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Community Association Best Practices 2016

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Community Association Best Practices 2016

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Community Association Best Practices 2016

  1. 1. Community Association Best Practices – Resources Guide 3/6/2016 Virginia Common Interest Community Board - The Common Interest Community Board regulates common interest community managers, as well as certain employees of licensed management firms. The Board's authority also includes condominium and time-share project registrations, and extends to transactions occurring within Virginia, even if the property involved is located outside the Commonwealth. Property owner, condominium, and cooperative associations are required to file annual reports with the Board. Virginia Common Interest Community Ombudsman - The Office of the Common Interest Community Ombudsman offers assistance and information to association members regarding the rights and processes available to them through their associations. The Ombudsman Regulations requires associations to establish an Association Complaint Procedure for all citizen complaints against the association for alleged violations of the Virginia Condominium Act, the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act and other state codes related to common interest communities. The Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch maintains a Homeowners’s and Condominium Association page for your conveniences. The Homeowners’ and Condominium Association Liaison may be reached for advice regarding your common interest community concern at 703-222-8435. The Liaison coordinates a bi-monthly, educational television program, Your Community, You’re Connected to create an opportunity to share best practices and guidance to communities on various hot topics. To sign up for notices of upcoming educational opportunities, please email ycyc@fairfaxcounty.gov. Leadership Best Practices  Read and understand your association’s governing documents: Articles of Incorporation, Declaration, Bylaws, Covenants and Restrictions, and Rules and Regulations.  Familiarize your understanding of the local, state, and federal laws that impact common interest communities.  Connect with your local Supervisor and get involved with your District Council, County commissions, and industry specific organizations. Explore opportunities for engaging with the Fairfax Federation, an opportunity to engage in countywide topics that impact community associations.  Explore the resources and educational opportunities provided by the national Community Associations Institute and the local Washington Metropolitan Chapter (WMCCAI).  Conduct board orientations immediately after each election to ensure understanding and commitment to board roles and distribution of responsibilities.  Encourage member attendance at meetings and participation in committees by providing notice and conducting open meetings that include a member forum.  Network with communities in your area to learn about their best practices, and experience with contractors for similar common area maintenance projects, etc. by subscribing to Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs’ Voluntary Community Association List. The list is available in excel format for your networking convenience by contacting 703fairfax@fairfaxcounty.gov.  Consider obtaining legal guidance on retainer.
  2. 2. Community Engagement and Communication Best Practices  Embrace the age and cultural diversity in your community by planning creative opportunities to engage and establish an environment of inclusivity. Below are some ideas that have worked well in other communities. o Host a Foods Around the World – Potluck Dinner where families prepare dishes from their native lands o Brainstorm meeting topics that appeal to a diversity of ages and interests. Reach out to county agencies to present on a topic of concern to your community. o Break down volunteer opportunities into smaller tasks and request assistance for one small project that is clearly defined in scope of responsibility and time commitment. o Build personal relationships through one-to-one conversations and interactions. o In large communities, consider a block captain to be the board liaison for communication to their neighbors. The Block Captain can keep the neighbors informed and encourage participation since neighbors in close proximity tend to interact more with one another. o Know the residents in your community that may be limited-English speakers. Find a liaison that speaks their language to ensure important community information is provided to them in a way they can understand. o Consider doing reviewing the 2015 Fairfax County Demographics Report for current demographics in your community. Understanding your audience with help you to create opportunities for engagement that meets their needs and interests. o Consider conducting an association-wide survey to understand what projects, events or ideas are important to the community. Share the results at a community event. o Provide community information to local realtors to share with prospective buyers. o Host a Community Bulk Trash and Donation Day – purchase a dumpster to allow community to clear out the bulk items in their homes. Identify items for donation and contact and schedule a pick-up with a local charity organization. o Seek out opportunities to work together on a community improvement project where sweat equity yields a long-term benefit to the community (Community ReLeaf Program, Neighborhood Enhancement Partnership Program.) o Seek out opportunities to celebrate your community’s best practices and set the standard for excellence for other communities. (WMCCAI’s Community Association of Year) o Engage young people in the community and create opportunities for their civic engagement. WMCCAI announces an annual Scholarship Opportunity for graduating high school students. Share the opportunity in your newsletter or on your social media page. o Encourage all owners to attend free or low cost educational opportunities and read educational publications and resources to increase their awareness on what it takes to create a great community. Visit the national Community Associations Institute Homeowners page for FREE resources for your community. o When communicating information using the internet and social media be sure to provide alternative forms of communication for those who may not use these platforms.
  3. 3. Conflict Management  Ensure that your association documents are clear and concise and the board is operating within the scope of the authority outlined in those documents.  Establish a written procedure for responding to rules violations to ensure consistent enforcement. Keep in mind the goal is compliance. Consider a personal visit to remind your neighbor of a violation and the rules and regulations of the community before sending out a written notice of violation. Be mindful of the tone of written notices to your neighbors.  Seek legal guidance when needed to determine the cost benefits of pursuing a correction of a violation or grandfathering the violation. In these instances, immediately revisit the rule for revision for clarity and specificity.  Publish contact information for local county agencies that enforce property maintenance and other concerns. Neighbors can report issues directly to the county for enforcement. The board is generally not responsible for resolving neighbor-to-neighbor disputes.  Contact the Fairfax County Homeowners’ and Condominium Association Liaison for an opportunity to brainstorm the concern and obtain ideas and referrals that may lead to a resolution.  Review your governing documents for the need for revision, seeking legal counsel for legal guidance and compliance with the hierarchy of documents. The Virginia Common Interest Community Board recently published a Best Practices for Property Owners’ Association Declarations.  Provide proper notice and due process for rules violations as required by state law.  Explore the services offered by Northern Virginia Mediation Services (NVMS). NVMS offers mediation and facilitation services that can assist in resolving issues on many levels out in the community. Whether it is facilitating a meeting, working out an issue between neighbors, or a dispute over contract terms, our certified practitioners will help you move forward by creating productive and healthy conversations.  Partner with local county agencies that enforce county ordinances related to the concerns, if applicable. Feel free to contact the Fairfax County Homeowners’ and Condominium Association Liaison at 703-324-3218 for guidance and referrals.