January 2105 marks the start of new legislative sessions in state houses, provincial capitals and for the federal government in Washington DC. For Associa and our clients, this means another year of challenges and opportunities to shape important public policy decisions that will impact our managed communities, our business and the jobs of Associa employees across the company. Unlike other management companies, Associa has a full time staff dedicated to guiding important public policy decisions that impact our company and our clients.
First, as the global leader in community management, Associa recognizes part of that leadership is active engagement in shaping the laws that will determine the future viability of our industry. Associa engages in shaping public policy in three ways. First, as noted, we have the only professional government affairs team in the industry. Our team is well versed in the legal challenges we face in the jurisdictions in which we operate and have extensive industry and political contacts. Additionally, Associa works to influence public policy through our work with our trade groups like the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI). Associa employees lend their expertise to these organizations by serving on boards and legislative communities. This work helps shape industry developed best practices that are the basis for many laws that eventually get adopted.
Here’s a sampling of what we expect to see in legislatures across the country that could affect community associations:
- States will seek to limit the ability of associations to recover costs associated with the production of disclosure documents required at time of sale. This has a negative impact on both boards and managers as time spent on producing these disclosures is time not spent governing or managing the community.
- In Maryland, Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alberta, Canada, legislators will seek to regulate community managers through professional licensing regimes which, at best, add cost to management and provide minimal consumer protections.
- State governments will attempt to curb the ability of associations to collect past due assessments in light of isolated, but high profile abuses by collection companies.
- Legislatures will work to pass numerous bills to override our client board’s autonomy with the collective effect of reducing the value of community associations in protecting property values on issues like clotheslines, radio towers and other matters best left to the community.
- Fannie Mae could take action to protect bank’s interests in assessment delinquencies and limit ability of associations to collect past due assessments.
It is not Associa’s goal to prevent any regulation of the community management industry. Rather, we seek to make sure that any new laws passed or regulations adopted, are guided by the needs of our communities and informed by the expertise of Associa management professionals. When new laws reflect a widespread consensus, rather than relying on political considerations based on negative media reports, the true interest of the public are served.
At the end of the day, the success of our company requires us to have a growing number of community associations to manage. Working to make sure that laws adopted promote vibrant associations, means that we work to add value to our client communities and create career opportunities for Associa employees at all levels. This is just another example of how Associa and our employees work to provide unsurpassed management and lifestyle services to communities worldwide.
By Andrew S. Fortin
Senior Vice President External Affairs