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.

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.

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.

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

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