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Community Management During Covid-19

Property Management During Covid -19

These are trying times indeed!  Due to the nation-wide pandemic, state mandated stay-at-home orders continue to be extended with no definitive end in sight. We are faced with many challenges due to this crisis:

  • Residents are finding that it can be difficult maintaining physical distancing while in elevators, stair wells, and common hallways.
  • Many communities have established requirements that masks and gloves be worn at all times when in common areas.
  • Residents have been asked (and in some cases required) to limit visitations by non-residents, put interior unit repairs on hold, and require deliveries be left in foyers or entryways vs. being delivered to the units.
  • The Use of common area amenities such as clubhouses and fitness rooms have been restricted or eliminated.
  • Communities with Swimming Pools face the uncertainty of whether they will be able to open the pool(s) for the season.

As we all navigate these “new normal” challenges, many positive opportunities have also been realized:

  • Property Managers and Trustees are learning and utilizing new technologies to hold meetings (video conferencing and conference calling) to ensure the continued maintenance and operation of their communities.
  • Exterior maintenance and repairs projects can be undertaken with less disruption to residents due to residents saying home.
  • Residents are becoming more aware of their surroundings and how their actions and behaviors effect their neighbors.

This pandemic will not last forever but, hopefully, the lessons we learn through this will.

Be Safe.

The Impact of In-Unit Modifications

Most condominium Unit Owners feel that what they do within the walls of their unit is nobody’s business but their own, and to an extent they are correct.  The Association, however, is responsibility for maintaining the common elements within the community which can often be affected by “in-unit” work. 

Below are several scenarios to consider:

  • A contractor installing a sink accidentally damages a shared water line which then floods multiple units.
  • Plumbing work within a unit requires the water to be shut off within the building while a repair is made effecting all residents.
  • A painter drops a can of paint which explodes all throughout the common hallway.
  • A window installer tramples and kills the common landscaping, shrubbery and flowers beneath a window.

As benign as all these projects appear, within each of these scenarios there is a great impact on other residents as well as the common elements.  

For these reasons, it is important to notify your Trustees and/or Managing agent so they can ensure that the contractors working within the community are licensed (when necessary) and insured.

It’s Budget Time!

If your community’s fiscal year ends on December 31st, it should come as no surprise that soon your Community Manager and Board Trustees will begin planning for next year’s budget.

The preparation of an association’s budget is a detailed and lengthy process. They have a lot of work ahead of them.  Over the next few months, managers will be tackling the process outlined below:

  1. Analyze each current expenditure line item to determine the correct level of funding. This process must consider fixed expenses such as multi year service contracts; variable expenses such as increased master insurance premiums, increases in utility costs, and so forth.  This can be a time-consuming process which entails communicating with various municipalities, vendors, and contracts to determine if any cost increases are to be expected.
  2. Determine the appropriate Reserve Funding expense. A recent reserve study is an invaluable tool to help your community determine this expense and stay on track with the appropriate level of funding for future capital expense needs.
  3. Determine income level to fund expenses. Association fees, special assessments, late fee income, income from late fees, storage fees, parking fees, and laundry room income are all examples of income for communities.  Your community may use any, some or all these methods to collect income, but which should be “budgeted”?

Association fees and assessments are legally protected and should be included as should any other fees provided for within the governing documents.  Fees such as late fees, fines and laundry room income should not be included as income in a budget as funds generated from these fees may never be realized.

  1. Determine the difference between the budgeted income and budgeted expense. If the total expenses exceed anticipated income, adjustments will need to be made.
  2. Establish a balanced budget. This may be achieved by either raising the income level (this can be done through an increase in assessments, establishment of a special assessment to meet funding needs, or a combination of both to achieve the amount required) or re-assess expenditure line items to determine if some items may be reduced or eliminated from the budget.

As you can see, the process for creating a thorough and detailed budget can be complicated and should simply rely upon a percentage increase across the board.  If your current Management Company is not providing this detail for you, perhaps it’s time for you to give us a call.

Crowninshield Management is on the Move!

Exciting things are happening at Crowninshield Management and we want to share some important news with you!  Loyalty from clients like you has fueled our growth and assisted to increase our presence as the North Shore’s premiere Property Management Company.

It has been two years in the making and now Crowninshield is proud to announce that we have purchased the building located at 9 Atlantic Avenue Marblehead, MA 01945 and will be moving to this new location on June 24, 2019.

This new location offers larger floor space and room for growth, more comfortable furnishings, private gated parking area, and is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Marblehead.

Please update our mailing address in your files.  Our contact numbers will remain the same and you can continue to email us at the Crowninshield email you have on file.

We are excited about the future of Crowninshield and we hope you are too!

Two Victory Road Apartments on the Lynn/Salem Line Feature Community Room, Gym and Services

Senior couple sitting together hand in hand on the sofa. happy mature couple looking relaxed and content together.

Two Victory Road Apartments on the Lynn/Salem line is an ideal home for seniors looking for an independent community. The convenient forty unit property features a community room and gym. Along with the enhanced spaces, Two Victory Road Apartments offers activities organized by a resident service coordinator.

The bright community room features a kitchen, new furnishings and a large screen television. Residents help create and enjoy an ongoing activities calendar featuring a Senior Wellness Program as well as recreational activities and educational workshops. Seniors looking for a home, rather than an apartment will thrive with the new amenities and services at Two Victory Road Apartments. The goal is to create a vibrant community where seniors can enjoy healthful living and activities.

“The state-of-the-art community room, combined with programs and activities which are overseen by an on-site coordinator plus private home services create a wonderful community for senior residents. Crowninshield Management continues to strive, and be successful, at staying ahead of the curve in creating thriving residential living communities,” says Susan MacNeil, RSC Program Manager and Quality Assurance Consultant.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Spring is a great time to replant and refresh

A great number of condominiums in the Boston area were built in the late 1970’s and 1980’s at a time when landscaping was given little thought other than to attract buyers at the entry. Consequently many of the outdoor areas are in need of an update. Here are seven fast tips to help your garden grow.

Professionals
Make sure your landscaping is being maintained by a professional landscaper. Professional and uniform landscaping are the hallmarks of a well-managed property.

Repot with resilient varieties
Remove old weather damaged plantings and replace with today’s garden varieties that are more resilient to our climate, disease and more appropriate for residential communities.

Think low maintenance
Plants that are native to the region are a great bet.  Along with saving time because they are lower maintenance, you will also save water.

Consider dwarf varieties
Tight on space?  Many professional landscapers recommend using any number of dwarf varieties to replace your old plantings.

Install hardscapes
Looking to create architectural interest in your garden? Consider structures such as terraces, walls and paths. These areas can be constructed of wood, stone, brick or concrete. Walkways are a lovely way to inspire residents to peacefully meander through gardens.

Clean bird baths
Remember to clean and disinfect bird baths. Also after thoroughly disinfecting and cleaning bird baths rinse and refill with fresh water weekly.

Consider landscape lighting
Illuminating beautiful landscaped gardens creates a wonderful ambience to light up the lives of your residents.

Crowninshield Management Corp. and All Care VNA Create Wellness Program to Help Seniors Age in Place

wellnessctrResidents of Kings Beach Towers in Lynn and Tannery II in Peabody have a reason to celebrate healthy living this fall thanks to a new program launched by the property management company, Crowninshield Management Corp. The Wellness Program is the brainchild of Crowninshield President Deborah Collier-Comins and Sue MacNeil, Program Manager for the Resident Service Coordinator programs at these sites.  This partnership was developed with All Care VNA, a leading health care provider in the greater North Shore. Crowninshield Management is dedicated to finding ways to help seniors age in place. “It is so fulfilling to see seniors enjoying life at our properties. Our goal is to enable them to continue living life to the fullest at home by bringing them needed services, thus avoiding having to go onto higher levels of care. The Wellness Program will offer residents education and access to professionals who will empower them to stay healthy and safe in their own homes,” said Collier-Comins.

Residents of Kings Beach Towers in Lynn and Tannery II of Peabody, recently attended community meetings at their properties where the Wellness Program was explained by Sue MacNeil of Crowninshield Management Corp. and All Care VNA staffers Lana Durocher, Mary Sullivan and Mary Donovan. Along with refreshments and a tour of the newly created Wellness Center at each property, residents were given a handout about the program and an opportunity to ask questions. The residents received the program with great enthusiasm.

Highlights of the program include:

  • education and wellness workshops on topics such as Managing Diabetes, Dealing with Chronic Pain, Strength Training, Balance,
  • 24/7 access to healthcare assistance
  • specific hours at Wellness Center staffed by a registered nurse, and
  • health clinics such as flu shots and blood pressure checks and other immunizations.

All residents were encouraged to fill out a health tracker with pertinent medical information so that the Wellness team can best assist them in managing their care. “Our goal is to allow our residents to enjoy the highest quality of life in the comfort and security of their own homes. We are so excited to partner with All Care VNA to deliver this program at Kings Beach Towers and Tannery II. By adding this new component to our long lists of amenities, it helps us further achieve our ultimate goal of providing a Full Service Living Senior Housing Community,” says Collier-Comins.

Software Project Manager Finds Flexibility and Family at Crowninshield

2hA1q_pl84qOd6C3myb_WKHqNuoYhdioPiEesdGMQK4When Tina Phinney joined the Crowninshield Managament Corporation over two decades ago, she loved the family feel of the company under the leadership of Larry Collier. Although times have changed, Tina was hired as an Accounts Receivable Manager, she still likes the warm feeling she has when she comes to work. “Although Crownishield has grown since I first began, it still feels like a family,” says Tina.

Doing “a little bit of everything” at Crowninshield

She is currently the Software Project Manager where she gets to do “a little bit of everything.” “We feel fortunate to have Tina as part of the Crowninshield team. She takes enormous pride in her work and is a true perfectionist. Our clients and staff greatly benefit from her expertise and energy,” says Deborah Collier-Comins, Crowninshield Management Corp. President.

Supporting the Crowninshield Team

Tina is presently working on implementing a paperless Accounts Payable automation system as well as supporting the Crowninshield team on various projects. Tina and her husband Stephen reside in Malden and have a daughter Jessica.

Crowninshield Employees Enjoy Team Building on the Ipswich River

Babe Ruth astutely summed up the importance of team building when discussing the game of baseball when he said, ”The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Baseball is like Business…

The same principles that build successful baseball teams also apply to creating prosperous businesses. Since its founding over forty years ago, Crowninshield Management Corp. has encouraged its staff to participate in company outings and team building events to better understand how the many departments can work together as a problem solving unit for its clients.

Team Building: Sports & Employees

In the spirit of team building, employees of Crowninshield Management Corp. enjoyed a kayak excursion on the Ipswich River. All employees of Crowninshield were invited to take place in the kayaking event in an effort to promote team building and boost employee morale . Employees who did not want to participate in the kayaking or were unable to joined the group for an afternoon luncheon on the river.

Team Building Activities Go a Long Way

Crowninshield has many departments within its property management company including an accounting department, a condo division, a commercial division and an apartment division. The Ipswich River outing which started in Ipswich and went to Topsfield and Middleton included a kayak excursion followed by lunch. The experience was enjoyed by many members of the Crowninshield team fueling the team with great energy and ideas to bring to their job each day!

KAYAKING1   KAYAKING3   KAYAKING4

Crowninshield VP, Jared McNabb, Talks About Smoking Communities

Jared-McNabb-Picture-1

A couple of years ago, I was working with a condominium community comprised of 150 units. The property, a traditional mid-rise complex, had shared hallways and common areas.It came to our attention that several unit owners were being impacted by second-hand smoke resulting from unit owners smoking in their units. Given the close proximity and structure of the complex, non-smokers were being bothered by the odor of the smoke and concerned about the potential health risks.

First Step: Getting a Sense of the Community Feeling

As the complaints mounted, the condominium board of directors realized it had a fiduciary responsibility to deal with the growing problem. The first step was to conduct an informal survey to see if there was an interest in making the complex a smoke-free community. Most condos restrict smoking in common areas where the board of directors has the ability to dictate rules and regulations. In Massachusetts the board of directors does not have the authority to regulate behavior within the units and this type of change would have to be implemented as an amendment to the master deed. All homeowners would have to be involved in changing the amendment which would take a 75% majority to change.

Survey Drafted & Distributed

Prior to engaging in the legal legwork of putting together an amendment, the board of directors wanted to get a sense of the community’s feelings about creating an amendment that would prohibit smoking in the units. A survey was drafted and distributed with the results showing it was worthwhile to pursue making the entire complex smoke free.

Next Step: Drafting an Amendment

We then worked with the property’s attorney to draft an amendment. If the amendment passed, it would not be implemented for six months. In advance of distributing the amendment, we held three meetings to answer any questions and allow the residents to air their concerns. The meetings illuminated that the issue was quite controversial and went beyond the issue of prohibiting smoking, but raised concerns about residents’ rights. One board member commented, “Where there’s smoke, there’s ire!” Ultimately we did not have enough participation to pass the amendment.

Revisiting the Issue

After about a year, a group of homeowners raised the issue again. Citing health concern, the cadre of residents raised their voices louder. The board of directors dusted off the amendment and distributed it to homeowners. Due to increased lobbying by homeowners, there was more participation and the amendment passed.

Final Step: After 6-Month Delay, Amendment Goes Into Effect

After a six month delay, the amendment went into effect and the complex has been smoke free for over two years. Occasionally there is a violation, but for the most part the community has embraced the new policy. As more condos are developed, the smoke free mandate has become a regular part of the original by-laws.

Now that the state is permitting the legalization of medical marijuana, many communities will have a new issue to examine…