image2

Serving on a committee is limited to "Friends of the Board"

  Is it fair that one resident serves on multiple committees while another resident is denied -- numerous times -- the opportunity to serve on just one? 

  

Why would some units in the community have representation on two, even four, committees?   When other units have none… 


Why deny accomplished and experienced residents willing to serve on a committee the chance to contribute to the community?
 

Competent and knowledgeable residents have applied to serve on committees. Yet these qualified residents have been denied numerous times. At least one resident who applied (directly to the Board) to serve on a committee received no acknowledgment or explanation as to why they were being ignored. Others who applied to that same committee were contacted and interviewed. 

 
Recently, there have been appointments to multiple committees with no Board outreach to the community for volunteers. 

 
There should be equal opportunity for all qualified residents to apply and serve if a position on a committee becomes available.

  

Is the Board punishing the residents who dare to challenge them?

Must you be a board sycophant to be given a chance to serve on a committee?


The Board keeps re-appointing the same people to the same committees year after year.**  (Membership on a committee is for 1-2 years; but a member can be reappointed again and again....) That means no new ideas, fresh perspectives, or independent thinking.  Yet these committees help determine the rules you have to follow, priorities that are set, and how our money is spent.


Maybe some new, independent committee members would be a good idea to turn things around and create some benefit for our community.


**Source:  Committee Membership Lists, https://www.sewickleyridgehoa.com

Request to Review Documents -- Board Obstruction Continues

Pennsylvania Statute

image3

Bylaws

image4

HOA Office in Our Clubhouse

image5

Homeowner's Email Message to the HOA Board (no response from the Board)

(July 5, 2018)  "I am astounded as to why this Board continues to behave in a way that invites investigation and rebuke from agencies and organizations whose mission is to protect  Senior Citizens and the disabled.  If this behavior continues the situation  is likely to become public thus impacting the revered “property values” touted by those allegedly concerned about the image of this community.

A further concern is the tendency of this Board to cater to a “management company” that is often blatantly in violation of its contract without any visible consequence.  Why this occurs is  a mystery but my imagination has indulged in creative speculation.

You have failed to provide a cogent reason why residents who wish to examine documents that they entitled to see must be inconvenienced by a drive to Cranberry when the “management company” was given space in the club house in which to conduct business.

Furthermore it would be wise to include residents who are astutely monitoring operations in the community in the decision making process rather than treating them and labeling them as “trouble makers”.

There is a Board member who, when confronted with a question he cannot answer or a fact which he does not have the knowledge to dispute, replies “That is your opinion”.  

Well this is my informed opinion—I would really welcome more of these."

Comments from a Homeowner Sent to the Board (no response from the Board)

(July 2, 2018)

  • "I sincerely believe that making us go to the Cranberry office is not what I would deem as a reasonable alternative to being able to have them brought to us in the HOA office that in our community center. As I believe she has a list of what we are asking for as covered by our governing documents, wouldn’t it be just as easy for her to bring them to the HOA office here when she is doing her property inspections?
  • Secondly I would hope that she is also prepared to have the original documents present and not copies.

I along with other residents of this community are genuinely concerned over the sloppy reporting and absence of follow-up on many issues that are either done with duplicity or incompetency on her part.  It is time that she be held accountable for the fiscal responsibility that is expected by this community from her services and gives all in this community satisfaction of a honest reporting.  The supplying of the financial reports that were provided in the past  are no long available to us as residents and that elimination of transparency  does come with some reporting responsibility on her part and that of her company.     As we discussed in our meeting the first of June, I don’t believe it is too much to ask that the reports are brought here in their entirety.
I would appreciate some consideration for all of us."

Questions asked of the HOA Board (no response or answers from the Board)

(July 1, 2018) "Why place undue hardship and inconvenience on the residents of a 55+ community who simply wish to review how their money is being spent and managed?     We would hope the management company and Board of Directors are not intentionally making records access, review and copying difficult for requesting homeowners as a form of retribution and/or concealment.    Please provide a rational and relevant explanation:    

  • Why homeowners with accessibility issues are being required to drive 26 miles round trip to view records?
  • Include in your explanation why you believe the records are being made reasonably available (via a trip to Cranberry) when there are already records and documents being made available in the Homeowners Association Office and Library in the Clubhouse. 
  • Why copies are prohibited when email requests for records and documents are denied?

the Board's ignorance of the maintenance bond details.

The Board appears to be unaware that the MAINTENANCE BOND also pertains to STORM WATER MANAGEMENT.

In the past 2 years members of the Board have displayed a lack of knowledge regarding both the performance bond and the maintenance bond. Both of these bonds are relevant to our community.

  

In November 2017, the Board was unable to answer a resident's inquiry about the status and dollar amount of the performance bond.

 

April, 2019, when asked, the board had no idea of the maintenance bond. Even though the Board president told the homeowners road repairs are being assessed and needed. 


The current maintenance bond covers the community's roads AND storm water management system. Ohio Township may be responsible for our roads but the HOA is responsible for the community's storm water management system.

 
Definition of a Maintenance Bond: A maintenance bond is not technically insurance, but basically functions as an insurance policy on a construction project that promises a contractor will either correct any defects that arise or that the owner is compensated for those defects.

    

Annual Meeting, April 11, 2019: A homeowner asked the Board to please update us on the Maintenance Bond which pertains to our roads and storm water management -- the Board knew nothing about the current status of the Bond, the amount, or end-date. 


It is important and a fiscal responsibility for the Board to stay up-to-date on the Bond (as it pertains to roads in our community). The Board President had indicated there were roads in our community in need of assessment and repair.


Fortunately, a resident and non-board member, was able to provide the information about the dollar amount and end-date (which is very soon) to the Board.  


A suggestion was made that the Board try to be more attentive to important issues and opportunities that benefit homeowners.


The Board needs to do better.

4/29/2019 We still do not have a Maintenance Plan!

image6

Email request sent to the Board September 24, 2018 - NO RESPONSE FROM HOA BOARD

"Please provide me with a copy of the community's current maintenance plan.  Not the new "matrix", but the current, comprehensive property maintenance plan that has been executed since January 2017.


If it is available in electronic form you can send it to this email address. Or, if there is a website where the plan is located, please provide the URL.


Please send me a copy of the existing Property Maintenance Plan no later than Tuesday, September 25, 2018.


Thank you."

Ignoring or neglecting necessary inspections and maintenance can have very serious consequences.

Performance Review of the Board and Management Co. 2017-2018

image7

Neglect of Property Inspections and Maintenance

  • No baseline property evaluation and inspection was conducted at the beginning of the transition (January 2017). There have been no regular, independent, quality property inspections of the common and limited common elements.  This would have given us a baseline of property conditions to work from in negotiations with TOA.  This baseline of data would have helped to prove that conditions existed at the time of turnover and whether those conditions changed over time.  
    • The board may have ignored its fiduciary duty by procrastinating necessary work. As part of the board’s fiduciary duty to maintain, repair, and replace common property, the board should have arranged for a professional, independent inspection of the property.  A professional inspection report would have brought to light any construction defects. (Jan-May 2017)  
  • The board did not hire “experts” to assess property condition and issues until the last quarter of 2017.
    • Example: As with any maintenance-related problem, drainage deficiencies only worsen with the passage of time.
  • Deficient, inconsistent and unprofessional “property reports” from the management company are accepted and approved by the board. 
  • There is no evidence that a community-wide comprehensive preventive and proactive maintenance plan has been developed.  Only reactive maintenance is being performed. 
  • The board allowed the clubhouse warranty to expire in June, 2017 before repair issues were resolved and, as of March 2018, the board hasn't even reviewed the warranty documents. (Transition Accountability Committee meeting, March 3, 2018)

When a board and community manager fail to maintain the common areas, property values drop. Deferral of necessary inspections, maintenance and repair only serves to prolong the inevitable - - at a cost (in dollars as well as property value) that is far greater than sacrificing to do what is right and necessary in a timely fashion. Property values will decrease and monthly assessments will increase.

Poor Business Judgement and Questionable Decision-Making

  • Refusal to have an independent financial audit of the HOA.
    • UPDATE  (7/20/2018):  The Board has finally decided to have an audit of 2017 financial statements.
    • ** UPDATE from Finance, Budget and Insurance Committee Notes (April, 2018): "Will get three bids from an independent CPA for the purpose of performing an outside review/audit of the 2017 HOA financials. There are mixed feeling (sic) on the need for an annual audit given its cost but there is also a feeling that one would help all reach a level of comfort with the current process."
    • Hopefully the Board will accept the recommendation from the Finance, Budget and Insurance Committee.  We hope the Finance, Budget and Insurance Committee will follow-through and recommend an independent, complete financial audit (not simply a review or compilation).
    • Only an audit will provide the HOA with reasonable assurance that their financial statements are reasonably stated.
  • Contracts signed without proper examination of contents.
    • Example: Two-year extension of landscaping services signed without reading the contract. (Special Meeting of the HOA Executive Board, February 10, 2018) 
  • Inadequate supervision and oversight of the management company’s contractual obligations and accounting processes. 
  • Errors and misstatements in financial statements are not resolved in a timely fashion.  
  • Poor board review of financial statements and management company’s accounting procedures. 
  • Questionable presentation and formatting of financial statements.
  • The board and management company are not effectively monitoring contracts for proper execution and compliance by vendors.
  • Contracts are poorly negotiated. Vendors are not properly vetted.
    • Example: $83,000 contract with snow removal company that has a D+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • The board should have immediately addressed any construction or financial issues with the developer during the turnover process or immediately thereafter because the longer the association waits to remedy any such issues, the easier it is for the developer to allege that such problems are the result of the association’s failure to adequately maintain the common areas, natural deterioration and wear and tear or the association’s failure to maintain proper financial records and practices. (Jan 2017 - March, 2018)
  • The board (and its committees) displayed little knowledge of the TOA performance bond Ohio Township was holding.  (Board Meeting, November 21, 2017) 
    • The board took no action to utilize the bond as a negotiation tool. The bond was reduced to maintenance status.
    • The board missed the opportunity to use it as leverage in negotiations with TOA. 
  • Inadequate knowledge of our community's governing documents. (Board Meeting, November 21, 2017) 
  • Ineffective and unproductive negotiation attempts with TOA throughout 2017 and first quarter, 2018
  • The board has not adequately addressed concerns regarding what appropriate credentials (licensing, certifications) the community management personnel hold as evidence of their competence to manage the community, finances and investments.
    • Example:  "Per the HOA board, (the management company) will handle investing the initial $250,000 of reserve funds in laddered CD’s..." (Finance, Budget & Insurance Committee Notes, January 2, 2018)
    • **UPDATE from Finance, Budget & Insurance Committee (April 2018): " Investment policy to be adjusted to reflect that all Reserve Fund investments will be handled by Janney."

    The Board’s decision to not have an independent 2017 audit of the HOA combined with their poor supervision of the management company's accounting and record-keeping procedures indicates a lack of financial oversight.


    UPDATE (7/20/2018):  The Board has finally decided to have an independent audit of 2017 financial statements.

No Transparency and Poor Communication

  • Spending homeowners’ money without their knowledge or input. 
    • Example:  "Action without a Meeting" resolution to commit the HOA to $1,441.35 contract to purchase aerobic room flooring.  (February 6, 2018)
    • Example: “Action without a Meeting” resolution to commit residents to contracts totaling over $100,000.  (October 19, 2017)
  • Selective and arbitrary enforcement of the Declaration and Rules & Regulations.
    • Homeowners made requests to review variances in an effort to assess how equitable and fair the Architectural Review Committee is in its decision-making. The requests were denied by the board.  (November, 2017)
    • Other homeowners were told that "some of the variances are lost.” 
      • Yet, in November 2017, the HOA was charged $450 by the management company as a "fee for copying two complete variance files for legal reasons."
  • Lack of action, evasiveness, neglect and delay in response to pool contamination. (July, 2017)
    • Several residents attempted to have the board and management company hear their concerns about the pool and the delay in correcting the chlorination and subsequent contamination problems—the board refused to listen claiming  the board meeting was “closed” to homeowners. (August 9, 2017)
  • The board was ignorant of the landscaping contract contents – the incorrect contents had to be brought to the attention of the community by an individual homeowner. (March 3, 2018)
  • Communicated incorrect information to homeowners about the storm water system. (Special Meeting of the HOA Executive Board , February 10, 2018)  

The board and management company need a reminder that the HOA exists to protect the integrity of the community and do what is in the best interest of its members. Being open and honest about decisions, funding, contracts, services, maintenance, and more is essential to keep homeowners involved and informed.

June 1, 2018 Meeting with the HOA Board of Directors - We're still waiting for answers....


Click on the button below to download the "highlights" from that meeting.


The members of the Board promised to "get back with us."   We're still waiting for the Board to respond to homeowners' suggestions and questions.

June_1_2018 (pdf)

Download

What happened to the Board's promises? $33,000 HOA expense!

The Clubhouse & Pool Committee did an excellent job of presenting the storage building information.

August 25, 2018: However, this doesn't mitigate the fact that the Board "dropped the ball" again, and allowed TOA to avoid any financial responsibility for a "promise" TOA made over a year ago.  Again, the homeowners are paying the entire cost for something that could have been negotiated.

June 17, 2017: "to ensure that the HOA not be exposed to potentially significant future expenses"

image8

Source:  6/17/18 Board Brief


Homeowner comment:  $33,000  is a "significant expense."

April 3, 2017: "TOA will be held accountable for all of their promises..."

image9

Source:  4/3/2017 Board Brief

Since January 2017, a pattern of weak Board performance that continues at a cost to homeowners.

The question was asked:  "Why didn't we get the building TOA promised?"

The Board response:  "TOA never responded to us."

(Source:  8/25/2018 Special Meeting of the HOA Board)


At the meeting a homeowner also asked why we couldn't have pursued some type of negotiated agreement wherein TOA would have provided us financial consideration for the smaller building they would have built?  Something to offset the TOTAL cost of constructing an entirely new building?  There was no response from the Board.


 Yep, we're not making this up.  It appears the Board chose to not be assertive with TOA and failed to pursue a resolution to the additional pool building issue.   Did the Board even try to negotiate?  Also, the Board admits there was never anything put in writing.  (Even though Board and Committee meeting minutes indicate this building was an issue being discussed as early as May 2017.)


 This is not sound business judgement.  This lack of common sense and poor decision making  will continue to endanger the community.  The Board's performance must improve.  If it doesn't then homeowners will be burdened by more expenses and HOA resources will be used to compensate for mistakes made and opportunities missed.    



Don't Be Intimidated or Fooled....

The Board's attempt to validate the Maintenance Matrix is misleading and deceptive.

Please don't be fooled by the misinformation on the HOA website. 

 

The Board is citing excerpts from the Public Offering Statement to support their development of the Maintenance Matrix.


The Public Offering Statement is not a governing document.  it is simply a disclosure statement.

The Board's use of the Public Offering Statement in "defense" of the Maintenance Matrix is wrong.

The Public Offering Statement has no bearing on the HOA management and property maintenance of our community.  





The Association and its Executive Board are not parties to the Public Offering Statement.

It is not a part of the community's governing documents.







[Source: https://www.caionline.org/LearningCenter/Education-for-Managers]   

residents have no choice.

image10

May 2019: Board Resolution Requiring Homeowners to Purchase Signs from Specific, "Board-Approved" Vendor:

"Real estate signs and frames must be purchased from [---] sign company in Bridgeville, PA. The cost of the for sale sign is the responsibility of the owner or sales agent."  

Source:  Resolution Amending the Rules and Regulations of the Sewickley Ridge Homeowners Association  Section G. Signs - Real Estate Signage

(Highlights added by Web Administrator)

Comment from a Resident:

"Subject- For sale sign in front, finally but it has to be bought from a company in Bridgeville for around $135, ridiculous. What is next, Real Estate firms supply signs at no cost. I assume this comes from the Board or [the management company], does Liberty [Hills] the other over 55 community charge for signs,* whose pocket is being lined. Thanks,"

Resident, Victory Lane

Advocacy Comment and Question for the Board:

Let's see if we've got this straight:

  • Landscaping is a mess.
  • In over two years, we have had no proper inspections or preventive maintenance planned or performed.
  • Nearly 30% of the unit roofs have already had leaks and repairs.
  • There is questionable and wasteful spending of HOA money.


So, the board decides to focus on "For Sale" signs!  They pass a resolution  to force homeowners to comply with a rule amendment restricting "For Sale" signs?!?   Really?  This was a priority with everything else that is happening in the community?


WE'RE BEGGING THE BOARD--PLEASE START USING COMMON SENSE, SET RATIONAL PRIORITIES, AND ESTABLISH REASONABLE AND FAIR RULES. 

image11

Board Briefs = excuses, blame-shifting, and bad decisions

Fun Fact: Breach of Fiduciary Duty

HOA's and directors cannot act in an arbitrary and capricious manner toward individual homeowners, nor can they single out certain homeowners for disparate or discriminatory treatment.    

[Source: https://cooperator.com/article/is-your-board-carrying-out-its-fiduciary-duty/full]

image12

Please speak up and let the Board know:


Rules should be developed only if they are necessary and have a purpose that benefits homeowners.


Good rules resolve, rather than create, problems.


Make sure that rules balance the protection of property values with our residents’ freedom to enjoy their homes.

  

And for goodness sake, start setting intelligent priorities and focus on our community’s real problems. 

image13
Photo taken on September 20, 2019

Rules & Regulations, Rule B. 27, page 5

"Pumpkins may be displayed during October and November."   Uh oh, it's only September.


Why is this resident (a Board Member) permitted to violate a rule?  


We love this time of year, especially displaying pumpkins. Is pointing out this violation petty?  We know it is, that is why we didn't report it. 


But think about the $50,000+  OF HOA MONEY OUR BOARD SPENT SUING A FELLOW HOMEOWNER FOR RULE VIOLATIONS.  Let that sink in...

Message to Homeowners

UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2019 

If past behavior is any guide, homeowners may soon receive a communication in the form of a “Board Brief”, a one-way “No Reply” email, or HOA website announcement. This will be an attempt by the Board to justify limiting an exterior maintenance item (cleaning of unit siding) for which the Association is responsible. There will be excuses made as to why the Board will not assist homeowners. These will range from “there’s nothing we can do about it” to “we don’t have the money or resources.” In our opinion, lack of knowledge and/or poor budget planning are not viable excuses.


The Board’s explanation will be filled with equivocation and lame rationalizations. There will be claims of due-diligence and effort with no evidence to support such claims.  The end result will be a decision to do nothing and place the responsibility for action solely on the homeowner. We’ve seen, and heard, it all before.