When should condo communities buy services in bulk? When co-op condos buy services, such as insurance, in bulk, the savings can be hefty. The Villas on the Bay, a 42-unit condominium in Long Island, N.Y., switched to bulk liability and property insurance and saved about $20,000 a year, but not all bulk purchases are a good idea. Choosing the cheapest contractor or landscaper, for example, could be a detrimental mistake for the community. Habitat magazine online
Courts, co-ops crack down on smoking residents More condo and co-op board members are turning their communities into smoke-free living spaces in order to save money from increased property maintenance that smokers create in their units. Property managers must often spend more time and money steam cleaning carpets, sweeping up cigarette butts and more frequently washing the windows. In addition, courts around the country are requiring smokers to install special ventilation systems and thicker insulation to prevent secondhand smoke from reaching their neighbors. Habitat magazine online
FHA cancels stricter requirements for mortgage applicants The Federal Housing Administration has rescinded tough credit restrictions that would have made it difficult for some borrowers to secure low-down-payment loans. The policy change, which was supposed to go into effect on July 1, would have forced applicants who have any outstanding unpaid bills totaling $1,000 or more to resolve those issues before approval. Some mortgage industry experts say that if the policy went through, about 1 in 3 FHA loan applicants would struggle to get approval, which may have put a damper on an already fragile housing market. The Washington Post
Condo residents want to ban pesticide use in community Condo residents at the Society Hill community in Basking Ridge, N.J., are fighting against the association’s decision to bring back the use of lawn pesticides which contain Trimec 922, which some believe contain carcinogens. Members of the Society Hill HOA say the pesticides are safe and they are merely trying to upkeep the property to maintain home values, but several residents are hoping Basking Ridge’s Township Committee will strike down the use of the chemicals within the city limits. Patch.com
12 steps HOAs should take to prepare for hurricane season Tropical Storm Debby’s early foray into Florida should come as a reminder to HOAs to review their policies regarding natural disasters. Wendy Murray, president and CEO of Associa Gulf Coast, outlines 12 steps HOAs should take — from disaster plans, evacuation routes, and acquiring emergency generators and supplies — to prepare their communities for a possible severe storm. Examiner.com
States seek to protect First Amendment Rights in Assoc. Last month, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 5-1 that a condominium owner could place election signs on his front door and side window of his townhome over the objections of his association. Several states have taken steps to safeguard the rights of those living in common interest ownership communities to express themselves via signage. Where does your state stand? Florida may consider rules of its own. Sun Sentinel.com
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