Welcome to the August Edition of the Green Marble Newsletter

The August Issue includes:

- Can You Regulate Political Signs?
- Need a New Manager?
- Reserve Studies Make Business Sense
- Know a Great Manager or Board Member? Nominate them for "Most Awesome"
- HOA Payments Can Now Be Reported to Credit Bureaus
- Upcoming Events
- Upcoming Fireside Chats
- August Birthdays

A Sign of the Times: Political Season That Is
By Partner, Brian Hess
No matter how you feel about politics, you have no doubt noticed the increased fervor that revolves around political opinions and campaigns.
One of the most frequent questions Clayton & McCulloh receives during this season is regarding what homeowners associations are allowed to do regarding display of campaign signs or political signs.  As you might expect, much of the ability for an association to regulate placement of campaign signs depends upon the provisions of the association's own governing documents.  More specifically, governing documents prohibiting the installation of signs on a lot could possibly be used to prohibit the display of a campaign sign on a lot.
There is no law in Florida that specifically prohibits a homeowners or condominium association from enforcement against the placement of political signs.  Nonetheless, however, there is some possible risk in enforcement of any such provision against the placement of a campaign sign due to possible free speech issues.  However, this risk may be minimal due to the fact that the First Amendment appears merely to apply within a "state action" context.  In other words, the First Amendment more clearly prohibits governments or agencies of government from restricting certain free speech rights.  As it is unlikely that a court would consider a private homeowners or condominium association to be an agency of a local government, it may be unlikely that enforcement of a provision prohibiting the display of campaign signs would be considered to be a violation of First Amendment rights.

Need a New Manager?   We Can Help!
Is being on the Board more work than you thought? Are you experiencing problems with your current management company? If those scenarios apply to your Association, we can help. We provide a complimentary Management Company Referral Service to help you find a manager or a new manager! If you have a manager presently, we always recommend trying to work it out with them as you have a history. If you are uncomfortable in approaching your current manager, as one of our clients, we can contact your manager to see if we can assist in resolving these problems.
If you do not believe your differences can work out or if you do not have a manager presently and would be interested in hiring someone to take the daily routine off your plates, please contact us for our Referral Service. We will help you find a management company that services your area free of charge.  We will furnish a list of management companies in your area to contact. If you are currently a client, you can take advantage of the second part of this complimentary service. Our Director of Public Relations will assist you in putting a list of interview questions together and assist in the interview process in any capacity that you request on a complimentary basis. For more information about this service, please call Arlene Ring at any of our offices or after business hours/weekends at (407) 808-2553.

Most Awesome Board Member & Manager Contest
Last quarter, Racheal Meade of Leland Management's
Rockledge office won our 2nd Quarter Most Awesome Manager.  Our Director of Public Relations, Arlene Ring, presented Racheal her framed certificate and a VISA gift card at Leland's. Also present were members of Ventura at Turtle Creek who had nominated Racheal.
Do you know of a board member or manager who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in their performance?  If so, click here to nominate them for our 4th Quarter Most Awesome Contest.  Our 3rd Quarter Most Awesome winners will be announced in a future issue of The Green Marble and on our Facebook page. 
C&M strongly supports excellence in Board Members and Community Association Managers and this is one of the ways, we want to pay tribute to these outstanding individuals in the community association industry.
HOA Payments Can Now Be Reported to Credit Bureaus
Reprinted from realtor.com and shared on Facebook
Sperlonga, a credit data aggregator, recently agreed to become the first company furnish homeowners association (HOA) payments and account status to Equifax. This development will be test in August with a full rollout in October and will allow HOA payments to reported just mortgage, insurance, and tax information.
Adding HOA payments to credit scores is will help to give more people access to credit and will elevate the importance of alternative data such as rent and utility bills. While this could have a negative effect for those that are late with paying their homeowners association, it will benefit those who pay on time:
"Property owners that pay HOA fees on time should begin to see the similar impact to their credit reports as they would with other payment obligations traditionally found in a credit report."
Homeowner associations can be great for neighborhood maintenance, settling disputes and enforcing community guidelines, but all of those benefits come with a cost: the association dues.
A good chunk of American homeowners agree to pay them-nearly 25%, according to RealtorMag.org-but unlike the mortgage, insurance, and tax costs those homeowners also must pay, HOA fees aren't reported to credit bureaus. Until now.
Credit data aggregator Sperlonga has agreed to become the first company to furnish HOA payment and account status data to Equifax, one of the three major credit-reporting agencies . Reporting will be tested in August with a full rollout planned in October. According to the Community Association Institute, homeowner associations and property management companies collect approximately $70 billion in HOA payments each year through at least 333,000 community associations.
For years, experts in the credit-scoring industry have talked about the value of adding things like rent payments and utility bills to credit scores as a way of giving more people access to credit. It's something they refer to as alternative data.
"Until now, HOA payments have gone largely unreported to the national credit-reporting agencies. Our service will help elevate association payments to the same level of importance as the consumer's other financial obligations like residential mortgages, auto loans, and credit card payments," said Matt Martin, chairman and founder of Sperlonga, in a statement. "Property owners that pay HOA fees on time should begin to see the similar impact to their credit reports as they would with other payment obligations traditionally found in a credit report."
Of course, now property owners who are late or delinquent with HOA payments could likewise see a negative impact on their credit scores, just as they would with a late mortgage payment.
"Introducing new sources of data beyond what has traditionally been found on credit files can provide additional insight into a consumer's financial behavior and help deliver expanded credit access," Mike Gardner, senior vice president at Equifax, said in a press release .
You have a legal right to access the information consumer credit-reporting agencies collect about you and dispute any inaccuracies . So, if you're wondering which of your account payments might be reflected on your credit report, it's a good idea to track your credit by pulling your free annual credit reports each year . You can also see how the data being reported are affecting your credit standing on a more frequent basis by checking your two free credit scores , updated every month on Credit.com.
Reserve Studies Make Business Sense
By Guest Vendor, Matt Kuisle, Reserve Advisors
Over the years, homeowners volunteered to serve on the board because they had expertise and skills from professional careers that were applicable to the association. Examples include attorneys, accountants, and engineers. Boards are made up of people with these skills, as well as, other owners who are simply concerned about protecting their most important investment - their home.
This approach generally worked well in the early years of the association industry. Today, however, community associations are being managed more like a business with the help of outside attorneys, engineers, and accountants who specialize in community association property. Now more than ever, associations are using the services of independent engineering firms that specialize in 30-year reserve studies. A professional reserve study determines accurate, supportable annual reserve contributions necessary for the repair or replacement of common property as it wears out over the development's life.
Professional reserve studies are designed to eliminate special assessments by ensuring that sufficient funds are available when property components need to be repaired or replaced. Elimination of special assessments offers peace of mind to owners and reduces claims of financial mismanagement. Most homeowners view their home as a financial investment. Therefore, associations are increasingly emulating business management because of the fiduciary nature and responsibility of association boards.
Florida Statute 718 requires reserves for roof replacement, building painting, pavement resurfacing and, "any other item for which the deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost exceeds $10,000." {FS 718.112(2)(f)} While regulations vary for homeowners associations (FS 720) and cooperatives (FS 719), there is a strong trend toward more legislation rather than less.
One may wonder what his "fiduciary duties" are under these statutes. As director of a community association, your actions (or inactions) have an impact on your and the members' financial well-being now and in the future. Successful boards know that sound financial and business decisions for the future cannot be made without a reliable snapshot of where the organization is now, as well as, where it is planning to go.
Boards and management companies alike look to firms specializing in reserve studies for an independent, accurate projection of future capital repair costs and realistic useful life information. The reserve study provider will determine the current financial status of the association and a future funding plan, usually for the next 30 years. Some reserve studies even contain valuable information about the condition of the property and scope of replacement projects to further educate the board on the nuts and bolts of their association. The reserve study becomes the blueprint that the current and future boards will rely on with complete confidence. Regardless of the board members individual experience, education or background, a professional reserve study will prepare the board to better fulfill their fiduciary responsibility.
Matthew C. Kuisle, P.E., RS, PRA is a licensed Professional Engineer, a Reserve Specialist and a Professional Reserve Analyst for Reserve Advisors, Inc. Mr. Kuisle is a frequent speaker and author and can be reached in the firm's Florida office at (800) 980-9881 or Matt@reserveadvisors.com.

Coming Seminars/Events/Meetings

Get your education here! Here are our upcoming seminars and events that we are featured as a speaker:
Thursday, September 8
Open Question and Answer with Senior Partner, Ken Clayton. We are one of the featured speakers at BCAM's September meeting at the Holiday Inn Conference Center at the intersection of I-95 and Wickham Road.  A hot breakfast buffet is featured along with two other speakers from ServPro of South & West Brevard and US Lawns speaking on "What to Expect When Hiring a Mitigation Expert" and "Landscape Facts, Know What the Proper Way to Care and Identify Problems" respectively.  BCAM does charge a small fee to attend. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. For more information or to make a reservation, please click here.

Tuesday, September 13
Registration at 7:00 p.m., C&M Maitland Office - Atty. Anthony Fouladi is speaking on "Hot Dog! Dealing With Those Dog Gone Dog Issues." Complimentary class with refreshments including a complimentary glass of wine. For more information or to register, please click here.
Tuesday, September 20
Registration at 8:30 a.m. - C&M Maitland Office - Atty. Jennifer Davis is speaking on "Is Safe Harbor Really Safe?" Complimentary class with continental breakfast.  For more information or to register, please click here.
Thursday, October 6
Registration at 6:30 p.m. - C&M Melbourne Office - Partner, Joe Stayanoff is presenting the "HOA Board Certification" program. Complimentary class with refreshments including a complimentary glass of wine.  For more information or to register, please click here.
If you would like to suggest a topic for a future seminar, please do so by clicking here.
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Join us in wishing these August Birthday babies a very special Happy Birthday!

Phil Adamo  - Manager of Bayview Reserve COA - August 4
Rosalie Hernandez - Manager of All Coast Realty Management - August 7
Lydiah Gaudreau - Paralegal/Title Specialist III with Clayton & McCulloh - August 7
Paula Butler - Manager with Sentry Management - August 8
Brittany Smith - File Clerk with Clayton & McCulloh - August 11
Kathy Watts - Manager with Dragon Property Management - August 19

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Orlando Office: Maitland

The Clayton & McCulloh Building

1065 Maitland Center Commons Blvd.

Maitland, FL  32751

Phone: 407-875-2655

Fax: 407-875-3363 

Melbourne Office: Suntree/Viera

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Melbourne,  FL 32940

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