Condo living takes a bit of common sense

As a new condo buyer, you should be aware that only you and your fellow owner-partners are responsible for the financial strength of your complex. This means that any extraordinary expenses are still your responsibility. If necessary, the board can assess each owner his pro rata share of these expenses.

In other words, it really doesn't matter that much what your monthly fee is. When it comes to maintenance, you can pay it now or you can pay it later.

This brings up the matter of the board of directors. Any condominium board of directors has growing pains as it tries to cope with new situations. This is why many associations have staggered terms for their directors. In that way, there will always be at least one or two experienced hands on the board.

While there seems to be no substitute for experience, a little common sense goes a long way. For example, why irritate your fellow owners by watering the shuffleboard court?

In the first place, you should be watering grass and shrubs, not concrete. And in the second place, even if the sprinklers are properly adjusted, why not water at night when no one wants to play shuffle- board? Then, even if the sprinklers become maladjusted, no owner gets wet.

Do the owners bicker about the use of the tennis courts, swimming pool, or play areas? Why not establish rules for their use, and perhaps rely on a sign-up board? Use chalk, a blackboard, and a gradeschool eraser. Keep the chalk and eraser in a tennis-ball can with a plastic lid. This will prevent the next train from ruining your noble experiment.

I suggest allowing signups for the next day after 9 or 10 the previous night, or on the same day. Pick a time that everyone can agree on, and then stick to it. Those who want to play the most will stay up the night before or sign up early in the morning.

The green canvaslike material which may surround your play court needs periodic attention. If left to flap in the wind, it will tear, shred, and eventually need replacement.

Spend a few dollars on some wire fasteners, and reinforce the loosest areas by binding them to the chain links of the fence.

A jumbo set of pliers can do the job if you don't have the special tool which fence contractors use. The wire fasteners costs a few pennies each but they may save your association (and you) a bundle. If your canvas doesn't already have eyes for fastening, there is another special tool that will create them for you. Avoid fastening the material without a reinforced eye to hold the strain and prevent tearing.

All too often a new condo owner believes that a meeting of the owners, or their representatives, is nothing more than a meeting of all the partners, for the exclusive purpose of staying up into the wee hours of the night fussing about every little detail to the complex.

The typical board of directors means well. They alwaysm mean well. But your board is managing a business with many partners.

The board meetings are frequently well attended, especially whenever controversial items are to be discussed. At the board meeting, the board must manage a crowd as well as its business.

The board member-homeowners may be new residents themselves. Often the future of a million-dollar enterprise is in the hands of board members who have no training in managing people, money, orm property.

Fortunately, there are several simple steps that condo owners can take to help the board:

* Elect members that have management experience. If no such candidates exist , elect someone willing to learn how well-run businesses operate.

* Insist that Roberts Rules of Order are followed, even if this means the appointment of a parliamentarian.

* Be sure the board adopts and lives up to rules of procedure. For example, some boards insist that all motions must be in writing, even if they are handwritten on the spot.

* Stick to the business at hand. Demand an agenda in advance of the meetiong , and avoid inflammatory or emotional language when you're there.

People basically have enough common sense to do a good job as board members as long as they can take a disciplined approach to running a business and a human approach to dealing with people.

Help the board concentrate on its duties by giving it a chance to do its job.

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