Lifestyle Blog

Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Over 30 years experience in property and community association management Professional Community Association Manager through the Community Association Institute (CAI) Former GM/CEO of a large-scale association: mixed-use commercial, residential and recreational Contributor to HOALeader.com National industry experience

Recent Posts

Every HOA Needs a Gardening Policy for Planting in Common Areas

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Jul 17, 2019 8:01:00 AM

Each year many owners want their beautification efforts to extend beyond their private yards. Without a gardening policy for common areas, an HOA is likely to experience one of two undesirable outcomes. The HOA board has to take on the time-consuming task of approving plantings on a case-by-case basis. Since there's no policy, the board runs the risk that owners will complain decisions are arbitrary. The other possibility in the absence of a policy is owners will plant whatever they desire in common areas. Then disputes arise among neighbors. What one owner considers beautiful is seen as an eyesore by another. Clearly, every HOA needs a gardening policy for common areas. 

Considerations for Your Policy

An HOA may choose to ban owners from planting in common areas. While that is a legitimate option, each HOA has to decide if an outright prohibition is consistent with the environment it's trying to cultivate in its community. A ban may send an unintended message that this is just a place to live rather than a community. 

To give your owners adequate guidance, the gardening policy needs to be explicit on what can or cannot be planted in common areas. The HOA may decide on a few general guidelines such as:

  • Forbidding the planting of trees, shrubs, or edible plants
  • Only allowing plants that grow to a certain height
  • Restricting plantings to annuals
  • The community will remove plants that aren't being cared for
  • The community removes all plants at the end of the growing season 

However, the HOA may want extremely specific regulations to maintain the look of the community. For instance, a gardening policy may list permitted annuals and perennials. Some policies indicate what color plants are allowed.

All policies should include a section on enforcement. A common way to enforce violations is to fine the homeowner for what it costs the HOA to repair the damage his or her policy violation has caused. Being specific can avoid future misunderstandings and complaints of arbitrary enforcement. For example, if a homeowner will be fined for the replacement of the entire weed barrier for breaking it by planting in a prohibited area, the policy should say so.

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Topics: HOA | Condo Amenity and Common Areas

Maximizing Pool Use in Active Adult Communities: Ideas for Fun, Exercise, and Engagement

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on May 22, 2019 7:56:00 AM

Active adult communities are developing creative ways to keep residents happy and healthy by maximizing the use of onsite pools. The buoyancy of the water provides a low-impact way for residents to exercise and to relax. Whether your community has an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, or both, stepping up use of the pool creates fun for everyone.

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Improving Your HOA Experience with Renters: Welcome, Inform, and Include

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Feb 27, 2019 8:04:00 AM

Moving to a new home is often a stressful experience. Learning to meet new people, and in the case of an HOA, learning new rules can easily overwhelm anyone.  When the new neighbor is renting, welcoming them is just as important as if they had purchased the home. Renters can become invested members of an HOA when they are made to feel welcomed, kept informed, and included within their new community. Here are several ways to assure your new renters are happy with their decision:

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Tips for Winter Landscaping HOA Common Areas

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Nov 28, 2018 8:09:00 AM

Winter landscaping is a great way to enhance the natural beauty of the season. From adding shrubs that produce a pop of color to focusing on hardscapes—like benches and garden structures—you can make your HOA common areas beautiful and inviting this winter. Use the following tips to get started:

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Does Your Community Association Fitness Program Need Upgraded?

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Sep 5, 2018 8:09:00 AM

If you are considering just buying a few weight machines and a few stationary bikes or treadmills and saying, "We have a fitness center in our community"... think again!

Residents are now looking for a much more diversified experience that meets their personal fitness needs. This means you will need to cater to everyone from the yogis to the cardio bunnies to the power lifters - and everyone in between.

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Condo Associations: On-Site Building Staff Roles & Responsibilities

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Aug 1, 2018 8:03:00 AM

 If you live in a condominium or high-rise, chances are you pass on-site building staff at some point during your day. From doorman to porters, each play an important role in front, and behind, the scenes. Learning more about the staff and their roles and responsibilities helps in understanding what it takes to keep a property properly running.

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Community Golf Course? Some Things to Consider

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Jul 25, 2018 8:06:00 AM

"Golf" communities have historically been amongst the most popular specialist recreational communities. In the 1990s, many communities were developed around golf courses, and buyers would pay a premium.

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Let's Play Ball - How to Accommodate Pickleball as Well as Tennis

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Jul 11, 2018 8:02:00 AM

Many associations have tennis courts, which are a popular amenity with active adults. However, a new sport is on the rise - pickleball - and only the most recent developments are built to allow space for both.

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Seven Essential Steps to Change Your HOA's CC&R Agreements

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Mar 14, 2018 8:01:00 AM

Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions are rulesets established by a neighborhood, homeowners association, builder, or developer. These legal documents explain the responsibilities of the Homeowner Association and its property owners.

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An Easy Guide to Understanding Board Member Term Limits: Pros & Cons

Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Mar 7, 2018 8:01:00 AM

Having a great board of directors for an HOA or condo association is vitally important to an association's success. Responsible for governing the association's budget and needs, members who are willing to serve and to work together is invaluable: just how long they serve is a matter for discussion. Are term limits good or bad for association board members? Is it better to bring in new ideas or is it better to keep those with experience. Several states have specific laws regarding term limits and whether they are allowed. Not all states have laws regarding this so when in doubt, consult your state's laws regarding associations and boards. Here's an easy guide to understanding the pros and cons of board member term limits:

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