Common Georgia Insects 🐜 and How to Deal with Them

Whether you’re attacked while working in the garden, enjoying a picnic in the park or lounging by the pool, bug bites and stings are an inevitable summer annoyance. At best, bites and stings can be uncomfortable for a few days; at worst, they can be a serious, life-threatening hazard. 

There are nearly 600 common bugs and insects in Georgia. Below are just a few of the most common (and pesky) ones you should be on the look out for both inside and outside your home.

 Common Georgia insects and how to keep them out of your home.

A List of Common Georgia Insects


  • American Dog Tick
  • Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle (aka Ladybug)
  • Black Carpenter Ant
  • Black Horsefly
  • Black Widow Spider
  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
  • Dobsonfly
  • European Earwig
  • Mosquitos

And that's just to name a few! While many of these insects native to Georgia are actually helpful around the backyard, most homeowners would prefer they stay outdoors. There are plenty of things that can be done to create a barrier between your home and Georgia insects to keep them on the outside where they belong.

Check out our list of Georgia Pest Companies who can help your community and homeowners get control of the insects this summer.

Alternatively, local home supply stores sell a wide array of sprays and deterrents for those who don't mind spraying on a regular basis. 

But what about the insects that you just can't control while you're enjoying the beautiful Georgia weather? Well, here are some tips on how to relieve the itch or sting and when to know if you should seek medical attention.

How to Treat a Bug Bite or Sting

 How to treat a bug bite from a Georgia insect.

If the bite or sting is mildly painful or itchy, apply over-the-counter medication that contains Benadryl or cortisone for topical relief. Other home remedies, like a applying a paste made from baking soda and water, dabbing on ammonia with a cotton ball, soaking in oatmeal baths or even applying toothpaste to the site may also provide relief. 

Whatever you do, don’t scratch! This can cause an infection and leave a scar. And it won’t relieve the itch or sting. 

If you feel faint, nauseous, dizzy or disoriented, or if you experience rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing or your lips, tongue or throat swell, call 911 immediately. These symptoms indicate a severe allergy to the insect’s venom. Administer an Epi-pen (injectable epinephrine) if one is available and administer CPR if symptoms worsen before emergency personnel arrive. After the episode, follow up with a physician who can determine an allergy prevention treatment. 

 Don't scratch those bug bites!

Stay alert for delayed symptoms around the bite or sting, like redness or swelling, which could indicate an infection or other condition. And see a doctor right away if you have a headache, fever or joint pain within a few days of being bitten. Some insects, like ticks and mosquitoes, can infect their victims with serious, flulike illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and West Nile virus, which only a physician can diagnose and treat. 

Most important, use insect repellant when outdoors and wear light-weight, light-colored clothing over arms, legs and feet to keep insects off your skin. And avoid wearing perfume and fragrances, which can attract bugs.

What are the Responsibilities of an Architectural Committee?

Spring has finally sprung in Atlanta! If you're anything like many of the other area homeowners, you've been assessing the state of your yard, house and landscaping. With the warmer weather and fresh blooms many of us are starting to consider new home projects.

Maybe considering a new shed or fence? Some fresh landscaping or tree removal? Before you break out the miter saw, make sure to get your plans approved by our association’s architectural committee. Here's why it's important...

 What are the responsibilities of an architectural committee?

What are the responsibilities of an Architectural Committee?


  • Review plans for moderate to major exterior modifications to your property (check your community bylaws and regulations for details on what requires approval).
     
  • Approve plans for modification, and if it doesn't meet requirements, help find alternative options.
     
  • Assist in keeping the community beautiful and well maintained.
     
  • Helps to keep the property values high and the area desirable for residents and prospective new residents.

While it may seem arbitrary from an individual homeowner’s standpoint, the architectural committee looks out for the entire community. Aside from stopping residents from painting pink polka dots on their houses, the committee’s job is to make sure that the size and style of the project, the type of building materials being used and the overall look of the new structure adhere to the association’s design requirements.

Not only does this keep the community looking cohesive, it also helps to keep property values up by preventing individual structures from standing out. Of course, it’s also important to note that unapproved structures might legally have to be removed at the owner’s expense and/or may incur fines if implemented without approval, so save yourself money and headaches by getting approval before building.


Ready to start a home project?

 What does an architectural committee do?

When you’re ready to start your new project, or if the design of your project changes midway through building it, send your plans to the architectural committee first so that they can make sure the plans are in compliance with the association’s design standards.

If any issues are found, Heritage or your Architectural Committee will let you know what they are and try to help you come up with other options. HOAs appreciate all the hard work residents do to make and keep their homes and community beautiful—help everyone in your community keep the neighborhood looking great and property values high by keeping your HOA and Architectural Committee in the loop of all your building projects.


Have a question about how your specific Architectural Committee operates? Drop us a line. We'd be happy to help.

Georgia Elections Coming Up : May 22nd

With the Georgia Primary Elections just around the corner on May 22nd, we wanted to remind homeowners that whatever your political philosophy, you should exercise your individual right to help choose the people who will lead our government—at the federal, state and local levels.  Casting a ballot is an American right that people in many other countries don’t enjoy.

 Georgia Primary Elections 2018 :: © GA Tech

Just as we elect our government officials, many homeowners also have an opportunity to elect and vote for their HOA board members. If you are not happy with your current board, vote for change! If you are happy, vote for them to stay! Either way, each person's vote counts both at the national and local level, even in your own community.


When is the Georgia Primary Election in 2018?

The Georgia Primary Elections for both the Democratic and Republican parties is coming up on May 22nd. 


 When is the Georgia Primary Election 2018?

Before you can vote, you must register. You can register to vote in the State of Georgia online by visiting the online voter registration site. You can also register by filling out a paper application and mailing it in via the DMV's website. The site also included information on who is eligible to vote in Georgia elections.

And remember, if you’re an owner in good standing, you have the right to vote in our own association elections. Our campaigns aren’t covered by the worldwide media, and we don’t have bumper stickers and buttons, but they are important and do make a difference in your life.

Reach out to your Heritage Property Manager or your community HOA to find out when the next election is being held in your community.


Want to learn more about the upcoming Georgia Primary Elections this May?

Check out the Ballotpedia website for more details about who's running in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

 

Share this article online via email or social media to get the word out about the Georgia Primary Election this May by using the 'share' button below!

Understanding Property Management Fees

The adage “you pay for what you get,” is only accurate about half the time when it comes to property management. Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you get over-charged… and sometimes you find a property management company who will give you a fair price and always do a good job.

But what exactly is a fair price when it comes to hiring a property manager? This is where the “what you get” element factors in. Different management companies perform different services and charge for varying fees. This article is an overview of the various fees that property managers charge to help you understand property management fees.

 How much do property management companies cost in Atlanta?

What You Should Know About Property Management Fees


One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily want to hire the manager/company with the lowest fees – whomever you hire will hold a huge responsibility, and they need to be both qualified and good at what they do – otherwise they could end up costing you a great deal of money down the road (more than saving a few percentage points in fees).

The most important factor isn’t the price, it is the quality of service to your HOA. The best way to gauge good property management service is by judging the transparency of a property manager’s fees.

 

Questions to Ask a Property Management Company


When considering a property management company ask the following questions to understand their fee structure and level of service.

  • Do they seem willing to tell you everything upfront? 
  • What are their policies? 
  • Do they have a fair system that minimizes or eliminates the potential for hidden fees?

These are the most important things to look for and if you ask the right questions, you’ll have a good chance of hiring quality managers.


Have a question about property management fees that we didn't cover? Drop us a line. We'd be happy to help.

Preparing Your Lawn and Landscape for Spring

If Punxsutawney Phil (the famous Groundhog) is right, we are in for 6 more weeks before Spring weather arrives in Georgia. That leaves homeowners plenty of time to get a jump start on preparing their lawns for the Spring season. 

 Tips for Atlanta lawn care

Lawn care and landscape maintenance is a key part of ensuring home values stay high and the neighborhood as a whole continues to be desirable to homebuyers. Most homeowners appreciate living near neighbors who care for their lawns. Maintaining a clean-looking lawn can be as simple as mowing every 5-7 days and keeping things tidy by removing down branches and debris on occasion.

While many homeowners who are clients of Heritage Property Management Services enjoy full or partial lawn maintenance by one of our trusted Atlanta lawn care providers, there are plenty others who don’t have hired lawn care or perhaps enjoy taking on the rewarding lawn work themselves. Either way, there are plenty of simple things each Atlanta homeowner can do to prep their lawns for lush, beautiful spring growth. 

How to Prepare Your Atlanta Lawn for Spring


+ Clean Up Debris

Preparing your lawn for spring starts with a bit of clearing up. On a nice dry sunny day grab your rake and garden waste bags and head outside for some spring cleaning.

+ Pull Weeds

  • Rake and dispose of old leaves, twigs, and debris from fall and winter.
  • Remove any down branches (carefully!) or hire an Atlanta area tree removal specialist.
  • Pull out any undergrowth to clear space for new spring growth.

By cleaning up your yard, especially the turf, you’re ensuring that future fertilizers won’t be blocked from reaching the soil and drainage will be optimal for new growth.

 Atlanta spring lawn care tips, what to trim in spring

+ Prune Summer-Flowering Shrubs

It may seem early, but late winter is actually the best time to start trimming those summer-flowering shrubs like hydrangeas, crape myrtles, butterfly bushes, and most types of roses. Make sure to hold off on pruning any spring-flowering shrubs though as they need a bit more time.

+ Mow Your Lawn 

Dust off the lawn mower and check it over. Clean it off and sharpen the blade if needed. Also, make sure to check the blade height while parked on a flat solid surface. 

The height of the blade makes a surprisingly big difference in the spread of weeds and overall growth of the grass. Georgia Gardener, Walter Reeves has a great reference chart for mower blade height vs. type of grass on his website.

+ Don’t Fertilize…Yet

You’ll want to wait until Spring has arrived to lay that first batch of fertilizer but a good tip to ensure you don’t miss your ‘fertilizing window’ is to swing by the lawn care store and pick up a bag or two to have ready. Then all you have to do is set a reminder on your phone or on your calendar so you don’t miss this crucial opportunity to get your landscape off to a healthy start.

Also make a call to your landscape company, if your community has one, and ask them if lawn fertilization is included in your monthly maintenance. You may be able to skip this step if it’s already provided for you.

 When to prune roses in Atanta

+ Edge Flower Beds

Late winter through early spring is a great time to edge your flower beds to create definition between the beds and the lawn. From there mulching is a breeze. Choose a good quality, heavy mulch and you’ll get more life out of it.

+ Hold off on Seeding

Brown patches, bald patches, and colorless dormant grass are typical of this time of year. Like fertilizer, resist the urge to spread new seed. When spring arrives you can lay a combination of some pre-emergent or weed killer and fertilizer. Another good reminder to put on your calendar.

+ Check the Schedule

Most lawn care providers and landscaping companies offer a maintenance schedule for homeowners. Check the website for your landscape company and print off their maintenance schedule to avoid any overlap in efforts. This also allows you to fill in any ‘gaps’ in additional maintenance you want to include in your annual lawn care.


Looking for a Lawn Care Provider for Your Community?
 

Heritage Property Management offers clients an extensive list of pre-vetted Atlanta-Area vendors, including lawn care providers, for communities. Need help choosing? Drop us a line and we’ll help you assess your community’s landscaping needs.

What Home Owner's Associations (HOAs) Should Know About Taxes

Tax season is upon us and as Benjamin Franklin once said, “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Unfortunately, HOAs are no exception. 

If you serve on the Board of Directors for your neighborhood’s HOA, and especially if you’re the treasurer, it might mean significantly more stress. However, there are ways to lighten the load.

A resourceful, client-focused property management company in Atlanta like Heritage Property Management understands HOAs, non-profits and how to confidently and accurately assist you by answering any relevant questions you might have.

To get you started, below are some of the most common questions and answers associated with filing taxes for an HOA.

 Do HOAs have to file taxes?

Common Questions about HOA Taxes


+ When are HOA taxes due?

“For the calendar year associations, the due date is April 15 (formerly March 15th), although it can be extended for 6 months (until October 15th) by filing an extension form (IRS Form 7004 ).” (Source)

+ Do HOAs Need to File a Tax Return?

Corporations are generally required to file taxes. Choosing which form to use for filing is a very important consideration. Read the tips below for choosing the correct tax form for your HOA.

+ Are Home Owners Associations (HOAs) Considered Non-For-Profits?

According to the IRS;

“A homeowners' association that is not exempt under section 501(c)(4) and that is a condominium management association, a residential real estate management association, or a timeshare association generally may elect under the provisions of Code section 528 to receive certain tax benefits that, in effect, permit it to exclude its exempt function income from its gross income.”

Read on for more details.

Tips for Filing HOA Taxes


+ Which Tax Forms Should an HOA Use?

For an entity to request non-profit status, an HOA would typically use Form 1024. However, acquiring that type of status can be expensive and complex. Without a substantial reserve budget, it’s smarter to file Form 1120-H.

A property management company can help you understand which deductions you can claim, as well as organize the necessary forms and documentation to make those claims. Additionally, the property management fees themselves are also tax deductible.

+ How to Fill Out Your HOA Tax Form.

Filing an 1120-H form properly requires careful review. Be aware of your state income tax filing requirements as they can vary accordingly. They differ from Federal requirements, so please consult your community association manager if you have specific questions on your state’s return.

+ How to Account for HOA Reserves in Tax Filings.

Filing a federal return requires Form 1120, which, among other things, implies that an HOA must account for all income it collected during the year. This potentially makes reserve funding difficult.

For example, if X amount is set aside for Project Y, those funds would be taxable if they weren’t spent during the current tax year. In other words, it can negatively impact reserve budgeting, thereby affecting all its allocations.

Because HOAs are distinct from corporations, the IRS has developed Form 1120-H, a single page form that streamlines the filing process for associations. A knowledgeable property management company in Atlanta like Heritage understands this and other tax law like it.

+ How HOAs handle tax exemptions.

An HOA must formally “elect” to file Form 1120-H and it has to be done so on the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the HOA’s tax year. With Form 1120-H, an HOA is required only to pay taxes on non-exempt income.

Non-exempt income includes:

  • Laundry or vending machine income
  • Interests
  • Rental income from an HOA owned property
  • Dividends

As with any nonexempt tax, the HOA is allowed deductions specifically for expenses directly related to those items listed above. So, for example, repairing a dryer is deductible. The final sum is then taxed at a flat rate of 30%.


Need More Help? Don't Worry!

 What is the deadline for HOA taxes?

Heritage Property Management is a full-service Atlanta property management group who can help clarify key elements of your HOA’s taxes and answer your questions. You have a partner in Heritage. Contact us today for a free consultation and proposal.

How to Winterize Your Home

Winterizing your home is a crucial part of annual home maintenance for any homeowner regardless of where you live in the country. Winterizing your home generally includes taking small preventative measures to protect your plumbing, heating/cooling, and exterior during the colder months of the year.

With over 30 years of property management experience, we know a thing or two about maintaining a home and it's property value. Below are some easy ways you can prepare your home for cold winter weather and keep things working order and avoid costly repairs in the spring.

 Checklist for winterizing your home

Run Your Ceiling Fans in Reverse

Many homeowners don't realize it, but fans aren't just for cooling a room. They can also be used to push warm air down to floor level. Remember 5th-grade science class? Warm air rises and cold air falls. In the winter months, your ceiling fans can help keep that warm air where you need it most by running in reverse.

home-winterization-checklist-2.jpeg

Run the fans in reverse

Change the direction to clockwise.

What direction is reverse on a ceiling fan? Clockwise.

Most ceiling fans have a switch allowing you to change the direction of the fan blades. This simple trick could save you up to 10% on your heating costs.


Use Door Draft Stoppers

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of a home's energy usage. You can buy door draft stoppers online or in a home improvement store, or if you're crafty, you can make one yourself.

How to make a DIY door draft stopper.

This is a simple and highly effective way to keep your house warmer and also may help keep your thermostat from incorrect readings if located near a drafty door or window.


Lower the Thermostat While You're Away

Lowering your thermostat just one degree will save you 1-3 percent of your heating bill. Most modern thermostats have a programming feature, make use of it. Lower the temperature while you are out of the house for work each day and overnight while you are sleeping. It has been said that a temperature between 60-67 degrees is ideal for a good night's sleep.

If you're feeling particularly tech-savvy upgrade your old thermostat to a modern, energy-efficient model which you can conveniently control from your smartphone and while you are away from home as well. Some gas providers will offer discounts and rebates for energy efficient equipment.


Seal Up the Leaks

Buy a few tubes of calk and some weatherstripping and start sealing up your windows and doors to head off any cold air leaks into your house. The US Department of Energy reports that air leaks in a home can lead to a 5-30% drop in home efficiency each year, that adds up on your heating and air conditioning bills.

home-winterization-checklist-3.jpeg

Seal Any air leaks

Air leaks can drop home efficiency by up to 30%!

In addition to the obvious spots like windows and doors, have a look at areas like fireplaces and chimneys, areas where wires and piping exit the home, and all along the home's foundation.

 

Have Your Fireplace Cleaned & Inspected

Throughout the year birds and other animals can make their way into your chimney building nests and wreaking havoc on your fireplace system. Each year before lighting your first fire a thorough inspection and cleaning will protect you from potential fire damage and ensure your fireplace is working properly throughout the colder months.

 

Bring the Plants Indoors

To prevent your potted plants from dying over the winter it is recommended that you bring them indoors before temperatures drop below 45 degrees. It will certainly save you time and money come spring when you don't have to purchase and replant from new.


Looking for more ways to winterize your home?

Download this home winterization checklist full of simple ways to protect your home over the winter.

 

What is the Role of a Property Management Company?

Property management companies are hired by HOAs to manage certain aspects of a community such as the enforcement of rules and regulations, collecting late payments and delinquent homeowner accounts and much more. Although these responsibilities are sometimes unpleasant, they are vital to running a successful community.

Property management companies are often misunderstood which leads to the confusion and frustration of many homeowners.

Here at Heritage Property Management, we like to shed some light on the role and responsibilities of a typical property management company. A community’s management structure can be broken down into three main components.

Three Parts of A Community’s Management Team

 what is the role of a property management company
  1. HOA Covenants & Bylaws
    Your home owner’s association (HOA) is governed by its own set of documents known as Covenants and Bylaws. These documents create the rules for the community in which you live.
     
  2. Board of Directors
    If you live in an HOA community, odds are your community also has a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is a group of volunteers who are also homeowners, just like you and are elected by the community to represent the total population of your neighborhood. They must adhere to the Bylaws and Covenants of the community.
     
  3. Property Management Company
    Most HOA communities will hire a professional third-party company to handle the enforcement of their policies as laid out in their governing documents as well as other tasks such as collecting late payments and settling delinquent homeowner accounts, paperwork for new residents, coordinating with closing attorneys during the sale of a property, collecting bids for large projects within the community and/or sending out regular communications to the residents of the community.

Who Makes the Decisions in an HOA?

Many homeowners do not realize that all the important decisions for their community are made by the Board of Directors, not the property management company. The Board of Directors, in turn, is guided by the governing documents. 

For many homeowners, if an issue arises or they become unhappy with a decision that has been made, their first call might be to the property management company specifically the Property Manager assigned to their community. In most cases, the Property Manager is simply enforcing a rule or regulation outlined in the governing documents of the community and it is very unlikely that the property management company has control over what those rules and regulations state.
 

What is a Property Manager’s Role?

 role and responsbilities of a property manager

A Property Manager is generally assigned to each community to be the main point of contact for the homeowners and board members. This Property Manager can field complaints and direct them to the appropriate person(s) as well as explain any policies, procedures, and rules within the community.

Collecting on late payments, reconciling delinquent accounts, and enforcing rules are not always fun or easy tasks. This is why many HOAs will hire a property management company to handle it on their behalf. These type of tasks are often met with disgruntled homeowners who may disagree with the rules or payments set forth by their communities.

Although these tasks have their challenges, at Heritage, we enjoy helping communities tackle both big and small hurdles because, at the end of the day without these crucial responsibilities, a community could face major difficulties. We also take pride in being a trusted partner to many hard-working volunteer board members who might otherwise be overwhelmed with the amount of work that goes into keeping a community in top shape with well-preserved home values.
 

A Good Analogy for Your HOA's Management Structure

A community’s management structure has some similarities to our own country’s democracy. Whereas the HOA Covenants and Bylaws function as a community constitution. The Board of Directors are elected officials representing the larger community. And the property management company is like the police, enforcing the rules set forth by the community.


Learn More About What a Property Management Company Does

To fully understand what we do, along with the responsibilities your board is obligated to fulfill when they agree to hold a particular position, we have prepared a list of frequently asked questions which you can read on our Home Owner’s FAQ page.