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.

Board of Directors Meeting Agenda

An Agenda to Keep Your Meeting on Track

Utilizing an Agenda to Keep Your Community Association Meeting on Track

Creating and following an agenda can help keep your Board of Directors meeting for your Community Association on track. A detailed but flexible agenda can keep your meeting productive in order to cover all the items listed in the shortest amount of time. Below are a few tips for creating a productive agenda for your Board of Director’s meetings:

Getting Started:

Starting your agenda early allows you to solicit feedback before the meeting. This can help prevent mistakes and add details that might get overlooked. It is important to distribute the meeting agenda to the Board of Directors Members at least 5-7 days in advance of the meeting so that they have a chance to review the agenda and any relevant information concerning topics on the agenda.

Choose a Title:

The title should contain the word “Agenda” and what subject matter the agenda will cover. “Community Meeting” or simple and direct titles are usually best. Remember, the purpose of the agenda title is to inform readers of what they are viewing.

What to Include:

Include the date, time and location of the meeting. Add a sign in sheet to list the attendees if the meeting is open to the general membership. A proper agenda should start by calling the meeting to order and recognizing a quorum. The conclusion of the meeting should include a proper adjournment and scheduling of the next meeting date.

Next write a brief statement describing the meeting objectives. This statement should only be a few sentences including the goals for the Board of Directors to accomplish at the meeting. Meetings without a clearly defined objective waste precious time deciding what to talk about as opposed to addressing the topics themselves.

After defining the meeting, create an outline of the discussion items. The outline will be the guide to keep everyone on topic and the meeting progress on a productive course. You should always schedule the most important items first just in case the meeting runs out of time. During the meeting keep a record of the amount of time spent on an item and make sure the discussion stays on topic. This will insure an efficient and constructive meeting.

Check for Errors:

Proofread for errors and completeness before distribution. Going through this review reflects in a positive manner on your attention to detail and the respect you have for the attendees.

Meeting Conduct:

The Board President should chair the meeting. Board Members should be formally recognized and issues voted upon or tabled in a formal voting fashion. A timed agenda, which consists of allotting a certain amount of time for each agenda item, can greatly help in keeping both the Board and the audience on topic. Studies have shown
that meetings that have continued for more than one hour often become unproductive as restlessness and inattentiveness set in among the participants. In order to keep everyone cordial and productive, make sure your next agenda is properly prepared by following the tips previously discussed.

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.

architectural review

Architectural Review in Your Association

 

Architectural Review in Your Association

With Spring quickly approaching, many homeowners begin planning home improvement projects which affect the exterior elements of their residence.  Before you break out the miter saw, hire a contractor, obtain building permits, and take other necessary steps, it is pertinent to consult the governing documents of your Community to determine the appropriate architectural review process.  Most Community Associations require homeowners to have your plans reviewed and approved in writing by your Association’s Architectural Committee and/or Board of Directors before the home improvement project begins.

While it may seem arbitrary from an individual homeowner’s standpoint, the architectural review process looks out for the entire Community as a whole.  Aside from stopping residents from painting pink polka dots on their houses, the Association’s job  is to make sure that the size and style of the project, the type of building materials being used, and the overall look of the new structure or interior improvement adheres to the Association’s design and requirements of the governing documents.  The architectural review process helps to keep the Community looking harmonious.  The architectural review process also helps to keep property values on the rise by preventing individual structures and exterior elements from being inconsistent in appearance with the balance of the community.  Of course, it’s also important to note that, depending upon the documents of your Association, unapproved structures might legally have to be removed at the owner’s expense, so save yourself money and headaches by getting approval before building.

When you are getting ready to start planning your next home improvement project it is important to involve the property manager early in the planning process.  It may save you time, money, and headaches.  If the design of your project changes midway through the building project, it is important to send your plans to the Association first so that they can make sure you are in compliance with the Association’s design standards and processes.

If the Association finds any issues, in many instances they will let you know what they are and try to work with you and your contractor to come up with alternatives.  Boards and neighbors appreciate all of the hard work homeowners have done to make their homes and the community beautiful.  It is best to keep your Association looking great by keeping everyone in the loop with all your building projects and remodeling plans.

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.

Submitted By: S. Erney

financial audit

Financial Audit in Your Community Association

Financial Audit in Your Community Association

This is the time of year that Board of Directors should be planning for their Association’s Annual Financial Audit .  Many Association’s Governing Documents require an independent review of the Association’s financial records by an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Even if the Association’s governing documents do not specifically require an annual financial audit, a prudent Board should always consider a yearly financial audit for the peace of mind in knowing that its financial affairs are in order and being handled in a proper manner.  An independent financial audit completed and given to the Association members annually by the Board shows that the Board takes their fiduciary obligations seriously.

When buyers are looking at purchasing a home in your Community, in many instances they want to review the prior year’s audited financial report to give them an idea of the financial stability of the Community.  Should your Community be interested in borrowing money in order to complete a large capital improvement project, such as roofing or asphalt replacements, the lending institutions you are working with will most likely require an audited financial records as part of their lending protocols.  In many cases insurance companies will also require an audited financial record when providing their annual premium.

Some of the steps that the auditor will take when completing the yearly financial audit may include:

  • Banking confirmation and review of all statements and records
  • Communication with attorneys representing Association regarding pending litigation and collection status
  • Review of Board minutes
  • Inspection of contract documents, bid processes and scope & specifications on capital improvement projects
  • Review of delinquent homeowner’s accounts and collection activities
  • Review of reserve plan and determination as to compliance to an adequate funding plan
  • Monitor balance sheets, profit & loss statements, and general ledger reports  to determine proper budgeting policies and review of special assessments
  • Comparison of last year and prior year’s financial statements and reports to locate any possible abnormalities, exceptions or trends and research as needed
  • Review and inspection of all vendor invoices

Annual Audits help catch errors and possible fraudulent activities in order to protect Boards and homeowners in their Association.  They determine if the financial statements are a true and correct reflection of the financial activities of the Association and are free of material misstatements.  They are one of the best tools in showing prudent and responsible community management for the benefit of the Association, its Board, and your professional property management firm.

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.

Submitted By: S. Erney

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    

 

Reserve Fund

Reserve Fund – Why Does Your Community Need One?

Reserve Fund – Why Does Your Community Need One?

Many homeowners continue to ask the question why does their Community need a reserve fund?

Major components such as a pool, playground equipment, roofs, or siding must be replaced from time to time, regardless of whether or not the Community Association plans for the expense. It is in the Community Association’s best interest to set aside the reserve fund account now. Money contributed to the reserve fund is not an additional expense—it simply spreads out the expenses more evenly. There are other important reasons that Association monies should be put into a reserve fund every month:

Having a reserve fund will meet legal, fiduciary, and professional requirements. A replacement reserve fund may be required by:

• Any secondary mortgage market in which the Association participates
• State statutes, regulations, or court decisions
• The Community’s governing documents

An adequate reserve fund will provide for major repairs and replacements that  will be necessary at some point in time. Although a roof may be replaced when it is 25 years old, every owner who lives under or around it should share in its replacement costs.

Incorporating a reserve fund into your Community will minimize the need for a special assessment or loan for capital improvement projects. For most Association members, this is the most important reason.

It should also be noted that the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) requires the Community Association to disclose its reserve fund balance in its financial statements.

Enhanced resale values are just one of the added bonuses for Communities which have a healthy reserve fund balance. Lenders and real estate agents are aware of the ramifications for new buyers if the reserves are inadequate. Many states require Associations to disclose the amounts in their reserve fund to prospective purchasers.

PENCO Management can assist your Association with managing your current replacement reserves to help ensure that these funds are accessible as needed. Our company services New Castle, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, and Lancaster Counties and has the property management experience needed to successfully maintain your Community for years to come.