Community FYI

Who do I call if there is an emergency?
MMI offers 24-hour emergency service to all their clients – both for association related emergencies as well as issues that may come up in your home that may not be covered by your association. We are only a phone call away. After hours, callers will be given emergency instructions and must leave a message. A message left in the emergency system results in staff members being paged, so please leave your emergency message there and someone will return your call within minutes.

Why do I have to pay Association Fees?
All owners are required to pay Association Fees by the governing documents of their Association. The fees may be due annually, quarterly or monthly. They fund the operation and maintenance of the common property and are used to provide services for the benefit of all owners. A portion of the fees is designated for the future replacement of aging property components. If it makes you feel better, your community association delivers many of the services typically provided by local government. Theoretically, your fees help keep taxes down, so the entire cost would not be saved if the Association did not exist. For more specific information, have a look at your community’s budget which is posted on the MMI Portal.

How do I pay the Association Fees?
Owners may elect to pay their Association Fees via check, credit card, or have the amount automatically withdrawn from their bank account. Checks must be accompanied by the “assessment coupon” and should be mailed directly to the bank shown on the coupon. (Payment without a payment coupon may delay processing.) Owners may opt to have their payments withdrawn automatically from their bank accounts. There is no charge for this service and it eliminates the inconvenience of checks and coupons while ensuring timeliness of payment.

At any time, an owner may log into the MMI Portal and view their assessment account. From that screen, you are one click away from making a one-time debit or credit card payment. Credit card payments are subject to fees mandated by card processing companies.

To whom do I make my check payable?
Your check should be made payable to your Association (e.g.; “Happy Homeowners Association” or “Cozy Condominium Association”)

What does the Association do?
The Association is a not-for-profit corporation managed by a Board of Directors elected by the owners. The Board is responsible for the management of the Association’s funds, the enforcement of Covenants and Restrictions, Rules & Regulations and the maintenance of common area property.

What is a “managing agent”?
The managing agent is a company that is engaged by the Board of Directors. The managing agent tends to the day-to-day operation of the Association and implements the policies and decisions, as determined by the Board of Directors. The Board is allowed to delegate tasks, but not responsibility, to the managing agent. The management agent generally does not have the authority to enter into contracts or make decisions on behalf of the association or board.

What are the Governing Documents?
The “Governing Documents” for your association are the Articles of Incorporation (if incorporated), Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (or Declaration of Condominium) plus any Rules and Regulations, Resolutions or guidelines that have been established by your association. These documents are recorded in the county in which the property lies and are provided to prospective purchasers as required by law. The laws of the state, county or municipality will supersede the community’s documents in the event of a conflict.

Where can I get a copy of the Governing Documents?
You received a copy at, or prior to, closing on your home. If you need another set, it is available through your association and/or its managing agent. Your Governing Documents are recorded instruments so they are also available through the County in which your Association is located. A copy may be available for download on the community’s website. MMI posts all governing documents on our Portal in a format that is searchable by anyone having a specific question.

What is a deed restriction?
It is part of the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (or Declaration of a Condominium) that you agreed to when you bought your home. Through this document, you agreed to certain standards of maintenance, upkeep and behavior in order to make the community as attractive as possible for yourself and your neighbors, and to maintain or enhance your property values. These were conditions under which you purchased and you agreed by consummating the purchase. Under the law, if you did not receive a copy, you had the right not to purchase. But, by closing, you waived your right to receive a copy from the seller at the seller’s expense.

Why do I need to comply with the deed restrictions?
When you purchase a home in a deed restricted community you automatically agree to comply with the restrictions then in place or that are properly established. This ensures that the integrity of the community is maintained. These restrictions are for your protection and for the protection of your neighbors. Failure to comply brings a responsibility to the Board of Directors to bring about any action legally necessary to force compliance. The change in appearance that you want to make, in violation of the covenants, may be one reason your neighbor bought a home in this community–so they would not have to look at that 10′ fence or purple door or 4-car garage.

Why do I have to get permission for home improvement?
This better ensures that your intended improvement meets your community’s standards as set forth in the Governing Documents and avoids the problems that arise from the construction of improvements and the use of colors or styles that conflict with others in your neighborhood. The Board of Directors has the power and the responsibility to force you to undo any improvement you make that do not comply with the Governing Documents, so the application process is your protection against future action against you. Once approved, the change is permitted and that approval applies to you and any future owner of the home.

What is the “common area”?
It is the land for the use and enjoyment of the members of the Association. This includes facilities like pools and playgrounds in single family communities and hallways, parking lots, exercise facilities and building structures in condominium communities. Common areas are owned by all in an undivided interest. For this reason, maintenance responsibility falls proportionately on all owners who have that undivided interest in common areas. This sometimes is most painful in a condominium disaster wherein one building is damaged, but owners of all the other buildings feel the financial burden… the building that burned was your building, too.

What is a resale certificate?
The resale certificate contains two parts. The first relates to the individual unit and notifies the buyer whether the seller of the property has (or has not) paid all assessments that are due and whether there are any violations affecting the real property being sold. It is also a disclosure by the Association of the amount of the assessment and whether the Association may foreclose to collect the assessment. The second part relates to the condominium or home owners’ association. This part contains copies of the Governing Documents, rules & regulations, evidence of insurance and current financial statements. Resale Certificates must be prepared by management. Buyers have a legal right to receive a resale certificate prior to settlement, at the expense of the seller, and have the right to withdraw from the contract, even at the settlement table, without penalty or loss of deposit, until they have been provided with the certificate and have had time to review the content. The seller providing a set of Governing Documents does not meet the requirement.

What does the Association’s insurance cover?
The Association’s master insurance policy includes property and casualty policies for all common area property and equipment. (In condominium associations this includes the entire structure of the building.) It also includes Liability and Directors & Officers policies that cover Directors, Committee Members and volunteers working on behalf of the Association. The master policy does not cover personal property (contents), improvements made by the owner (betterments and improvements) or relocation expense during reconstruction following an insurable event. In a condominium, owners can obtain condominium unit owners insurance (type of policy: HO6) to cover contents, betterments & improvements and relocation expenses.

In a home owners’ association, generally the master policy covers only common area liability and common structures such as the pool house or club house. A standard home owner insurance policy (type: HO3) is advisable and, when a lender is involved, mandated.

In either case, your governing documents will explain exactly what elements are covered by the master policy and which are not. Sometimes the language is confusing, so always take a copy of the documents to your insurance agent and ask that he/she review them to ensure proper coverage is provided.

What is the insurance deductible?
An insurance deductible is the portion of a loss not covered by the insurance policy. It is the small loss or first portion of the loss that the insured must pay. The Association’s insurance policy may have a $1,000, $5,000 deductible or higher deductible. In Maryland condominiums, the deductible is paid by the owner of the property from which the damage originated. If the damage came from a common pipe, the deductible is a common expense paid by the association. If your pipe breaks or your bathtub runs-over, you will pay. Maryland Law limits the amount of the deductible that may be charged to the unit owner to $5,000. If the Association has a higher deductible than $5,000, it is considered to be self-insured for the excess. The Association saves money on its insurance premiums by having the higher deductible, but assumes responsibility for payment of claims over $5,000 and up to the amount of the deductible.

Who is the insured?
The Association and each unit owner are insured by the Master Policy. Even if the unit owner caused the claim, the Master Policy cannot subrogate against the owner (cannot come back to the owner to recover the cost of the claim.) This is much like an auto policy where you know you caused the accident, but you still expect your insurance company to pay. The Master Policy covers everyone for the covered or insured losses.

Are there any pet restrictions?
Most condominium associations and many single family associations have pet restrictions. Because they can vary widely by community, please review the governing documents for the restrictions pertaining to your particular community. In addition to community restrictions, many counties have strongly enforced leash laws or ban certain types of pets (Pit Bulls, poisonous snakes, snakehead fish, etc.)

What is a “Master Association”?
“Master-planned communities” are often comprised of several distinct homeowners’ associations. In such cases the Master Association is the “umbrella” organization that provides services that are common to all of the individual Associations, such as contracts for community patrol, trash collection, common landscape maintenance, etc. Sometimes, there is a master or recreation association with a pool or clubhouse and there may be several sub-associations that pay additional assessments to the master and enjoy their amenities.