BUSINESS

America, we have a problem. People aren’t feeling engaged with their work

NPR All Things Considered

When Tanvi Sinha first got into accounting 17 years ago, she worked from the office every day, even Saturdays in the busy season.

She enjoyed lunches out with colleagues and opportunities to learn just by listening and watching others. She grew professionally, aspiring to leadership roles.

Now that her company has made working from the office optional, Sinha wonders if newcomers to the field will ever feel as connected to their work as she has been.

“I’m pretty sure that their engagement would be affected,” says Sinha, now an audit manager with the accounting firm Matthews, Carter & Boyce in Fairfax, Virginia.

A new report from Gallup finds that large numbers of workers, especially Gen Zers and young millennials, are not engaged with their jobs. And that could make their climb up the career ladder harder, as well as hurt companies’ overall performance.

Employee engagement has fallen since 2020

The Gallup survey of roughly 67,000 people in 2022 found only 32% of workers are engaged with their work compared with 36% in 2020.

The share of workers found to be “actively disengaged” has risen since 2020, while the share of those in the middle — those considered “not engaged” — has remained about the same.

Engagement had been rising in the decade before the pandemic, following the Great Recession, but started to fall in 2021.

Younger workers have seen a bigger drop in engagement than older ones. Those under 35 reported feeling less heard and less cared about at work. Fewer Gen Zers and young millennials reported having someone at work who encourages their development and fewer opportunities to learn and grow.

“There’s a growing disconnect between employee [and] employer. You could almost equate it to employees becoming a little bit more like gig workers,” says Jim Harter, chief workplace scientist at Gallup and author of the new report.

Gig work by its nature doesn’t lend itself to loyalty or long-term relationships between employees and employers. Workers may feel less motivated to put their best selves forward.

“In the context of high-performance customer service, retaining your best people, that’s a problem,” Harter says.

Having actively disengaged workers can be highly detrimental to companies. Employees who aren’t getting most of their workplace needs met often share their negativity with other people, Harter says. That could bring down company morale.

Engagement is lacking among onsite, hybrid and fully-remote employees

Gallup measures a worker’s level of engagement based on a series of questions such as: Does the employee understand what is expected of them at work? Do their opinions seem to count? Do they have opportunities to do what they do best? Do they have a best friend at work?

While engagement dipped across a wide swath of workers, the biggest declines were among what Gallup calls “remote-ready onsite workers” — those who could do their jobs from home but are working from the office.

But Harter says there are troubling findings among those who are fully remote too.

More of them are falling into the middle category — somewhere between engaged and actively disengaged — which Harter equates to quiet quitting.

Meanwhile, workers across different categories — onsite, hybrid, and fully-remote — all saw declines in feeling connected to the mission or purpose of their organizations. Clarity of expectations was also lower across the groups.

And the share of workers who said their company cares about their overall wellbeing has fallen dramatically, from about 50% early in the pandemic, when many companies rolled out all kinds of accommodations for employees, to half that today.

Some companies are recognizing the importance of mental wellness

With elevated levels of quiet quitting and real quitting, Stephanie Frias believes companies are having a reckoning.

“I think companies are realizing that this is key — for people to feel engaged and connected at work,” says Frias, who is chief people officer at Lyra Health. “It’s not just about the work that people are doing. It is: how do you instill meaning in that work?”

Her company provides mental health services to other companies, focusing on individuals as well as organizations overall, and training managers to notice and respond to acute situations.

With all the disruptions of the pandemic, what worked in the past isn’t necessarily going to work now, and there really isn’t a playbook, Frias says. Workers today want to engage with work, but in a way that’s convenient and palatable to their lifestyles.

“It will be a journey and a ride,” she says.

Finding a balance when remote work is highly prized

As a manager at her accounting firm, Sinha has been trying to find the right balance.

She likes working from home and knows others do too. But she makes a point of being in the office two or three times a week, sometimes just for a few hours, and encourages her teams to find times when they can be in together, too.

“Pick a few days, come to work, mingle with people, talk to people,” she says.

It’s not just about being social. It’s about exposure to other parts of the business.

Sinha says audit teams used to sit in conference rooms together and go to client sites together, so everyone on the team knew every aspect of the audit. Now you may only work on your one part.

“That’s not a holistic picture,” she says.

Technology can help, Sinha says, and she does use video meetings to keep in daily contact with her team members. But there are pitfalls to not seeing people face-to-face, especially for those who have never worked in the office regularly.

“Some people who were hired during COVID — I mean, I went to work after a long time, and I couldn’t even recognize that this is the person,” Sinha recalls with a laugh, noting that was bad on her part.

Gallup scientist Harter says the the role of managers has gone up significantly in the pandemic. They’re the ones who can make sure employees know what’s expected of them and help employees feel cared for.

“Managers will figure out the idiosyncrasies of each person they manage,” he says. “They’re the only one that’s close enough to do that.”

Greg Smith Begins His Term As Chair of CAMICB

James Magid Named Vice Chair; Board Elects Two New Members

Falls Church, Virginia – January 30, 2023 –The Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) announced its 2023 Board of Commissioners welcoming Greg Smith, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, to the role of Chair and Jim Magid, CMCA, PCAM, to serve as Vice Chair.

Greg has been a commissioner on the CAMICB Board since 2019. He has additionally served CAMICB as a member of the CAMICB Standards of Professional Conduct Committee and the CMCA Exam Development Oversight Panel.

“I’m honored and thrilled to serve as Chair of the Board of Commissioners,” said Greg Smith. “Now that we have a new exam blueprint, following the detailed Job Analysis study, our focus in my two-year term is to bring this updated exam to fruition. The new blueprint truly reflects the current practice of community association management – both domestically and internationally – and I’m really excited to carry out the necessary steps to update the exam content, ultimately getting the updated exam into the field in 2024.”

“Greg brings an extensive knowledge of the community association industry as incoming chair of CAMICB,” said outgoing Board Chair Sandy Denton, CMCA, LSM, PCAM. “He’s very thoughtful and forward thinking in his approach to leading and I’m certain he’ll serve the Board well.”

“I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Commissioners on a thoughtful succession plan for our Board members,” said Vice Chair, James Magid, CMCA, PCAM. “It’s important that we both maximize the talents and experience of current Commissioners as well as focusing our recruiting efforts for new Commissioners to ensure we have specific expertise or backgrounds that complement or bolster the current composition of the Board.”

Greg Smith has more than 20 years of community management experience and has served in several positions, including portfolio manager, vice president, and president. Greg has been a valued member of Associa, the industry’s largest community management company, since 2010. He currently serves as Director of Leadership Development where he is responsible for the training and development of Associa’s branch leaders, community managers, and board members across North America. Greg is a former CAI President and a current faculty member and has spoken at numerous CAI Annual Conferences and Chapter events.

Two new members of the Board of Commissioners, each elected to a three-year term, begin their term this month:

Yasmeen Nurmohamed, RCM, CMCA, AMS

Yasmeen Nurmohamed is currently the President of Royale Grande Property Management Ltd., an ACMO 2000 and ISO 9001:2015 certified boutique condominium management company in Toronto where she oversees the management of more than 6,000 units. A passionate educator, Yasmeen was an instructor for the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario from 2005 to 2022. She taught Physical Building Management and Condominium Administration and Human Resources courses at Humber and Mohawk Colleges. She developed the new Building Operations and Maintenance course for the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario and currently teaches the course online at Humber College.  Yasmeen has written numerous articles for various condominium publications and is a founding Director, Past President, and current Treasurer of CAI Canada. 

Wendy Taylor, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM

Wendy Taylor has more than 30 years of community association management experience, including service as an independent consultant to communities, developers, and attorneys on various issues. Before Wendy transitioned to her consulting role in January of 2023, she served as General Manager and Chief Operating Officer at South Riding Proprietary, a homeowners association with over 6,500 homes all managed under the master association, located in South Riding, Virginia. Wendy led a management team of 16 staff and multiple contractors in that role. She annually developed and managed an operating budget of over $9 million while maintaining assessments at the lowest in the market and fully funding $12 million in reserves and capital funds. Wendy takes great pride in her time serving as a steward of the association’s natural resources and a visionary for future projects while building community through events and effective communication.

“I’m excited to rejoin the CAMICB Board this year,” said Wendy, who previously served on the CAMICB Board of Commissioners from 2012 to 2018. “The organization has grown so much over the years, and I’ve remained passionate about this credentialing body. I look forward to bringing my enthusiasm and past experience as a commissioner to the Board. I’m particularly interested in exploring new approaches to providing and expanding our services to CMCA credential holders and exam candidates.”

Board of Commissioners

CAMICB is governed by a nine-member Board of Commissioners. Eight commissioners are community association managers or industry stakeholders. One public interest member represents the interests of the constituencies served by the community association management profession. In addition to Smith, Magid, Taylor and Nurmohamed, other CAMICB Commissioners include:

Rob Felix, CMCA, PCAM, RS (Secretary/Treasurer)​

M. Katherine Bushey, Esq.

Noelle Hicks, Esq.

Michael Hurley, Sr.

Michael Traidman (Homeowner)

About CAMICB

Established in 1996, the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) is an independent board that sets the standards for community association managers worldwide. CAMICB (formerly NBC-CAM) administers the Certified Manager of Community Associations® (CMCA) examination, a rigorous test that measures managers’ knowledge of community management best practices. Passing the CMCA examination and maintaining the standards of the CMCA certification is proof that a manager is knowledgeable, ethical and professional. CMCA-certified managers have the skills to safeguard the assets of homeowners’ associations, giving homeowners peace of mind and protecting home values.

The CMCA credential is the only international certification for managers that is accredited by the US-based National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the globally recognized ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). This dual accreditation underscores the strength and integrity of the CMCA credential and is a mark of quality. For more information, go to www.camicb.org.

A victory for rooftop solar against homeowners’ associations

By Joseph Winters for The Beacon

North Carolina’s highest court made it harder to prohibit rooftop solar.

The North Carolina Supreme Court delivered a victory to clean energy advocates in a recent ruling that will make it easier for homeowners to install rooftop solar panels.

In a 4-3 bipartisan decision, the court ruled in favor of solar companies, environmental groups, and a Raleigh resident named Tom Farwig, whose rooftop solar panels had faced opposition from the Belmont Association. Despite a 2007 solar access law that prevented North Carolina homeowners’ associations from banning the “reasonable use of a solar collector” on single-family homes, Belmont argued that an exception in the law allowed street-facing panels like Farwig’s to be prohibited on aesthetic grounds.

The Supreme Court disagreed, claiming that Belmont couldn’t stop Farwig and other residents from installing rooftop solar panels without explicitly forbidding them in its community covenants.

Blue Raven Solar, which installed Farwig’s panels, celebrated the decision. “[W]e are vindicated in our support of our customers and in our fight to make rooftop solar available and affordable to everyone,” the company said in a statement.

Although the decision doesn’t entirely prevent homeowners’ associations from restricting street-facing solar panels, it will at least provide clarity to those who have been unsure whether rooftop solar is allowed in their communities. Statewide, 40 percent of North Carolinian homeowners are members of more than 14,000 homeowners’ associations, which will now have to write specific rules on street-facing solar panels if they wish to prohibit them. (Though clean energy advocates are trying to stop associations from being able to even do that, through a bill that passed the state House last year and has now moved on to the Senate.)

“There are now dozens of our clients who are excited to get the ball rolling on their solar projects,” Bryce Bruncati, director of residential sales for the solar company 8MSolar, told Energy News Network. “It opens the door to a good chunk of people.”

These Are the Biggest Upsides of Buying a Home With a Strong HOA

by Christy Bieber | For Ascent, A Motley Fool Service

Key points

  • Many neighborhoods have homeowners associations.
  • HOAs usually charge fees that add to monthly housing costs.
  • There are benefits of HOA living despite the fees and restrictions.

When you are buying a house, you’ll likely come across many neighborhoods where there is a homeowners association. HOAs often impose rules about what you can do with your home, and they also charge fees you’ll have to pay each month on top of your mortgage payment.

While the added cost of an HOA may seem undesirable, there are actually a few big benefits of living in a neighborhood with an association. In fact, here are some of the biggest upsides of living someplace with an HOA.

1. The HOA protects your property values

Your property values are affected by the quality of your neighborhood and by how your neighbors maintain their houses. After all, no matter how nice your own property is, no one will want to buy it if it’s next to a slum.

Homeowners associations set and enforce rules related to the upkeep of property in the neighborhood. They may also set other restrictions such as requiring approval before painting a house or adding lawn ornaments. These rules help keep the neighborhood looking nice, which in turn keeps property values higher.

2. The HOA maintains the neighborhood and amenities

HOAs usually maintain common areas, and some neighborhoods with strong associations have lots of amenities such as pools or golf courses.

These features can add value to your home since they are desirable to buyers, and they can also make it nicer for you to live in your neighborhood since you can take advantage of them.

3. Fees may include common utilities and maintenance tasks

In some cases, HOA fees include things like internet service, pool maintenance, or lawn care. When that is the case, it’s convenient to pay one common fee to get many different services rather than having to arrange for them individually and contract with companies to pay for them separately.

In some situations, you may actually end up saving money because it can be cheaper for internet companies or landscaping companies to provide their services to an entire neighborhood rather than to just individual households. The fees you’re paying could actually be a better value than paying for these services privately.

4. The HOA can deal with neighborhood disputes

When people live in close proximity to one another, it’s often inevitable that disputes arise. There could be issues for a huge number of reasons, from barking dogs to lawns that aren’t maintained to loud music playing and more.

When you live in an HOA neighborhood, you don’t have to directly deal with a neighbor who is causing you problems in your enjoyment of your own home. The HOA most likely has regulations related to common nuisances or issues that come up regularly. They’ll take care of addressing the issues that arise among neighbors so you don’t have to sour your relationship with those living near you or cope with the stress of a confrontation.

For all of these reasons, it’s worth considering an HOA neighborhood when you buy a property. Just remember you need to be comfortable with the rules the association sets as you’ll have to live by them too.

Co-op Board Sues, Claiming Absent Shareholder Is a Hoarder

Upper East SideManhattan

Habitat Magazine:; The co-op board at 31 E. 72nd St. has sued a shareholder, claiming she’s a hoarder.

Responding to every co-op and condo board‘s worst nightmare, the board at 31 E. 72nd St. is suing 86-year-old shareholder Joan Disse, alleging evidence of hoarding, a rodent infestation and a water leak that damaged the ceiling, The New York Post reports.

Disse has owned the one-bedroom apartment since 1965 but has not lived in it for years. Documents filed in the lawsuit include a “friendly hand-written note” by the co-op board’s president, Guy Maitland, who is also Disse’s neighbor on the floor, “inquiring if the defendant needed assistance to remedy the situations at issue in this lawsuit.” Other court documents include photos of the interior of the apartment showing stacks of books, boxes of clothing and household goods and other possessions that make the rooms virtually impassible.

Maitland’s note says the ceiling has “extensive damage from leaks,” and the unit is “in a very unsanitary and unhygienic state. Sooner or later, there will most likely be an intervention by the fire department, which has gotten more intensive in its enforcement measures over recent years.”

The co-op’s lawyer, Deborah Koplovitz, a partner at Herrick Feinstein, did not return messages seeking a comment.

Maitland’s note went unanswered by Disse last summer, the lawsuit says. It claims that Disse, who has “apparently left the apartment vacant for many years,” is required to maintain the interior in good repair, but is instead “keeping it as a quasi-storage facility.”

The board wants to send its own crew to clean up if Disse won’t — and is also seeking access for quarterly inspections. But a building’s super or staff, even if they have keys, cannot enter and clean up without the owner’s permission unless there’s an emergency, says Adam Leitman Bailey, a real-estate lawyer not connected to the case.

Disse says she has kept up with maintenance payments and assessments, but has not lived full-time in New York for at least a dozen years, having returned to her native St. Louis to care for her elderly stepfather and mother, both now deceased. Her mother died in 2010 at age 97. After that, Disse said, “I would go to New York for a day or two and that would be all. A day in New York would make you really happy if you live in the Midwest.”

Providence Village HOA’s Section 8 ban would be illegal if Texas bill passes

By Amber Gaudet Staff Write for KPVI

A bill introduced in the Texas House last week would prohibit homeowners associations from restricting what forms of payment landlords can accept, including Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher payments.

Filed by Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, the bill would amend Section 202 of the Texas Property Code to prohibit associations from enforcing provisions that limit, or have the effect of limiting, allowed forms of payment. The bill explicitly includes payment made in whole or part by a voucher or any other federal, state or local housing assistance or subsidies.

The bill would have big implications for associations such as Providence HOA in Denton County, which passed leasing rules restricting Section 8 renters last June.

The controversial rules originally set would fine landlords with Section 8 tenants $300 weekly until the renters were ousted, but after public backlash, the association announced tenants would be allowed to finish their leases.

Implementation of the Section 8 ban and other provisions of the leasing rules were halted altogether in August pending an investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development into whether the rules violate the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race and other factors.

More than 157 majority-Black households in Providence Village stood to be impacted by the rules, with at least one family saying they were forced into a motel in anticipation of the ban.

In the last legislative session, Turner was chair of the Texas House’s Business & Industry Committee, which traditionally handles landlord-tenant relations, HOAs and real estate. After following the developments out of Providence Village, Turner brought up the issue during an interim committee hearing last September relating to the implementation of Senate Bill 1588, which also governs homeowners associations. Turner gauged any possible opposition to a future bill with a representative for the Texas Legislative Action Committee, which represents homeowners associations, and none was anticipated by the representative.

“HOAs have a valuable role to play in a lot of neighborhoods — I live in an HOA, and I think my HOA does a good job — but an HOA should not have the ability to interfere in a property owner’s private lease agreement with a renter,” Turner said. “We have in Texas, unlike in other places, a shortage of housing, and affordable housing in particular. So if someone qualifies for a housing voucher through HUD, they have the right to use the voucher to live where they want to live, provided they can cover the expenses.”

Other HOAs also could stand to be impacted by the bill if it passes — Savannah has had a similar ban on the books for years. Proponents of the bans in both neighborhoods say an uptick in violent crime they associate with voucher recipients has underscored their support for the leasing rules.

Once the House speaker appoints committees around early February, the bill would move to a hearing and committee vote before it could be scheduled for a House floor debate. Though most bills never make it into law, Turner hopes his colleagues will agree the issue is a straightforward one.

“This is, I think, a very simple bill; it’s very clear-cut,” Turner said. “It’s a private property rights issue — you can’t have a third party dictating to a property owner what sort of payment they can accept or not accept to lawfully rent their property. If we saw this practice continue, it sets a dangerous precedent, and I think it’s contrary to federal law — I think it would be very problematic for our state.

“I hope that my colleagues will see this bill is simply a matter of common sense and one that safeguards the rights of not only tenants, but also property owners.”

If passed, the law would take effect Sept. 1.

No updates have been released by HUD or Providence HOA as to whether the investigation remains ongoing. A July lawsuit brought by High Opportunity Neighborhood Realty, which leases 21 properties in the neighborhood including to voucher recipients, is also ongoing. Mediation is set to be complete by Feb. 20, and a final pretrial conference is set for Aug. 31.

How many workers feel undervalued? Almost half, Workhuman suggests

By Caroline Colvin for HRDrive

Dive Brief:

  • One in 2 employees only feel “somewhat valued” and 1 in 10 don’t feel “valued at all,” according to a January 2023 report by Workhuman. In its monthly Human Workplace Index, 46.4% reported the former and 10.7% reported the latter. 
  • Notably, 48.8% of women surveyed said they feel undervalued.
  • Additionally, at a rate of 49.3%, workers of color were more likely to tell Workhuman they felt undervalued compared to the average.

Dive Insight:

Based on emerging data, it’s no surprise that people of color and women are feeling exceptionally undervalued. Not only are burnout and financial anxiety on the rise — insights put forth by isolved’s 2023 HR trends report — but companies are starting to demonstrate a lack of care regarding diversity, equity and inclusion.

Glassdoor DEI audit published at the end of 2022 suggested that the DEI progress ignited by the police shooting deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — and the subsequent corporate antiracism conversations — has started to flicker. A chief economist for the job review company observed to HR Dive that “noncore functions” like HR, learning and development, and DEI are among first areas of business to suffer during economic decline.

Workhuman researchers noted the same, saying, “As economic uncertainty continues into the new year, these DEI initiatives are often some of the first to go, making this an invaluable opportunity for forward-thinking organizations to stand out amongst their competitors.”

Instead of letting DEI fall by the wayside, Workhuman experts suggested applying pressure. “Prioritizing an authentic culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging” is a solution for employees feeling undervalued, they said. This shift in talent strategy may have benefits that outlast the recession and the Great Resignation.

Researchers added, “A place where employees don’t feel valued likely isn’t a place they want to return to.”

New Year, New Goals: Are You Studying For The CMCA Exam? Get a Head Start with CAMICB’s CMCA Exam Preparation E-Learning Course

Free Online Resource Helps Candidates Successfully Prepare For The CMCA Exam

By Madeline Hay, CAMICB’s Manager of Exam Administration

Underscoring a quarter century of commitment to professionalism and excellence in community association management, CAMICB is excited to continue to celebrate the organization’s 25th Anniversary with the launch of a free, interactive online CMCA Exam Preparation e-Learning course. 

The three-hour course, featuring a series of eight modules, is divided into two components. The first component features four learning modules focused on creating an examination review and preparation plan. The second component includes three scenario-based learning modules that are designed to put several of the knowledge areas tested on the CMCA examination in context using real-life scenarios. The three modules address knowledge areas that are challenging for many CMCA candidates: Risk Management & Insurance; Financial Controls; and Governance, Legal & Ethical Conduct.  A final module is intended to offer some perspective on the exam preparation process and next steps.

Said Chair of the CAMICB Board of Commissioners Drew Mulhare, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, “CAMICB is always working to identify new tools to help CMCA candidates succeed on the exam. We’re excited to launch the CMCA Exam Prep e-Learning course – a free resource intended to put candidates on the path to the CMCA credential.”

The Course Modules

The exam preparation modules offer constructive test taking tips, discuss the composition of examination questions, give preparation advice, and provide an interactive self-assessment tool to help a candidate develop a study plan specific to that candidate’s needs and goals. The content-based modules ask the candidate to solve problems and answer questions using downloadable sample documents. 

Each module takes approximately 10-25 minutes to complete. The course is designed to accommodate busy schedules and to allow candidates to work at their own pace, so they may stop and resume the modules as their schedule permits. Below is a brief description of the different modules and what candidates can expect.

Module 1: An Introduction

Learn what it takes to pass the CMCA exam. Get advice from working CMCAs about what worked for them as they were preparing for the test – and what didn’t. Find out some common misconceptions about the CMCA exam and uncover the key for understanding how to approach the exam questions.

Module 2: Devising a Study Plan, Part 1 – Prioritizing Topics 

Discover how to establish and follow a solid study routine that’s tailored to your experience level. Get an in-depth look at the topic areas covered on the test and participate in a self-assessment exercise to determine which topics should be prioritized in your study plan. 

Module 3: Devising a Study Plan, Part 2 – Strategies and Tips 

Find out how to put your study plan into action. Learn practical tips and tricks to make the most of your prep time and take a closer look at some of the study resources available to you. 

A recent course participant shared, “The study resources provided in the CMCA exam prep course are excellent. It gave me a much better understanding of what material to really focus on.”

Module 4: Test-Taking Strategies

Learn how to maximize your potential on exam day. Find out how taking practice tests can improve your performance on the exam, get some guidance on strategies to overcome test anxiety, and see what to expect when you go to the testing center. 

Modules 5 and 6 use real-life scenarios that help you learn from detailed feedback. They also make use of downloadable sample files including Lakeside Terrace’s insurance declaration and financial documents to inform your decisions. 

Said one course participant, “For me, the CMCA exam prep course was so much more effective than simply reading different texts.”

Module 5: Risk Management & Insurance – Refresher Content 

Apply your knowledge of risk management and insurance topics by putting yourself in the shoes of the community association manager for Lakeside Terrace Condominiums. 

Module 6: Financial Controls – Refresher Content 

Revisit your role as Lakeside Terrace’s community association manager as you encounter some scenarios that test key knowledge about financial controls.

Module 7: Governance, Legal & Ethical Conduct – Refresher Content

Another real-life scenario allows you to visit Willow Grove Estates, where you have been hired as the association’s first community manager. 

Module 8: Looking Back and Looking Forward

An opportunity to recall what you’ve learned and consider what you want to keep working on. 

At CAMICB, we’re committed to offering a combination of study tools to enhance candidate performance.  Therefore, we encourage exam candidates to develop a personal study plan incorporating a wide range of resources and reference materials. CMCA preparatory materials are all available online – most at no cost – to managers employed anywhere in the world. We’re thrilled to add our newest offering, the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning Course, to our portfolio of resources. 

Earning and maintaining this internationally-recognized credential propels a manager’s career forward, allowing for more advanced career opportunities and salaries that, on average, are 20 percent higher than non-credentialed managers. To get started and to learn more about the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning course, visit www.camicb.org.

Here’s the Wrong Way to Handle a Noise Complaint in a Co-op

Andrew P. Brucker in Legal/Financial for HABITAT magazine

Fights between neighbors involving noise complaints are common in co-ops and condos, but when such disputes escalate into lawsuits, they do not often end up in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. However, the case of Silverman v. Park Towers Tenants Corp. did just that. In addition, this case had a ripple effect when another resident was added as a third-party defendant and drawn into the fray.

Park Towers acts to evict. Michael and Deborah Toussie own an apartment in Park Towers, a co-op in Gramercy Park. Their daughter, Danielle Toussie, lived alone in the apartment. The Silvermans, who live next door, alleged that Danielle regularly played music too loudly and slammed doors, and that she and her parents engaged in harassing conduct. Based upon the Silvermans’ complaints to the co-op board and to management about the Toussies’ alleged objectionable conduct, Park Towers brought an eviction action against the Toussies.

A round robin of lawsuits. The Silvermans also brought an action against the Toussies for nuisance and against Danielle for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. The Silvermans also brought an action against Park Towers for not stopping the activities of the Toussies. The Toussies counterclaimed for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The Toussies brought in as a third-party defendant another neighbor on the floor, Mei Yei Mak, who was a close friend of the Silvermans, claiming Mak contributed to their harassment. Then the Toussies brought an action against the co-op, claiming the board had no right to bring an eviction action against them based on the Silvermans’ false complaints.

Mak made a motion to dismiss the Toussies’ counterclaim, which alleged that she engaged in a “deliberate, systematic and malicious campaign of harassment and intimidation” against Danielle in concert with the Silvermans. The “campaign” allegedly included obtaining unauthorized access to Danielle’s private Instagram account, accosting and yelling at her in common areas, taking photos of her without her permission, and making false noise complaints about her to the board.

What happened in court. The court considered the various elements of a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress: extreme and outrageous conduct; intent to cause, or disregard of a substantial probability of causing, severe emotional distress; a causal connection between the conduct and the injury; and severe emotional distress. The court stated that the conduct must be “utterly intolerable in a civilized community.” The court also noted that where an individual act may not qualify, a longstanding campaign of deliberate, systematic and malicious harassment is actionable.

The court held that while the Toussies alleged enough outrageous conduct so as to make their claims against the Silvermans plausible (though not yet proven), it rejected Mak’s motion to dismiss the harassment claims against her. Mak appealed the decision. The Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court ruling, with a modification: it held that the court should have dismissed the counterclaim against Mak for negligent infliction of emotional distress and only allowed the action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court held that since the Toussies did not allege that Mak had any legal obligations to them, the negligence claim must fail.

Lessons to be learned. When a board steps in to try to resolve an issue between residents, it might find itself named as a defendant. Likewise, if a neighbor gets involved by, say, sending correspondence to the board, the neighbor may also get drawn into the case. It is only logical to assume that the more parties added, the more time and money they will have to expend and that animosity will increase.

Attorneys:

For appellant: Erik Groothuis of counsel, Schlam Stone & Dolan, New York

For respondents: Bruce H. Wiener of counsel, Warshaw Burstein, New York 

Andrew P. Brucker is a partner at the law firm Armstrong Teasdale. The statements and views in this article are his own and not necessarily those of the firm.


How a Madison Avenue Co-op Finally Got a Flip Tax Passed

By Carol Ott for Habitat Magazine

It’s a tricky dilemma for co-op and condo boards. A healthy reserve fund has always been a high priority, and in the wake of the Florida condominium collapse, lenders are scrutinizing those funds like never before. Yet a primary means for replenishing reserves — a flip tax on apartment sales — usually requires approval by a two-thirds super majority of shareholders or unit-owners, a dauntingly high bar.

Case in point: the board at a 118-unit co-op on Madison Avenue tried to pass a flip tax, also known as a transfer fee, four times without success. One of the main reasons the board continued to fail, says president Kathy Kahng, was the makeup of the building’s residents. More than half of the apartments were studios, and the average shareholder stayed about five years.

“If you know you’re only going to be here for a couple of years, what do you care about a transfer fee?” Kahng says. “Residents said, ‘Just charge me the assessment. I’m not voting for a transfer fee. I’m moving soon.’”

But in 2018, a confluence of events encouraged the board to try again. These included a mandatory building facade project growing in scope; more studio apartment owners buying neighboring apartments and combining them with their own, thus becoming more invested in the co-op’s long-term prospects; and the anticipation of an upcoming million-dollar elevator modernization project.

“We sent out letters, held meetings, knocked on doors and all that stuff,” Kahng recalls. But at the annual meeting the vote fell slightly short of the two-thirds of shares necessary for approval. With that result, the board changed its strategy. “We decided to focus on the 25 or 30 apartments that didn’t vote,” Kahng says

The board crafted a new message that carried a stick and a carrot. It told the shareholders that it was going to have to impose a hefty assessment to pay for the facade and elevator work, but if it could secure the votes of a few more apartments to approve the flip tax, the board would be able to reduce the assessment by 25%.