Author: Adam Jenning

Statement Regarding Receivership of Ely Walker Lofts

A. Jenning Properties Will Withdraw from Receivership of Ely Walker Lofts

For immediate release – December 11, 2023

On behalf of myself, my associate Adam Felmlee, and the entire A. Jenning Properties team, we are honored that our reputation in the field of condominium and homeowners association management has led to our company being entrusted with the appointment as the receiver for Ely Walker Lofts by Judge Stelzer. We understand the challenges the condominium owners are facing and their desire to restore their historic residence and its condominium association to being a safe, well-maintained, financially stable and highly desirable place to call home.

Several months ago Adam Felmlee and I engaged in talks with the parties involved representing the interests of the owners of the building. We were unsure at the time if we could dedicate the time and resources necessary to accept this receivership and bring about the necessary changes, but we were willing to explore the possibility. Since those initial conversations our portfolio of condominiums and HOA’s under our management has grown, and we are doing our best to keep up with our obligations to the communities we already serve. After careful consideration, we believe the needs of Ely Walker Lofts exceed our ability to effectively address. We must decline this receivership at this time, and we will be withdrawing from this appointment.

I do not wish to cause harm to the case of the concerned condominium owners who have fought so hard to get to this point. However, there was clearly a miscommunication in our readiness and willingness to take on this responsibility prior to Judge Stelzer’s ruling. At no point had we ever extended or accepted any contractual offer, expressed or implied, to assume this responsibility, and we did not become aware of our appointment until we read it in the news like the rest of St. Louis did. After accepting the responsibilities to provide property management services for other HOA’s and condominium associations in recent months since those initial conversations, we are simply no longer in a position where acting as the receiver for Ely Walker Lofts is something we are effectively capable of.

We have provided a recommendation for one of our competitors to the parties involved that we believe would be in a better position to handle these challenges than we are. We wish the best to the condominium owners of Ely Walker Lofts and hope through a more prepared receiver they can bring about the changes they wish to see for their building and the community that resides within it.


Adam Jenning, CMCA®, AMS®
President | Broker
A. Jenning Properties, Inc.
Phone/Fax: (314) 380-3100
Email: adam@ajenning.com

When Rules Don’t Make Sense

The media never misses an opportunity to cast community associations in a negative light. Unfortunately, in many cases the community association’s board doesn’t do it any favors either.

I’ve read tons of stories meant to demonize associations for controversial decisions, and wearing my community association manager hat I can often wrap my head around the valid argument supporting the decision. Unfortunately these scenarios can be unavoidable, especially depending on how well the story can be spun to get people’s attention and get them angry.

But it does happen too often that association’s enforce rules that don’t make sense. Occasionally a handful of board members have a nonsensical axe to grind, but more often a case arises where a perfectly logical rule has to be applied to a situation it wasn’t intended for but it fits the bill of nonetheless. Rules have to be applied with consistency to prevent accusations of discrimination, and rules have to be applied if they exist to prevent accusations of nonfeasance.

Whether a rule is able to be modified by the board or requires an amendment and a vote of the owners depends upon which governing document it is listed in and what the procedures outlined for amendment include. If the governing documents are properly written, rules and regulations are subject to modification by majority vote of the board. But very often this is not the case.

Regardless, when rules issues arise that don’t make sense, especially when they give rise to headline stories such as this, they must be modified and urgently. When stories like this make the news and there is no justifiable defending statement the association can make, it casts the community in a very negative light. It affects everything from community morale to actual home values if the community gains a negative reputation.

Your community’s rules must be enforced uniformly and fairly. If a situation arises such as our example here, it’s important to change the rule and not just forego it’s enforcement to sweep the issue under the rug nor enforce it without making the effort to change it. Regardless, don’t make headlines this way.

Is it worth your safety? An unfortunate reason self-management can be dangerous.

The biggest benefit of self-management is the money your association saves by not having a management company. Is it worth it? Most would say no. The time burden on volunteer trustees, the potential for theft and the potential for accusations of theft are the most common deterrents. But what about your individual safety?

When an association is self-managed it is up to the board to enforce policies pertaining to delinquent collections and property violations. There’s no way around creating some bad blood in enforcing these policies. Most don’t escalate to quite the level as this unfortunate situation, but it’s certainly a possibility depending upon how negative the situation becomes and how unstable neighbors may be.

As a trustee there is no avoiding some level of hostility when policies adversely affecting neighbors are enforced, but having a community association manager signing off on liens, violation notices and other documents can help defer some bad blood and create a buffer for the trustees. The anger and impulsiveness many are willing to demonstrate from their front porches becomes a lot less dangerous when it’s in the form of a phone call or email to the manager, and most will come to their senses by the time an in-person meeting occurs when needed.

A manager signing off on the lien in this case instead of the HOA’s president may not have helped this situation, especially considering there was already a history. But it certainly could have cut down on the possibility, and with a manager to execute the decisions of the board the individual trustees can focus more on important decision-making and less on the day-to-day situations like this one.

Can You Trust Your Manager with Your Money?

It’s 10pm. Do you know where your association’s money is?


Commingling money by those entrusted with it professionally is an often-illegal and always-unethical practice. Surprisingly to some, the management of community associations isn’t governed by real estate statutes in Missouri. What is illegal under our state’s real estate statutes is unfortunately too commonly a practice in community association management.


I’ve never had the displeasure of working for a company that commingled its clients’ funds, nor will my company ever do so. I can only speculate the reasons for those who do. Perhaps it’s laziness and not wanting to keep up with so many accounts. Perhaps they’re skimming interest off of their clients’ funds. Perhaps they’re leveraging it as if it were their own asset.


But a greater question than their motives for doing so: Are they putting their clients’ funds at risk? Without bank statements attached to every financial report, how can you be sure the company isn’t operating a Ponzi scheme? What happens if one of their clients’ spends into the red; are their bad habits being supported by your association’s funds? What would happen if all of their clients made a run on them at once? What happens if the company is sued? Are their clients’ funds properly designated as being in escrow and thus protected from the management company’s potential liabilities?


If my concerns on commingling sound trivial, you can read for yourself just one example from here in Missouri why they’re warranted:


Kansas City Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $750,000 from Homeowners Associations


Frankly, there’s just no good enough reason. No matter how much cheaper the management company’s services may be and no matter how many promises they make, no community association should ever entrust their community’s funds to a company that commingles their clients’ funds. Period.


If your management company isn’t providing a copy of the bank statements with each monthly financial report, it’s time to start asking tough questions. If you’re shopping for a new community association management company, you owe it to the homeowners of your community to ask if they commingle funds and dismiss them as a bidder if they do.


A. Jenning Properties, Inc. never commingles clients’ funds. Every client has an operating account in the name of the association, and bank statements accompany our financial reports every month for full transparency. If you’re in the market for management services and you don’t know who else to trust on this issue, just ask. I will gladly provide the board with some names of my competitors who share my opinion on this unethical practice. I would much rather lose the business to a competitor I know to be ethical and reputable than to see any potential client make would could be a catastrophic mistake with a less ethical one.


Commingling poses potential harm to community associations throughout Missouri, and its practice causes harm to the reputation of our industry as community association managers. I’m determined to do my part to change that, not only by refusing the practice in my own business but also in supporting competitors who share my disdain of the practice.

Is FHA Certification a Good Idea for Your Community?

Is your condominium association FHA certified? Do you even know what that means?

Following the housing market crash in 2008 a number of new laws and regulations were put in place with the goal of preventing a similar future catastrophe. Unfortunately that created a unique new challenge for condominium associations that homeowners and other types of associations don’t face: A requirement to become FHA certified for buyers to purchase with FHA-insured loans.

Whereas single-family detached houses and other types of housing units in other types of associations are qualified or disqualified for FHA independently, condominium associations must have their associations approved as a whole. If they are FHA approved, buyers can get FHA-backed mortgages. If they aren’t, FHA mortgages can’t be used.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but FHA certification isn’t for every condominium community.

First, it’s expensive. To gather and compile the documents needed and submit the application is a lengthy process, typically undertaken by attorneys or specialty companies. The cost is usually in the low thousands of dollars. Likely, FHA will follow up the application with requests for additional documents, and this will take additional time and may cost additional fees.

Further, the board may have to radically alter the operations of the community to meet the qualifications. FHA requirements include certain insurance requirements, owner-occupancy rates, delinquency rates, reserve requirements and prohibit some rules from being enforced such as caps on rental units. The board may need to make changes to the budget and the association’s methods of operations to meet these standards. Worse, the board may not have the authority to do so because the conflicts are spelled out in the declaration or indenture, requiring an amendment to be approved by the owners before the changes can take place. This adds additional costs and time consumed to the process.

With  the pitfalls of obtaining FHA certification, why would a condominium community do it? Simple: More buyers and higher home values. By introducing the possibility for FHA financing into the community you expand the pool of eligible buyers. With demand increased and supply fixed, the selling prices for condominiums in the community goes up. Higher home values work indirectly to enhance the value of the community as a whole. Helping matters, relatively few condominiums in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area are FHA certified, so by obtaining certification your association has the ability to corner a large and underserved market.

Before a condominium community decides to pursue or rules out completely the idea of obtaining FHA certification, it is wise to gather information on the requirements and bids from attorneys and specialty companies to make the application. If your community is professionally managed, gathering this information is a task your community association manager can perform. Because the process is so expensive and time consuming, it is best to know first if the association can qualify or if the steps to meeting the qualifications are practical and if the association can afford the costs involved. FHA certification requires periodic renewal and the requirements do change from time to time, so the costs, time and operational changes aren’t a one-time expense. It is arguably just as arduous to obtain recertification as it is to become certified in the first place.

Whether or not to apply for certification is a decision every condominium community must consider. Being certified makes sense for some communities and not as much for others. If your budget is inflexible and your communities rules are written as part of a governing document requiring an amendment and a vote of the owners to change, it may be too big a hurdle. If your community does have some budget flexibility to tailor it in a way that will meet FHA standards and any rules that may conflict are easily at the discretion of the board to change without substantial headache or expense, it can offer a significant boost in sales activity, home values and the desirability of your community.

10 Tips for Successful Board Meetings

Do you feel your association’s board meetings don’t get much accomplished? Are topics all over the place with few firm decisions being made? Are homeowners constantly interrupting, spending more of the meeting time speaking than the board does? Do your meetings just feel as if they are completely out of order?

If so we hope you find our 10 tips to running successful board meetings helpful. Exercising these tips should bring more order and productivity to your meetings, and create less headaches and confusion for your board.

1. Choose a public setting

In my experience as a community association manager, most board meetings take place in a board member’s home. When it comes to getting a meeting scheduled amongst the board it’s just the easiest and most flexible location. But it has drawbacks.

Whether homeowners attend your board meetings regularly or not, they are entitled to attend and observe. Many homeowners want to make a positive impact on their communities but aren’t capable of serving on the board. If board meetings are held in the home of a board member they don’t know personally they are less likely to attend than in a public setting.

A public setting can also mitigate interruptions that have a negative impact on the meeting. A phone ringing, other members of the household coming in and out, kids and family pets can all cause a distraction for the board as it tries to conduct its business.

Pick a public setting nearby the community, such as a library, school, fire station or a private room at a local restaurant. Most of these settings are freely available to community associations.

2. Stick to a schedule

Not every board meets monthly, but all boards should meet on a regular schedule. When meetings are infrequent and impromptu it tends to be in reaction of a lot of unresolved business backing up. These meetings tend to run long, and it poses a serious problem if any business items cannot be decided upon and require further follow-up. They also tend to be more difficult to schedule, as invariably it seems the manager or one of the board members is unavailable at a time everyone else can reach a consensus on.

Whether monthly, bimonthly, quarterly or at any interval, aim to meet on a regular basis. The best way to ensure this is accomplished is to decide upon the next meeting as the final piece of business for the current one. This ensures your board will meet with regularity, everyone is available and there is plenty of notice to prevent future scheduling conflicts. It will maintain a natural rhythm to the business of the association and ensure items are handled timely.

3. Prepare the agenda in advance

Passing out an agenda at a board meeting does little good if the board is just seeing it for the first time there. Many members will be uneducated on the topics for discussion, and the members who aren’t responsible for writing the agenda may have points they want to add. It’s just a recipe for chaos.

A draft agenda and any attachments should be distributed amongst the board members at least 5 days in advance. This gives everyone an opportunity to know which topics will be discussed so they can come to the meeting prepared to make informed decisions. If additional supporting documents are needed there remains a few days left to try to get them together. If a board member brings up a topic not on the agenda, it can easily be added and everyone can do their homework on it in advance so that one board member isn’t the only one educated on the topic.

The final agenda and its attachments may change several times over that 5+ day span, but by producing a draft early it gets the board on the same page and in a position to make informed decisions at the meeting.

4. Let homeowners speak first

Homeowners have no inherent right to speak at a board meeting; only to observe. But that’s a terrible policy for fostering community cooperation and involvement. However, board meetings are exactly that: BOARD meetings. It’s important the board conduct it’s scheduled business, and you can’t lose a significant portion of the meeting to homeowner comments. You also can’t conduct business in an orderly fashion if homeowners are chiming in with opinions as if they are board members throughout the meeting.

If your board meetings are regularly attended by homeowners, give them an opportunity to speak at the beginning of the meeting. Set an amount of time they are allowed to speak, and don’t interrupt them while they’re speaking. This allows them to address any concerns knowing that once the window closes they will be expected to observe without comment. If they are only there in the interest of their speaking topic, they will likely not stay for the rest of the meeting. This also acts as a deterrent to interruptions.

This transitions logically to my next tip…

5. Don’t make uninformed, rushed decisions

These types of issues are almost always brought up by homeowners, not the board, because you don’t know in advance what homeowners will choose to say during speaking time. A homeowner will make an impassioned plea to resolve an issue with a troublesome neighbor or quickly act to resolve a maintenance emergency, and the answer will seem logical and one which requires expedience.

Don’t take the bait. Thank the homeowner for their comments. Tell them the board will investigate the issue and place it on the agenda under New Business at the next meeting. Invite them to come and speak further to the issue and provide a status update at that meeting. But DON’T make a decision on a problem you’re just learning about for the first time.

Often the complaints are valid. But I can’t tell you how many times a major roof leak turned out to be a small clog causing a backup in a gutter. I can’t tell you how many times the neighbor’s horribly unkempt lawn turned out to be just a slightly higher grass length. Worst of all, I can’t tell you how many times I had to embarrass a board publicly and enrage a homeowner by telling them the issue the board just demanded action on is not within their legal jurisdiction or abilities.

Boards rush decisions to appease upset homeowners and prevent a possibly urgent issue from dragging out, but there is far more to be lost than gained when making a rushed decision. If it truly does sound urgent, go check out the issue immediately after the meeting concludes. But don’t act without all of the facts or you risk misdirection and overreaction, which can be costly in terms of dollars and goodwill within the community.

6. Follow Roberts Rules, or something close

You probably don’t need to hand every newly elected board member a copy of Roberts Rules, but you should practice some basic variation of it to keep order in your meetings and keep on task with the agenda.

Have either the president or the community association manager preside over the meeting. Stay in order on the agenda. At each piece of business, go around the table and allow each board member an opportunity to state an opinion, ask a question, etc or opt to pass on the opportunity. Once everyone has had a chance to speak and ask questions, TAKE A VOTE. This eliminates any confusion later on whether a topic was merely discussed or finally decided upon.

Again, you don’t need to be an expert parliamentarian or stick to rules of order as if they were law, but practicing some form order will keep your meetings organized, clear and productive.

7. Don’t abuse executive session

Generally speaking, executive session is used to discuss delinquent accounts, properties with uncured violations and other sensitive topics. Did you know that the minutes of these meetings are NOT confidential? A homeowner who formally requests to inspect minutes and records of executive sessions is entitled to do so if they have a valid reason for asking.

When boards think they are “off the public record” they’re often more brutally honest and gossipy. And I’ve often witnessed business that doesn’t fit the description required for executive session discussed because the matter may be offensive or sensitive to one or even all homeowners. But don’t misuse executive session. There is no “off the record”, and in some cases boards can be sued for inappropriately concealing their actions for discussing the wrong topics in executive session.

8. Ratify decisions made between meetings

We’re fairly lucky in Missouri. In states like Florida, any discussion between board members must take place in a properly announced and public meeting. But most of the issues we tackle that are minor take place with a few emails or a phone call between meetings, and there is nothing wrong with doing so.

But sometimes seemingly simple issues to resolve become bigger, and they could even end up in disputes. Worse, if the board turns over in elections during what becomes a long-running issue the seemingly innocent details of how the problem began going undocumented can cause big problems.

Especially if your board meets less frequently than monthly it only makes sense to try to resolve routine issues as they arise, and a few emails and phone calls are an easy and acceptable way to do so. But make a note on these items and be sure they are incorporated into the agenda of your next meeting. Then it can be reflected in the minutes that a decision was “ratified” even though the decision and execution of the decision took place outside of the meeting. Especially if the issue gets bigger or comes back to haunt your board, you’ll have a full record of the actions that have taken place and how they originated.

9. Take minutes, not “hours”

Minutes being taken by the secretary or another designated board member are a legal requirement. Those minutes must reflect the business conducted at the meeting. But if your secretary is so consumed during the meeting jotting down notes or typing away on their laptop, you’re probably doing too much.

I advise secretaries to use the agenda as a guide and make simple notes under each item. Under “Call to Order” simply note the time the meeting came to order. Under “Minutes from Previous Meeting” simply note the minutes were accepted, or accepted with XYZ modifications. If a piece of business is decided upon, note underneath “Proposal offered by XYZ Company accepted”.

There’s more to this than making the secretary’s job easier. Minutes are the official record of the association’s board meeting. If a decision is made that causes controversy later the board cannot be successfully sued if they are conducting business in good faith on behalf of the association. It is nearly impossible to make a case otherwise when only the final decisions and actions of the board are noted. If everyone’s detailed opinions on each topic are noted in detail, it becomes much easier for someone with an adversarial motive to pick apart the decision.

There are lots of ways your board should strive for excellence and attention to detail in overseeing the business of the association. Minutes aren’t one of them. Don’t fail to meet the minimum requirements, but don’t aim beyond them. The benefits of more detailed minutes don’t outweigh effectively removing your secretary from the flow of the meeting or exposing the board unnecessarily.

10. Keep it to two hours

Psychologists have opined that average person is capable of sitting down, engaging outwardly with others and thinking critically at their best capacity for 60 to 90 minutes at a time. After that we become mentally and even physically weary. We’ll start to mentally space out when others are talking, facts and figures will begin to become confusing and our minds will begin to wander. The outcomes can actually be devastating, as we are all more prone to making bad decisions once we begin this downward spiral.

The total time of board meetings, if they’re being conducted using the other tips I’ve offered above, should rarely ever need to exceed two hours. If your board meetings are regularly exceeding the two-hour mark you’re either not following the other pieces of advice we’ve offered and you’re getting off-track in your meetings, or you aren’t conducting meetings often enough to meet the needs of your association and your board.

First, try sticking to all of the other pieces of advice we offered so that your board meetings are businesslike, concise and orderly. If you’re still struggling with long meetings consider increasing the frequency of your meetings.

If you’re already meeting monthly or even more frequently, you might be trying to bite off more than is practical. This is especially commonplace when a major turnover of the board has occurred, usually upon transition of the board from the developer to the homeowners. As much as it may seem needs to be done, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your best possible community. Consider scaling back or stretching out the timeline on your expectations. Taking on too much at one time, even outside of meetings, is also likely to create some unforced errors.

What do you think?

Do you have any great pieces of advice we missed? Are you experiencing a problem with your meetings we can offer advice with? Let us know!