Monday, December 1, 2014

FINES Removed! I Told You So...

Finally the improper fines have been removed.   I love to say I told you so...
"I TOLD YOU SO!" 
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The (Former) Faces of Jade Winds


While employed by First Service Residential, Property Manager Donna Mantin, CAM 34445 and her security guard Jan Capote, (her minion and former MCORPS Security employee) denied unit owners access to attend committee meetings in violation of Florida Statute 718, The Condominium Act. 
Photo Taken March 12, 2014.








Revital Sharony, Jade Winds Security Committee Chairperson, appointed September 2013.  
This picture was taken  at the JWA Annual Meeting March 27, 2014.

Revital Sharony is also the wife of Jade Winds Association former President Santiago Perez, seated on back table below.  


They now live in Boca Raton in a house valued at approximately $634,000 while Jade Winds is left in shambles under their control.    
Jesse Bergeman, former Treasurer of Jade Winds,(brown sweater) stands there and does nothing while Revital Sharony spits her venomous words.  

Jesse Bergeman has also recently resigned from the Board and he recently moved out of his unit here at the Jade Winds.    

The rest of the Board seated at the table DO NOTHING except watch.   


Santiago Perez, former President of Jade Winds (bald head, striped shirt) is a man who lies and does not keep his word.   In my opinion, his smirk says it all.  
Also in this pictures is Donna Mantin, CAM 34445 (black top, red hair conducting improper elections which were successfully challenged in Arbitration.) 


Property Manager Donna Mantin, CAM 34445, trying to rectify a chaotic towing scene, June 2014.  

It appears that she takes great pleasure in seeing others suffer for no good reason.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Redemption!

After years of systemic mismanagement, exploitation, and abuses Jade Winds has finally broken free.  

Donna Mantin, CAM34445 (who, surprisingly, NOW has a current license--it was just recently delinquent) has been FIRED from the Jade Winds and is considered a persona non grata! 

**FACT CHECK:  Donna Mantin was NOT arrested last week on the Jade Winds property. Donna Mantin was leaving the office with Association correspondence (mail) and the police seized and returned those items back to the office.  She was not arrested and was free to go, period.      

Santiago Perez, who was the President of the Board, resigned.

Jesse Bergeman, who was Treasurer of the Board, resigned.

There were some other Directors, who also resigned previously, but the community was never informed of such.    

With that said, the remaining Board members and unit owners are united and determined to maintain community control and act in the best interest of this Association

Jade Winds will conduct business. Jade Winds will comply with the law and it's obligations.  Jade Winds will move forward. 

The Board of Directors held an emergency meeting on Thursday, 30 October 2014 to begin the process of assessing the damages, rebuilding, and rectifying the wrongs from previous administration leaders. 

The picture below shows unit owners engaged  in the process of the meeting. The audience was given an opportunity to attend and speak and ideas were considered.

The meeting was open and orderly. The Board conducted business and the agenda items were discussed and resolved as needed.  

I can honestly say, that Thursday night's meeting was a great victory for the members of this Association. I think it sets the tone for things to come. 

Thank you to all who participated.  There will be many more meetings to come and each one will be better than the last. Your cooperation and assistance is requested during this transition.  

The office will reopen soon but please continue to mail your assessment payments to BB&T as usual.    

Jade Winds Association Board of Directors conducting business.


Unit Owners pay attention, have fun, and are involved with the business of Jade Winds, the way it should be. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

News Flash--NO More Donna Mantin! Community Celebrates

Finally, some on the Board of Directors have taken appropriate action.   The dark storm clouds of fear and abuse over Jade Winds have begun to dissipate. 

I hope, pray, but most importantly, WORK for better days ahead.

Donna Mantin is no longer the community association manager of the Jade Winds. I doubt she will ever be a licensed CAM ever again. 

Santiago Perez is no longer president of the Board.   I doubt he will remain a Director much longer. 

Time will tell all.  Revelations reveal the truth


There is an Emergency Board meeting at the Jade Winds Office, Saturday, 25 October 2014 at 6pm.

I urged all unit owners and concerned residents to attend.

Please be patient with the process.  An open Board meeting is something that we may not be accustomed to but it is something we will perfect over time, one way or another. 

I look forward to seeing you all there, except for a select few who I now and forever consider personas non grata.  Good bye and good riddance to you. I hope the exit gate hits you on the way out.  

The Drama Continues...

The drama continues but the end appears near.    Our efforts are indeed paying off.   This administration is desperate and the Association is in shambles. 

However, now is not the time for unit owner complacency. This is the time when ALL unit owners must unite. 

We each have to step up and do our part no matter how big or small.   We all have something to offer so please make yourself known. 
 
Know and assert your rights.    

We MUST and we WILL take back community control. 

24 October 2014. Outside Jade Winds management office.
L to R: Donna Mantin, CAM34445 (delinquent license); Jesse Bergeman, Board Treasurer; and MDPD. 

Donna Mantin was leaving the office with Association correspondence.   Vigilant unit owners called the police and put a stop to that and the mail was rightfully returned to the office.

Donna Mantin was free to go and left the property willingly, this time.   I hope she never returns.

Case# PD141024388009.  Call MDPD at 305.940.9980 in about 1 week to see if the report is ready. I have no idea what it will say, I was not present.   More to follow soon.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jade Winds is Broken and The Board Refuses to Fix it!

Frustrated Unit Owners and Residents can not get adequate services from the Office. 


Elevators in a constant state of disrepair is unacceptable.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The "Office" Closed Again

Once again, the office is closed and unavailable for unit owners, vendors, realtors, and process servers just to name a few.   

Please note how the notice is displayed.  The lack of care is evident.   The lack of responsiveness is unacceptable.
Another crooked noticed posted--OFFICE CLOSED. 


EDIT:
September 18 2014


What administrative reason justifies closing the office with these sporadic hours and non-availability to unit owners, vendors, etc?
At least the notice is placed squarely this time.


Edit:  September 19, 2014
Back to crooked notices.

What administrative reason can cause the office to be closed more often than not?  What is the purpose of paying for management IF we are not getting management services? If the office is closed then unit owners and residents cannot resolve their business.    

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Holiday: Security Hard at WORK Making Life Difficult for Unit Owners

The last thing I expected to do today was write a blog post.  However, after witnessing what has just occurred here at the Jaded Winds, I have no choice but to share with you yet another glaring example of the continued pattern of abuse at the hands of security and management. 

I was at home, chillaxing. All was quiet. The kids are playing and having fun.  Perfect conditions to savor the holiday.

But at the Jade Winds things operate, how should I say it, ummm...different.

While...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Local 10 News: Tamarac HOA President Charged with Forging Checks (Video)

Tamarac HOA President Charged with Forging Checks

BSO: About $200,000 stolen from residents of Mainlands home community

Author: Bob Norman, Reporter, bnorman@Local10.com


                    Local10 News Video of Story Click Here


Published On: Aug 15 2014 06:12:05 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 16 2014 08:17:00 AM EDT
TAMARAC, Fla. -
A South Florida community is dealing with the sting of betrayal, as a once-trusted homeowner's association president is charged

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Unit Owners Have a Right to Know and Act

Please read the documents posted below very carefully.   
 
It is a proposed Non-Compliant Case Agreement between Miami Dade County and the Property Owner, (in other words, the Jade Winds Association, the unit owners--You and I).

I will let you read it and make your own determination as to how critical and possibly detrimental this agreement is and/or can be.   Again, please read each and every line as carefully as possible. 

The final paragraph 12 of the agreement sums it up perfectly: 
In the event that the Owner fails to comply with any of its obligations as set forth in this Agreement, the County shall be authorized to demolish the Structure(s) without further notice to Owner. (emphasis added by the County.)  

Some key points to consider:
  • Board meeting.  Shouldn't there be a Board meeting to discuss this agreement before it signed?
  • Shouldn't unit owners be made aware of this agreement and afforded an opportunity to discuss before it is signed?
  • Why is the Association in this unfavorable position to begin with? 
  • Who is responsible for things getting this far and this bad?   
  • Who is going to sign this agreement as Property Owner?
  • What happens next?  

Let management know your thoughts about what I have presented here. 

This is not a joke nor is it gossip or a personal agenda.   This is a serious matter with serious consequences.  Enough is enough already or do you need a bulldozer at your front door to get you off of your ass to do something? 

You can't say you were NOT warned. 

Email and/or Call Management at:  jadewinds@gmail.com or call 305.949.4816 --good luck getting through on the phone. **

**Please include me with a courtesy copy (CC) of all emails sent to the management office or anyone else to ensure accountability. My email is: jadewindsaction@gmail.com

Also contact First Service Residential at:
https://fsresidential5-px.rtrk.com/florida/contact-us/contact-us?rl_sitelink=353490


Also contact and/or CC the Miami Dade County Building Department Unsafe Structures Supervisor, Monte Lee, and voice your concerns as well:
monte@miamidade.gov

and let them ALL know your interest and concerns with the Jade Winds.

Enough is Enough!




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pool, Pool Deck, and Surrounding Areas- Blight, Unsafe, and More

It seems as if blight and safety violations are the order of the day at Jade Winds.

I'll let these pictures tell the story.

Allamanda Pool shows lack of care as evidenced by the filthy build up near pool coping.

Close up of filthy Allamanda pool coping. 


Allamanda Pool light.  There are two lights at this pool but only this one is working.  And this one that is working has water in it (see bottom of light) and is turning brown as a result.  This is a typical indication of a faulty light fixture and danger.  This is an accident waiting to happening.  Don't be shocked (pun intended) when something terrible happens. 
 
Allamanda Pool - More black filth.



Blight left unchecked.

Jade Winds Tower- Unusable and uncared for.  It's an eyesore and money pit to say the least.  Work without permits, rents being paid, and heavy litigation with it's owners equals large expenses to unit owners for something that we can not even use or enjoy. 
 
I think we are down to zero amenities now unless you consider the unsafe and filthy pools as one.

Plenty of dogs but no poop bags provided to ensure the poop is cleaned up.  



Monday, August 11, 2014

Part-Time Office-- Full-Time Pay? & Dog Poop Takes Over Common Areas

This Association has failed us once again.  How can unit owners get service when the office is closed half of the day?  Who  has decided this?  How is this putting the interest of the unit owner's first? 

Most people work through out the day and can't even make it when the office is open to 4pm. Those that do make it can hardly get the service they need because staff always defer the requested service to the so-called manager who is seldom available when she is there. 

Any available service is less likely now due to these absurd business hours.  

This is the second straight week that the office has arbitrarily closed it doors to unit owners, residents and even FedEx and process servers...but did you expect anything else than that? 

Dogs and poop everywhere;
Poop Bags NO WHERE to BE FOUND!!!
 
C'mon Jade Winds Management and BOD.  These are health and safety issues affecting our property and residents.   You are preventing me and others from safely using and enjoying the common areas. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Trust Me..I'm from the Management and Board!"





















In response to what Miami-Dade County posted on the Camellia's this is what the management had to say (above) 

Please read this notice that was posted on the Jade Winds office door this date by the mis-Management.

While it is true that you will most likely NOT be vacated from your home (YET) it is possible, especially if this Board and Management DO NOT ACT FAST and RESPONSIBLY. However, as you may have already noticed, that is NOT LIKELY to happen from this Administration!

And while the Notice to Vacate is normal in a procedural sense, it is NOT NORMAL for a healthy and responsible condo Association to have posted for it's failure to act spanning years time as proven by the FACTS (not gossip) of this case. (See below for more details)   

And just to clarify--the Notice to Vacate is for both Camellia buildings, C1 and C2.  Management had the notices removed to mislead you and keep you in the dark with regards to your property and it's affairs.

Allamanda 1 is next for the same fate, followed by Easter Lily. 

Of course, your management and certain Board members have a proven track record and propensity to mislead. 
(Just think back to the election notices elections, and ballots in March 2014, the improper amending of the governing documents in September 2013, and your special assessments and how they are/were to be used such as illumination, paving, fencing something that hardly occurred and hence the problems were are facing now.)

However, if you want to know the facts you can read them for yourself at the link below.  

General Searches: 
Click this Link for Miami Dade County Permit and/or Unsafe Structures search link

For this case for Camellia, click link below:
http://www.miamidade.gov/building/regulation.asp

Search by address, for example: 1770 NE 191 ST
Search by your own building number such as 1660 or 1700 NE 191 ST. 

Here are a few pertinent facts from this current case and issue. Please read below.  (The whole case can be read by using link above.)

279L COMPLETION INSPECTION PERMIT NOT FINALED - INTERNAL AGREEMENT NON-COMPLIANCE5/19/20145/19/20145/22/2014On 2-20-2014 meeting Mr. Monte Lee requested to Association Pres. to forward the revised completion dates, but to date no records of such document recorded on this Case�.Permit # 2011022387 still active, but no records of approved final inspection�


114 MEETING WITH CUSTOMER2/20/20142/20/2014Met with Santiago Perez, President of the Association, Donna Martin, property manager and Carlos Mungria, assistant property manager and discussed the current status of this case and their need to provide additional time to resolve this case and the one addressing the property at 1660, I suggested they forward revised completion dates for all three buildings addressed by this Agreement so that a revised Agreement can be prepared and I reviewed the costs that will need to be addressed. We also discussed the current status of the case involving the building at 1700 that is scheduled for Board action on 3/19/2014 and the need to come to that meeting with a proposed completion date for work currently being under taken under the two Building 01 permits and the required electrical permit to address 40 year repairs. 

109H INTERNAL AGREEMENT BILLING SUBMITTED TO FUS8/6/20138/6/2013Issued an as of today cost in the amount of $1,747.69 and $500.00 Direct Damage. Total payment due $2,247.69.
53J PERMIT NOT OBTAINED - BOARD/PANEL ORDER NON-COMPLIANCE2/23/20122/23/20122/26/2012 No electrical permits have been issued to address all the 40-year electrical repairs as per reports for both bldg A and B. (Strutural repairs are been addressed under bldg-01 permit#2011022387 for A & Bldg-01 permit#2011022194 for B. The electrical-01 permit#2011000219 issued for A does not covers all the 40-year required electrical repairs. There are not electrical permits for B.)


However, please keep in mind that this is the same management that has FAILED with the simplest yet probably the most needed of items with respect to health and safety...Doggie Bags for POOP!!  Yes, something so simple like having bags available for pet owners has been neglected for weeks. True or False? 

Never mind the big ticket items such as: 

  • responding to the DBPR orders for new board elections
  • providing ledgers and estoppel letters to sellers and unit owners
  • providing our year end financial reports (SHOW me the MONEY, a legal requirement)
  • having an Association attorney to work for the Association members and not a few bad apples 
  • responding to and fulfilling records requests as required by law
  • responding to lawsuits such as Arbitration cases for various violations
  • completing ONGOING construction projects
  • processing payments received and keeping an Accounting firm that is responsive to our needs, not that of the manager. ( I can't wait to see the audited financial report for 2013, it was due for availability as May 1, 2014 but as usual the Board and Management has failed with that also) 
  • managing the rentals of Association units (no more illegal rentals please you hypocrites!!)
so on and so forth.  

Oh and one last thing--and it's ironic indeed.

One thing that this administration has been successful in accomplishing is striking fear into people. The heavy hand of the "Gorilla in Pants" has many people fearful of what will happen next. People are scared to speak up in fear of being FINED.  People are afraid to take pictures of violations or whatever in fear of being FINED.   People are afraid to ask too many questions in fear of being targeted by the management. 

Don't allow your rights to be infringed any longer.  Don't allow yourself to be victimized any longer. Do NOT be afraid any longer of the tyranny, irresponsibility, and bad-faith of this administration. 

I suggest a peaceful gathering of unit owners to address these matters.   

Send me an email with your ideas and suggestions.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Building Violations at Critical Stage while Management Out of Office

This was posted on the Camelia building yesterday by Miami Dade County Building Support Section, Unsafe Structures.    

It was removed by an Association employee this morning.   







Thursday, May 22, 2014

Surveillance Video Shows Children Shocked in Swimming Pool

Click this Link to See: Surveillance Video Shows Children Shocked in Swimming Pool


Something to ponder and be wary of while management is away on early vacations and certain Board members shirk their duties and responsibilities to unit owners at the Jade Winds. 

Do we need an incident like this to occur here before somebody takes appropriate action? 

As yet, I have seen NONE from this administration. The Bamboo pool has been RED-TAGGED by the County for work without permits since I believe December.  Six months later and the pool remains the same and so does the potential danger.   I seen children swimming in that pool the other day.

Insurance does not cover work without permits. Insurance can NOT give a child his life back. 

How long do we have to endure the irresponsible and negligent actions of this current administration?   

The list of dangers is getting longer and longer...

The list of solutions is getting shorter and shorter.

Let's hope and pray for a safe Memorial day weekend.  
Let's study and work for a new and better way.  

More to  follow soon...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Failure to Act and Acting to Fail!

This $2,000 FINE against the Association (you and I) is a direct result of  the actions and subsequent inactions of this MANAGEMENT and select BOARD of DIRECTORS. 

First off, this information is public records and that is how I learned of it. This FINE was discovered during a records search for a sale of a unit here.  Many people are selling and fleeing from the JADE WINDS.  

(Speaking of UNIT sales and fleeing, I hear that the President, named in this violation, has his 3-4 units on the market for sale-- maybe he knows something we DON'T, please do share.)  

Furthermore, this violation is an actual and legally sufficient OPEN CONTINUING VIOLATION that has not been corrected since the Association was first PROPERLY NOTICED in December 3, 2013.  

Unlike JADE WINDS who does NOT afford unit owners a FAIR OPPORTUNITY to CORRECT and/or STOP any acts that may constitute a violation of reasonable rules, Miami Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources (RER) formerly known as DERM, gave the Association plenty of time to correct this environmental violation. But what makes matters even worse and troubles me even more is the fact that this violation is such an easy fix. Simply, remove the debris from the pond, dispose of it properly, and notify the Agency.     

Sounds easy, right?  WRONG! Not in this BIZARRO WORLD of the JADE WINDS where SAVING MONEY and AVOIDING DISPUTES and LAWSUITS is BAD and blatant VIOLATIONS of LAW and HARASSMENT are condoned, encouraged, and even rewarded.   Yes REWARDED! For example, (ironically and coincidentally) this past December rude security guards and absent managers were given BONUSES ranging from $400 -$2,000 while UNIT OWNERS exercising their RIGHTS were FINED in violation of the LAW and all reasonable and rational common sense and decency.  

The matter of the fines still continues today for some absurd BIZARRO reason. All the while, as if this Association doesn't have more important things to do such as: 

  • correct their own violations (DERM, FIRE, Building Department, DBPR, unit owners) 
  • pay our water bills (Jade Winds is behind on payments, paying repeated late fees)
  • secure job sites, safety hazards and reduce liabilities (Daisy 126, scattered debris, broken walkways)
  • finish construction and special assessment projects (magic word is ONGOING but actually it's never-ENDING)
  • obtain required permits (for example, Bamboo Pool and the Tower before somebody gets shocked, burned, and/or drowns in a great FLOOD)
  • comply with the DBPR orders and requests for information from DBPR and UNIT OWNERS
  • re-do an election (Yes the Association was ordered by the DBPR to redo the 2014 elections)
  • hire an attorney 
  • fund our RESERVES and coincidentally today (May 1st) is the deadline for ALL Associations to report their year-end ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORTS to its members; so on and so forth.  

(Have you received your notice of the 2013 Annual Financial Report from the Association?Please post yes or no below, I will be certain the results will be NIL.) 

And by the way before I forget...to the Board member who promised me a "sign-in sheet log" at the office, something I have repeatedly suggested, there still isn't a sign-in log available. Why Not? What's up with that, DUDE?  

So while this violation above remains open DERM will be initiating further legal action against the Association. Guess who pays for that fine and any subsequent legal action like liens and court actions?  Do I need to go pick up that debris myself to avoid these additional costs and liabilities to the Association? I WILL if I have to.  

When will UNIT OWNERS realize and react to what's going on around here?  (EXERCISE your RIGHTS)
When will the AUTHORITIES realize and react? (ENFORCE the LAW) 
How long will we ALL wait and stand by idle? When it's too late and too much irreparable harm has been caused. It is one thing to squander and lose a few dollars; its another thing to lose your peace and tranquility, your home, and your rights as a condo owner, American, and human being.   

WAKE UP PEOPLE and smell the STARBUCKS!



**One last note, All this blogging is burdensome. I would rather not be doing this, there are much more fun things to do than this but I have to and I shall. I can not sit here and do and say nothing.  I do what I can, no matter what that is.  Also, I have to document and be able to show and prove to my children what happens when ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY! (Take notes, kiddos, this is happening real-time, live in HD.) 

The JADED WINDS (our new marketing brand) is unfortunately a glaring example of that expression. 

However, all hope is NOT lost YET.  All these problems we face right now as an Association can be corrected and rectified internally as an Association. I hope that we can work something out, fast and soon.  But if that is not possible, because of some, then may justice be served- cold and swift, so help us GOD!

Be vigilant and stay active neighbors. This property is probably your biggest investment and it should treated and cared for as such.  

We all have a job to do, let's do it. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Local10 News: Pool Pump Incorrectly Wired in Hialeah Pool 3 Children Shocked

Pool Pump Incorrectly Wired in Hialeah Pool Where 3 Children Shocked

http://www.local10.com/news/pool-pump-incorrectly-wired-in-hialeah-pool-3-children-shocked/25716940

Electrical inspector: Poor maintenance done without permits, inspections

Author: Roger Lohse, Reporter, rlohse@Local10.com

HIALEAH, Fla. -
An official inspection of a pool where three children were shocked on Sunday shows electrical work was conducted on the pool equipment without a permit or inspection.

"Did you do work without permits?" Local 10's Roger Lohse asked the property manager at the Palms West Gardens condominium.
"They told me no comments, I'm sorry," replied the man, who didn't give his name. 

The victims, 10-year-old Diego Cabrera, 6-year-old Daniella Gamez and a third child, a 5-year-old girl, were shocked,

Board Certification Course at the Hollywood Hard Rock Casino May 18, 2014

GET READY FOR A FUN DAY! 
By Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published April 21, 2014
Courtesy of: 
Florida HOA & Condo Blog

While an education requirement is not mandatory for condo and HOA board members, I wish it were. The more educated Board members are about the legal requirements of running their community, the less likely it is that the association will have costly disputes with the owners whether it be in mediation, arbitration, a court of law or responding to complaints by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

I have been teaching a Board Certification Course now for a few years, and I consider it an honor and a privilege that approximately 7,500 of you have participated in the course. In all candor, some people that attend the course believe that I shouldn’t take questions from the audience and should solely teach the topics. Respectfully, I have to disagree. For many of the participants, this may be their first and only time to ask questions of an attorney that they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. Sure, if you are on the Board, you may have access to the association’s attorney, but suppose you aren’t? Many other participants believe that they learn a lot from the questions asked by the audience as well. In any event, on the days I teach…..the bottom line is that if you cared enough to take a few hours out of your valuable time to spend it with me and my staff, the least I can do is answer your questions.

Last year, our staff came up with a great idea. Let’s teach our Board Certification Seminar in the morning, followed by a live on the air production of our popular Condo Craze and HOAs radio show and top if off with courses all afternoon taught by all of the show’s fantastic sponsors. And while we’re at it….. let’s serve a buffet breakfast and lunch as well. And…..let’s do it at a fun and exciting venue, The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood . And let’s make sure all of the courses provide continuing education credits for managers. And……LET’S MAKE IT ALL FREE!

For those that attended last year, I’m sure you remember the event fondly. We absolutely packed the place. This year we’re doing it again! On May 18th, 2014 starting at 8:00 a.m. at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, please attend our second annual Condo Craze Day of Education and Live Radio Show. Remember, within 90 days of getting elected or appointed to your Board, you must get certified, or you are off the Board. One way to get certified, is by taking our Board Certification Course and spending a wonderful fun-filled

Community Branding: Does Your Community Association Have its Own Brand?

Does Your Community Association Have its Own Brand?
http://www.floridacondohoalawblog.com/2014/04/articles/marketing/does-your-community-association-have-its-own-brand/

Courtesy of and borrowed from:
  
By Donna DiMaggio Berger on April 28th, 2014

When you are asked to think of iconic brands, names like Nike, Apple, Starbucks and Coca Cola probably come to mind very easily. These companies all engaged in costly, strategic and sustained brand building over many decades to ensure that their company names would convey a recognizable, memorable and successful image to their customers and potential customers.

Companies certainly use branding to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Apple did a masterful job in portraying its users as young, hip and creative while painting Microsoft fans as stodgy fossils. Undoubtedly, Microsoft would have liked a different image in the marketplace but it was forced to play defense as a result of Apple’s more nimble use of branding.

When you think of community associations, do some communities do a better job of branding themselves than others? Should more communities be concerned about building their brand before the market or their detractors pick one for them?

If you think branding is irrelevant to your community, think again. Chances are you already have a brand in the market and it might not be one your board or previous boards have carefully cultivated. Do you want to know how your community’s brand manifests itself? Start by asking what kind of reputation your community has in the market. Is your community seen as a trendy upscale high-rise catering to young professionals in an urban area or is your community more the laid-back, family-friendly suburban enclave? Often a community’s brand is related to the unique community components supporting a specific lifestyle with equestrian, marine and country club communities being a few examples.

When was the last time you asked neighbors outside your community, local realtors and others in your city how they would describe your association? Is your community seen as stodgy or hip? Flexible or rigid? Upscale or budget-friendly? The list of possible brand permutations is vast.

What goes into branding? Successful branding really tells a story about who you are and why folks should want to associate with you. Among other avenues, your story is told by the way your community looks and functions, your signage, the communication portals you use such as newsletters and websites, your approval process, the manner in which you handle a number of member issues including welcoming new residents, helping neighbors in need and dealing with collection issues. the way your employees perform and the types of events you host. Your association members are certainly essential to your community’s brand and their contributions can change your brand for the better or the worse over time depending on how happy or unhappy they are.

It is no coincidence that communities with the most positive brands are also those with the greatest level of volunteer involvement, the highest property values and the most membership satisfaction. Your community’s branding (or lack thereof) will go a long way towards attracting or repelling the purchasers, renters, employees and vendors you want. Isn't it time your community started thinking about your brand and took the steps needed to strengthen that brand?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Arrests Continue Against Condo/HOA Leaders for Fraud or Theft

Arrests Continue Against Condo/HOA Leaders for Fraud or Theft 

Courtesy of SunSentinal; Condos and HOA, Living with Rules Blog

http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/condoblog/2014/04/arrests-continue-against-condohoa-leaders-for-fraud-or-theft.html

Arrests continue against condo/HOA leaders for fraud or theft


The story about the arrest of the former acting president of a homeowners’ association in Sunrise, Florida prompted me to remind community leaders of the most common fraud techniques.
Fraud and theft in community associations seem to have risen exponentially in recent years. In many cases the fraud occurred over a period of several years and it is just being discovered now. In the recent case reported in the Sun-Sentinel, funds were allegedly transferred directly from the association’s account to former acting president’s personal accounts. Typically the methods utilized are not that obvious, so do you know what to look for?
Some common fraudulent activities include:
  • Theft of cash receipts
  • Under-the-table payments, bribes or kickbacks.
    • Pay & Return – The employee purposely overpays a vendor. When the vendor returns the overpayment, the employee embezzles the refund.
    • Kickbacks – The vendor gives the manager money in return for awarding a contract to the vendor or an inflated check is delivered to the vendor and they split the overpayment.
  • Tampering with checks issued (forged signatures, altered dates, adjusted amounts)
  • Stealing blank checks or counterfeiting duplicate checks with altered payees
  • Creating and paying fictitious vendors
    • Shell Company – An employee sets up a shell company (often with a fictitious name) and bills the employer for goods or services it does not receive. The employee converts the payment to his/her benefit.
    • Pass-Through Scheme – A shell company (owned by the employee) purchases goods and resells them to the employer at a marked-up price.
  • Creating inflated or phony expense vouchers
  • Theft of inventory
  • Altering purchasing, receiving or shipment records
  • Paying non-existent employees
  • Lapping – This involves the manipulation of accounts receivable to steal cash. One payment is taken and then other receivables are applied to the account – the process continues so all accounts would appear current.
  • Voiding checks – the employee writes a check to a vendor for a certain amount, but records the payment as higher in the books. Then the next check is written for the difference and entered as a void. When the bank statement arrives the checks are destroyed and the account is reconciled as if one payment was made for the higher amount.
  • Credit card usage and credit card refunds – using the credit cards for personal expenditures or purchasing and returning items, then using the credit for personal expenditures.
These are just some of the examples of the types of fraud encountered by community associations. Of course, establishing (and complying with) internal controls is paramount in order to prevent fraud and to detect it before losses escalate.
____________________________________________________________________________

Has the Association gained or lost?  Look around and the answer becomes obvious.  If this Association allowed us to look closer (like allowing full access to the official records, bank statements, and invoices) then it will become even more obvious.  

Happy Holidays.