime rates down. Thankfully, taking a few simple steps can go a long way in keeping theft, vandalism and other felonies and misdemeanors out of our communities.
 
Know Your Neighbors. And not just the neighbors on your block or in your building, but also the neighbors from all parts of the community. At the very least, you’ll get a better idea of who actually lives (and in turn, who belongs) here. Talking with your neighbors will also give you the chance to find out if they have noticed any crimes or suspicious activity in the association recently so that you can be on the lookout as well. Consider creating and distributing a list with everyone’s contact information so that you and your neighbors can alert each other of any problems that arise. Of course, be sure to get your neighbors’ permission first to put their information on the list. Your specific community may already have a Neighborhood Watch program with a contact tree for whenever an alert needs to go out. 
 
Leave The Light On. A good way to deter felons from breaking into your home is to make sure your front porch light stays on all night, even when you’re out of town. Not only does it signal that someone’s home, it also makes it harder for vandals to hide among the shadows. If you’re worried that you’ll either forget to turn the light on at night or off in the morning, you can purchase an inexpensive timer that will automatically do that for you every day. Also, if you see any street lights around the association that are burnt out, please let the board or management know so that it will be replaced for everyone’s safety.
 
Lock Up. If you want to keep unwanted guests out, don’t make your home inviting. Even when you’re around, it’s best to keep all doors, garages, (gates if you have them) locked at all times. It’s also a good idea to keep your windows closed and locked when possible, especially if they’re on the ground floor.
 
Put On Your Walking Shoes. Taking as stroll around the association isn’t just good exercise. You can casually patrol the community for anything suspicious or usual, as well as swap information about criminal activity in the area with other neighbors who are out and about. Also, when more residents regularly walk around the association, it can help scare off hooligans who are afraid of getting caught in the act.
 
Clean It Up. Picking up litter, not only makes the association look better, but also sends the message that our residents are diligent about keeping a watchful eye on the neighborhood.  This can help discourage potential criminals from believing this would be a good location to steal from.
 
See Something, Say Something. If you notice a crime or a suspicious activity, regardless of how small the incident may seem, notify the community neighborhood watch if there is one, or the Sheriff’s Office/Police.  Of course, only call 911 if it is an emergency; otherwise, contact law enforcement on their non-emergency line.  
 
We all have a responsibility to our communities to help keep them safe, and incorporating even a few of these tips can go a long way. Do your part to make your condominium or hoa community a place you’re happy to call home. 

Community Survey Results

altWe’re confident that most residents are happy living in our communities—and we certainly hope that you are among them. But how do the more than 62 million Americans who live in homeowners associations and condominium communities feel about their own associations? Are they happy with their elected boards? How do they feel about the rules? What about their association assessments?
 
The Foundation for Community Association Research, an affiliate of Community Associations Institute (CAI), sponsored a recent national public opinion survey to answer these and other questions. Here are some of the key findings:

  • 70 percent of residents in common-interest communities say they are satisfied with their community association experience, while 8 percent express dissatisfaction and 22 percent are neutral on the question.
  • 88 percent of residents believe their association board members strive to serve the best interests of the community, while 12 percent disagree or aren’t sure.
  • 73 percent say their professional managers provide value to their communities, while 21 percent say their managers aren’t an asset to the association and 6 percent say they aren’t sure.
  • 76 percent believe their own community association rules “protect and enhance” property values. Only 3 percent say the rules harm property values, while the rest see no difference.
  • 81 percent of residents say they get a “good” or “great” return for their association assessments, while 18 percent say the return is “not so good or bad.” The rest were unsure.

We’d like to think that we can do even better than the national averages, so please tell us what you think we can do to make our communities a better place to live.   If you’re especially pleased about your community, share that too! It’s always good to know we’re on the right track.

Ducks Unlimited Sponsor


altC&S is proud to again be an annual sponsor of Ducks Unlimited, the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Ducks Unlimited started in 1937 during the Dust Bowl when North America’s drought-plagued waterfowl populations had plunged to unprecedented lows.  Determined not to sit idly by as the continent’s waterfowl dwindled beyond recovery, a small group of sportsmen joined together to form the organization that became known as Ducks Unlimited.  Thanks to decades of abiding by that single mission of habitat conservation, Ducks Unlimited is now the world’s largest and most effective private waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization.

Hurricane Isaac Notice

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Hurricane Isaac:  Storm Preparedness Plan Activation Notice

We have activated our Storm Preparedness Plan (SPP) in order to manage potential items related to the inclement weather conditions approaching the Florida west coast.   Our operations have been placed on high alert and we are prepared to support your Association’s needs due to the storm. 

Additional backup procedures have been completed today to secure computer data.  For further updates, as they occur, please log on to the C&S Management Website . 

Board Member Certification Course

Chris Brown was an instructor for the Board Member Certification Course today in Sarasota covering Condominium Elections: Requirements and Best Practices.  The Certification Course is one of the two options that new Board members have available to them to fulfill the State requirement within 90 days of becoming a Board Member.  The other option is to sign the Certification Form affirming that they have read the association's Declaration, Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation and will uphold the Documents.  The two hour classroom Certification Course was presented by the West Florida Chapter of the Community Association Institute (CAI).  Below are a few candid photos from the class. 

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Chris is being introduced by CAI West Florida Chapter President, Gail Stephens.
 

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Chris with CAI West Florida Chapter Executive Director, Vicki McClenathen.
 

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Chris talking with President Gail Stephens.

FEMA Stops Insurance Rebates

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For many years C&S Management has worked with their association insurance providers of flood insurance to provide associations with a significant rebate (10% or more) on their flood insurance premiums.  This has saved associations tens of thousands of dollars.  Unfortunately the federal government has decided to end this practice effective October 1, 2012, passing on this additional cost to those associations needing flood insurance.  To read the letter from the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA click here

Citizens Insurance and Assessments

altA.M. Best Company, Inc., has filed this report regarding Citizens Insurance. 

Florida lawmakers have passed — only a few minutes before their session ended — a bill that changes the way Citizens Property Insurance Corp. issues deficit assessments.

The bill, H.B. 1127, was voted on by the Florida Senate March 9 at 11:35 p.m. and the legislature adjourned for its regular session at 11:59 p.m., according to the Florida Office of the Senate Secretary. It streamlines the three layers the state's insurer of last resort uses to issue assessments to cover deficits on its three accounts — commercial, personal and coastal.

It gets rid of two layers of regular assessments by eliminating them on commercial and personal lines accounts, according to the bill. Regular assessments will still be levied for the coastal account, but it reduces that assessment to 2% of premiums from 6% and lengthens the time limited apportionment companies have to pay the bill. Regular assessments are levied on nearly all property/casualty policies in the state, but not on Citizens' policies, according to the bill.

If Citizens runs out of money, it will now issue assessments first to its own customers on future policy premiums; then by regular assessment for deficits in the coastal account; then by emergency assessments on both Citizens' and nearly all other property/casualty policies in the state up to 10% of the annual premium. The three accounts calculate deficits and assessments independently, so assessments can be levied when any or all of the three Citizens’ accounts has a deficit.

Regular assessments can significantly impact private insurers' cash stores, Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute previously told Best's New Service. She said that places a burden on private insurers because those companies are already paying claims from a catastrophic event (Best's News Service, Feb. 29, 2012). Jack McDermott, spokesman for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, said the OIR supported the bill because "it will attract investment."

Citizens was formed in 2002 by combining two residual-market associations and was supposed to be the insurer of last resort (Best's News Service, Dec. 11, 2011). The company has taken recent steps to shrink their share of the Florida market and cut $1.5 billion from its exposure. The company has previously told Best's News Service they want to get down to 800,000 policies from their current 1.5 million.

CFO's ON GUARD for Seniors

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State of Florida Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, has started a new website to help protect senior citizens. 

Florida’s seniors are inundated with investment offers and requests for charitable contributions and are being exposed to targeted fraud opportunities. The result - financial decisions can be overwhelming. CFO Atwater is committed to ensuring seniors have the information they need about insurance, reverse mortgages and financial transactions, so they can stay on guard and ask the right questions to make sound financial decisions.

The website is
www.myfloridacfo.com/onGuard

2012 Session Ends Without Help

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The 2012 Legislative session ended Friday without any real legislation to help associations still trying to survive from significant delinquencies and foreclosures. 

The Senate failed to take up SB 680 by Senator Bogdanoff.  This was the Senate companion bill of HB 319 by Representative Moraitis.  These bills would have postponed costly elevator upgrades, removed the requirement for a member vote in order for condominium board members to serve two-year terms, and clarified the amounts paid by persons and in particular banks, when taking title to a foreclosed unit. It has been suggested that the bills would have significantly discouraged litigation and excessive collection fees and helped to prevent any unnecessary delays of foreclosed unit re-sales.

The Legislature also failed to approve SB 1890/HB 213 which would have given associations the right to expedite stalled mortgage foreclosure cases through an order to show cause.  This procedure would have been similar to a "motion to compel" which we presently use but unfortunately when we file a motion to compel, it has only had limited success.   This bill would have created real force.  There was an attempt to place the order to show cause language in SB 670/HB 671 pertaining to residential liens, but the Senate failed to also take up SB 670 and the order to show language was never adopted.   In my opinion this was one of the most important steps to help associations that the Legislature was considering.   It is very unfortunate that it did not find its way through to become law. 

C&S Is Set Up For CA Day 2012

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The C&S booth is all set up and ready for CA Day 2012, tomorrow March 9th from 8:00am to 3:00pm at the Manatee Convention Center. Stop by and visit with your home town management company! Also fill out an entry form for a $100 Publix Gift Card that C&S is giving away. See you tomorrow!

CA Day 2012

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C&S Management is very proud to be a major sponsor of CA Day 2012

Community Association Day 2012 Spring Training
Free Trade Show & Educational Expo presented by CAI West Florida Chapter

Board Member?  Home or Condo Owner?  Don your baseball caps and jerseys, Training Season is here!  Plan now to attend the 2012 Community Associations Day Spring Training sponsored by the West Florida Chapter of the Community Association Institute (CAI).  This FREE annual educational expo and tradeshow event is having a spring training baseball theme this year and will be held on Friday, March 9th, 2012 at the Manatee Convention Center located at One Haben Boulevard, Palmetto, FL.
 
Who should attend? Anyone living in, serving, or managing community associations such as condominiums, cooperatives, and home owner associations. That means Board Members, Community Association Volunteers and Association Managers. FREE Educational seminars will run from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Vendors supporting community associations will have over 150 booths set up during the show with experts on hand to address your questions. Food will be available and prizes will be awarded!
 
Board members and CAMs who are looking to satisfy credits toward educational requirements can register for the FREE Board of Directors Certification Course and Community Association Managers continuing education courses offered throughout the day. Come prepared to ask questions and visit with industry experts!
 
Save the date and plan to attend. Admission is FREE but Seminar seating is limited. Pre-registration is recommended. A limited number of tradeshow booths are still available for vendors serving the community association industry. For more information or to pre-register, please visit www.caiwestflorida.org, or call (941)927-1910.


CAI West Floridais the local Sarasota-area chapter of CAI, a national organization that provides education and resources for community associations.
 
CAI (Community Associations Institute)is a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to fostering vibrant, competent, harmonious common-interest communities. Founded in 1973, CAI and its 59 chapters provide education, tools and resources to the volunteers who govern communities and the professionals who support them.

Care When Using Space Heaters

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Our insurance agent forwarded us information for using space
heaters and we thought it was good information to pass on.

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With the cold weather we've been having, we thought it would be a good idea to share some safety tips for those of you with space heaters.

Please read!

  • Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles.
  • Use space heaters only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace the home's heating system.
  • Do not use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary.
  • Inspect the heater's cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation. Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord.
  • Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced by a qualified technician. This could be the sign of a potential home wiring issue.
  • Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture since they may fall and become damaged or break parts in the heater.
  • Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp, wet areas.
  • Look for the UL Mark on your electric heater. This means representative samples of the appliance have met UL's stringent safety standards.
  • If you have a liquid-fueled space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment was designed for and cause a serious fire.
  • When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool down completely before adding fuel. Wipe away any spills promptly.
  • Before you buy a kerosene heater, check with your local fire department to ensure that it is legal

Check A License Phone Apps

Have you ever been out with only your cell phone and want to verify that a contractor or professional has a current license?  Well the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) offers iPhone and Android apps.  You can search for state licenses by name or license number, enabling people to check instantaneously whether an individual has a business or professional license in the State of Florida.

The iPhone app is available in the Apple iTunes marketplace, online at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dbpr-mobile/id421389533?mt=8

The Android app is available in the Android marketplace, online at: https://market.android.com/details?id=us.fl.state.dbpr&feature=search_result

The DBPR licenses more than one million businesses and professionals including Community Association Managers, Accountants and Contractors. More information about the department and its divisions is available online at hhtp://www.MyFloridaLicense

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CAI Educational Program in Bradenton

Chris Brown, President of C&S, will be one the panelists for the January 12, 2012 CAI Educational Program "What Every Association Board Member Needs to Know".  The program is for both condominium and homeowner associations.  Below is information from CAI along with a link to CAI to register.  


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January 12, 2012 - FREE to Members and Non-Members

What Every Association Board Member Needs to Know
 
Board Meeting Structure
Understanding Association Documents
Communicating With Homeowners
Financial Reports and Obligations
 
Location:   Renaissance on 9th
                       1816 9th Street West
                        Bradenton, FL 34205
 
Check-in begins at 8:00am
 
8:00am - Registration/Refreshments and Mini-Trade Show
8:30am - 11:00 Education Session with one 30 minute break
 
CAI website to register:   CAI Calendar and Registration
 
(Any questions regarding registration,
please call CAI office 941.927.1910)  

Presented by:

Kevin Edwards, Esq. - Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.

Jack Gages, CPA - CondoCPA, Inc.

M.H. Chris Brown, CMCA, AMS, PCAM
C&S Condominium Management Services, Inc. AAMC

Chris Harrington - Beachside Resorts Vacation Rentals (Moderator)

 
Participants must pre-register. Class size is limited! 

 

Preparing for Emergencies in 2012

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FEMA has launched a campaign which urges Americans to make preparedness a new year’s resolution.  The prioirty campaign is named: Resolve to be Ready in 2012.  More than 20 disaster declarations covered much of the southeast U.S. in 2011. All of these events have served as important reminders that disasters can strike anytime, anywhere, and being prepared is one of the most effective things we can do to protect our homes, businesses and loved ones.

“One of the most important lessons we can take away from this year is that disasters can impact all of us, no matter what part of the country we live in,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Phil May. “Resolving to be Ready in 2012 could be the most important pledge you make this year.”

By making a resolution to take a few simple steps in advance, Americans can minimize the impact of an emergency on their families, homes or businesses. To take the pledge, visit www.ready.gov/resolve.

C&S 2012 Holiday Schedule

C&S follows the County Holiday Schedule.  For this reason, C&S holiday closings will sometimes be different than the State and Federal Holiday Schedules. 
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Email Server Maintenance

The C&S email server will be down for scheduled maintenance from 9:00 AM, Saturday, December 31st to 10:00 AM, Sunday, January 1, 2012.  Any email sent to C&S while the system is down is not lost and will be delivered when the system is back online.

Update:  Email is back up and running several hours ahead of schedule.

DBPR Enforcing Unlicensed Activity

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Ken Lawson, the Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is asking all Floridians to help in the enforcement of unlicensed activity in all professions.  "Unlicensed activity is illegal and can result in misdemeanor or felony charges if an individual is convicted. Floridians should report any suspected unlicensed activity by emailing ULA@dbpr.state.fl.us or calling the Unlicensed Activity Hotline at 1-866-532-1440."   

For the complete letter from Secretary Lawson, click Secretary's Letter

C&S New Year's Greeting

      The C&S staff wishes everyone a happy and safe New Years!

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Florida Dismal Foreclosure Update

Community Associations struggling to make ends meet, due to a large number of homes or condominium units in foreclosure, will see more negative news today. 

CNN reports that the average time to complete a foreclosure in Florida is now up to 1,027 days.  This clearly shows how inadequate the current law is since banks pay only 365 days of past due assessments or less, when they take title from the foreclosure.   The law also protects the nonpaying owner whereby they often live for years in the home or condominium unit for free, while their neighbors pay their expenses.  Here is the full CNN article: CNN Foreclosure Article
 
Florida Commercial News headline reports that "Florida Supreme Court Admits Failure of Its Residential Mortgage Mediation Program: Sad News for Florida as Foreclosure Crisis Continues."  There are already over 350,000 foreclosures sitting on court dockets in Florida right now with many more waiting to be filed.  Here is the full Florida Commercial News Article:  Mortgage Mediation Article

C&S Christmas and New Years Holiday Closings

The C&S Offices will be closed Monday, December 26, 2011 for the Christmas Holiday.  The offices will reopen on Tuesday, December 27, 2011. 

The offices will be closed Monday January 2, 2012 for the New Years Holiday.  The offices will reopen on Tuesday, January 3, 2012. 

Thank you and we hope you enjoy the holidays. 

C&S Thank You and Christmas Greeting

         
      Thank you to all our clients and we wish you a very happy and safe holiday!


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Looking Ahead to 2012

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Along with the excitement of the holiday season, we at C&S are very excited about the roll out of our new website and association websites.   There are many new features available which will facilitate greater communication.   In these challenging economic times, it is very important to use digital forms of communications whenever possible to help save on postage and printing costs.

Looking forward to 2012, C&S is planning many activities.  Look for us March 9, 2012 at the Community Associations Day which is presented by the Community Association Institute (CAI).   CA Day will be held at the Manatee Convention Center on Haben Blvd., Palmetto, FL.   C&S is again a major sponsor.   This is the largest educational and trade show event of the year so please plan to come out and be sure to stop by to visit with us at our booth.  

August 10, 2011

It's amazing how fast this year is going by. Seems like only yesterday associations passed their annual budgets. If you have not already started, it is time again to begin the budget process. August is the time to get all information together to prepare the first draft. C&S managers will be working with association boards for a first draft to be completed in September.

The Florida Legislature and Governor have embarked on a bold plan to stabilize insurance prices over the long term. By allowing prices to significantly increase short term, it is believed that insurance carriers will return to Florida and with the increased competition, prices will stabilize and begin to decrease. Citizen Insurance cannot cover the amount of policies it presently has in the event of a major event. Since the budget is prepared well in advance of when the association's 2012 increase will be known, C&S and the association's insurance agent try to determine the best amount to place in the budget for insurance. This is sometimes a very challenging task.

June 20, 2011

House Bill 1195 has finally been signed by Governor Rick Scott and will go into effect July 1, 2011. The bill has been referred to as the “glitch bill” due to cleaning up many loose ends from last year’s changes. Two such items are that now the entire rent paid from a tenant may be required to be paid to the association for current and back unpaid assessments, and those units or lots that are over 90 days delinquent may be removed from the quorum and vote counts to pass actions of the association.

The first law firm guide has been published and you may see it by clicking here: Guidebook to House Bill 1195

May, 2011

While our Legislature and Governor are finishing this year's legislative session, we thought we would provide you some news from the Federal level. The Community Associations Institute reports that as the Federal Government continues its push to reform the mortgage finance system, CAI members should take comfort knowing that their efforts to shape the debate have started to bear fruit. In fact, members' efforts on two critical issues, the Federal Housing Administration condominium guidelines and the Federal Housing Finance Agency's private transfer fee regulation, have not only impacted the policy debate, they have made national headlines. Based on these early returns, CAI will continue to chalk up victories for all associations.

On the two biggest federal issues facing associations, CAI secured important victories. First, in March, FHA issued a waiver on rental restrictions. Originally, to qualify for FHA-backed mortgages, rules required that at least 50 percent of units in a condominium be owner occupied. FHA would have disqualified any association that adopted a rental restriction. Ironically, many condominiums put rental restrictions in place at FHA's urging years ago. CAI highlighted the inconsistency, and FHA issued a waiver, allowing condominiums with rental restrictions to qualify for financing.

Another important development critical to associations has been the issue of deed-based, private transfer fees. Last fall, the FHFA issued a craft regulation that would have effectively cut off any federally backed mortgages to properties with a deed-based transfer fee. FHFA was unaware that such fees have long been used by about half of all community associations to fund reserves, capitol projects and operations. If the FHFA proceeded, up to 11 million homes in community associations would have been unable to qualify for most mortgage products. Thanks to CAI member grassroots efforts, FHFA issued a revised draft of its proposal and addressed almost all of the issues raised by CAI members. Not only did FHFA publicly note the tremendous response from CAI members, but our grassroots efforts made the headlines in The Washington Post, which singled out CAI members' efforts as "swift and intense". CAI is currently submitting comments on the revised proposal.

In addition to these projects, CAI has made it easier to follow all the mortgage issues and changing rules. To keep our members engaged on the latest news, calls to action and impact of new regulations, CAI established the Mortgage Matters program. The program will provide members with updates on various federal mortgage issues. It is designed to provide a comprehensive view of federal regulatory and legal changes, and to offer members opportunities for education and input into our ongoing efforts.

As soon as the Florida Legislative session ends, the Governor signs or vetoes the bills, and we have the initial legal reviews, we will update everyone on this year's changes.

February, 2011

C&S wishes to invite everyone to two upcoming events. March 4, 2011 is Community Association Day which is a free education expo and trade show, presented by the West Florida Chapter of the Community Associations Institute. CA Day will be at the Manatee Convention Center and C&S is a major sponsor. We hope everyone will come by and take advantage of the education opportunities and be sure and visit us at our booth.

Our second event to inform you of is on April 14th, 2011 and it is a free seminar "The Conflict Resolution Process", also presented by the West Florida Chapter of the Community Associations Institute. The panelists include Attorney Mary Hawk, of Porges, Hamlin, Knowles & Prouty P.A., President Anthony Sawyer, The Meadows Master Association, and our own, Chris Brown, PCAM, of C&S Management. The program is divided into seven sections: 1. Typical Conflicts, 2. Selective Enforcement, 3. Pre-emptive Tools, 4. "The Knock on the Door" - The Process Begins, 5. Hearing and Fining Committees/HOAs, Condominiums, 6. Injunctions & Other Scary Sounding Legal Stuff, 7. Question and Answers.

The Conflict Resolution Process seminar will take place at the Venice Community Center, 326 South Nokomis Ave., Venice, Florida, 34285. We hope to see you there.

January, 2011

C&S wishes everyone a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year. Recent trends show a stabilization forming regarding community association delinquency and bad debt. While we certainly have not turned the corner, the delinquent amount of member fees for community associations, is leveling out so we are hopeful that 2011 will be seen as a better year than past few. This is significantly due to the large increase in "short sales" that are occurring in the Tampa Bay area.

From the association’s point of view, short sales are a very positive alternative to foreclosure by either the bank or the association. Two main reasons are: first, the association controls how much if any will be written off the outstanding balance for the short sale to proceed. In a bank foreclosure, per Florida Statute, it is usually only 1% of the original mortgage which is generally much less than what is owed. Second, short sale homes are much better kept up than those homes that are in foreclosure or have been completely abandoned. The homeowner wants to sell the home so they are trying to keep everything up and attractive. With foreclosed properties, the association is usually left with the choice of letting the appearance continue to decline which can affect the neighboring homes or units, or the association at its expense (your expense) will try to keep the property maintained. The association can try to collect on its costs but since the home is likely to continue through to foreclosure, there is very little hope of collection, and remember per Florida Statute, when the bank takes title, the association receives the lesser of 12 months back member fees or 1% of the original mortgage, which will generally not even cover the back member fees. There is no provision in the Statute to recoup maintenance and upkeep costs.

Since we are at the start of our new year we can certainly be optimistic at this point and hope that 2011 ends the year showing that the bottom has been reached and we can look forward to improvement in the years to come.

August, 2010

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which passed Congress in 1990 has created challenges for associations since its passage. Many far reaching scenarios have been presented to Boards of Directors to allow all types of animals as service animals.

In July of this year, the Department of Justice has released new regulations that clarify the intent of Congress. Although the definition of disability has been greatly broadened, the use of service animals has been greatly limited. Only two animals may now be used as a service animal to assist with a person's disability, specifically the dog and miniature horse.

Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained are not service animals, per the new rule. The main consideration now is the animal's training. It is now clear that a dog's training takes precedence over the owner's disability. Dogs that simply provide companionship and comfort, no longer qualify as a service animal. Legitimate service animals are exempt from association pet restrictions.

Examples of tasks that qualify as service are now available and include: guiding the blind, alerting deaf owners to sounds, pulling wheelchairs, assisting a person during a seizure, alerting owners to allergens, retrieving medicine or the phone, supporting people with mobility problems and impeding impulsive or destructive behavior.

As a side note motorized conveyances have also been expanded to include golf carts and Segways to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes.

June, 2010

Senate Bill 1196 has been signed by the governor and will go into effect July 1, 2010. The bill contains a wide range of changes to community association laws. This reform bill has many very positive changes for community associations but unfortunately does not provide the desired assistance to delinquency/foreclosure problems. Although the number of past due assessment months a foreclosing bank or mortgage company must pay to a condominium association upon taking title was raised to twelve months, the alternative 1% of the original mortgage remained the same. Since in most foreclosures the 1% was already less than the six months assessments, the increase to twelve months will only help in a very few number of cases. By Statute the mortgage holder only pays the association the lower of the 1% or twelve months. Homeowner associations were already at 12 months.

Attorney Donna Burger was one of those who worked hard to secure passage of SB 1196 and she did a very good job watching out for community association interests. Her Fort Lauderdale law firm prepared an excellent review of Senate Bill 1196. You may see it by clicking here: Guidebook to Senate Bill 1196

March, 2010

C&S, an innovator in community association management, once again sets precedent for the management industry. C&S has added a money back guaranty to it management contract. If a new client does not experience what is referred to as the C&S difference within the first 90 days, the management service is free. No questions, no loopholes, simply a full refund. C&S is so confident that the association will want C&S to continue as its management company that the full refund guaranty can be offered.

January, 2010

The new C&S website begins its roll out. The website will be updated throughout 2010 and will change from both the outside appearance and inside workings. The first step is the new look and feel of the website. The second step which will occur later in the year is the behind the scenes workings of the site. When complete, association websites will have better organization of stored files and information along with other enhanced features.

June, 2009

There will be no new condominium or HOA legislation this year. Early this month, Governor Charlie Crist vetoed the one bill that had been passed, SB 714. It had made several changes to the Condominium Act, notably correcting problems in the 2008 legislation in matters concerning unit insurance and certification by Director candidates of having read the documents and state laws governing the condominium. The reason given by the Governor in his veto message was the provision of SB 714 that would have delayed condominium fire sprinkler retrofit requirements from 2014 to 2025. This is the same reason, as Governor Crist noted, which was given by then Governor Jeb Bush for his veto of a comprehensive change of condo and HOA legislation in 2006, which contained a comparable delay in that sprinkler retrofit law.

March, 2009

Unpaid member fees are hurting most associations to one degree or another. Actions by the government may end up hurting community associations even more. This update is from the Community Association Institute.

Helping Homeowners, Hurting Associations?
by Tom Skiba, Chief Executive Officer at 03:41PM (EST) on March 2, 2009


After passage of the stimulus bill, Congress and the President have now turned their attention to addressing the ongoing housing crisis. In fact, shortly after he signed the $787 billion stimulus bill into law, the President announced his three-point plan to stabilize the housing market called the Homeowner Affordability & Stability Plan.

The plan as announced has three broad goals. First is to provide refinancing for homeowners who are current in their mortgages, but whose loan to home value ratio may preclude them from qualifying for refinancing. Second, and potentially more problematic, is the plan to address those homeowners who are upside-down in their mortgages. That is that they currently owe more than the market value of their home. And finally, efforts by the government to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help ensure lower mortgage rates.

While many parts of the proposed plan attempt to help the most and harm the least, one pending concept—judicial mortgage modification—holds the potential to drive up assessments and needlessly hurt responsible homeowners in community associations across the country. Under the proposal currently before the House of Representatives, a homeowner whose home value is less than their outstanding mortgage (so called 'upside down' mortgages), could petition a federal bankruptcy court to 'modify' their mortgage. The bankruptcy court could rewrite this person's mortgage and lower their payments and even reduce the principle balance to more 'affordable' levels. In other words, the court could 'cram down' both the homeowner's monthly paymentsand the overall principle balance on their mortgage. Proponents argue that this approach is the best way to address the unprecedented decline in housing prices and keep as many people in their homes as possible. Critics contend that allowing the courts to rewrite private contractual agreements will increase interest rates for all homeowners and reward irresponsible homebuyers who relied on exotic mortgages to gamble on rising housing prices.

For community associations there is an added element of urgency to this proposal. As written, the mortgage cram down legislation could allow the courts to bypass state laws related to assessment liens, priority liens or other tools associations use to collect past due assessments. Because bankruptcy law is a complex mix of federal and widely differing state statutes, the actual impact could vary from state to state, but generally there is a concern that as written, the Cram Down legislation could allow bankruptcy courts to discharge past due assessments regardless of any lien or priority lien levied by the association. This would result in irresponsible homeowners getting a free pass on their past due assessments, raising the burden for everyone else or resulting in cuts to community maintenance and reserves. In addition, the possibility exists that judges could arbitrarily lower future assessment payment obligations for such homeowners. As a result, CAI feels that this proposal will have the perverse impact of hurting home values in community associations by leaving gaping holes in associations' budgets. Holes that will have to be filled by the the rest of the communities residents, putting further pressure on them and causing additional homeowners to fall behind on their mortgage, assessment, and other payments. Clearly an outcome that no one desires.

The current federal bankruptcy code under Chapter 11, section 523(a)(16) recognizes the unique nature of community associations and provides that a homeowners assessments to their community associations cannot be discharged in a chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. If Congress's goal for the so-called “Cram Down” legislation is to reduce the mortgage payments on upside down mortgages to manageable levels, without harming responsible homeowners, then they must revisit the legislation and expressly limit the authority granted to bankruptcy courts solely to addressing the principle balance of the primary mortgage, while preserving the ability of associations to collect past due assessments on such property. Failure to do so could:

Impact an association's ability to recover delinquent homeowners' assessments and potentially affect future assessment obligations to the community.
Bypass state statutes that provide a priority lien or assessment lien for past due association assessments.
Cause additional strain on the housing market by forcing non-foreclosed homeowners to pay higher fees to cover mandatory operating expenses, pushing more homeowners into financial distress.
Cut funds available to maintain common areas of the community, resulting in a spiral of deteriorating infrastructure, lower property values and ultimately, higher financial burdens on state and local governments.
Undermine, if not unravel, the benefits of common ownership communities by exempting some homeowners from the obligation to pay their fair share to support common elements of the community.


CAI has taken our concerns to the leaders of the House of Representatives, and we will soon be asking you to make your voice heard as this issue moves through the legislative process. Each year, community associations save taxpayers close to $80 billion, by assessing themselves for the provision of services and amenities in their communities. Any approach to helping distressed homeowners must take into consideration the impact to the 1 in 5 homeowners who live in community associations and assure that the limited means available to associations to collect past due assessments are not thrown aside to the detriment of the vast majority of responsible homeowners in associations across the country.

February, 2009

C&S very much appreciates our clients and strives to provide the best service of any management company. In the past we have requested our client board members to complete a performance survey. Starting this year we have placed the survey on-line and it is now available to all members of the community, not only board members. Your survey is transmitted directly to Chris Brown, President of C&S. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey so that we may learn which areas we need to concentrate more attention on. There is also a comment section at the end for suggestions. You will find the “Survey” button on the left side of our home page and other pages. Thank you for being our client.

August, 2008

C&S uses lockbox services through Colonial Bank and Superior Bank. Our computer system is interactive with the banks' computer system to keep our records updated daily with payments made to the associaion by its members. Unit and lot owners now have the ability to replace a missing payment coupon directly from C&S without the wait of ordering a replacement coupon from the bank. We call this "Coupon On Demand" and it is a new service we can provide for both Colonial Bank or Superior Bank community associations. We are working with the banks to eventually offer this service through our website so you will not need to email or phone C&S.

January, 2008

C&S has contracted with Pitney Bowes and GPE Software for development of what C&S believes will be the most effective and fastest digital processing of collection on delinquent accounts. The new equipment and software will begin arriving in January and hopefully be operational by February. Delinquent account collections will now be handled and tracked much like the way you can digitally process and track a FedEx or UPS package. In this day of high foreclosure and delinquency rates, C&S believes a faster more aggressive program is needed to assist their association clients.

Senator Lee Constantine, Chairman of the Florida Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, announced December 12, 2007, that the Committee has recommended confirmation of Chris Brown to another term as a Member of the Regulatory Council of Community Association Managers. The appointment, which has been requested by Governor Christ, will be submitted to the full Senate during the 2008 Legislative Session for final consideration. Chris Brown, the President of C&S, presently is the Chair of the Regulatory Council. Over the past year the council has developed an extensive bill which will also be introduced during the next Legislative Session. A main purpose of the bill is to create better safeguards and protection for community associations.


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