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Are your pools running?

Our client pools are all running and inspected - right in time for the Memorial Day weekend! We manage 30 pools each year without incident, is your management firm behind in opening your pool? Give us a call!

Shawmut to oversee 1.6 million dollar capital project - BOSTON

Shawmut Property Management LLC, will begin a large scale capital project at one of our client sites in June of 2012. The scope of the project will include installation of a new facade for two large buildings and structural renovations to exterior balconies. Negotiations are underway with several contractors and the management team. The Board and management are working hand in hand with a structural engineer and architect to ensure the project goes as planned.

Working closely with a local lender, Shawmut was able to obtain a loan for the community to move forward with this project. In working with the Board, Shawmut placed a site manager who has extensive construction knowledge to assist in overseeing the project day to day.

With our call-blast and property notification systems, along with dedicated site staff - Shawmut aims to limit the inconveniences to the property during this project. We are pleased to begin work on this high profile project and look forward to a great outcome for our client!

Collection of Condo Dues

In every community, the collection of condominium or HOA fees is essential to paying bills and supplying the residents with required services. Without each resident paying their dues each month, the community as a whole will suffer. In some extreme cases, critical services may need to be terminated, leading to major drops in property value and unsafe conditions.

In taking over a self-managed community we occasionally find a series of poor decisions has lead to disastrous results. Board members have no choice but to collect past due fees, it is part of your responsibility as a community leader. With our Board member training, you can learn more about your fiduciary responsibility to your community.

At Shawmut we process your communities condo fee checks every day to ensure timely payment of vendor bills. Your vendors supply critical services and cannot wait for payments. Vendors such as utility companies, elevator companies and insurance provide legally required services which residents rely on every day. In the unfortunate event a resident stops paying their required monthly dues, it is up to us to initiate the collection process.

In many instances the collection process is fraught with difficult legislation that puts your community at a disadvantage, that is why it is critical a proven process be followed and expert collection lawyers be used to process delinquent accounts. By curbing past due fees, a community gains lower condominium and HOA dues and maintains strong working relationships with important vendors.

Boston's largest condo goes smoke free!

The largest residential condominium in Boston goes totally smoke free!

http://articles.boston.com/2012-03-21/metro/31215616_1_smoking-ban-smoking-in-common-areas-cigarette-smoke

Board Code of Conduct

Does your association Board suffer from a lack of leadership, or failure to act because of damaging community politics? Many associations fall prey to individual Board members with a personal agenda. Like an SUV headed the wrong way on the highway, this kind of behavior causes tremendous damage in communities. Our clients have turned to us to assist with dysfunctional Board members. Contact us today to review, Shawmut can assist your community in developing a Board Code of Conduct.

What should (and should not) be in your community minutes

Keeping minutes is not only good practice, in most cases, its the law. Keeping minutes can be daunting, and at times the Board may want to editorialize. Its important to only record the business of the meeting and the votes. Minutes should not contain dialogue or subjective language. For more information click below:

What not to put in meeting minutes!

Annual Meetings and Community Governing Documents

For most condominium associations, a new year usually means scheduling an annual meeting of unit owners. Annual meetings are great forums for owners to get together and discuss topics of interest with their Boards of Trustees, such as new operating budgets or planned maintenance. In gearing up for the annual meeting, it is important to touch up on ones knowledge of condominium documents.

The Master Deed – also known as the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions – is one of the most important documents in relation to your association. The Master Deed establishes the condominium name, binds all owners to the association, establishes the responsibilities of the association, and defines the rights of owners and their obligations. It also details major features of the condominium itself, such as total square footage, construction materials, and the limits or boundaries that divide each unit from the common elements, as well as what elements within the unit fall under common area. For example, if Unit X has a leak from a water pipe that services multiple units, referencing the Master Deed will clarify if the cost for repairs are the responsibility of the unit owner or considered a common area expense.

Your association Master Deed can provide valuable information, which may be necessary to reference during an annual meeting. Given the current economic climate, owners are increasingly interested in FHA regulations and how these requirements affect the sale or refinance of their units. With the potential effect high rentals may have on an association's FHA approval, it may be a point of interest to review any rental restrictions in advance of the meeting. This information is typically covered under the "Restrictions on Use" section of your Master Deed.

Not all Master Deeds are created the same, however. Oftentimes, Master Deeds are left intentionally vague in areas to allow the association to build rules specific to their needs. Any rule in direct contradiction of the Master Deed, State Law, or any governing document, however, cannot be enforced.

It is important to note that any alterations or changes made to the Master Deed must be approved by a majority of owners – unless otherwise stated in your Master Deed – and filed as an Amendment with your county's Registry of Deeds. Seeking out an attorney prior to any additions or changes is a great way to ensure that changes are done in compliance with all local and state laws, and in accordance with the governing documents.

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Happy Holidays - From All of us at Shawmut!

Wishing you all a very happy holiday and a safe and sucessful New Year!

Board of Directors Duties

To be effective, a homeowners association or condominium needs a strong board of directors that understands its role and pursues it with passion and a concise mission in mind. The following outline provides an overview of board roles and responsibilities.

To form an effective board, directors must have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the association, its history and what is to be accomplished. Every homeowner association should have responsibility for its assets as well as its operation in accordance with standards established by state and federal law, local ordinances, and the governing documents upon which the entity itself was created. To the extent that the association has such authority and control, it is the board of directors that makes certain these responsibilities are fulfilled.

Understanding the homeowners association or condominium concept:

The homeowners association or condominium's governing documents is the cornerstone of the community. It brings continuity and order to the community, it preserves the architectural integrity and it maintains the common elements. Properly run, the association promotes the concept of "community" and protects the neighborhood's property values. In many cases, it collectively makes available recreational and other facilities that might not otherwise be affordable or available to homeowners and residents on an individual basis.

Deed-initiated homeowners association or condominiums have become an essential part of the overall concept of residential property ownership in today's marketplace. Purchase of a home or lot often brings with it mandatory membership in an association which then provides the structure for operation and management of the residential development. With membership comes certain maintenance obligations, financial responsibilities, and a commitment to abide by use restrictions and other rules of the association. To a degree, it necessitates individual conformity for the good of the whole.

The association's responsibilities may be limited to basic maintenance functions or they may be expanded to include sophisticated and extensive upkeep of the property as well as delivery of special services to individual homes (e.g. back door trash pickup). To be successful, its officers and directors must uniformly and fairly govern the community, and it must have a reasonable level of participation by each of its members over time.

Board of Directors

The association has responsibility for its common elements as well as the management and operation of the association's business affairs - - all in accordance with standards established by the governing documents created when the community was first developed. To the extent that an association (typically a non-profit corporation) has such authority and control, it is its board of directors that carries out these duties and responsibilities. Members of the board of directors of an association serve without compensation unless the bylaws of the association provide to the contrary. The board's authority includes all of the powers and duties enumerated in general law, as long as these powers are not inconsistent with the provisions of the documents governing the association.

Officers of the Association

The association acts through its officers and agents. The board of directors makes the policies for the association, but the officers and agents carry out these policies and administrative functions for the community. Some of the officers are clerical while others carry out substantive functions based on policies established by the board of directors. All of the officers have an affirmative obligation to act with utmost good faith towards the association and cannot deal in the funds or the property of the association to their own self advantage. Each association typically has a president, secretary, and treasurer and may have one or more vice presidents. However, an association may officially conduct its business with fewer officers than these, depending upon the laws of a given state.

PRESIDENT

The president of an association is vested with all the powers generally given to the chief executive officer of a corporation. While specific by-law provisions may vary the president's duties, it is generally presumed that he or she will preside at all meetings of the board and the membership. The president will execute contracts, orders and other documents in the name of the association as its agent. When signing documents, the president should indicate the capacity in which he or she is signing in order to avoid any personal liability since the president's signature, under most circumstances, will bind the association under a doctrine of inherent powers. The president also assumes general charge of the day-to-day administration of the association and has the authority to order specific actions in furtherance of the board's policies. The president serves as spokesman for the board of directors in most matters relating to general association business. Like all officers of the association, the president has an affirmative duty to carry out the responsibilities of the office in the best interests of the association. Unless otherwise specified in governing documents, the president serves at the will of the board of directors and can be removed with or without cause at any time by a majority of the full board.

VICE PRESIDENT

The vice-president is vested with all the powers which are required to perform the duties of the association president in the absence of the president. The vice president does not automatically possess inherent powers to act in the capacity of the chief executive officer, and may act for the president only when the president is actually absent or otherwise unable to act. The vice-president may assume such additional duties as are defined by the board of directors. Often, the vice-president will chair one or more substantive committees like that of architectural review.

SECRETARY

The secretary of the association is responsible for keeping and maintaining a record of all meetings of the board and the membership and is the custodian for most of the official records of the association. The position of secretary is not simply a clerical position. In many cases, the secretary will not actually keep the minutes of the meetings, but will be responsible for obtaining someone who will do so as a recorder or assistant secretary. As the custodian for the minutes and other official records of the association, the secretary is responsible for insuring access to those records by the members of the association and their authorized representatives.

TREASURER

The treasurer is the custodian of the funds, securities and financial records of the association. When the association has a manager or management company that actually handles the funds on a daily basis, the treasurer's duties will include overseeing the appropriate people to insure that the financial records and reports are properly kept and maintained. Unless the by-laws otherwise specify, the treasurer is responsible for coordinating the development of the proposed annual budget and for preparing and giving the annual financial report on the financial status of the association.

The treasurer does not have the authority to bind the association or the board of directors in dealings with third parties unless the board has provided express authority for the treasurer to do so. As with the association's secretary, the treasurer does not have to perform the day-to-day record keeping functions of the association when this responsibility is transferred to a management company, but the treasurer will ultimately be responsible for insuring that the financial records of the association have been maintained properly in accordance with sound accounting practices.

Fiduciary Relationship and Responsibility

The members of the board of directors and each officer of the association have a fiduciary relationship with the members of the association. This fiduciary relationship imposes obligations of trust and confidence in favor of the corporation and its members. It requires the members of the board to act in good faith and in the best interests of the members of the association. It means that board members must exercise due care and diligence when acting for the community, and it requires them to act within the scope of their authority.

The fact that the association is a not-for-profit corporation, or that the members of the board are volunteers and unpaid, does not relieve them from the high standards of trust and responsibility that the fiduciary relationship requires. When a member accepts a position on the board of directors, he or she is presumed to have knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of a board member. Board members cannot be excused from improper action on the grounds of ignorance or inexperience and liability of board members for negligence and mismanagement exists in favor of the association and the property owners.

Each board member must recognize the fiduciary relationship and the responsibilities that the board has to the association and each of its members. The board's duties must be performed with the care and responsibility that an ordinary prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances, and the ultimate responsibilities of these unique positions cannot be delegated to a manager, a management company or other third party.

A Recap of the Board Member's Role:

Acting through the board as a whole, a board member should:

• Enforce the documents • Establish sound fiscal policies and maintain accurate records • Develop a workable budget, keeping in mind the needs, requirements and expectations of the community • Establish reserve funds • Act on budget items and determine assessment rates • Collect assessments • Establish, publicize, and enforce rules and penalties • Authorize legal action against owners who do not comply with the rules • Review local laws before passing rules or sending bylaws to membership for approval • Appoint committees and delegate authority to them • Select an attorney, an auditor, insurance agent and other professionals for the association • Provide adequate insurance coverage, as required by the bylaws and local governmental agencies. • Inform board members of all business items that require their vote • Inform members of important board decisions and transactions • See that the association is protected for the acts of all parties with fiscal responsibilities • Attend and participate at meetings

Operating a homeowner association carries with it many of the very same duties and responsibilities as overseeing any other business. Serving as a board member is a valuable and rewarding experience that should be undertaken by those who see it as an opportunity to serve their fellow neighbors while protecting and enhancing the assets of the community. It is serious business, but also a task worth doing well in order to safeguard the investments of all.

Preparing for winter

A critical part of yearly maintenance is ensuring your property is ready for winter. As snow approaches we are working hard to:

- Final fertilization treatments and grade stakes - Checking on landscaping vendors and final cleanup of leaves and branches - Button up any last minute exterior projects - Clearing gutters and downspouts - Clearing catch basins - Making sure exterior lights are timed correctly

Each property has different needs when preparing for the winter, at Shawmut you can rest assured your valuable investment is being handled with the utmost care!

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