I personally goofed recently when looking into the incorporation status of a prospective client, as the Secretary of State has changed the way they post information about incorporation status on their website.  Now that I’ve straightened this out, I thought I’d share this primer on incorporating and keeping your incorporation In Good Standing.

Haus Financial Services is pleased to announce a new seminar series for condo Board members and owners beginning in August, 2009.  We will be partnering with the Rogers Park Community Development Corporation to offer twice monthly seminars focusing on various aspects of condominium association living and management.  Speakers include:

Lauren Peddinghaus, Haus Financial Services
Kortney Peagram, Otavala Consulting
Ebony Wilkerson, Attorney, Peace of Mind Properties

All seminars will be held at the Rogers Park Library (6907 N. Clark St.) from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

Tuesday, August 18th - Ask the Expert: Open Forum for Condo Board Members and Owners

Wednesday, August 26th - Conflict Management and Mediation For Condo Board Members and Owners

Wednesday, September 16thAsk the Expert: Open Forum for Condo Board Members and Owners

Wednesday, September 30th - Best Financial Practices for Self-Managing Condominium Associations

Click here to see our flyer for more information about the series and how to register.

We hope to see you there!

Is Peoples Gas estimating your gas usage?  You may be hit with a large bill following an actual reading...

Our gas meter was read on June 5th after six months of "estimated" readings from November 19, 2008 through May 20, 2009.  Following the meter reading, we received an invoice cancelling the billing that had been issued for those months and showing a "Revised Prior Billing" amount that was $1,270.54 higher than the cancelled amount.  Unlike all of the other invoices we have received from Peoples Gas, there is no breakdown of the calculation for the revised billing.

The problem with this is that the delivery charge for the first 100 therms is about 2 1/2 times the charge for therms used over the first 100.  And gas rates from November through May ranged from $0.41490/therm to $0.99130/therm.  So which rates did Peoples Gas apply to the additonal usage?

Three calls to Peoples Gas could not turn up this information, though one representative indicated that we were charged the first 100 therms rate (which we'd already paid during each of those six months!)  I have made it clear to Peoples Gas that they must take an actual reading every month before they bill us.  If they can't explain how they are calculating their "Revised Bils", then we're not taking chances with estimates. 

Water is becoming an endangered resource.  As the population grows, so does our need for fresh water.  Increasing demand in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs has resulted in large rate increases since 2008.   Sewer rates, which are calculated as a percentage of the overall water bill, also increase as a result.

It’s becoming more important to implement measures to reduce water usage and waste.  These measures will not only make a positive environmental impact, they will reduce expenses for your Association.  Here are 100 ways to conserve water.  You’ll also find a daily conservation tip on the Chicago Condo Resource website.

In my previous condo building, I literally had to call the police to deal with a neighbor who was harassing me about an Association issue.  This neighbor was banging on my door, yelling and pressing the doorbell repeatedly while I stood on the other side, incredulous.  The source of her rage?  An expenditure the Board had approved for a landscaping project.

The holiday weekend has got me thinking about personal time and the need for Board members to set clear boundaries when it comes to dealing with owner issues.  All Association business, unless there is an emergency, should be addressed at a Board meeting or a special meeting of the unit owners.  This ensures that decisions are documented and prevents miscommunication among Board members.  It also sets a clear distinction between Board members' personal time and the time that is set aside for Association matters.

HausFS recommends that Board members set a communication policy for their Associations.  Any owner complaints or requests should be submitted in writing to the Board.  The Board should then respond to the owner only to indicate that the item has been added to the agenda for the next Board meeting.  Board members are not required to field emails or phone calls from owners unless there is an emergency.  Hostile emails or phone calls should not be addressed at all.  Board members are entitled to respectful communication from owners and vice versa.

Laying down ground rules for communication with the Board can help to make condo living easy!

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