Newsletter Information

UCOM publishes a quarterly newsletter, UCOM Reporter, containing original articles and condensed or reprinted articles from other professional periodicals.

A comprehensive range of topics is presented over the course of each year. Articles are designed to improve condominium governance and provide information on both common and special interests. In most cases, articles are not readily available from other sources. Older articles are provided under the Newsletter Archives section of this site.

The quarterly issues are mailed directly to each member association’s officers, directors and newsletter editor. The UCOM Reporter encourages members to publish their own newsletters as part of the important process of communicating with co-owners. Periodic newsletters serve to keep the co-owners informed of important actions taken by their association boards, thus contributing to better relations between co-owners and their boards and managers.

Outstanding member newsletters are honored during the annual seminar for their communications achievements and contributions to improving the quality of their communities.

Experienced association directors accept the fact of life – that not all times are easy, not all decisions are accepted by co-owners, not everyone believes that their directors are acting with wisdom, foresight and prudence. Through its newsletter, seminars and other activities, UCOM works to advance the process.

Excerpts from some past issues can be seen below.  (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now, go to: Membership Information)

Summer 2015 Issue 3 XXXXI

  • Seminars: Past and Future
  • Registration Form Education Series Parrt 3
  • Photos from Zelmanski, Fioritto, Davis Seminar July 15,2015
  • AVOID NEW MEMBER NIGHTMARES New Rules
  • The Importance of Updating Your Reserve Study
  • UCOM Annual Serminar 2015 – Registration Form
  • Elements of Success

Spring 2015 Issue 2 XXXXI

  • MORE EUDCATIONAL SEMINARS COMING YOUR WAY
  • “Educational Series Part One” A short Review
  • OVERVIEW OF 2015 REVISIONS TO MICHIGAN NON-PROFIT CORPORTATION ACT
  • Registration Form
  • Are Nonprofit Corporations in Trouble Thanks to our Michigan Legislature?
  • Maintenance & Insurance Areas of Responsibility Policy
  • UCOM Welcomes a new Director to its Board

Winter 2015 Issue 1 XXXXI

  • NEW!!! EUDCATIONAL SEMINARS FOR 2015
  • Spring Walkabout
  • The Problem with Rentals in Condominiums (and Some Possible Solutions)
  • In The Gutter
  • Insurance Victimization

Fall 2014 Issue 4 XXXX

  • 40th Seminar Gets Rave Reviews!
  • 2015 Seminar Information
  • UCOM welcomes a new Director to its Board!
  • OPEN MEETING??
  • The Problem with Rentals in Condominiums
  • Seminar Photos

Summer 2014 Issue 3 XXXX

  • President’s Message
  • New Seminar Information
  • Reserve Study Terminology
  • Wet Retention Ponds vs. Dry Detention Ponds
  • Are You Prepared?

Spring 2014 Issue 2 XXXX

  • UCOM’s 40th Annual Seminar
  • The Association and Small Claims Court
  • Committess 101
  • Seminar Registration Form
  • Reserve Study Tutorial

Winter 2014 Issue 1 XXXX

  • In the Gutter
  • The Association and Small Claims Court
  • Congratulations Bob Meisner!
  • Parliamentary Cheat Sheet

Fall 2013 Issue 4 XXXX

  • WOW!!!! UCOM’s 39th Annual Seminar
  • Election Results
  • Community Associations: What Questions Should You Ask to Find the Truth About the Real Cost of Legal Services
    by Robert M. Meisner, Esq.
    Frequently, we are asked about what questions a Condo Board should ask to find out the truth about the real cost of legal services, particularly, since some management companies and/or less than scrupulous attorneys try to brand some other attorneys as “expensive” in order to discourage condominium associations from hiring that firm. I thought it would be a good idea, therefore, to discuss what questions a community association should ask to find out the truth about the real cost of legal services so that the association is in a position, independently, to judge who is best able to represent them and what the real cost may be…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Spring Maintenance Checklist
    Spring is the ideal time to take a close look at your buildings, mechanical systems and grounds in preparation for fair weather tune up. Here is a handy checklist in alphabetical order:ASPHALT PAVING Remove dirt and weeds debris from cracks with pressure washers, treat with weed killer and patch with a special patching product. Hire a professional for more extensive involved repairs.ATTIC

      • Make sure all your gable, soffit, and ridge vents are open to allow proper ventilation.
      • Make sure insulation covers the entire attic floor. Add more to meet building codes and reduce future cooling and heating costs…

    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)

  • Seminar 2013

Summer 2013 Issue 3 XXXX

  • UCOM Annual Seminar
  • UCOM Board of Directors Letter
  • Proxy
  • Smoked-out by Medical Marijuana?
    by Jeffrey L. Vollmer
    For those of you who did not attend my presentation at the annual seminar in October (and judging by the empty seats, that was most of you), I would like to reiterate the importance of an association’s response to complaints made about the use of medical marijuana within a condominium project. For those communities that consist primarily of attached units, this issue requires special attention…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Purchasing a Home in an Association
  • A Roadmap to Discovering and Resolving Common Element Construction Defects
    by Kevin M. Hirzel, Esq.
    The improving real estate market has resulted in decreased home inventories which has created an increased demand for new construction. Many potential purchasers will look to buy new construction condominium units with the expectation that the general common elements will be free from construction defects. This expectation often arises from two (2) commonly held myths. First, “new” construction is often equated with “high quality” construction. Second, that a municipal inspection of the condominium project means that it will be free from construction defects….
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Winterization Checklist

Spring 2013 Issue 2 XXXX

  • UCOM Annual Seminar
  • UCOM Welcomes New Director
  • Qualifications to be on the Board
    by Dawn Miller
    One of the frequent issues faced by associations is the ability to entice owners to run for a seat on the board. While many find it to be a rewarding experience, the time commitment is not insignificant and the pay is non-existent.
    When someone “volunteers” to have his or her name put on the ballot, it is easy to just accept the name without thinking and move forward through the election process. Some veteran board members have advised me that they spend anywhere from 20 to 25 hours per month on association business. Therefore, a good candidate for the board must first be willing to make the time commitment…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • UCOM Board of Directors Letter
  • Proxy

Winter 2013 Issue 1 XXXX

  • An Ounce of Fraud Prevention
  • Letter To Our Members from UCOM President
  • Letter to the editor
  • The Meisner Law Group Letter
  • Association Banking & Lending Practices in Today’s Economy
    by Joanne M. Haluska, CMCA, AMS
    When I first moved into my homeowners association in Ohio, they were self managed and used ledger cards to track dues… quite an undertaking for 340 homes, a water company, as well as a clubhouse and pool. They have come a long way as now all processing is electronic. In today’s world, nearly all of an association’s internal money management is done by computer. Most associations are comfortable with the electronic management of their money…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • What Makes a Good Board Member?
    by Dawn Miller
    For the owners who take the time and trouble to get elected to the board of directors of an association, like any other job, it does require education and training. Unfortunately, too many people take on this responsibility without learning what the job entails.People who serve as directors may get on the board with certain expectations and goals they would like to accomplish, but it is important to do the necessary homework to become a competent and contributing member. It is important to remember that a board works as a team, not as individuals. Sometimes it is better to keep a seat vacant than to appoint or elect someone who does not even do the bare minimum, such as become acquainted with the legal documents governing the association and the responsibilities of the board. Far too many associations are run by people whose motives are honorable, but because of the lack of knowledge, experience and training, their meetings and sometimes their entire administration, is a disaster…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)

Fall 2012 Issue 4 XXXIX

  • Seminar news and reviews
  • Letter to the editor
  • Mold
    The Bad News: Seven-Figure Verdicts And Increasingly Strict Indurance Coverage Mean Mold Is Anything But A Passing Fad. The Good News: Reports Of Its Toxicity Are Somewhat Exaggerated.Mold has been big news for the better part of a decade now, and the problem doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Indeed, large jury awards in several mold litigation cases have only made it worse , bringing out more claims and lawsuits even as the insurance industry has continued tightening its coverage restriction. Perhaps nowhere is the situations more potentially alarming than in associations that are responsible for maintaining common and limited-common elements, where the presence of mold can have disastrous consequences. With this is mind, it seems like a good time for a refresh course in all things mold-which a serious problem, isn’t as scary as you think.Back to Basics
    A basic refresher course means asking some fundamental questions. If you understand how old works, maybe you’ll be less inclined to believe those stories about “toxic” outbreaks.

    What is mold?
    The term “mold” is commonly used to describe simple fungi that grow quickly and readily produce spores. The actively growing component, called the mycelium, is the “hairy” mass we see on fruits and vegetables; it’s very fragile and easily killed by exposure to disinfectants, sunlight, and heat. More dangerous are spores, which are mold’s reproductive component. At two to 25 microns in diameter, spores are easily airborne and inhaled, produces in huge quantities and exceptionally resistant to chemicals and heat. They impart the distinctive colors characteristic of mold colonies, including black, brown, blue, green, yellow, orange, white and purple…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)

  • SEMINAR Photos
  • How FHA Action Could Boost Condo Market
    by Andrew Fortin
    The still struggling condominium market may get a boost due to actions taken by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).FHA issued new mortgage guidance for FHA insured condominium loans that could significantly affect condo financing and boost the housing recovery. Since the housing crisis began, FHA’s share of condominium mortgages has expanded from less than 5 percent to 30 percent or more in some markets, and nervous banks have been applying FHA criteria to non-condo loans…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)

Summer 2012 Issue 3 XXXIX

  • UCOM ANNUAL SEMINAR
  • UCOM Welcomes New Directors
  • Resale Disclosure
  • Are Some Management Companies and Attorneys in Bed With One Another - THE UNSAVORY TRUTH
    by Robert M. Meisner, Esq.
    As a practitioner for forty (40) years, I have had the opportunity to review the relationship between some management companies and attorneys in Michigan and, for that matter, around the country. I have always recommended and professed that a Community Association of any type should get all of the help it could possibly obtain from the best possible people and/or firms including the retention of a capable professional management company. I have also professed that it is important too for every Community Association to have an experienced and knowledgeable Community Association attorney representing it. Having said that, it is also important for Associations to realize and recognize that the nature of the relationship between the management company and the attorney is crucial to the successful operation of the Association…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Seminar 2012 Registration Form
  • 4 Reserve Fund Investment Hurdles
    HOA boards are faced with a challenge. They have limited time and resources, yet must meet the financial obligations of the reserve study by following a funding plan that provides adequate member contributions and additional revenue from prudent investment of reserve funds that reduce those member contributions. Here are four hurdles the board must jump when tackling reserves investment.Hurdle #1: Failure to use the Reserve Study or not having one in the first place.
    Homeowner association boards have the duty to conduct long range planning to identify common elements, their current condition, their useful lives and current cost of repair or replacement. This exercise is called a Reserve Study. Some boards believe that a reserve study provides little benefit except to point out the obvious. These same boards either elect not to pay the cost of one or put the one they have in a file to gather dust. Both approaches are foolish because without a clear road map to follow, the board is bound to get lost in the maze…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)

Spring 2012 Issue 2 XXXXIX

  • Western Michigan Educational Event Coming Up Soon
    You are invited to join us in downtown Grand Rapids on Thursday, June 21, 2012.
    Grand Rapids is a great vibrant city with many fine restaurants, art, culture and entertainment available. Together with great reasonably priced accommodations, it is a city not to be missed. Grand Rapids is an easy drive from any part of Michigan…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • So What Do We Do About Our Tenants Now?
  • The Consumers Energy Direct Install program
    The Consumers Energy Direct Install program for multifamily properties benefits both you and your owners. You will add value to your property and cut water and sewer costs. Your owners will appreciate lower utility bills, and everyone can feel good about helping Michigan’s environment.Energy-efficient Showerheads (1.5 gallons per minute)

    • If an owner uses a property-provided showerhead, we’ll replace it with an energy-efficient showerhead
    • The new showerheads are corrosion-resistant and have high-impact Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) thermoplastic bodies
    • They’re self-cleaning and maintenance-free
    • The 1.5 gpm showerhead uses 40 percent* less water compared to the standard 2.5 gpm showerhead, so less energy is used to heat water for every shower.

    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)

  • Landscaping

Winter 2012 Issue 1 XXXXIX

  • 2012 EDUCATIONAL SERIES
  • How to Hold a Meeting: the Basics
    Parliamentary Procedure 101
    Running a successful HOA meeting involves orderly communication and getting business done. While large assemblies like Congress use involved parliamentary procedures to keep business orderly (some say confused) HOAs are encouraged to use a simplified version. Parliamentary Procedure provides a mechanism to transact business, to protect the free speech rights of all attendees and to promote harmony. It is based on common sense and custom…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Dispelling Manager Myths
    Homeowner associations hire managers for two basic reasons: to carry out board policies and to manage the homeowner association’s business affairs. Sometimes, however, the manager’s role is misunderstood which could bring the manager into conflict with the board or members.What are the most common myths?Manager is Available 24/7. HOA managers generally manage many communities and must divide their schedule among them. While the management company usually provides emergency response 24/7, the manager’s time is carefully orchestrated between clients to maximize efficiency and cost effectiveness to the clients…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Registration Form

Fall 2011 Vol. XXXVIII No.4

  • UCOM Annual Seminar 2011
  • Is the Managing Agent a Fiduciary To the Association Or Not?
    by Robert M. Meisner
    A recent Tennessee case analyzed the question of the existence of a fiduciary relationship between the management company and the Association. A person who occupies the fiduciary or relationship to an entity bears much more legal responsibility than one who is merely a party to a contract. In the Tennessee case in question, the Court explained “that a fiduciary relationship is not merely a relationship of mutual trust and confidence. Rather it is a relationship where confidence is placed by one in the other and the recipient of that confidence is the dominant personality, with the ability, because of the confidence, to influence and exercise dominion and control over the weaker or dominated party.” The question becomes more difficult because the relationship between the managing agent and the Association may vary depending upon the terms of the management agreement or other relationship established between the parties. The problems arises in the context of analyzing this issue in that the Board of Directors ultimately has the responsibility to manage and maintain the Condominium development and has ultimate authority as to how that development will work and operate. However, the management company is in a very close and sometimes confidential relationship with the Board of Directors in making decisions concerning the operation of the Association and is privy on many occasions to privileged information including the advice and counsel of the attorney for an Association which, on occasion, has been the subject matter of discussion concerning whether the managing agent is protected by the attorney-client privilege in terms of not being required to disclose information provided to it by the attorney for the Association….
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • SEMINAR Photos
  • Is Your Association Like A Box of Chocolates
    by Tom Engblom
    During the second week of July I was assigned the task of teaching M-201 Facilities Management in Charleston, South Carolina, A class I have taught numerous times in the past and found very enjoyable for both myself and the students.
    After proctoring the test on Friday I had several hours to learn the history of Charleston before the return flight to Chicago. It was truly an amazing City to tour while creating an appetite for lunch. As I pondered where to dine I stumbled upon Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The wait time for seating was extended due to the popularity of the restaurant so I maneuvered to the bar for a seating of one. During the dining experience Forrest Gump was televised on the television screens with no sound, thus creating overwhelming temptations of the dialect of a movie I have seen several times before. Nevertheless, the dining experience was fantastic; as was the return flight to Chicago…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • One Winter Worry – Ice Back-up

Summer 2011 Vol. XXXVIII No.3

  • 37th Annual Seminar Information
  • Newsletter Contest Called Off
  • Registration Form
  • Is it the right time to require mandatory board service?
    by Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.
    This article is taken from the Daniel Vesquez Blog “Living with Rules”, featured regularly in the Miami, Florida’s Sun Sentinel Newspaper.
    There are always articles of interest appearing in the blog, and even though Florida Condominium Law and Michigan Condo Law are not always the the same, there are many issues that are universal in nature. This is one of them:What are some of the most common complaints we hear about community associations and the manner in which their board members are elected?

    • The election process is rigged;
    • The HOA board collects proxies and votes itself in year after year;
    • No one cares enough to run;
    • The ballots and the entire election process is manipulated; and;
    • The same folks have been “in power” for years…

    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)

Spring 2011 Vol. XXXVIII No.2

  • Lockbox Systems
    by Tom Engblom
    Condominiums historically began in the 2nd century as the Romans built walls for protection or housing. Simultaneously the ancient Romans used an early form of cheque known as praesciptiones for assessments. The cheque allowed bankers to issue orders at the request of their customers, to pay money to identified payees. Such an order was referred to as a bill of exchange. Imagine the fine for late payments, violations, or a non sufficient cheque resulting with one lap around the coliseum dragged by the chariot. Respective the Romans pondered an effective way to collect their cheques using a cruel lockbox system…
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Priority of Condo Association Liens
    by Charles L. Hahn, Trott & Trott, P.C.
    Old real estate law doesn’t necessarily mean unimportant real estate law. In Oakwood Park Ass’n. v. Cathey (Mich. App. No. 293458, unpublished, 2010), the Association challenged the priority of a mortgage as not being the ‘first mortgage of record’ under the Condominium Act, MCL 559.208(1). Seller had a first mortgage on a condominium unit in 1997, which was discharged when the unit was sold in 2003. New owner purchased the condo with a purchase money mortgage in 2003 and also had a second equity line mortgage, which was paid off at sale, but not discharged. In 2007 the condominium association recorded an assessment lien. When the purchase money mortgage went into foreclosure in 2008, the Association claimed its lien had priority over the buyer’s mortgage because it was not the first mortgage of record, but rather the zero-balance equity line mortgage was. This scenario is common and an important issue for both condo associations and mortgagees….
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Condominium Conundrum
    by Michael Fleckenstein
    Problems with foreclosure and abandonment, bankruptcy, collection of dues and paying the bills have been with condominium communities for some time. Communities have used various techniques to offset the funding shortfalls including foreclosure liens on accumulated dues, purchasing and reselling units and applying buy-in and special assessments to cover losses. All these are predicated on some percentage of problem properties entering into problematic phases. In the end, the expectation is to see the unit sell and go back into productive mode….
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Court of Appeals Addresses Written Claims in Condemnation
  • Restrictive Covenants in Michigan

Winter 2011 Vol. XXXVIII No.1

  • Upcoming Educational Event
  • So What Do We Do About Our Tenants Now?
    by Wayne Wegner
    Most Condominium Associations are seeing more and more tenants move in to their communities. It seems to be the result of a number of circumstances. Many people have lost their homes in foreclosure or Bankruptcy and need a place to live. Renting may be their only option. The tight credit market has made it more difficult for people to obtain a mortgage and therefore they cannot purchase a home. Also, investors are finding the low price of condominiums to be very attractive and are purchasing units solely to rent them. And, some co-owners who have lost their jobs or have relocated cannot sell their units and are often forced to rent them in order to pay the mortgage and other expenses….
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • Where does the time go?
    by Lloyd Silberman
    It’s common for property managers to lament how little time they have. But a wise person once said that we all are given the same amount of time… It’s what we do with it that determines the outcomes.As we begin 2011, here are some good ways for people involved with managing condominium associations to spend the time that we have.Get the Board on the same page. In some condo associations, it is difficult to move forward because Board members are at odds about some issues. Start with the issues that bring people together. Which expiring contracts will require multiple bids and which ones are good candidates for renewal with the current contractor? What community safety concerns will be tackled this year? Is there a social event that would attract residents and build community spirit? Once your Board handles some issues through consensus, tackling more difficult issues will become easier for everyone….
    (Members can read the entire articles in their copies of “The Reporter”. Join UCOM now go to: Membership Information.)
  • FHA Certification: The New Deal