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Weather Alert: review these storm preparedness tips

Expected Upkeep Enforced by our Community Association Management Firms

The staff or volunteers you occasionally see walking around your community with clipboards or tablets are your association’s covenant enforcement officers. They’re inspecting the property to ensure that everything is working properly, that conditions are safe and that nothing is reducing property values or the quality of life in your Carolina community.

In short, they’re making sure policies and rules are being followed—from pet behavior, parking and unkempt lawns, to improper exterior modifications and more. They field complaints from fellow homeowners and, if necessary, remind you (or your neighbor) when a rule has been overlooked.

The officers report their findings to the Carolina Home Association board with photos and detailed notes. Most violations are easily resolved without board action. If not, the next step is a hearing before the board—we want to hear your side of the story. Those who continue to ignore rules may be fined or taken to more extreme measures. The most serious cases may end up in court, though we try very hard to never get to that point.

Your association’s covenant enforcement officers perform a vital function, so please treat them with courtesy and respect. If you have any questions about the rules, the officers can explain them to you. Your association manager and board members are happy to listen and respond to any concerns.

When you purchased your home in one of our common-interest communities in the Carolinas, you became contractually bound to abide by the covenants that protect your association. Please review them and ensure that you are in compliance. You can find them on our website.

Precautions You Can Take Against Lighting As A Homeowner

Warm weather usually means fun in the Carolina sun, but summer heat also can bring severe weather. Threatening thunderstorms often loom large on summer afternoons, so it’s important to be prepared for downpours and accompanying lightning. Consider the following suggestions when planning both outdoor and indoor events this summer to reduce the risk of a lightning strike.

  • Watch the weather. Pay attention to your local weather forecast before participating in outdoor activities. If there’s a chance of thunderstorms, consider rescheduling or moving the event indoors. If that’s not possible, have an emergency plan in place in case a severe storm rolls in, and designate a sufficient nearby structure as an emergency shelter.
  • Stay inside. If severe thunderstorms are imminent, go indoors and wait until they pass. Safe, enclosed shelters include homes, schools, offices, shopping malls and vehicles with hard tops and closed windows. Open structures and spaces do not provide adequate protection.
  • Duck and crouch. If you’re caught outside during a severe storm, it’s important to crouch low on the ground, tuck your head and cover your ears to help protect yourself from harm. Do not lie down; lightning strikes can produce extremely strong electrical currents that run along the top of the ground, and laying horizontally increases electrocution risk.
  • Turn off faucets. During a thunderstorm, lightning can sometimes be conducted through the plumbing. Avoid any type of contact with running water, including bathing, showering and washing your hands, dishes or clothes.
  • Turn off electronics. All electrical appliances—televisions, computers, laptops, gaming systems, stoves and more—that are plugged into an electrical outlet could carry a current from a lightning strike. Surge protectors will reduce the risk of damaging electronics.

Stay away from windows. Not only is lightning a threat, but high winds and hail create flying debris that could be harmful during a thunderstorm. Close all windows and doors and stay as far away from them as possible.

Why are Quorums Important to HOAs?

A quorum is the minimum number of North or South Carolina homeowners who must be at a meeting before business can be discussed. State law tells us what that minimum number is for our associations. It’s relatively low, but we still have a tough time reaching our minimum. This is a common problem in many homeowner associations.

Meetings that don’t reach a quorum must be adjourned and rescheduled at a later date. This costs the association money and creates more work for their teams. Further, achieving a quorum at a second meeting—if we couldn’t get one the first time—is even harder.

So, why bother to try again? The Home Owners Association board is legally obligated to conduct an annual meeting and it’s an important part of conducting association business. During the annual meeting, new board members are elected and the coming year’s budget is presented to the Carolina homeowners for approval. No quorum means no election and no budget. This means the current directors will have to continue serving until an election can be conducted. It also means that last year’s budget will remain in effect until a valid meeting can be held to approve a new budget.

Good news: You can be “at” a meeting in the Carolinas and across the country at the same time by signing a proxy! That’s how you assign your vote, in writing, to another person. Proxies count toward the quorum, so they’re very important to the association.

We ask you to complete a proxy form even if you plan to attend the meeting. That’s just in case something comes up that prevents you from attending. When you do attend the meeting, your proxy will be returned to you.

Since proxies are so important to achieving a quorum, you may find us knocking on your door, calling on the phone or even stopping you in the common areas asking you to sign a proxy form. We’ll do anything to achieve a quorum. Without it we can’t do business, and eventually that affects you, the Carolina homeowner.

The Responsibility of the HOA Board

Community associations are more than just a neighborhood. In many ways, it’s a lot like a business. Collectively, regular annual assessments amount to tens of thousands of dollars that need to be budgeted carefully and spent wisely. And neighbors who have volunteered and been elected to serve on the association’s board are responsible for making critical decisions—on the homeowner’s behalf—about managing the community and money.

An HOA board also develops long-range plans—like when the parking lot will need to be repaved and when the elevators will need to be replaced—about the parts of the community that are shared property. The board must set aside funds so that these kinds of projects can be accomplished on schedule or even ahead of schedule in the event there’s an unexpected breakdown.

The board also sends out requests for bids and contracts with vendors to do the work necessary to maintain our shared amenities. Board members decide who will do the best job of replacing the roof at the best price or who will be the most reliable company to hire to mow the grass and remove dead tree limbs.

The board’s decisions can have a significant impact on the community’s appearance and, consequently, on our property values. Regardless of our professional manager, the board ultimately is responsible for overseeing community association operations. Be sure to communicate with the board regularly, observe board meetings, and attend annual meetings to elect responsible board members and to participate in the conversations about significant community issues.

Are HOA Residents Happy?

Do you know you are among the more than 60 million Americans who live in homeowners associations and condominium communities? We think most residents are happy living in our SCS managed community—and we certainly hope you are among them—but how do these 60 million residents feel about their own homeowners associations? Are they happy with their elected community management boards? How do they feel about the rules?

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:

  • 71 percent of residents say they are satisfied with their community association experience. Only 12 percent express dissatisfaction and 17 percent are neutral on the question.
  • 89 percent believe their homeowner association board members strive to serve the best interests of the community, while 11 percent say the opposite or they aren’t sure.
  • 76 percent say their professional managers, like Southern Community Services, provide value to their communities, while 24 percent say the opposite or they aren’t sure.
  • 70 percent believe their community association rules “protect and enhance” property values. Only 2 percent say rules harm property values, while about 29 percent see no difference or didn’t know.

We’d like to think that we would do even better than the national averages. If you feel differently, please let us know what you think we can do to make our community a better place to live. If you’re especially pleased with our community, we’d love to hear about that, too!  It’s always good to know we’re on the right track.

More national survey results, which include comparative data from similar surveys in 2005 and 2007, are available under “Research Projects” at



News: Community associations remain popular with American homebuyers

Reprinted with permission from Community Associations Institute (CAI). ©2016 Community Associations Institute. Further reproduction and distribution is prohibited without written consent. For reprints, go to

To view the full article on Community Association Institute Online, please visit

It’s official! For more than 10 years, community associations have consistently remained preferred places to call home.

The 2016 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey, national research conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR), supports similar findings from past surveys in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2014.

The 68 million Americans living in more than 338,000 community associations have spoken—and they’re overwhelmingly satisfied in their communities. Looking past the neighbor disputes, parking issues, and pet problems, the majority of residents say their community association experience is positive.

Whether it’s because associations offer clean, attractive, and safe neighborhoods—in large part due to effective rules that preserve property values—or the fact that associations seek leadership from governing boards and community managers who regularly go above and beyond to serve their communities, one thing’s for sure: Americans love their HOAs.

View the press release.



How Much Noise Do You Make?

Noise is an inevitable reality in condominium communities. Condominium dwellers live in such close proximity that it’s essential we consider the effect noise will have on our neighbors when deciding on floor coverings, where to mount the flat-screen television or when to knock out a wall.

We—you and your neighbors—all have a right to enjoy our homes in peace and to furnish them as we like. But remember, the way you furnish your unit may create a headache for your neighbors in theirs.

Hard flooring—wood, ceramic, stone—is fashionable and collects far fewer allergens than carpet, making it very popular. But it can be a problem for the people downstairs, even if you make an effort to tread lightly or wear soft shoes. Southern Community Services advises all residents who are considering installing hard flooring to first install a sound barrier – like cork – to reduce noise. And encourage the people above you to do the same.

Flat-screen televisions are becoming more affordable every year, and many of our residents have them. It is a good idea to mount your screen on an interior wall—not a wall you share with a neighbor. Echoes from wall-mounted televisions are often an annoyance for those on the other side.

How much noise does it take to be a nuisance to your neighbors? One definition says nuisance is a level of disturbance beyond what a reasonable person would find tolerable. But, sometimes the question isn’t how much noise we make, but when we make it. You or your neighbor might find the boisterous party next door entirely tolerable—until about 10 or 11 p.m. Likewise, a noisy renovation downstairs might be intolerable if it’s a religious or ethnic holiday for you. Whatever you’re planning, give some thought to the day as well as the time of day for your activity.

If you have noisy neighbors, it is important to talk to them before reporting it to the homeowners association. They may not know that they’re disturbing you. Maybe you work nights and their teenager—whose room backs up to yours—blasts the audio system after school each day.

The Golden Rule applies here: Treat your neighbors the way you want them to treat you.

Who Lives in Our Community?

Understanding and appreciating the generational values of your neighbors contributes to a strong community and leads to a strong community association. Consider a few broad groups:

Matures: The Matures were born between 1920 and 1945. They’re the last of the veterans of the World and Korean Wars, and are also called the “Silent Generation.” They’re about sacrifice. They survived the Great Depression, and they still reuse aluminum foil and paper bags. Their heroes were military figures. They believe that a rule is a rule. They feel that change is good, as long as it’s the type of change they’ve envisioned. The Matures defined the world in which we live for many years, but they now have to give way to the Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers: Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1964. Approximately 77 million in number, they’re workaholics who believe in teamwork, democracy, and loyalty. They don’t necessarily see the need to follow rules. Baby Boomers value the concept of “built to last.” They invented the idea of “meaningful work,” and the workplace continues to be a part of their self-identity. Baby Boomers will occupy the White House until approximately 2030.

Generation X: Generation X’ers were born between 1965 and 1977. Numbering about 44 million, this group was raised in an environment in which both parents worked. They question their parents’ values, and they believe that jobs and housing are disposable. They place greater value on family and personal life than the Baby Boomers do, and they feel that a balanced life is more important than professional accomplishments.

Generation Y: Generation Y’s were born between 1977 and 2000. They comprise approximately 33 percent of the U.S. population, and projections suggest that by the year 2010, those age 33 and younger will number 137 million, or 46 percent of the U.S. population. People in this group have always known the Internet, laptops, and cell phones. It would never occur to them to physically touch a television to change the channel. People born in the U.S. after 1983 have always had a President from the Southern states. South Africa’s official policy of apartheid has not existed in their lifetime, cars have always had CD players and air bags, weather reports have always been available 24 hours a day, and genetic testing and DNA screening have always been available. This generation focuses on its individual choices, goals, and the future.

[Optional: Source: Community Associations Institute.]

What’s So Great about Community Associations?

Homeowners associations offer one of the best opportunities for Americans to own their own homes. They are for the 21st century what land grants were in the 19th century, and what the New Deal and GI Bill were in the 20th. Why?

Collective Management Protects Value

Americans have accepted, for the most part, the collective management structure of HOA living. Covenants and rules are no longer a new concept to most of us: renters are used to lease agreements with restrictions; single-family, detached-home owners are used to zoning ordinances and building codes. The difference is that in traditional, single-family housing, restrictions are administered by public bodies rather than by private boards.

Most Americans have accepted private governance because they understand that collective management and architectural controls protect and enhance the value of their homes. 

Privatizing Public Service Allows Growth

Wherever a new community is built, local infrastructures are stretched. School populations, snow removal, storm water management, road maintenance, utilities, traffic, everything increases leaving the local jurisdiction unable to support new community development. Yet housing is needed. Therefore, local jurisdictions often require community association management to assume many responsibilities that traditionally belonged to local and state government.

This privatization of public services allows local jurisdictions to continue developing housing without increasing local taxes. Instead, the developer only has to create an infrastructure and a homeowner association to maintain it after it’s developed.

Community Associations Make Owning a Home Affordable

Almost from their inception in the 1960s, condominiums have provided housing for low-to-moderate income Americans. In fact, in some areas, builders are required to include a certain percentage of affordable homes in new developments.

Also, converting rental apartments and commercial buildings into condominiums not only revitalizes many declining neighborhoods, it’s also made ownership more affordable for those wanting to live in urban centers.

Community associations have made home ownership in the Southeast and the rest of the nation possible for millions of Americans partly because modern families tend to be smaller, the number of single-parent homes has increased and more retirees are choosing to stay in their homes after retirement.

Community Associations Minimize Social Costs

Community associations also minimize most social costs. Because they have mandatory covenants that require certain obligations from homeowners and the association, associations ensure that all who  pay their share benefit and everyone is equally responsible. Community associations have sufficient enforcement authority that local government is seldom, if ever, needed to resolve assessment disputes. Many associations use alternative dispute resolution because it’s a faster and cheaper way to solve problems than legal action.

Community Associations Make the Market Efficient

Many community associations—especially condominiums—have greatly reduced urban sprawl. Because of their collective management and protective covenants, they are precisely what the Housing Act of 1949 intended when it called for “decent home(s) and suitable living environments.” Community associations, as alternatives to traditional single-family homes, are shining examples of free-market efficiency.

The factors that make community associations great places to live are easily ignored or misunderstood. Critics prefer to look at a few sensational issues instead of the whole picture. But many community associations are affordable, enjoyable, efficient places to live.


What is a Community Association?

Some community residents think homeowners and condominium associations (generally called community associations) exist just to tell them what to do—or not do. Actually, the HOA is more like an association management or service-delivery organization that provides three types of services to all residents, owners and renters alike

Community services – these can include securing trash collection, publishing newsletters, orienting new owners, holding community-wide information meetings, and scheduling recreational and social functions.

Governance services – these can include ensuring that residents are complying with the HOA’s governing documents, that the association is adhering to local, state and federal statutes (like fair housing laws), enforcing community rules and policies, administering design review policies and recruiting new volunteer leaders.

Business services – these can include operating the common property efficiently, bidding maintenance work competitively, investing reserve funds wisely, developing long-range plans and equitably and efficiently collecting assessments.

Providing these services requires good management (whether carried out by a professional manager or a self-managing board of home owners), strong planning and organization and carefully monitoring the association’s affairs. It isn’t easy, but by fairly and effectively delivering these services, community associations protect and enhance the value of individual homes and lenders’ interests in those homes.

[Source: Community Associations Institute.]