If your community is a seasonal one that tends to thin out over the summer months, what rules or policies do you have in place to ensure that your association continues to operate smoothly and transparently over the summer months?
The less crowded summer months in some communities provide an optimal time to pursue important projects related to maintenance, capital improvements and updating your documents. In addition, there are concerns that need to be addressed given the fact that our 6-month hurricane season typically coincides with an increase in the number of absentee owners in your community.
Some of the items your board should consider as the summer approaches include:
1. Rules Related to Absentee Owners. These rules may require owners who leave their units vacant for many consecutive weeks or months to:
- Keep their AC on at a certain level to avoid conditions which would encourage mold growth.
- Shut off water to the unit to avoid leaks.
- Engage a caretaker to check on the unit at regular intervals to ensure that the unit’s condition is maintained and to afford access to the association for pest control and other services/inspections as needed.
- Engage a caretaker to close up the unit in the advance of a storm which should include removing all items from the balcony or patio, putting up shutters or other storm protection and returning the unit to its pre-storm condition in a reasonable period of time after the storm passes.
- Provide updated contact information which the association may use in case of an emergency.
2. Capital Improvement Projects. Large projects which impact the common areas, limited common elements and/or the units can be very difficult in a fully occupied building. The summer months can provide an ideal time to undertake some of these projects when fewer residents are around. Painting, roof replacement, concrete restoration, pool deck renovations, ELSS and other Life Safety installations and lobby/corridor renovations are all projects which naturally involve varying degrees of impact to the quality of life for owners while they are underway. You can stage these projects with your contractors to take into account which units are vacant and when.
3. Summer Projects. The summer months often provide an optimal time for long-delayed projects such as a document rewrite. You can establish a Committee of residents who can work with your association attorney to discuss desired changes and the summer months afford you enough time to allow for review of several iterations of the language in order to prepare for a membership vote in the fall or winter months.
4. Maintain Routines. Even though the summer months may be quiet in your community, you must maintain a schedule of meetings and steady communication to your members. This is particularly important to ensure that the year-round residents continue to benefit from a fully functioning association. This means that monthly board meetings can and should continue. Out of town board members can attend by speaker phone or Skype. While your summer meetings may briefer and content for your newsletter may be lighter during these months, maintaining consistent communication is what counts.
If all or some of your board members are gone for the summer, it is important that the Directors delineate duties amongst themselves and not overload the one or two board members who may be full-time residents. Even though summer months meant a break from responsibility for many of us when we were students, being a board member is a year-round job so take the proper steps needed to continue to serve your community even during the summer.