PODCAST

Take It To The Board with Donna DiMaggio Berger

Donna DiMaggio Berger

Think you know what community association life is all about? Think again. Residents must obey the rules, directors must follow the law, and managers must keep it all running smoothly! Take It to the Board explores the reality of life in a condominium, cooperative or homeowners’ association, what’s really involved in serving on its board, and how to maintain that ever-so-delicate balance of being legally compliant and community spirited. Leading community association attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger acknowledges the balancing act without losing her sense of humor as she talks with a variety of association leaders, experts, and vendors about the challenges and benefits of the community association lifestyle. If you've got questions, Take It To The Board with Donna DiMaggio Berger - We Speak Condo & HOA!

Take It To the Board: Successful Community Association Living Starts With the Purchase Decision with Marisa DiLenge, Founder, DiLenge Real Estate Team (Part II)
Yesterday
Take It To the Board: Successful Community Association Living Starts With the Purchase Decision with Marisa DiLenge, Founder, DiLenge Real Estate Team (Part II)
Is living in a community association the right fit for everyone? In this second of two installments, host Donna DiMaggio Berger speaks with Marisa DiLenge, founder of the DiLenge Real Estate Team. She has been a licensed real estate consultant since 1992. She is also a member of the National Association of Realtors, a member of the Masters Brokers Forum of Broward County, a member of the Florida Association of Realtors, and a member of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale. They discuss how an experienced and professional realtor is now more important than ever.Highlights include:Should home renovations be done for the owner’s enjoyment or always with an eye towards resale value?Developers love density, but is a pool on top of a parking structure a good idea?How much due diligence should potential buyers do, particularly when purchasing in older coastal buildings?What can past board minutes tell a potential purchaser about the community he or she is considering?How does one find a well-credentialed realtor?What creates risk when denying  an application? Does requiring minimum credit scores really result in a financially healthier community?Are “55 and Over” communities holding their value?Is  there a conflict of interest when a realtor serves on his or her own board of directors?How do environmental factors, such as “cancer clusters,” affect the asking price?Can unauthorized  social media pages for a community association negatively impact property values?Who is getting priced out of the current market?Helpful links:Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business Strategists Florida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.com  Becker's Online Class Library
Successful Community Association Living Starts With the Purchase Decision with Marisa DiLenge, Founder of DiLenge Real Estate Team  (Part I)
Jun 22 2022
Successful Community Association Living Starts With the Purchase Decision with Marisa DiLenge, Founder of DiLenge Real Estate Team (Part I)
Is living in a community association the right fit for everyone? In this first of two installments, host Donna DiMaggio Berger speaks with Marisa DiLenge, founder of DiLenge Real Estate Team. She has been a licensed real estate consultant since 1992. She is also a member of the National Association of Realtors, a member of the Masters Brokers Forum of Broward County, a member of the Florida Association of Realtors, and a member of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale. They discuss how an experienced and professional realtor is now more important than ever.Highlights include:How much longer will the seller’s market last?What constitutes a reasonable price point?For the Florida market, where are the buyers coming from these days? Are the challenges and costs associated with maintaining and repairing older coastal buildings going to make these communities unaffordable for a large portion of Florida’s population? Would some owners be better off selling now?Will we see a time in the near future when only the very rich can afford to live on Florida’s coast?Will Florida support  affordable housing arrangements similar to New York’s?Will realtors be the ones to tell purchasers that they need to obtain and review  safety and financial reports?Where does the money for rising insurance rates come from? Do the association documents allow for certain budget cuts to close the gap?What kind of information can a potential purchaser or tenant reasonably expect to receive from a broker with regard to an association’s rules and restrictions?What role can a realtor play in communicating rules and restrictions to a potential buyer?What kind of due diligence and inspections should  purchasers undertake prior to closing?Helpful links:Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business StrategistsFlorida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.comReal Estate Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.comBecker's Online Class Library
Mapping the Terrain of Landscaping for Community Associations with Brian Steele, Director of Operations, East Coast Facilities
Jun 8 2022
Mapping the Terrain of Landscaping for Community Associations with Brian Steele, Director of Operations, East Coast Facilities
Can you imagine getting 99 people to agree on the same sofa? That is similar to the tasks that lie before Brian Steele, Director of Operations at East Coast Facilities. Among other services, the company provides landscaping to residential communities throughout Florida. In this episode of Take It To the Board, host Donna DiMaggio Berger and Brian discuss how landscaping for community associations is an extension of the real estate asset and how emotions can run high when trying to accommodate different tastes. According to Brian, landscaping choices don’t only boil down to what people want to see, but also what plant material is most appropriate for the space and what the association’s budget can accommodate. Brian also discusses his travels and travails, as well as the curious case of the missing avocados.Highlights include:Why people are so emotional about landscaping choices.The effectiveness of landscaping committees.How the recent Florida law that makes it easier for a homeowner to remove a tree that “poses an unacceptable risk” might create confusion about what owners and boards can do when they want to remove a tree.The kinds of trees and plant materials that pose problems for sidewalks, driveways, homes, and pools due to invasive roots or other growth issues.What is xeriscaping and why does Florida need a law to protect it?Is there any such thing as maintenance-free landscaping?  How to mitigate against the deterioration caused by abundant plant material and pools when they are located on top of concrete parking structures.What an association can typically save when asking for a price on post-storm debris removal in advance. What is “hatracking” and is it okay?The possibility of getting insurance coverage to replace damaged plant material.The legal importance of ensuring that hedges are installed and maintained in accordance with all state and local requirements.How to get the most “bang for the buck” when it comes to landscaping. Helpful links:Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business StrategistsFlorida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.com Becker's Online Class Library
Assessing Collections with Joy Mattingly, Becker & Poliakoff
May 25 2022
Assessing Collections with Joy Mattingly, Becker & Poliakoff
In this episode of Take It To the Board, host Donna DiMaggio Berger speaks with Becker Shareholder Joy Mattingly, who oversees Becker’s collection and foreclosure practice. Joy is an experienced litigator who represents all types of associations in collecting the delinquent assessments needed to fund the community’s essential services. She’s a graduate of University of Florida’s Levin School of Law and clerked for Judge Mark E. Polen at Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals. Donna and Joy discuss the mechanics of a successful foreclosure practice, what boards need to know about “creative” debt collection companies, and how collection attorneys cope with such a demanding practice area.Topics covered include: How to handle the elderly who have “aged-in” to their home and may not be able to pay rising fees. The importance of establishing collection team roles and managing stress.Typical steps and claims an owner may take in fighting a foreclosure.The likelihood of getting a case resolved before foreclosure.The timeline and steps to finalize an uncontested foreclosure.The role that bankruptcy might play. What a “strategic default” is and how you should deal with it.The role of repayment plans.What associations need to know about collection agencies and “creative” debt collection companies. The biggest mistake association boards make when it comes to collecting delinquent assessments.Helpful links:Online Class: Collection and Foreclosure Strategies for Community Associations | Becker (beckerlawyers.com)Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business StrategistsCALL | Powered by beckerlawyers.comFlorida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.com Collections & Foreclosure | Becker (beckerlawyers.com)
The Smoker’s Dilemma with Dennis Eisinger of Eisinger Law
May 11 2022
The Smoker’s Dilemma with Dennis Eisinger of Eisinger Law
In this episode of Take It to the Board, host Donna DiMaggio Berger speaks with Dennis J. Eisinger, who founded Eisinger Law in 1996 and serves as the firm's managing partner. For the past four decades, he has represented all types of community associations throughout Florida, as well as developers, financial institutions, and private equity clubs. He's Board Certified in Condominium and Planned Development Law by the Florida Bar and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. Dennis has also carved out a unique niche in community association law: smoking. He and Donna discuss how to deal with this increasingly restricted behavior in terms of common areas and neighbors.Highlights Include:Can one treat marijuana smoking differently than cigarettes, pipes, vaping, and e-cigarettes?Should existing smokers be grandfathered in when it comes to an amendment imposing a smoking restriction? If so, how? Smoking can be a very divisive topic in a community, particularly for the people who are impacted by second-hand smoke. What options do residents have to combat second-hand smoke if amending the documents is not an option?Who is the protected class, smokers or those affected by second-hand smoke? Should a board always get involved when two neighbors are arguing over the issue of second-hand smoke or should that intervention be evaluated on a case-by-case basis?What role can legislators play?If an owner does have the ability to bring a lawsuit against a neighbor for excessive second-hand smoke, what would the legal causes of action be?What is the role of one-on-one communication between neighbors?Can the American Lung Association help communities that are looking to become smoke-free?Helpful links:Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business StrategistsCALL | Powered by beckerlawyers.comFlorida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.com Becker's Online Class Library
The Current Crisis with Florida’s Real Property Insurance with Andrea Northrup, Vice President of Insurance Office of America (Part 2)
Apr 27 2022
The Current Crisis with Florida’s Real Property Insurance with Andrea Northrup, Vice President of Insurance Office of America (Part 2)
Florida's current property insurance industry is in crisis, and it’s one that has been years in the making. Private insurers are exiting the state at alarming numbers and Citizens is once again becoming the only option for many community associations. In Part 2 of this podcast episode, host Donna DiMaggio Berger and Andrea Northrup, Vice President and partner at Insurance Office of America, Florida's largest privately held insurance agency, discuss the growing  perils and pitfalls of real property insurance for Florida associations and their owners. (Make sure you click here to listen to part 1 first!) Highlights for Part 2 include: ·      What is umbrella coverage and is it recommended? ·      Will Self Insurance Funds (SIFs) make a comeback? ·      How much coverage is needed  for extreme weather events? ·      What is the difference between “suability” and “liability” when it comes to association employees working directly for the residents? ·      Does an association  need insurance for private events held in common areas, such as a clubhouse? ·      Fidelity bonding. What is it and who needs it? ·      Payment and performance bonds. Better to have them when you don’t need them, than to not have them when you do. ·      Why are some associations not pursuing insurance claims? ·      What role does an independent adjuster play? ·      What advantages are there to unit owners having their own interior coverage? ·      What is subrogation?  ·      How will this insurance crisis affect Florida’s economy as a whole?  ·      How can things turn around? Is there one clear answer? Helpful links:·       Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business Strategists·       CALL | Powered by beckerlawyers.com·       Florida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.com ·       Becker's Online Class Library ·       Association Adjusting – Serving Community Associations throughout Florida
The Current Crisis with Florida’s Real Property Insurance with Andrea Northrup, Vice President of Insurance Office of America (Part 1)
Apr 13 2022
The Current Crisis with Florida’s Real Property Insurance with Andrea Northrup, Vice President of Insurance Office of America (Part 1)
Florida's current property insurance industry is in crisis, and it’s one that has been years in the making. Private insurers are exiting the State at alarming numbers and Citizens is once again becoming the only option for many community associations. Host Donna DiMaggio Berger and Andrea Northrup, Vice President and partner at Insurance Office of America, Florida's largest privately held insurance agency, discuss the current perils and pitfalls of real property insurance for condominiums and planned unit developments. Andrea is also a member of the Real Property Insurance Committee and the Condominium and Planned Unit Development Committee of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law section of the Florida bar.Highlights include:Is Florida’s legislature addressing the crisis?What factors should a board take into account when making a decision about property insurance?What options are left when an insurance carrier becomes insolvent?In terms of insurance, is Florida in a good position, with hurricane season right around the corner?How do supply chain issues and labor costs affect the appraisal requirements for necessary placements, such as windows?What insurance benefits are available when only part of a building is damaged?What updates or additions to the building are included in the appraisals? If the insurer is not notified, how does that play out when damage does occur?How do appraisals, maintenance records, mortgage value, and even minutes of board meetings factor into lending? What about the proximity to the ocean?Where do workers comp claims fit into a general liability policy? What’s the difference between “suability” and “liability,” and who pays for the defense?What is additional insurance, and what value does it have?Helpful links:Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business StrategistsCALL | Powered by beckerlawyers.comFlorida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.com Becker's Online Class Library Association Adjusting - Serving Community Associations throughout Florida
2022 Legislative Session in Florida Wrap Up with Yeline Goin, Becker & Poliakoff
Mar 30 2022
2022 Legislative Session in Florida Wrap Up with Yeline Goin, Becker & Poliakoff
Many task forces were convened in the aftermath of the Surfside tragedy, including one by the Florida Bar. All of those task forces urged the passage of new laws pertaining to reserve funding and engineering. However, the 2022 Legislative Session in Florida concluded on March 11 with none of those reforms being passed.Host Donna DiMaggio Berger and Yeline Goin, Becker Senior Attorney and former Executive Director of the firm's Community Association Leadership Lobby (CALL), walk us through a typical day in the life of a lobbyist in the Florida legislature. They discuss whether proposed requirements for funded reserves were just a legislative squabble, what the Florida Clean Indoor Acts can tell us about community association legislation, and the importance of lobbying in establishing clarity in bills.Highlights include:What are committee assignments and what do they mean for legislators personally and the bills they want to see pass?How successful do you think the alternative dispute resolution process is in Florida in terms of condominium and cooperative disputes? How reactive are legislators to emails and calls from constituents either in support of or opposed to a particular bill?Just how large a role do lobbyists have in the legislative process?Are legislators eager to sponsor community association legislation or do they need to be convinced to do so?Why aren't there more stand-alone bills for important community association issues?Is 60 days enough for the Florida legislature to get everything done?Helpful links:Becker Lawyers | Legal and Business StrategistsCALL | Powered by beckerlawyers.comFlorida Condo & HOA Law Blog | Powered by beckerlawyers.com Becker's Online Class Library
Keeping Cool With Jane Gilbert, Chief Heat Officer, Miami-Dade County
Mar 9 2022
Keeping Cool With Jane Gilbert, Chief Heat Officer, Miami-Dade County
It’s common knowledge that Florida is one of the hottest markets in the U.S. – whether you’re considering a personal lifestyle upgrade or a new environment for your business. But that influx of people and industry, coupled with the state’s numerous sunny days, is a recipe for an extreme heat event and can spell disaster for an unprepared infrastructure. Host Donna DiMaggio Berger and featured guest Jane Gilbert – the world’s first Chief Heat Officer – explore the dangers posed by extreme heat in highly urbanized areas and discuss how municipalities around the world are collaborating on solutions to protect both present-day and future communities.  Highlights include: How Jane’s recent experience as a Chief Resiliency Officer prepared her to serve as the first-ever Chief Heat Officer and what this new role means for communities in Florida and beyond;Defining the ‘urban heat island’ and how the green street vision for Miami-Dade helps reduce this;Why awareness of the risk associated with extreme heat needs to be increased and whether naming heat waves would emphasize the importance of safety during rising temperatures;How community association boards can adjust governing documents to encourage energy efficient practices – green spaces, reflective roof surfaces, upgraded A/C units, indoor/outdoor lighting choices, building weatherization, etc.;Strategies when considering how to address the disproportionate impact of heat waves on already vulnerable communities, including seniors on fixed incomes, socio-economically disadvantaged, etc.;Expansion of existing directives to ensure evacuation shelters have adequate backup power for cooling in the event of a widespread outage;The connection between extreme heat and rising sea levels, and how Florida has integrated its climate action strategies to address both;How community associations, local businesses, and incoming corporations can collaborate with Jane’s office to identify ways to protect outdoor workers in the construction, tourism, trade & logistics, public safety industries; and so much more. BONUS: Donna and Jane share a little about what to expect from the county’s three-year action plan, scheduled for release in May 2022 and recommend viewing the Miami-Dade County’s Extreme Heat Toolkit for ways you can stay safe in South Florida.
Ensuring Community Association Safety with Platinum Group Security
Feb 9 2022
Ensuring Community Association Safety with Platinum Group Security
With crime on the rise across the U.S., safety is a leading reason most people believe a shared ownership community is the best housing option. But featured guests Kevin Van Middlesworth (Founder, CEO) and Phil Huber (VP, Client Relations) from Platinum Group Security are quick to remind host Donna DiMaggio Berger that residents themselves play a vital role in keeping a neighborhood truly secure.The trio offers an unflinchingly honest look at current protection services industry, the security needs and challenges for a variety of associations, what board members and their managers should consider when evaluating their community's security, and the importance of healthy relationships between residents, security personnel, and local law enforcement. They also dig deep into the difference between security and concierge services and the danger of a community-run Neighborhood Watch.Additional topics include: The top security services and how trending technology might not be the best choice for a neighborhood;The question of cost and why price should not be THE deciding factor when choosing a security company;How staff turnover at a security company causes headaches for the board and could compromise safety for residents;Why Phil believes the fear of crime can be more disabling than actual crime, how he suggests residents overcome that sense of helplessness, and so much more.BONUS: Learn about Phil’s experience arresting and interrogating The Dinner Set Gang and Kevin’s pre-Platinum life protecting A-list celebrities, like Eva Mendes and 50 Cent.
Happy Holidays, Healthy Communities with Andrew Fortin, SVP, Associa
Dec 15 2021
Happy Holidays, Healthy Communities with Andrew Fortin, SVP, Associa
In the community association world, nothing pits neighbor against neighbor faster than outdoor holiday decorations. Donna and Andrew wade into the hell of holiday décor complaints and challenges to offer thoughtful solutions that just might help both board members and residents enjoy the festive season as a true community. Get insight into Andrew's time-place-manner approach to developing rules around holiday decorating; why HOAs should not be responsible for regulating taste; the idea that rules should always reflect the values and realities of the community – no one-size-fits-all approach will do!; the importance of striking a balance between genuine expressions of holiday joy and doing so in a way that doesn’t create a nuisance. Additional highlights include: How to keep the community spirit alive in ways that are safe, smart, and inclusive;How communities are handling post-pandemic holiday gatherings and the board’s responsibility to adhere to the same restrictions that residents must abide by;The necessity for boards (and hopefully, residents) to develop a high level of cultural awareness and sensitivity, particularly when it comes to holidays;The role of rule audits and community surveys in keeping the board current on the needs and preferences of their community, particularly as it continues to evolve;The closest thing to a class on Constitutional Law you’ll ever hear on Take It To The Board, examining the relationship of community associations and the freedom of speech;The connection between community association boards/residents and their elected government officials, and more.BONUS: Have you ever considered inviting your state representative to a community association function? Your next holiday gathering might be the perfect place to educate current policymakers on what life – and board service – in a community association is really all about.
The Making of A Manager with Otto Freund
Dec 11 2021
The Making of A Manager with Otto Freund
If you thought property management centered on overseeing the upkeep of a property or building, you’re not alone in that misconception. According to Otto Freund, serving as a community association manager (CAM) is, instead, all about managing people and providing quality customer service to both the association board and the property’s residents or owners. And, while Otto’s last name is pronounced ‘friend’, even he says that maintaining a sense of diplomatic professionalism is more important than being popular when trying to deliver that superior support.  Donna and Otto pull no punches as they discuss the myriad of skills an effective property manager must have, including diplomacy and negotiating talents, accounting/bookkeeping, budget preparation, mechanical knowledge (plumbing, electrical, HVAC), organizational skills for document management and project oversight, disaster planning and recovery expertise to address natural disasters, and more. They also delve into just how important it is to be able to apply all of those through the filter of association life.Additional highlights include understanding: Whether the CAM’s priority is to get services at the lowest rate or to be actively committed to strategic fiscal responsibility;Why CAMs and boards tend to skip over the legal aspect of managing a property and how disastrous that can be;What the impact of noncompete agreements is having and will continue to have on the larger industry;A CAMs’ role in community association elections;What CAMs can do to protect themselves AND their associations from dysfunctional boards; andThe importance of mentorship in preparing the next generation of CAMs.BONUS: Anecdotes about how to navigate those rock-hard-place scenarios that CAMs face every day, and the surprising intricacies – from mowing to fertilization - of managing an association’s most costly item.
HR Hacks with Jamie Dokovna, Employment Lawyer, Becker & Poliakoff (Part 1)
Oct 20 2021
HR Hacks with Jamie Dokovna, Employment Lawyer, Becker & Poliakoff (Part 1)
Does your community association hire people? If so, you’ll definitely want to listen in as Donna and Jamie discuss the complicated network of federal, state, and, in some cases, municipal laws that protect both employers and employees – and outline the consequences of mistakenly thinking those laws don’t apply to you. From the clarity of applying the salary test to the murkiness of how “interstate commerce” can impact your daily operations, this conversation dives deep into some of the biggest employment issues facing community, condo, and homeowner association today. Be prepared to learn: how many employees are needed for the Fair Labor Standards Act to apply (you might be surprised!);the legal test for defining the difference between an employee and an independent contractor and the price you’ll pay for getting that wrong; the real differentiators between exempt and non-exempt employees and how to manage wage and overtime pay for each; what leased employment is and how that differs from joint employment; the power of employment agreements, how to decide when you really need to use them, and a few general ideas of what should be included. REMEMBER: This discussion is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal advice. Please consult your association counsel before acting upon any information shared on this, and any, episode of Take It To The Board. And be sure to come back for more employment-related discussion in Part 2!