bees, wasps

Bees & Wasps in Your Community Association

The Roles of Bees and Wasps in Community Associations

During the warmer months in the Delaware Valley many residents in Community Associations will notice
the proliferation of bees and wasps in the landscape beds and common areas. What many residents may not
know is that some of these insects, particularly certain species of bees or wasps, can be beneficial for the Community Association. Bees and wasps can help to pollinate plants and flowers in the landscaping beds and sometimes also help to control other insect pests. On another note, certain bees and wasps may also create a nuisance by nesting in the common areas or building structures which may require the services of a professional pest control company. In order to differentiate between these different types of insects, please read on.

Do you know the difference between a Wasp and a Bee?

Bees – Are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants. They are mostly known for their role in pollination and the integral part they play in our ecosystem. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in the world and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Below are the most common bees found in the Tri-State area:

European Honey Bee is the best known bee species. They have the ability to produce honey and are the most popular bee in North America. The honey bee builds its nest from wax secreted by workers in the colony. Unfortunately there has been a large decline in the honey bee population due to the overuse of pesticides.

Carpenter Bees – Are solitary in the sense that every female is fertile, and typically inhabits a nest she constructs herself by boring into wood. There are no worker bees for these species. Carpenter bees do not produce honey or beeswax. This type of bee can be destructive to your home.

Wasp -The majority of wasp species are solitary, with each adult female living and breeding independently. Many of the solitary wasps raise their young by laying eggs on or in the larvae of other insects. The wasp larvae eat the host larvae, eventually killing them. Solitary wasps parasitize almost every pest insect, making wasps valuable in horticulture for biological pest control.

Yellow Jacket – Is the common name in North America for predatory wasps. Most of these are black and yellow. All females are capable of stinging. Yellow Jackets, like most wasps, can sting repeatedly, and will do so when threatened. A yellow jacket colony can have up to 5,000 members, ruled over by a queen. Yellow jackets build nests in the ground, old tree stumps, wood piles, wall cavities and in sheds. People are often stung while trying to remove a nest or running over a nest with a lawnmower. Despite having a bad reputation, yellow jackets are important predators of pest insects and play an important role in preventing crop damage.

Hornets -Are the largest of the wasps, and are similar in appearance to the yellow jacket. They are distinguished from other wasps by the head and by the rounded abdomen. Hornets build communal nests by chewing wood to make a papery pulp. Each nest has one queen, who lays eggs and is attended by workers who are female. Most hornets make nests in trees and shrubs, but some build their nests underground or in the corner of a building. Hornets are often considered pests and aggressively guard their nest. Like the yellow jacket, hornets can sting repeatedly.

Hopefully this helps you better understand the roles that bees and wasps play in our Community Associations. Please consider this information when trying to identify these types of insects in the outdoors so that we don’t exterminate those insects that are beneficial for all of us.

PENCO Management has the expertise to deal with various issues that your Homeowners or Condominium Association may encounter on a daily basis. Our company provides Property Management services to New Castle, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, and Lancaster Counties.  Our management team would be happy to schedule a meeting with your Board of Directors to discuss your Communities’ needs, as well as answer these very important questions regarding PENCO’s services.

tips for conserving water

Tips for Conserving Water in Your Home

Tips for Conserving Water in Your Home

According to a recent study, the average person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. Approximately 70% of the water is used indoors (not watering gardens, lawns, or washing cars). Below are some helpful tips for conserving water in your home. These tips will also help you save money as well.

1. Toilets

  • Older toilets use 3 to 4 gallons per flush, while the newer models use less than 1.5 gallons per flush.
  • A leaking toilet is literally wasted water and money down your drain. A great way to tell if your toilet is leaking is to flush it, then let the tank fill back up with water, then add some food coloring to the tank. Check the bowl periodically to see if the colored water leaked into the bowl. If your toilet has a major leak you will hear the water filling the toilets tank consistently.
  • Upgrading your toilets, or repairing your existing ones, can have a large impact on your water usage.

2. Showers & Baths

  • In recent years more Americans are taking showers than baths. A regular non-restricted flow shower head uses around 5 gallons of water per minute, compared to a newer water saving shower head which will use about 2 gallons per minute. The difference is HUGE. Updating to a water saving shower head can drastically reduce the amount of water used in your home every day.
  • The average regular size bath tub holds about 35 to 40 gallons of water, and larger jetted tubs holding 70 to over 100 gallons. Since a bath tub can only hold a certain amount of water, the only way to save is by reducing the amount of water in the tub.

3. Faucets

  • Older faucets use about 2 gallons per minute. Newer ones use about 1 gallon per minute. By adding a restricted flow aerator to older faucets, you can lower water usage by 50%.
  • Turning the water off while you brush your teeth or when you shave.
  • Did you know waiting for the water to warm up before you take a shower, wash your hands, or do the dishes can waste approximately 20 to 30 gallons per day.

4. Washing Dishes

  • Using an automatic dishwasher uses less water than washing them by hand.
  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run, turn it off until you’re ready to rinse.

As you can see there are many different ways you can reduce the amount of water you use every day. Using less water not only can save you money and depending upon your association helps keep your monthly assessments DOWN, it’s also good for our environment and the future of our planet.

snow removal

Snow Removal in Your Community Association

Common Snow Removal Procedures in Community Associations

Snow Removal in the Delaware Valley this season has been minimal, however, this may not be the case for the remainder of the season. February has been known to be one of the snowiest of months in the region. We would like to offer suggestions for residents and Board Members for common snow removal procedures within Community Associations.

PLEASE NOTE: All Associations handle snow differently and have different responsibilities for snow removal, these are just a few common ways that Associations handle snow removal.

SUGGESTIONS:

    • Please be patient, as we know not everyone can be first. Many Associations will request that the contractor begins clearing walkways and driveways at different locations within the Community each storm. This way everyone has a chance to be at the beginning and end of the clearing pattern.
    • Other than the clearing and salting of roadways, it is common for all remaining snow removal procedures to begin after the storm has ended.
      • Most Communities do not provide snow removal services when there is less than 2″ of accumulation. It is always recommended to have a personal supply of ice melt product and shovel handy for your personal use in the event that the snow accumulation is less than 2″ and your Association does not provide driveway and walkway removal services during that storm.
      • The order of priority is many times as follows:
        • main roadways
        • individual driveways/walkways
        • common sidewalks
        • parking lots
        • clubhouse and mailbox access areas
      • If possible, park your vehicle off of the street in your driveway (or garage) during and immediately following the storm.
      • In Communities where most cars are parked in common lots or on the street, keep track of plowing operations and as areas are cleared move your vehicle into the cleared spot to allow more areas to be cleared. Vehicles left sitting on the street and within parking lots during and after storms have a possibility of being “plowed in.” Additionally, areas which are tight without much clearance may remain un-plowed if the vehicles are not moved in an effort to avoid damage to the vehicles.
      • Please refrain from clearing snow off of cars which are parked on previously plowed streets. This habit makes the roads icy and costs the Association more to re-clear already plowed roadways. This also pertains to shoveling snow onto previously cleared sidewalks.
      • It is important to remove all landscaping lighting which lines walkways/driveways, door mats, planters, benches, to assist with minimizing damage to items which may not be visible when covered with a significant accumulation of snow. The contractors typically will not cover damages to items they cannot see when snow is on top of them.
      • Try to leave all exterior lights on, this will help crews to see during snow removal operations which occur during evening hours.
      • Most Associations have the snow contractor return the following day after most folks are at work or school to clear the remaining parking areas when there are fewer vehicles “to work around.”
      • Lastly, please be patient (as stated in the first bullet point above), snow removal is difficult, time consuming and inconvenient for all. If we all work together and cooperate the inconvenience of snow removal can be minimized as best as possible.

PENCO Management has the expertise to deal with various issues that your Homeowners or Condominium Association may encounter on a daily basis. Our company provides Property Management services to New Castle, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, and Lancaster Counties. Our management team would be happy to schedule a meeting with your Board of Directors to discuss your Communities’ needs, as well as answer these very important questions regarding PENCO’s services.

property management company interviewing

Hiring a Property Management Company

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Property Management Company

Hiring a new property management company for your Condominium or Homeowners Association can be a very difficult and time consuming process.  The end goal of hiring a new  property management company should be to hire a long term business partner who will assist the Board of Directors to preserve and increase the property values of the homes within the Community.

As the Board makes the decision to hire a new property management company, there are several questions that they should ask during the interview process to each potential candidate. Below are several categories, as well as questions with each category, to consider when interviewing property management companies.

Management Office

  1. What is the age and experience of the firm?
  2. What is the experience of the property managers and staff?
  3. Does the property management company support continuing education for managers and staff?
  4. Does the property management company bid vendor services competitively?
  5. What is the philosophy of the property management company?

Financial Aspects

  1. What bank charges will be assessed to the Association?
  2. How long does it take to deposit funds into the bank?
  3. Who prepares the financial statements and what credentials, experience, and education are held?
  4. Who prepares the annual budget and what credentials, experience, and education are held?
  5. What is the process for bill payment?
  6. What experience is held with regard to capital budgets and reserve studies and funding?

General

  1. Who answers the phones?
  2. Who responds in the event of an after-hours emergency?
  3. What is the average response time to homeowners?
  4. How are messages conveyed to the manager, homeowner, and Board?
  5. Are any of the following types of extra charges passed onto the Association? (Copies, postage, faxes, office supplies, office materials, delinquency letters, violation letters, demand letters, compliance letters ,bidding contracts, managing contracts, after hours emergencies, attendance at board meetings, special assessment collection, storage of records, interfacing with attorney, record storage, bank charges, transfer fees, demand fees, lien fees).

PENCO Management has the expertise to deal with various issues that your Homeowners or Condominium Association may encounter on a daily basis. Our company provides Property Management services to New Castle, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, and Lancaster Counties.  Our management team would be happy to schedule a meeting with your Board of Directors to discuss your Communities’ needs, as well as answer these very important questions regarding PENCO’s services.

controlling a barking dog

Controlling a Barking Dog in Your Community

 

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Controlling a Barking Dog in Your Community

A common question and concern that many property managers are faced with is how can a homeowner  control their barking dog which may be causing a disturbance to their Association neighbors.

For those of you who may be experiencing an issue with a neighbor’s barking dog we recommend you take the following steps:

  1. Contact the Dog Owner. If you are comfortable with it, try politely approaching your neighbor to discuss the matter. The owner of the dog may not be aware that the dog is barking while they are away or that it’s a nuisance to their neighbors. You can even offer to walk the dog for your neighbor, which may go a long way to express your concern and understanding.
  2. Contact the Property Manager. If you are unable to resolve the barking dog with your neighbor you can contact your Property Manager for additional help. Depending on the Rules for your Community, there may be steps they can take to help alleviate the issue.
  3. Contact the Police. As a last resort, you may need to call the police – just keep in mind this could negatively impact your relationship with your neighbor. Barking dog complaints have been reported as one of the leading complaints that the local police receive (you aren’t alone).

Many dog owners consider their pet family and know that dogs vocalize to communicate with humans and to express themselves. It’s important to work with your dog as soon as you realize you have a barking problem but the solution isn’t always obvious. Here are a few helpful tips that may assist in limiting the barking dog in your household:

  • Setting Up Limits. Limiting outside stimulation for your dog by covering items in your dog’s line of sight can be helpful. For example, you can close your blinds or curtains to limit site to the outside which may provoke barking. If your dog barks often when let out in the yard you may be able to cover the portion of your fence that your dog can see through to limit the external activity your dog can see when in the yard (check with your community leaders or Property Manager to double check on the guidelines regarding this type of change before making any alterations to your fence).
  • Hiring a professional dog trainer might be a great fit for you and your dog in order to work on the concerns that may be causing your dog to bark frequently.
  • Keeping your dog active with toys, balls or even personal items of yours, such as an old T-shirt or blanket (the smell can be comforting) can be very helpful if your dog barks frequently when left alone.
  • For some dogs, simply leaving the TV or radio on can be helpful in soothing your dog and keeping them engaged.
  • Whenever possible make sure your furry friend gets sufficient exercise so that they don’t have the energy to bark for extended periods of time.
  • Doggy Daycare. Dog walking services and doggy daycare facilities have become more and more available over recent years and can often help occupy your dog when you are away from home.

PENCO Management, Inc. can help you manage your barking dog concerns in your Community Association, in addition to the other property maintenance, administrative, and financial services it provides for over 60 communities in the greater Delaware Valley including Bucks, Montgomery, and New Castle Counties.

Submitted by: T. Palmer

snow removal procedures

Snow Removal Procedures in Associations

 

Assisting with Snow Removal Procedures in Your Community Association?

The winter months can bring much joy for Community Association residents with
the holidays approaching and families getting together.  If past winters are any indication, and with the colder
weather quickly approaching, many Community Associations in the Northeastern U.S. will also experience
significant snowfall.  The snow removal procedures below will help to expedite the snow removal process in your Community.

In order to prepare for these inclement weather events, homeowners should be aware of the snow removal procedures for their specific Community Association.  By having
some general knowledge of these snow removal procedures, Community Association residents can
help to facilitate the timely removal of snow and ice from the streets and sidewalks of their Community.

Here are some general reminders that you should keep in mind regarding snow
removal procedures for your Community Association:

  • Snow removal contracts normally require the snow removal contractor to begin plowing the community streets once two inches of snow has fallen.  Vehicles parked on the street will only impede efforts for snow plow trucks and other equipment to complete their tasks. Please make sure that your vehicles are moved from the streets prior to the beginning of snowfall.
  • Individual sidewalks & driveways (where applicable), mailbox pads, and dumpster bays are normally cleared of snow once the snow has ended so that the contractor is not clearing the same areas twice and can also focus on keeping the streets open to the Community.
  • Parking areas and spaces create the greatest challenge for snow removal in Community Associations.  The snow removal work can only be completed after vehicles have been moved from these areas and the snowfall has ended.  It is important  to be aware once these efforts have begun in order to move your vehicle to help speed the clearance of your parking space, as well as others.
  • Do not push snow off vehicles into the previously cleared driveways, parking spaces, or roadways, without shoveling the snow onto uncleared areas.  It is important to remember that leaving this snow on cleared areas creates hazardous conditions for yourself & others within the Community Association.  In addition,  re-plowing or shoveling the previously cleared areas is inefficient, time consuming, and expensive for the Community.
  • Should you have medical conditions (visiting nurses, planned supply deliveries,etc.) or priority employment (doctor, nurse, or emergency personnel, etc.) concerns, it is important to make certain to let your property manager know before the storm arrives.  The property manager may be able to put you on a priority list for snow removal services to your home.

Please contact your property manager first if you have a request or concern regarding snow removal in your Community Association.  Your issue should then be able to be addressed in a timely manner without the snow removal contractor being diverted from their duties.

PENCO Management, Inc. can help you manage your snow removal operations in your Community Association, in addition to the other property maintenance, administrative, and financial services it provides for over 60 communities in the greater Delaware Valley including Bucks, Montgomery, and New Castle Counties.

Submitted by: M. Chupalio

Enjoying The Holidays In Your Community Association

 

Enjoying the Holidays in Your Community Association

The holidays are just around the corner, and for many that means lots of festivities with family and friends. It is important that residents who are hosting celebrations within their Community Association be considerate not only of their neighbors, but also to take note of their Community Association’s Rules. A complete listing of your Community Association Rules and Regulations can be found in your Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), but here are a few key items to remember during the holiday season:

Outdoor Decorations:

Many people like to decorate the outside of their homes and front yards, but before you start to hang the decorative lights along the side of your home, take a look at your Community Association’s  CC&Rs to find out the guidelines for outdoor decorations, as well as the guidelines for flags and signs if you plan on decorating with those items as well. This will help make sure your outdoor winter wonderland isn’t in violation with the Community Association.

Parties:

If you plan on hosting a large get-together or party, you should remember to keep the noise to a minimum, and wind the party down at a reasonable time. Remember to check your CC&Rs to find out what the Community Association deems acceptable noise levels, when are the quiet hours, as well as guidelines for hosting parties.

Parking:

The holidays bring many people together, which means that means extra cars will need to be parked in your Community Association. To make sure your home is not in violation of the Rules and Regulations, look at the CC&Rs to find out the Rules on visitor parking in your Community Association, including where they can park and what kind of parking passes they may need.

Following your  Community Association’s Rules and Regulations will help ensure that everyone can enjoy this special time of year. Stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season!

 

Association Board of Directors

Conducting a Positive Association Board of Directors Meeting

 

Conducting a Positive Association Board of Directors Meeting

Preparing for and conducting a monthly Meeting of the Board of Directors for a Homeowners or Condominium Association can be a challenging task. Board Members bring a variety of personalities, educational backgrounds, and business styles to their monthly Association Board of Directors meeting. The main goal for the Association Board of Directors meeting is to discuss and vote on the list of topics on the agenda. Decisions and discussions should be conducted in a timely manner with the Association’s best interest being the end result. Six tips to help facilitate a productive Association Board of Directors meeting with positive outcomes:

  1. Agenda Items: Two weeks before a meeting send out an email asking the Association’s Board of Directors for items they would like put on the agenda. Set a deadline for submission.
  2. Get Prepared: Once you have your topics for the meeting, gather information on those issues so that you are prepared to answer any questions related to the topics. Share information with the Association Board of Directors ahead of time so they can become familiar with the issue and get questions out of the way prior to the meeting. Sometimes topics can be discussed and resolved prior to the meeting via email.
  3. Time stamp your agenda. Meetings should run an Hour and a half to two hours at the most. Any more than that and  decisions are made too quickly.
  4. Board Packet: Send the entire board packet (Agenda, Minutes, Proposals, Contracts, Financial Reports, etc.) out at least 3 days ahead of time so the Board has a chance to review the information. Make sure you remind the Board of the date and time of the meeting.
  5. Follow the agenda. Stay on topic, and watch your time. If members go off topic, gently redirect back. If a topic is taking up a lot of time and going nowhere, that issue can be tabled to the end of the meeting or continued to the next meeting. Take good notes! Use an Action item list and write down what you need to do. Transfer those items onto your task list on the computer the following day and review daily.
  6. If members are talking over each other, arguing, or getting agitated, raise your hand. Once you get their attention, take a break. Have light refreshments available so members get a drink and cool down. This gives you the manager time to process and work on a resolution. When you reconvene, start by reviewing and confirming each member’s position. Offer additional information or suggestions even if that is to table the discussion until more information is obtained. Express your respect for each position. When all else fails, find a way to make them laugh. Humor is a great way to defuse a situation and bring things back into perspective.

A happy Board is a productive Board!

Submitted By:

K.C. Bernardine Property Manager