Becker’s Take it to The Board podcast, hosted by shareholder Donna DiMaggio Berger, explores the reality of life in a community association, what’s really involved in serving on its board, and how to maintain that ever-so-delicate balance of being legally compliant and community spirited.
Episodes feature a variety of guests including association leaders, experts, and vendors to discuss the challenges and benefits of the community association lifestyle. Several guests have included our very own Becker attorneys from across the firm’s practices and offices to weigh in on their area of expertise as it relates to community living. Board Certified Construction Law Shareholder Patrick Howell joins the podcast to offer his insight on construction renovations gone wrong and how to avoid them in the first place, Employment Law Shareholder Jamie Dokovna outlines HR best practices for community association hiring, Board Certified Community Association Shareholder Howard Perl discusses enforcing rules and guidelines in your community, Chair of Becker’s New Jersey Community Association team David Ramsey delves into COVID-19 Shield Laws, and Community Association Litigation Attorney JoAnn Nesta Burnett joins to discuss how to solve the “pet” problem in your community. Learn more and listen to each of these featured episodes below!
Building Basics with Construction Counsel Patrick Howell
Shoddy workmanship, whether in a new build or a retrofit, is the bane of any shared ownership community. And trying to avoid or recover from a bad construction job is one of the most important responsibilities a community association board can shoulder.
Host and seasoned construction attorney swap in-the-trench anecdotes about renovations gone wrong and offer insight into the simple ways every HOA or condo board can improve a construction project from the beginning – or survive the necessary legal action when facing the aftermath of defective construction in their community.
Does your community association hire people? If so, you’ll definitely want to listen in as Donna and Jamie discuss the complicated network of federal, state, and, in some cases, municipal laws that protect both employers and employees – and outline the consequences of mistakenly thinking those laws don’t apply to you.
From the clarity of applying the salary test to the murkiness of how “interstate commerce” can impact your daily operations, this conversation dives deep into some of the biggest employment issues facing community, condo, and homeowner association today.
From building your workplace culture to breaking up with those who don’t fit into it, employing human beings is complex. Donna and Jamie continue the employment law conversation with an examination of the purpose and necessity of employee handbooks, the morass of legal guidelines requiring compliance, and the best way to create and protect a safe work environment, Along the way, they also share stories from their years in service to association boards that illustrate exactly what NOT to do in your own community.
Rules and Refereeing with Howard Perl
Even as children, enforcing the rules that kept games playful didn’t always make you very popular with your peers. Association board members and managers will tell you that, when it comes to maintaining a community of adult homeowners, not much has changed since those playground days. Donna and Howard help association leaders embrace this unpopular segment of their service and outline best practices to successfully establish enough – but not too many – guidelines, enforce rules consistently despite a violator’s outrage or board position, and know how and when to escalate enforcement proceedings beyond the informal hallway/poolside chat.
Additional topics include determining whether the board has rulemaking authority, performing a rules audit, resolving conflicts between rules and the governing documents, evaluating arbitration and mediation to resolve disputes, bracing for the most-used affirmative defenses violators employ during litigation, and so much more.
Think COVID-19 Shield Laws will safeguard your community association from claims of negligence? Host Donna DiMaggio Berger and featured guest David Ramsey aren’t so sure. This special episode emphasizes that the only real protection against pandemic-related liability is to consistently uphold the highest standard of care – even in the face of owners’ fury – and reminds board members that they, unlike their neighbors, owe a fiduciary duty to the entire community.
Highlights include a deep dive into how Florida and New Jersey courts could define the willful negligence that would determine an association’s responsibility for new cases in its community, whether association leadership should require masks when public health officials are only recommending face coverings, if communal facilities must be opened when public officials are permitting them to be so, and so much more.
Although intended to empower people with physical or emotional disabilities, service animals can create quite the conundrum for no-pet and pet restricted communities. If your board is struggling to provide reasonable accommodations for all community members – those with disabilities requiring service/support animals and those with animal phobias or allergies – and balance these competing interests in communal spaces – pools, elevators, and lobbies – this is the episode for you!
Donna and JoAnn outline why no-pet or pet restricted communities MUST have an enforceable clause in their governing documents and enforce it equally and objectively. The conversation covers how the law differentiates between a service/support animal and a pet, whether the ADA or Fair Housing Act applies, what types of animals can shoulder service responsibilities, how to evaluate the legitimacy of a request for service animal accommodation, how to recognize the red flags of fraud, and so much more. BONUS: Get an overview on how to navigate the HUD complaint process.
The Take it to the Board with Donna DiMaggio Berger podcast can be found on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Amazon Music. Subscribe to never miss out on new episodes and make sure to leave us a rating and comment – we love to hear from our audience!