We know the importance of what we do. This is where people live – where they call home – and these homes often represent the investments of a lifetime. We work hard for our associations, protecting the values of these investments and safeguarding the envisioned quality of community living with a drive and enthusiasm as if we lived there ourselves.
We take our jobs seriously at JCHiggins and Associates because this is serious business. We manage hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property and we know each property is one of the most important investments a person makes. With such an important task it helps when member records are up to date and members know the current status of their accounts. Furthermore, being knowledgeable about the governing documents is crucial to understanding what is expected from each member by the association. This can help the property owners become better association members, which in turn helps the community association maximize its potential.
Below you will find fields to request a current statement, update contact information, as well as an introduction to community association basics and a short question and answer section for common concerns.
If you live in one of our managed communities and would like to access information specific to your association please type and enter your association’s name in the search box and choose from the drop down list.
The following is a brief introduction to the basics of community associations and their management. Although this introduction doesn’t cover everything, it discusses the main principles so as to help those who are unfamiliar with associations better understand community association living and what is involved. We hope you find the following information useful.
Condominium and homeowners’ associations are created to establish and maintain the envisioned quality and sense of community living as outlined by the governing documents of the association by maintaining the physical assets, managing association finances, enforcing rules, keeping and safeguarding the documents, records, and files of the association, and planning for the future of the community. Protecting property values of the common areas as well as those for the privately owned lots or units are a major goal and benefit of any properly managed community association, and the community association, through its board of directors, directs the day to day functions of the association and the management thereof toward these ends. The responsibilities of a community association are various and many, and include, but are not limited to: maintain the common areas (used or shared by and beneficial to all) and in some instances limited common areas (used by or beneficial to more than one but not all); maintain community amenities like private roads, vehicle gates, play fields, green belts, walking trails, swimming pools, clubhouses, ball courts, and the like; forecast and budget for future maintenance, improvements, or replacement expenses; solicit competitive bids and manage and supervise vendors; assess and collect dues and pay bills; monitor, control, and document expenses and income; reconcile and balance bank statements; work with the association’s certified public accountant on annual audits; act as the legal custodian of the community association’s records; help ensure the association has the proper insurance and required licensure; have a working knowledge of applicable real estate laws and regulations; conduct periodic site and violation inspections, issue and mail violation letters and other correspondences to members; levy fines and apply late fees; cause application of property liens and in rare instances foreclosures; serve proper notice of and conduct regular, special, and annual meetings; field and document member complaints, requests, and questions; help deliver ACC requests from members to the ACC (Architectural Control Committee – community volunteers who help regulate member changes to their property); and enforce the community’s rules reasonably, fairly, and equally.
The governing documents of the association contain specifics about how the association is to be created, operated, and dissolved. These important documents consist of but are not limited to: the Articles of Incorporation; the By-Laws; and the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (also known as the CC&R’s). These documents are most often initiated by the original developer of the property (also known as the declarant) who is also usually the first board of directors of an association. A newly developed community’s association remains under developer/declarant control until a certain date or until a certain number or percentage of units or lots are sold. Once allowed or required by the governing documents control of the association is transferred to the general membership who then elects a board who then makes the decision to keep the current declarant hired management (if any was used), hire a different company, or to self manage. Some even opt for what’s called “financial only” management where a management company or accounting firm does only the accounting functions for the association without any actual management of property or physical assets.
The Articles of Incorporation legally creates the nonprofit association itself. It names the association, lists original directors, discusses director indemnification and limits their liability, and discusses procedures to dissolve the association. The By-Laws are mainly concerned with procedural rules, especially those about meetings, elections, and voting. The Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s) define the limitations and requirements of what an individual member can’t and must do with their property. For most members the most important and pertinent things to know are found in the CC&R’s. Some communities also have Rules and Regulations (also called R&R’s) or a Good Neighbor Policy (also known as the GNP) either of which usually further define the limitations and requirements in the CC&R’s and might also establish a fine structure for repeated CC&R rule violations and late fees for fine nonpayment. Being familiar with the governing documents of the association, especially the CC&R’s or R&R’s/GNP, will greatly help members understand what is expected of them and will help them to better understand the envisioned quality of community living as set forth by the governing documents of their community.
The board of directors is generally made up of four members; president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. The president represents the board before the membership and is kind of the CEO of the board. They usually set meeting agendas and preside at all board meetings. They generally can execute legal documents for the association and they might have the right to select or nominate committee chairpersons, depending on the association. The vice president performs the president’s duties in their absence and shares some of the burden of the president. The secretary ensures meeting agendas are prepared and distributed and that meeting minutes and any related materials mentioned in the minutes are prepared. They ensure they or the manager maintains the official records properly and receives, verifies, attests to (swears to their legitimacy), and maintains voting proxies. The treasurer ensures annual operating budget is prepared and submitted for approval and ensures that all financial records and lists of delinquent accounts are maintained. The treasurer makes recommendations in regard to collections, receives and disburses funds, ensures the preparation of financial reports, and authorizes independent audits. If there is a professional manager, they are likely to prepare these documents but the treasurer is ultimately responsible for them.
Some boards of directors are willing and able to spend the time to become very knowledgeable and involved, and do a great job managing their communities without using a management company. However, most find using a professional association management company the best route and enjoy this helps save them valuable personal time and insulates them from certain, possibly uncomfortable, tasks. For example, not everyone wants to collect dues from or enforce rules to their neighbors and a management company can really ease the volunteer board’s exposure in these regards. Moreover, a good management company will be an experienced, knowledgeable, and professional independent third party administrative specialist who helps ensure the continuity and consistency of association management as envisioned by the governing documents as control of the association and priorities change from board to board.
Each community association is different and it’s important its members have at least a working knowledge of their association’s specific governing documents. Simply due to the fact that one lives or owns a property in a community with an association each member (including tenants and guests) agrees to have acknowledged receipt of and to abide by the governing documents - especially the CC&R’s. All members should have been provided a copy of the governing documents at or before closing the sale of their property. If a property is an allowed rental (some communities have limits) it is highly advisable for the association member to explicitly provide their tenant with at least a copy of the CC&R’s/Rules and Regulations/Good Neighbor Policy and ensure they know and agree to follow them by incorporating the pertinent association documents into the signed rental agreement or lease as a part of the agreement terms or as an acknowledged exhibit or otherwise ensure the lease or rental agreement is in congruence with the CC&R’s. This can help make the tenant a better tenant, the property owner a better association member, and can help all to better enjoy community association living.
If you have the time please become involved in your community association and attend meetings, offer your ideas, share and discuss issues, and even volunteer if possible. It can be a very rewarding experience. Also, please thank your current board members and community volunteers when you have the chance. They do a tremendous service for the community and often it goes underappreciated.
Below you will find online forms to update account status and contact information, and a general question and answer section for very common community association member concerns. We hope you are able to become involved in your community association, and maybe we’ll see you at a meeting soon.
Q: What if my neighbor’s dog is barking excessively or running loose?
A: Please try communicating directly with your neighbor (remember a friendly approach and kind words can go a long way). If that doesn’t work, please send an email to your association and call the animal control agency for your area. Animal control has authority beyond what the association has and may be able to address your concern more directly. Some animal control will require a barking dog to be barking consistently for a certain amount of time before they consider it a reportable issue.
Q: What if a neighbor is having a loud party or event?
A: Please try communicating directly with your neighbor (again, please remember a friendly approach and kind words can go a long way). While the association may enforce against a nuisance within the community for violating noise ordinances or quiet hours, it is not really equipped to put an end to an unruly party. Noise issues are also a civil matter which may be addressed by the appropriate police or public safety agency. Most have specific policies: The Pierce County Sheriff’s office has informed us that they will investigate and come ask the offenders to “turn it down” if at least three different neighbors call them and as long as they are not all assigned to higher level emergencies at the time. They ask that homeowners please be patient and they will do what they can to help as deputy availability allows. Again, please check with the appropriate policing agency for your area as policies do differ.
Q: What if you are going to have a large party or event?
A: Please kindly inform your neighbors of the party (or even invite them) well before hand and ask them to let you know if you get too loud. Also, make sure no guest vehicles block driveways, parks illegally, or otherwise parks in violation of the rules of the association.
Q: So, just who cleans up the trash around here anyway?
A: Generally, trash pickup in our society is everyone’s responsibility. As we were (or should have been) taught growing up, if you see something laying on the ground please pick it up and dispose of it. If you walk by garbage and everyone else walks by it, it will never get picked up. And what you haul in you haul out. If you have a can, bottle, candy wrapper or other trash don’t just toss it on the ground - please throw it in a trash can or take it with you. The 1970’s litter free campaign ad on T.V. was “pitch in”. Just so you know; when the landscaper is in the community mowing, blowing, etc., they pick up whatever trash they see. Even so, since they only visit periodically it helps if we all “pitch in”. We all must do our part to keep our communities looking beautiful.
Q: Where is the property line between my neighbor’s house and mine?
A: All property disputes between neighbors are individual private matters which must be worked out between those neighbors. Property lines are a matter of legal record and you may need to have an official survey performed by a certified surveyor to obtain exact information. Unfortunately, the association or management company cannot help you with or give advice regarding these matters.
Q: Who is responsible if a tree, leaves, or branches fall on my property?
A: It depends. This is an uncontrollable act of nature and the reason homeowners need to have proper property insurance. Please contact your insurance agent to confirm what is covered on your policy.
According to the professionals, cleanup is the responsibility of the homeowner whose property the tree, branches - or anything blown in by nature really - falls onto. Sometimes the property owner from where the debris came from will bear some responsibility but that can be limited as these events are usually sudden and accidental uncontrollable acts of nature.
If you should notice a tree that appears to be leaning, diseased, dying, or dead, and you have concerns you should inform the property owner where the tree is in writing right away so that they can have the tree checked by a certified arborist. If you live near a greenbelt please send your concern and a photo by email to your association or association manager. If the greenbelt is owned by the association, we will send an arborist out to make an assessment.
Q: I’ve lost my mailbox key. What do I do now?
A: The association does not maintain any mailbox keys other than to conduct the initial key disbursement for certain situations like when a CBU (cluster box unit – those big banks of 4 to 16 or more locking boxes usually stacked on a pedestal and bolted to a concrete pad) is replaced. If you have misplaced your keys or the lock is no longer working you will need to purchase a new mailbox lock (most hardware stores carry them) and coordinate with the postal carrier to gain access to your mailbox to replace the lock. You may also hire a locksmith to perform the replacement for you.