Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Safety Tips


Hurricane Sandy is gone and the weather is clearing up just in time for Halloween tomorrow! Halloween is a kid’s delight. It’s a blast to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, attend parties and, most of all, eat candy.

At the same time, Halloween can be scary for parents. Costumes can be dangerous, too much candy can be sickening and walking around at night can be risky.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these tips (in anagram form) to make sure your little ghouls and goblins have a safe Halloween:

S – Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.

A – Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Children should walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

F – Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see trick-or-treaters.

E – Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before they’re eaten.

H – Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help see and help others see you.

A – Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it when done to avoid skin irritation.

L – Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.

L – Lower the risk for serious eye injury by avoiding decorative contact lenses.

O – Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

W – Wear well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.

E – Eat only factory-wrapped candy. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook.

E – Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.

N – Never walk near lit candles or other open flames. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

If you’re hosting a party or expecting trick-or-treaters:

• Provide healthy treats, such as individual packs of raisins, trail mix or pretzels. Offer fruits, vegetables and cheeses to party guests.

• Use party games and trick-or-treating as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.

• Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause falls.

• Keep candle-lit jack-o-lanterns and other open flames away from doorsteps, walkways, landings and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of reach of pets and small children and never leave them unattended.

• Drive safely and watch out for trick-or-treaters.

ACM Offices Open Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ACM offices are open normal business hours Tuesday, October 30, 2012. Please log in and enter any maintenance requests resulting from the storm through our online client portal, www.acmhome.com. For emergencies, please call our office directly at (410) 997-7767.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Closes ACM Offices 10/29/12

Due to the severe weather conditions, ACM will not be opening our offices today, Monday, October 29, 2012. ACM personnel who have internet access will attempt to conduct business throughout the day. Should our offices lose power and/or the offsite servers fail, we ask customers to contact us by telephone, (410) 997-7767, for emergency calls and follow the prompts on our phone message. Please be safe and stay indoors during the storm!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy aka Frankenstorm


Hurricane Sandy, better known as Frankenstorm, is making its way up to the Mid-Atlantic. Please continue to monitor local news and weather stations for the latest updates about the storm as well as preparation tips.

Click the link below to visit The Weather Channel's website:

http://www.weather.com/news/weather-hurricanes/tropics-scenarios-us-threat-20121022

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Winterize Checklist

According to AccuWeather.com, the Baltimore and D.C. area will see above average snowfall this winter based on the presence and strength of El Niño.

"An El Niño pattern is classified by above-normal water temperatures in the central and equatorial Pacific Ocean. Warming the ocean water in turn warms the air above the Pacific, causing weather patterns to change globally. El Niño winters feature a strong southern branch of the jet stream across the U.S. When the strong southern jet stream phases with the northern branch of the jet stream, big storms can impact the East."

Based on the predictions for this winter, it is important to winterize your home! Begin the process with this checklist:

1. Check the gutters & downspouts to make sure they are clear of debris. Consider a leaf guard production system to prevent gutter and roof damage due to clogging.

2. Seal all windows & doors- keep the warm air in and lower bills by adding weather-stripping and caulk.

3. Do a thorough roof inspection- check for damaged or warped shingles, corroded flashing and leaky vents.

4. Check the attic for proper insulation and leaks.

5.Repair cracked sidewalks & driveways to avoid freezing and larger cracks in freezing temperatures.

6. Drain & turn off outdoor faucets and irrigation systems.

7. Replace furnace filters and have a professional check the heating system if the system is 5+ years old.

            8. Test smoke & CO monitors, keep fire extinguishers accessible.
 
Checklist provided by Columbia Roofing

Friday, October 19, 2012

ACM Competitor Closes its Doors

The Baltimore Business Journal in an article published yesterday, http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/blog/real-estate/2012/10/legacy-investment-closes-its-doors.html reported that Legacy Investment Management, LLC, a Columbia based property management company closed its doors on Friday. The Legacy statement said the closure was the result of a dispute with a local bank resulting in the bank’s freezing Legacy’s funds.

We will learn more in the near future as to what occurred that caused these events to take place, however I think it appropriate that I emphasize to all clients of ACM the importance of maintaining a strong verifiable bank reporting system. We take very seriously our obligation to provide our clients with financial information within 30 days following each monthly period. The availability of online reporting, record keeping and the creation of a separately managed facilities management department, are just a few of the protections our company puts in place for our clients. We are currently attempting to provide even more controls for clients especially in the area of reserve funding.

Our company supports the review of community records by an outside auditor and we encourage each community to provide Directors & Officers Liability insurance as well as Fidelity insurance as required by state law. Most importantly, we want your continued involvement in what we do; helping us better serve your community.

ACM is a community management administrative company. We support the efforts of the common interest community board in their efforts to manage the community. We will continue to bring qualified professionals to all of our departments: accounting, property/facilities management, community management, and community administration. We will not give any individual or department the total authority to represent the interests of our community clients. ACM’s unique method of community management is certainly not the least expensive and requires all team members stay involved with our management, however we believe it is the best process to assist the community board in their management.

By: M.L. Herzberger, Jr., President

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Towing Procedures


Karen Smith from North County Recovery came to ACM's Hanover office today to meet with the Community Management team to address questions regarding the new towing law and requirements. ACM is constantly providing continuing education to our employees and Board members about community association governance and current issues facing the industry.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ACM's Resource Center Now Available


ACM's Resource Center is now available to clients that come to our Hanover office. Clients have the ability to access our client portal website, www.acmhome.com, and check their accounts, pay their fee directly online, check the status of a pending architectural request, and much more, all from our lobby!

Hanover Exterior Office Makeover!




ACM's Hanover office received a landscaping makeover yesterday! The pictures above show off our new landscaping.
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Baltimore Pride

 
It's a Purple and Orange Friday at the ACM office today! Go O's and Ravens!!

Employee Appreciation Breakfast!




ACM hosted an Employee Appreciation Breakfast today for all staff to say "Thank You" for the hard work and dediciation during our office move to Hanover, MD! We greatly appreciate the effort of everyone and we are thrilled to be settled in our new office.
 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New Maryland Towing Law Immediately Impacts Community Association Towing Procedures

By: Ruth O. Katz, Community Association Attorney at Lerch, Early & Brewer in Bethesda, MD
 
As of October 1, 2012, community associations throughout the state of Maryland must comply with new towing laws prior to towing or removing a vehicle from association property. The new towing laws affect all Maryland associations that have more than three common area/common element parking spaces. Although the full regulations are lengthy, below are the highlights of provisions now impacting community associations.

Maryland Towing Signage Requirements
New signage provisions require every community association that tows vehicles from common spaces to have at least one sign for every 7,500 square feet of parking space. Each sign must:
  1. Be at least 24 inches high and 30 inches wide;
  2. Be clearly visible to the driver of a motor vehicle entering or being parked in the parking lot;
  3. State the location to which the vehicle will be towed or removed and the name of the towing company;
  4. State the hours during which the vehicle may be reclaimed. (State law requires that the vehicle be available for reclamation 24 hours per day, 7 days per week);
  5. State the maximum amount that the owner of the vehicle may be charged for the towing or removal of the vehicle;
  6. Provide the telephone number of a person who can be contacted to arrange for the reclaiming of the vehicle by its owner or the owner’s agent. 
Authorization from Parking Lot Owner Prior to Towing
Prior to towing or removing a vehicle, the towing company must have authorization from the parking lot owner (an authorized agent of the association) to tow or remove the vehicle, which includes:
  1. The name of the person authorizing the tow or removal (typically a manager or board member);
  2. A statement that the vehicle is being towed or removed at the request of the parking lot owner; and
  3. Photographic evidence of the violation or event that precipitated the towing of the vehicle.
Mandatory Return of Vehicle to Owner

Before a vehicle is removed from a parking lot, a tower who possesses the vehicle shall release the vehicle to the vehicle owner or an agent of the owner:
  1. If the owner or agent requests that the tower release the vehicle;
  2. If the vehicle can be driven under its own power;
  3. Whether or not the vehicle has been lifted off the ground; and
  4. If the owner or agent pays a drop fee to the tower in an amount not exceeding 50% of the cost of a full tow.
 As this towing legislation is currently in effect, associations should cease all towing from common area/element parking areas until they have complied with the signage and authorization requirements above.

Furthermore, as the full towing statue includes other requirements (that mainly affect towing companies), we recommend that the association ensure its towing company is aware of the new requirements because as the lot owner, the association can be held liable for inappropriate tows. Additionally, associations should amend their towing contracts, if possible, to include indemnification language that would require the towing company to indemnify and hold the association harmless from any illegal or improper tows from the association’s property.

Associations also should be aware that individual counties may adopt more stringent requirements in addition to this new Maryland towing law. As such, associations should review these issues with its towing contractor and attorney to determine how this new law will effect their specific association. In some cases, when read together, the Maryland State law requirements combined with the local county/city regulations may result in additional obligations beyond that addressed here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

ACM's Hanover Office





The above pictures were taken of the lobby in ACM's new office located in Hanover, Maryland! The lobby includes pictures of several of the associations represented by ACM as well as a list of the services provided, a sitting/waiting area and a small conference area. Come by and visit us to see our new office space!

Going Electronic - The ACM Difference!

Did your management company charge you a one-time set up fee when they were hired to represent your community? How about a set-up fee for website services as well as a monthly website maintenance fee? Better yet, does your association pay for electronic communication with your homeowners or for electronic storage of association records? If you answered YES to any of those questions, then you are paying more than you should for management services. Sure, your monthly management fee may be low, but are you really getting “Full Community Management” services if there is a charge for everything else?

If ACM represented your association, you would be able to answer NO to every one of the above questions. There is NO transition or set up fee if you hire ACM to represent your community. There is NO website set up fee or monthly maintenance fee. Our interactive client portal is included with both levels of service we offer to clients at no additional charge. Even better, our website service actually saves your association money each month! There is no charge to send communication or store association files electronically. Actually, the more electronic and paperless your community becomes, the less money you spend on administrative costs overall.

At ACM, electronic = reduced costs. It’s that simple. That’s why we encourage our homeowners to register and utilize our client portal website, www.acmhome.com, developed specially for ACM. We’re proud of our services and strive to provide the highest quality community management at the most affordable price.

If you are interested in obtaining a proposal for ACM services, please visit us online at www.communitymanagers.net and click the green “Request a Proposal” button to see how you can save your association money today!