In The News: AirBNB

Lawmakers Struggle to Legalize Airbnb

Renting out a room, apartment or home to short-term guests was illegal in San Francisco until this February. Yet by the time San Francisco officials legalized home sharing, the city had identified between 5,249 and 6,113 listings on Airbnb.

Websites like Airbnb, HomeAway and FlipKey have fostered a booming short-term rental industry that’s giving policymakers a headache. A growing number of cities are trying to formalize the rentals (defined as 30 days or fewer) and make sure hosts charge hotel and sales taxes, which are an important source of revenue for cities like San Francisco.

States are starting to consider action, too. Nearly two dozen states discussed home sharing this year, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). One California bill would let cities and counties require the rental websites to collect and remit sales or lodging taxes. Municipalities could also limit advertising to rentals that comply with local laws and require that booking information be reported to local authorities.

But as San Francisco has learned, it’s difficult to put reins on a market that’s already galloping ahead. City residents vote today on a ballot measure that would further restrict such rentals and, supporters say, make local rules easier to enforce.

Supervisor David Campos, who supports the measure, said it’s aimed at stopping landlords from turning housing into hotels. “Prop F is especially problematic for the commercial user, where you have entire buildings, entire units, that are being Airbnb’d,” he said.

San Francisco’s affordable housing crisis has given its short-term rental debate emotional power. The issue has become so contentious that last month, when Airbnb posted signs around the city to remind residents it pays hotel taxes, the backlash was so strong that the company had to take the signs down and apologize.

To Airbnb or Not to Airbnb?

Home rentals have always been popular in vacation communities like beach towns and ski resorts. But rapidly growing online platforms have made it easy for anyone to list rooms for rent and for travelers to choose homes over hotels.

One in four travelers stayed in private accommodation in 2014, up from one in 10 in 2011, according to travel industry research firm Phocuswright’s annual survey. “We have seen some unbelievable, I mean it’s really amazing, growth,” said Douglas Quinby, vice president for research at the firm. Airbnb has a particularly large footprint in big cities and dense urban areas, he said.

Short-term home rentals allow hosts to make extra money and can give travelers a cheaper option than a hotel. Home rentals can also draw tourists into new neighborhoods, where they spend money on local businesses.

When Airbnb studied its economic impact on San Francisco in 2012, it found that Airbnb travelers generated $56 million in local spending and that Airbnb guests tended to stay longer and spend more money than hotel guests.

But many online listings are illegal. In New York City, a state investigation found that 72 percent of the 25,532 units listed for rent on Airbnb from 2010 to 2014 appeared to violate state and local laws. The state prohibits renting out an apartment for less than 30 days in most apartment buildings, for example, if the host is not present.

Hosts who rent out their places are supposed to charge guests applicable state and local taxes—like sales or lodging taxes—and pass on that money to the government. To do so, they may have to apply to city revenue departments for permission to file taxes like a business.

Data from a number of cities suggest that few hosts are doing so. Airbnb rentals incurred an estimated $33 million in unpaid New York City taxes, the state investigation found. Dallas has about 700 Airbnb listings but just two hosts registered with the city, the Dallas Observer reported.

Cities are also finding that some hosts are essentially hoteliers. New York’s investigation revealed that 6 percent of Airbnb users controlled over a third of all bookings, and some of those users were managing 10 or more properties.

The hotel industry is not amused. “This isn’t the sharing economy; this is a new form of the hotel industry that’s not being taxed and regulated,” says Troy Flanagan, vice president of state and local government affairs for the AH&LA.

Websites like Airbnb and HomeAway hold hosts responsible for complying with government rules and regulations. But they don’t check hosts’ paperwork or remove listings by hosts who violate city rules. If the sites did so, they’d have a much smaller footprint in Manhattan.

The Legalization Question

In some cities and states, particularly those that want to encourage tourism, legalizing Airbnb hasn’t been particularly controversial. Across the Hudson from New York City, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a Democrat, plans to allow short-term rentals throughout all residential areas, a move he says will encourage innovation and attract visitors.

Airbnb has agreed to collect and remit taxes on behalf of hosts in Jersey City, as it has in 13 other cities and four states. Jersey City thinks the agreement will raise $1 million per year.

“Our community wants to pay their fair share and we want to help,” an Airbnb spokeswoman said.

Rhode Island offered short-term rental services a deal in its fiscal 2016 budget: if they collect and remit state and local taxes, cities can’t restrict hosts from renting for short periods of time. The state calculated it would raise about $700,000 from the deal, which Airbnb took.

“We wanted to make sure Airbnb could thrive here, and the fact that it generated additional tax revenues made it all the better,” Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said in a statement. Rhode Island is going to spend the new revenue to promote tourism.

In other places, like San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, legalizing transient rentals has meant years of city council debate and raucous public meetings. Both cities are already tourist destinations, and both are grappling with rising rents.

San Francisco and Portland now require people who want to rent out their rooms, apartments or homes to register with the city planning and revenue departments. The two cities allow unlimited nights of short-term rentals while the host is at home and limit rentals when the host is away.

The cities have other requirements, too. San Francisco requires hosts to get liability insurance and bans them from renting out rent-controlled homes. Portland requires hosts to install smoke detectors, get permission from their landlords, and tell their neighbors about their new business.

It’s proving difficult to impose these new rules on what has been, essentially, a black market. Airbnb has agreed to pay taxes on behalf of hosts in both cities. But Portland has sued HomeAway and assessed fines on eight other short-term rental sites for failing to follow city rules, including paying taxes.

HomeAway co-founder Carl Shepherd told the Washington Post in January that his company can’t be held responsible for remitting taxes. It operates like a classified section and doesn’t handle any money, he explained.

In San Francisco, only 728 hosts have registered units with the city so far, according to a new office set up by the mayor to monitor short-term rentals. The office relies on complaints from neighbors to track down hosts who aren’t complying with the law.

Although rental listings are prominently displayed online, the city has no way of knowing for sure how many hosts are renting properties and for how many nights a year. “What we’ve learned,” Campos said, “is that without booking data, there’s no way for us to really verify that the rules are being followed.”

Proposition F, the ballot measure San Francisco votes on today, grew out of Campos’ proposed changes to San Francisco’s new rental law. Among other things, the controversial proposal would require hosting platforms to tell the city the number of nights booked per unit per year and to only list rentals registered with the city. It would place additional reporting requirements on hosts, and give neighbors new power to report violations.

The result would be major regulatory roadblocks on Airbnb and other home-sharing startups that are trying to expand as rapidly as possible. Breaking the rules is part of the culture at companies like Airbnb, Campos said. That could be why the company’s recent ad campaign misfired. “It’s like, well, everyone else has to do that!” he said of the company’s reminder that it’s paying taxes. “You don’t get a gold star for paying your taxes and paying them three and a half years late.”

CAMICB Exam Development Committee

The CAMICB Exam Development Committee is hard at work in New Orleans, LA creating new test questions for the CMCA examination and reviewing current questions for reliability and validity.  The Committee is comprised of both domestic and international Subject Matter Experts – some have been in the industry for over 40 years!  The Committee works tirelessly for two days, twice a year to ensure that the CMCA examination accurately tests the body of knowledge needed by community association managers to do their job around the world.  CAMICB thanks these volunteers immensely for their contribution to the program.  One day down – one to go!

Exam Devo Day 1 Exam Devo Day 2

Battling Bully Board Members and Homeowners

bulliesYou’ve seen them (and felt your anxiety level rising).

The homeowner who takes four “guest only” parking spots for his cars. The board president who goes on a vendetta by holding secret meetings, making unapproved purchases and breaking confidentiality rules.

Or, as one Colorado CMCA shared as a recent meeting, the individual who felt insulted at a board meeting, threw a chair and then put up posters throughout the association attacking the manager’s character.

There’s no strict definition of a bully, but we know them when we see them, says anti-bullying expert Ben Leichtling. Unlike decent people who are angry about a particular issue but want to work out a solution, bullies:

  • are never satisfied
  • treat you like a servant or slave
  • can be “professional victims” who take offense too easily
  • can also be aggressors
  • want to wear you down and beat you up

Bullies might be only 1 percent of the population, Leichting says, but they take 999 percent of your time, energy and emotional reserves.

So you want to fight?

Your attorney can point you to legal tactics to fight the specific actions of a board bully.

Check your governing documents. If the bully is an officer, your board may be able to vote the bully out of office, and back to a director position. (Officers are generally elected by the board; taking someone off the board may require a homeowner vote.)

If the problem is lack of confidentiality, the board may want to create a confidentiality agreement that spells out the director’s fiduciary duties in writing.

For other “irregularities,” your attorney may also want to take the board member aside. A simple “talking to” can sometimes derail particular behaviors, if not change personalities.

Overcoming Fear

But what if the problem isn’t a board member, but a homeowner? And what if the only tactics available are expensive (i.e. lawsuit) or scary (verbal confrontation)?

Now the human side of battling bullies becomes paramount. Leichtling, who runs and has written numerous books bullying, advocates a six-step system:

1) Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Surprised? “Bullies want to wear you down, so that you’ll give up and give them what they want,” Leichtling says. “Your job is to keep yourself at your best.” So do whatever it takes to keep your humor, courage and strength.

2) Don’t take it personally. “Bullies want to make you think it’s your fault,” Leichtling says. “You can take it seriously, but not personally.”

3) Watch for early warning signs. Bullying is more likely when there’s someone new on the board, or when someone is going through a rough personal patch: a divorce or job loss. Keep your intuition up for these signs.

4) Begin with relationship: Don’t assume you’re dealing with a rational person. Assume you’re dealing with someone who is on the emotional razor’s edge. So get together with the bully, speak emotionally and calm them down enough so they can be rational.

5) Get on their side: Figure out what you can given the constraints of the situation, without backing down. You may even want to get on their side of the desk or table.

6) Meet in person: When people are upset, email is not a good strategy. Even if this costs you time and money now, a personal meeting is much less costly in the long run.

No, this won’t work with every bully, and every situation. Rather, it’s an escalating scale of actions to take before legal or board action. It gives you the assurance of having done everything possible to work it out, short of giving in.

Don’t Let Your Stressed-Out Boss Stress You Out

by Annie McKee

Is your boss stressed to the max and making you miserable? Join the club. Stress is an epidemic among managers and leaders today, and burnout is catching up fast.

We all know the reasons: the rapidly changing economic landscape; fast-moving technologies; 24/7 work with little to no downtime. It all adds up to far too much pressure. We’ve all been doing too much for too long, which has left your boss (and maybe you) trapped in the Sacrifice Syndrome: Everyone’s been giving and giving and giving…and now we have nothing left to give. A boss who may have once been known to lead with emotional intelligence, build a great team, and motivate people becomes a grumpy, cynical, anxious person when stressed. He’s now hovering over you, or worse, disappearing when you need him most.

What happens next is where the real problems crop up: you become stressed, too! You literally catch your boss’s destructive emotions. You’ve become demotivated, frustrated, and even angry. You want out. If you can’t quit, you dial back your contribution and just try to wait it out. Now it’s a matter of your own survival.


Don’t let it get the better of you.

It’s stunning how quickly your stressed-out boss can turn you into a stressed-out team member. This is partly because of the contagious nature of emotions. They spread like wildfire among people—and even faster if one of those people has some control over our fate, as bosses do. Another reason our boss’s stress becomes our own is that many of us are already close to stressed-out ourselves. We too have been sacrificing and giving up a lot for a long time, and the cracks are showing. It doesn’t take much to push us into a bad place.

Let’s look at a real person—a friend and colleague whom I’ll call “Nathan.” Two short years ago, Nathan was quietly thrilled to step into senior management. Sure, he’d heard through the grapevine that his new boss Geoffrey was “tough”, but he’d had difficult bosses before. Nathan also knew he was tired from the climb to the top. He had been running hard for a long time, but this was what he’d been waiting for all his life, right? He could dig deep and find the energy for the big leap this job required.

During the first few months with the company, Nathan realized two things: first, he didn’t have as much energy as the last time he started a new job. Second, he was stunned to realize that the honeymoon disappeared before he could even enjoy it. Geoffrey was on him all the time. Nothing he did was right. At first, he thought it was his fault—maybe he needed to try harder, speed up, step up. He did so. It didn’t work. Geoffrey was still caustic and he just seemed so angry all the time. A year in and Nathan himself was getting ticked off. He’d go home and lash out—not at all like him. Nathan was catching Geoffrey’s disease, and there didn’t seem to be a cure anywhere in sight.

Despite a lifetime spent in an industry he loved, in a company he’d admired, he just couldn’t see the point anymore. In fact, neither Geoffrey nor Nathan’s team members seemed to care much about anything other than short-term results.

This leads to another problem with stressed-out bosses—what they aren’t doing. As long as they are focused on dealing with their own issues, they’re not spending time helping you to connect with what’s most important to you at work—that noble purpose your organization serves that inspires you, or that hopeful view of the future that makes you want to keep going. A sense of purpose was exactly what Nathan needed to counter the effects of the burnout heading his way, and it just wasn’t there.

So, if stress is epidemic and bosses are spreading it to us, what can we do? Let’s start by what you can’t do: you can’t change your boss or fix his response to stress. Learning how to deal with pressure is a very individual journey. If indeed your boss has tipped over the edge, no amount of perfection on your part, early-delivery of projects or compliments will help. Sure, do your job and do it well, but don’t expect miracles.

What you can do is work on yourself. First, you need to do your best to understand why your boss is burned out, then dig deep to find empathy—that unique human ability to understand another’s reality. It’s important to take some time to consciously try to recognize and understand the emotional state your boss is feeling. Engage in perspective taking by deliberately trying to see the world, events—and yourself—through your boss’s eyes. Empathy, by the way, is a key emotional intelligence competency.

This is what Nathan did. He made a conscious attempt to “get” his boss, veering away from defensiveness and anger . He tried to look at the whole picture, including his boss’s challenges with conflict on the team and a difficult chairman. Slowly, he found ways to hang out with Geoffrey, to have a laugh together now and then, and he got Geoffrey talking about his own life and family.

Empathizing with a man like Geoffrey is not easy, as our natural response to be defensive, even aggressive—not empathic. But if you can feel and express empathy, a) your boss will likely sense it, and this might help him and b) you will be able to remain grounded in the face of bad behavior, as you know it’s his problem, not yours. Paradoxically, when Nathan leaned in to this stressed-out boss, it helped to calm Geoffrey down.

Empathy also makes it easier to create appropriate emotional distance from your boss. This is a bit tricky, as you can’t shut down or have no relationship at all with him. Rather, you need to constantly monitor your own reactions and make a conscious effort to control your emotional response. Take stock and find that impermeable psychological boundary that separates you from your boss. What part of the stress and negativity belongs to him, and what belongs to you?

Then and most importantly, you need to take a good hard look at your own stress—at work and at home. How are you doing, really? Look at your relationships at home and at work. Are you testy? Irritable? Impatient? Or…nasty? We all act this way sometimes. And this kind of behavior (especially at home) is a good diagnostic.

If you see that you are heading for problems, or have entered into pre-burnout conditions, you need to do something now. Free up some time for renewal. And don’t be fooled: Renewal doesn’t happen as a result of a vacation. Remember that summer break? Seems like a long time ago, right? To deal with the kind of stress we all have at work today, renewal must become a continuous way of life, not an event.

There are a few things we know work for most everyone, such as laughing with coworkers (not at the boss!), doing fun activities outside of work, exercise, friendship, and setting healthy priorities. It’s becoming clear, too, that mindfulness meditation has a profound impact on one’s ability to stay grounded and manage stress. This movement is growing, in part because of the stress we’re all experiencing. Now, well-known mindfulness researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts, Michael Baime at the University of Pennsylvania and others have now led tens of thousands of people through mindfulness based stress reduction programs, in which normal people learn to incorporate breathing and meditation exercises into daily life while increasing their own self-awareness about their stress.

You also want to engage a sense of hope by imagining how you’d like things to be at work, with your boss and probably at home. It sounds so simple, and in a way it is. Hope is natural for human beings, and it really helps with the day-to-day burden of stress. Try paying some attention to what you would like to be feeling—and why. This will help you to be optimistic and more mindful about your reactions. This requires emotional self awareness and emotional self control—two more key emotional intelligence competencies.

And Nathan? He’s still on the job, though that wasn’t a given a few months ago. About a year in, he realized that he needed to get hold of himself, as he was fast slipping into dissonance and burnout. He started to shift priorities, then realized he had to shift his mindset, first. He actually took a course on mindfulness and learned a bit about how everyday people can meditate. He brought his family into the conversation, so it didn’t feel so lonely anymore. He’s doing ok. Geoffrey, sadly, is on his way out. He just couldn’t get a grip and the entire company was starting to feel the effects.

Annie McKee is a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, director of the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program and the founder of the Teleos Leadership Institute. She is the author of Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis as well as Resonant Leadership and Becoming a Resonant Leader.

Questions from the listserv

CAMICB hosts a listserv for community association managers. The listserv is intended to create a powerful, on-line community for community management professionals to share information. Recently, some questions have been sent to the listserv. Are you able to help? Leave and answer in the comment section below and CAMICB staff will post your answer to the listserv.

Russ from Ohio: We are a downtown high rise condo with an owner renting a portion of their condo via Airbnb. This creates potential security issues with people coming and going. Anyone else have any experience with similar hotel type rentals?

Betty from New York: How are you handling owners renting out their condos on Airbnb?

Larry from Louisiana: My Board has asked me to inquire how other HOA’s evaluate a Manager’s performance. In my particular situation I am evaluated by a Management Committee, which consists of the Current President, the Immediate Past-President (for continuity) and the Secretary-Treasurer. This year-end evaluation is done in Executive Session, then the committee makes recommendations (like year-end bonuses, next year’s compensation, etc.) to the Board. The full written review, which includes my self-evaluation and the committee’s comments/feedback, is not shared with the Board.

My Board is divided, with some members believing it should stick with the current process, while others believe that the committee should consist of the entire Board without the past-President (assuming that past President is no longer a Board member).

Would you please share your thoughts.

Work like a Millennial

By Bill Murphy, Jr. @billmurphyjr

The Millennial generation takes a lot of undeserved heat. Here are some of the things they’re doing right.

I’m a card-carrying member of Generation X, but some of my best work colleagues are Millennials. They take a lot of heat as a generation, and I sympathize, because I remember that back in the 1990s, we GenXers heard a lot of the same crap.

We weren’t willing to work hard, supposedly, and we were all self-centered “slackers.” (Then we went out and built Netscape and Amazon and Google and thousands of other companies, and created art and won championships, and led troops in war, and pretty much put that silly talk to rest.)

My colleague J.T. O’Donnell wrote a great article recently about some of the work pitfalls Millennials run into that can even wind up getting them fired. However, whether as a result of fortune or fortitude, Millennials bring a different approach to work–maybe sometimes a better one.

So I asked hundreds of entrepreneurs and leaders: “What’s the single best thing you’ve learned about success at work from your colleagues who were born after 1980?” I also asked Millennials what they wished their older colleagues would recognize about them. Here are some of the best and most surprising replies

  1. From a GenXer: “Get to the point!”

“The single best thing I’ve learned from Millennials: Get to the point. … They are direct and bold, sometimes even outright fearless. Shocked me at first, but they’re getting things done and not letting things stand in their way. Companies run leaner and results are expected more quickly.”–Barb Agostini, partner at Recruiting Social

  1. From a Boomer: “Sharing is more important than owning.”

“I recruit, teach, and connect with Millennials all the time. The most important thing I’ve learned is that relationships and connectedness is more important than individual knowledge and skills, and sharing is more important than owning.”–Dr. Diane Gayeski, dean, Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College

  1. From a GenXer: “Be fearless.”

“I lead a team that’s almost exclusively comprised of Millennials. The most evident trait among this group–and the one that inspires me the most–is their fearlessness in everything they do. … They’re not bogged down by conventions or rules, and have the courage to take a stand and approach things their own way. Their bold approach to getting things done is a constant energizer and competitive advantage in terms of Crowdtap’s ability to adapt and innovate quickly and with passion.”–Mindy Davis, senior vice president, professional services, at Crowdtap

  1. From a Millennial: “Don’t choose money first.”

“I’m a Millennial born in 1990 .. in the Philippines, [and] I grew up in suburban New Jersey watching GenXers slave away at work, hate their jobs, and fear financial insecurity. As a Millennial, I believe GenXers can learn from me that earning money at the cost of your well-being is not worth it. Instead, I believe purpose is the key to success in our social, tech-driven, rapidly changing world.”–Sabrina Atienza, CEO and founder of Qurious

  1. From a GenXer: “Recognize your bad habits.”

“I believe the generational gap between these groups is overblown, at least in the workplace. I think the biggest gain in working with younger workers is that our own bad habits (such as poor communication) that we older workers have formed over a long career become more apparent to us. Working with younger people can be the slap in the face that we need.”–Michael Ortner, CEO of Capttera

  1. From a Millennial: “Make more mistakes.”

“One thing we Millennials can impart to GenXers is how we view failure. Our generation would rather have dared than not attempted at all. We not only embrace mistakes, but look forward to making more mistakes faster. With the influx of information available at our disposal, we are past hoping for the best in every endeavor and instead prepare ourselves for the worst. Older colleagues tend to view failure as one step forward, two steps back.”–Lysa Marie Angeli P. Britanico, social media coordinator, Azeus Systems Limited

  1. From a Millennial: “Be self-centered–but in a good way.”

“We’ve been labeled as self-centered, and instant-gratification obsessed. I’m not saying this isn’t true, but it can have its benefits. Instant gratification turns into the need for constant progress, being self-centered turns into the ability to relate to people on a very basic, human level–because we want their attention. Stagnation is our biggest enemy, and when we feel it rearing its ugly head, we will do anything to push it back.”–Reza Jafrey, co-founder and marketing director, Casual Solutions, LLC

  1. From a Millennial: “Learn to multitask.”

“The Millennial workforce can multitask like no other. I think it’s a result of the fact that [we] are balancing full time jobs and parenting more than any previous generation, especially the females. In addition, we were exposed to the social media technology boom at a young enough age [and] we quickly adopted the custom of engaging in multiple conversations at once. All of this has created a generation of people who can do 10 things at once, and usually fairly effectively.”–Carrie Wiley, public relations manager,

  1. From a Boomer: “Don’t be afraid of change.”

“One of the most important things I’ve learned from working with Millennials is the importance of agility. I can’t be afraid of change, and it’s important for me to constantly look toward the future and own the trends–versus simply react to them.”–Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate

  1. From a GenXer: “Give prompt feedback.”

“One surprising note I’ve learned from my younger colleagues is developing a preference for receiving (and giving) on-the-spot feedback. It’s a change from the traditional corporate coaching model, but a shift that I’ve found refreshing and efficient.”–Anna Ettin, co-founder of Bank of America’s Inter-Generational Employee Network (IGEN)

  1. From a Millennial: “Accept that sometimes we’re just more efficient.”

“I’m going to go ahead and declare my generation one of the most efficient and productive generations. … [T]echnology alone has always throttled efficiently launching startups without massive amounts of capital–today, they’re launching left and right.”–Jason Fisher, owner of

  1. From a Millennial: “Also, we’re more mobile.”

“As a generation, we have much more of an entrepreneurial spirit, which emanates from both a generation that grew up online and from our values. Unlike previous generations, statistically we’re more likely to find a new job or start our own if we’re not being treated fairly by an employer.”–Jessica Steele, Steele Social Media

  1. From a Boomer: “They’re harder workers than we give them credit for.”

“Millennials are often given a bad rap. … I find them to be hardworking especially when the work is meaningful. Millennials are definitely connected with technology but also appreciate the power of personal connection. … Do I think they have a lot to learn? Sure, but don’t we all?”–Dr. Chester Goad, Tennessee Technological University

  1. From a Millennial: “Learn from our social consciousness.”

“GenXers can learn from [our] social consciousness. We are a generation that embraces companies that care. Millennials have high expectations when it comes to corporate social responsibility. It could be the determining factor whether a Millennial makes a purchase or works for a company.”–Sarah Pendley, media director,

  1. From a Boomer: “Get off the phone!”

“I grew up communicating in person and via the telephone. … Millennials that work with me have demonstrated that emails and texts can provide a much more rapid vehicle for moving through our basic communications. … We mutually agree that if the subject is more complex or has the potential to be misinterpreted, we will talk live.”–Jill Johnson, Johnson Consulting Services

Board Meeting Transparency

BODBoard meeting transparency – not just the right thing to do, it may be required by law

Economic burdens of rising foreclosure and unemployment rates not only affect HOA revenue streams, they increase the contentious, divisive and time consuming nature of board meetings. As pressures on boards from homeowners increase, the importance of board accountability and transparency of their meetings also increase.

Peter Kristian, who is a general manager of a large-scale community in South Carolina, offers some tips on how to ensure board meeting transparency:

  • Make sure you publish a meeting schedule in advance and publish it on the community’s website. The agenda could also be emailed to interested residents who have signed up for such a service. Make sure residents who do not use the internet are privy to board meeting through written notice. • Establish a resident’s time policy that is adopted by the board and published to the community. Says Kristian, “the policy should cover key points such as the prescribed time for resident comment at meetings, the length of time each resident can speak and whether one resident in attendance can cede their time to another resident. • Board member comments on a resident’s testimony should express the appreciation of the board for the resident’s input and verbal jousting between board members during a resident’s comments should always be avoided.

When discussing transparency of board meetings, sunshine laws have to be included. HOA boards can be subject to sunshine laws depending on state statutes.

Kristian said it is imperative managers understand and abide by their state’s statutes governing HOAs.

“The best way to adhere to such provisions in the law is to consult with a local attorney who practices community association law and ask them for guidance. Read the law, educate your board and apply the provisions to you situation.”

Have any of your communities been accused of lacking in board meeting transparency and if so, how did the respective boards respond?

Second-Hand Smoke

Second_hand_smokeGuest post by Lisa A. Magill

Condominium board members that are feeling pressure from members to address the issue of second-hand smoke will be pleased to learn that there is a combined effort on the part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and others to advocate and encourage multifamily housing owners and operators to adopt smoke-free policies to protect residents from the dangers of second-hand smoke and to reduce property maintenance costs. A new 63 page manual for owners or management agents of federally assisted public and multi-family housing has been published that provides eye-opening facts for community leaders, managers and operators. Smoke Free Housing is a 63 page compilation of material that includes specific information that can be helpful in limiting or eliminating smoking on multifamily buildings, as well as links to additional resources.

From the manual:

  1. Over 140,000 fires were started by cigarettes, cigars and pipes in the U.S. causing $530 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  2. Twenty-five percent of people killed in smoking-related fires are not the actual smokers, with many being children of the smokers, neighbors or friends.
  3. Smoke-free housing saves on property maintenance costs from cleaning and painting stained walls and ceilings and repairing burn marks; and
  4. Secondhand smoke is also associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

As courts across the country are addressing nuisance claims brought by non-smokers, with more and more ruling in the non-smoker’s favor, smokers have been required to install air ventilation systems and extra insulation to prevent smoke from entering other units. Some communities are voluntarily becoming “smoke free” through amendments to their governing documents and some municipalities have adopted ordinances prohibiting smoking in private residential buildings altogether – even if confined within the unit!

The issue of second-hand smoke is not going to go away. There are options to consider if residents are pressuring the board to do something about the odor, adverse health impacts, costs and annoyances caused by second-hand smoke and resources such as the Smoke Free Housing manual are available to assist in the effort.

Not Enough Time?

Think there aren’t enough hours in the day? It could all be in your head. Here are seven scientific reasons you feel like you don’t have enough time, and how to overcome that feeling.

timefliesWe’ve all used conversational expressions like “there aren’t enough hours in the day” to describe a common sentiment–that if we had more time, we would all be more productive. However, this isn’t always the case, and as you might suspect, the usual culprit for this feeling isn’t a lack of time, but rather a mentality that either stifles productivity or leads to a misconception.

Take, for example, these seven scientific reasons why people feel like there isn’t enough time:

1. You Don’t Wake Up Early. The world runs on a 9-to-5 schedule. As a result, morning people tend to get more done and wind up more productive by the end of the work day. That isn’t to say night people are inherently inferior–in fact, studies show that “night people” can be just as productive as morning people (or even more so)–but because the typical office, and our Western culture in general, start at nine sharp, they simply aren’t able to match morning people in terms of workday productivity. Even if you consider yourself a night person, try waking up a little earlier each day, working iteratively if necessary, until you start having one or two extra hours each morning to accomplish new tasks.

2. You Multitask. Only a very, very small percentage of the population is good at multitasking. The rest of us are truly, definitively awful at it. When you try to accomplish two tasks at once, you instantly diminish your productivity at each individual task, thereby increasing the total amount of time it takes you to complete those tasks. What’s worse is that many people believe themselves to be skilled multitaskers, and keep multitasking because they believe it will save them time. Repeat this process a few times a day, and a multitasker will feel as though he has saved a few hours of time–yet the tasks took hours more than they needed to. As a result, he feels like there simply isn’t enough time in the day.

3. You Don’t Practice Time Management. A review of time management literature recently concluded that the practice of time management strategies leads to more developed time management skills. That is to say, the more time you spend trying to manage your day, the better you’ll become at it. This might seem obvious when put this way, but if you aren’t regularly practicing time management, you might neglect the fact that your skills are going undeveloped. For example, you can’t expect to be good at playing the guitar if you’ve only practiced once or twice in the past year. Get in the habit of actively managing your time.

4. You Aren’t Getting Enough Rest. Scientific studies have consistently shown that insufficient or unhealthy sleep patterns can have a major impact on your long-term health and productivity. To put it succinctly, if you aren’t sleeping adequately, you’ll always perform worse than you ordinarily would, even with the aid of caffeine or other products. If you’re performing slower than you otherwise would be, it’s natural to feel like time is the problem–that there simply isn’t enough time, rather than the fact that you aren’t using your time well.

5. You’re Too Concerned With Time. In Western cultures, we tend to be obsessed with time. We have to get to meetings on time. We’re strict about our deadlines. We clock in at nine every morning and leave by five every day. This fixation on time can be a distraction–if you’re checking the clock every few minutes to see how far you’ve come on a specific project (compared to where you “should” be), you’ll almost always fall short of expectations. Projects take as long as they take, regardless of what your bosses or coworkers demand of you. Worrying yourself with the time is only going to slow you down.

6. You’re Pessimistic. Even though we all measure time using the same devices, time itself can be a subjective experience. And as science has proven time and again, the positivity or negativity of your thoughts can have a significant impact on all your subjective experiences. In this context, if you are constantly pessimistic about the amount of time available to you, thinking thoughts like “there’s no way I can get this done in time,” or “I have too much to do today,” you’ll contribute to a feedback loop that makes you feel these things more often. In a sense, you contribute to your own feelings about time. Instead, try to focus on more positive elements of your day and appreciate the time you do have.

7. You’re Too Engrossed in Your Work. This one comes with a caveat; as opposed to most of the items in this list, it’s actually a good thing. In psychology, there’s a phenomenon called flow, where a task you’re particularly interested in fits a perfect balance of being approachable and challenging. While in flow, sometimes colloquially referred to as being “in your element” or “in the zone,” you tend to be more productive and more focused, but you also tend to lose track of time. Do you ever look up at the clock and realized several hours have passed without your awareness or acknowledgment? That’s a result of flow, and while it certainly isn’t a bad thing, it can lead you to feel like you don’t have enough time.

The next time you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what needs done, remind yourself that time isn’t something you can control. Instead, focus on the habits, thoughts, and beliefs that you can control, and work to make yourself more productive, more optimistic, and more focused on doing things well than doing things quickly.


Productivity After a Summer Vacation

habitHow to create a surge in your productivity when you return to work

We tend to admire people who jump in feet first and don’t hesitate, but if there is ever a time to pause and take a deep breath, it is the moment when you return from vacation. Don’t dive in and bury yourself in the craziness of NOW; first, take charge of your time.

As life around the office settles down as people return from summer vacation, follow this guide to rapidly maximize your productivity after a break:

1. Give yourself a post-holiday break.

Don’t return to a full calendar of nonstop meetings. Always block your first day back to be meeting free to catch up on what you have missed and reconnect with your team.

2. Reset where you spend your time and energy.

Use the break to consider where you spend your time and energy. Are you thoughtfully ruthless about being in control of your time and who absorbs your energy? Press reset on your calendar as you return to work.

3. Throw a starting not an ending party.

Gather your team to launch your new product, your new sales quarter, or simply to refocus everyone as they return to work following a major holiday period. Share your goals, ask for feedback, and allow time for your team to simply socialize with each other.

4. Say thank you in advance.

I have probably said, “What do you say?” a thousand times to my three daughters because they are often too excited or distracted to remember their manners. Leaders are the same–with a lot on our minds, it is easy to forget the basics. Don’t wait until someone is leaving your team or a product is launched to say thank you. Try saying thank you in advance: thank your new hire for joining your team, thank your team for their hard work and for holding the fort while you were on vacation. Build daily gratitude into the way you work as you return from vacation, and your team will thank you for it.

5. Plan a year of vacations.

My biggest culture shock when I moved from England to Seattle 10 years ago was the fact that 51 percent of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time. Europeans don’t suffer from such an affliction. As you return from your break, take a moment to look at the next 12 months, and block and book your vacation time. Block off your birthday, and plan time with people who energize and inspire you. If you have kids, plan family vacations, date weekends, and time with your friends. Your productivity when you are in the office will increase because of it.

Stores are currently filled with back-to-school presents and supplies to help children make a successful transition back to school. Follow these tips to help your employees with their back-to-work transition.