Posted on November 17, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Some elections are complicated events and associations can’t afford to make them worse by taking actions that might invite a legal dispute. Unfortunately, this is exactly what can happen if you organize and conduct an election without first drafting the relevant election rules. These rules must comply with any of the pre-existing documents, as well as the laws that govern associations in your area.
The Inadequacy Of Governing Documents
A quick search of the homeowners association website will usually reveal that the governing documents have clauses that specify the regulations to which the association must adhere to when it organizes elections. The presence of such clauses in the governing documents may encourage board members to presume that their association doesn’t require distinct election rules. However, the absence of clear election rules empowers members to not only challenge the result of an election but to also take legal action.
The Importance Of Expert Assistance
Election rules are supposed to cover a variety of fields, including the nomination procedures, the statutes governing recalls, and secret balloting protocols. The notion that a board member or even the director personally drafts these documents isn’t necessarily far-fetched.
Nonetheless, a majority of elected HOA members lack the expertise and experience required to produce regulations that can satisfy the needs of an association without contradicting state law. For this reason, board members are encouraged to hire a qualified professional that can guide them through this process.
Some associations make the mistake of presuming that their communities are too small for election rules to play a significant role. Others are too quick to dismiss the necessity of elections. Regardless of a board members opinion, they must ensure that the most recent version of the election rules is available on the homeowners association website. In doing so, it protects the HOA from challenges and lawsuits in the future!
Posted on October 16, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
An election year may complicate matters for the HOA board since it has to contend with the opposing ideologies that run rampant in the community. In order to retain their authority among residents and to play the role of an impartial mediator during this contentious period, board members must maintain a neutral stance. Often, they do that by overcoming all obstacles regarding the community in a manner that doesn’t empower one side or diminish the other. The goal is to strike a fair balance which is usually difficult, but it can be done.
The easiest way for the board to remain neutral during a campaign season is to show their support for both sides. A task that can be accomplished by not only highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each political camp on the neighborhood website but also inviting local candidates to make their case to the community.
This is particularly effective in elections during which measures that could affect the future of the community have taken center stage. The HOA board should consider inviting the local leaders and representatives to either defend or oppose these measures to residents.
Some associations have a difficult time with keeping politics out of their communities but most homeowners will resist any attempt to silence their voices. For this reason, an HOA board needs to consider spending their resources on defining the rules and regulations that will govern political speech in the community. The neighborhood website should list the boundaries within which political views can be expressed to ensure that the constitutional freedoms of residents are protected.
An HOA board is discouraged from enacting rules that contradict the established laws of the country as those attempts could attract a variety of consequences. During matters such as these, boards are encouraged to consult with an experienced attorney that will guide their actions, even where political yard signs are concerned. Regardless of what the board does, it should notify residents of any changes in the protocols governing their actions during a campaign season.
Posted on September 17, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
An HOA board is tasked with overseeing the development and maintenance of a community which requires a budget for the association to map its future. Whether the budget is tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or more, every HOA needs one to create a secure and enjoyable space for residents to live. If your HOA website has posted the association’s new budget, take the time to review it and ensure it contains all the necessary elements.
Every association incurs expenses regularly from the services it offers homeowners on a weekly, monthly, or seasonal basis. Each year, the new HOA budget must identify all the services an association will provide to homeowners and the contractors who deliver them before determining and highlighting the cost. These are categorized as operating expenses.
The HOA board is expected to not only plan for future maintenance, replacement, and repairs but to also create a reserve fund that holds the money used to finance those projects. Reserve funds are important as they enable associations to avoid lawsuits by making sure the community assets remain in the best possible condition. An HOA budget requires a reserve fund that was prepared after a specialist carried out a reserve study. In that, projects should be identified that must be executed in the next few years and decades, as well as their associated costs.
Source of Revenue
Aside from dealing with the operating expenses and reserve fund, the association will usually list the sources on the HOA website that they use to generate the money needed to complete the work. Most HOA boards rely on the fees collected from homeowners to finance their budgets; though, many communities aren’t opposed to the organization having fundraising events to bolster the association’s revenue.
HOA boards are encouraged to consult with experts such as attorneys and property managers to ensure their budget expectations are realistic. These are just a few elements that the board should include when creating a budget.
Posted on September 2, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Homeowners all over the country think that automated systems are the answer to their security problems. Often, they believe the security systems that are promoted on a homeowner association website can keep intruders at bay, but that isn’t necessarily true.
While security systems are effective, every new resident is encouraged to deepen their ties with neighbors since there might be times when criminal or suspicious activity goes undetected. However, it takes time to build lasting relationships with neighbors if you expect them to watch your home.
Few other activities can built trust quite like a neighborhood gathering. Some people avoid them because they sound like an inconvenience. But, community cookouts and other gatherings are the perfect time to socialize with your neighbors. These events help erase suspicion so residents gain a closer familiarity with one another. It is this same familiarity that leads neighbors to watching one another’s homes and raise an alarm once they suspect criminal behavior.
Routines & Habits
Before you establish a security net around your home using your neighbors, you must first gain a clear understanding of the routines and habits in the community. Every homeowner association website encourages new residents to participate in activities of the community, such as attending HOA meetings and using the park and pool. By learning these routines and habits, it becomes much easier to identify suspicious activity.
If you don’t rely on the trust and goodwill between you and your neighbors to ensure your home is protected, suggest to the association that they create a neighborhood watch. Some homeowners never trust such entities because they consist of individuals that have little to no law enforcement training. Nonetheless, the best associations normally coordinate with local police to confirm that neighborhood watch has all the information and resources it needs to keep the community safe!
Posted on August 19, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
An HOA board maintains the assets of an association, setting funds aside to carry out repairs where and when they are necessary. It also puts in place rules and regulations that will protect residents in the event of an accident.
However, some HOA boards are not as diligent as their community website claims. This is why individual members have to remain alert, responding to any signs of trouble they encounter and holding the board accountable so the association is properly maintained.
Why Proper Maintenance Matters
The objective of carrying out proper maintenance is to either prevent the wear that assets eventually suffer or to identify repairs that must be done to prevent them from being a safety concern. When the board fails to maintain the assets, an infrastructure breaks down and accidents may start to happen. It isn’t just a simple matter of retaining the aesthetic value of the community as injuries can make the association vulnerable to lawsuits.
The Importance Of A Reserve Study
The easiest way to determine whether or not an HOA has been properly maintained is to find out if the board has recently performed a reserve study. Reserve studies are used to analyze the state of the community, identifying assets that require future maintenance, and estimating the costs the association will incur to do those repairs. The presence of a reserve study shows that the HOA board has adequately prepared for the maintenance needs of a community.
Consider The Law
In many places, reserve studies are a legal requirement and negligent associations tend to ignore this law even though it exposes the community to costly ramifications. Often, you can determine if the board is aware of their legal responsibilities by looking at the community website. In the end, an association that has chosen to neglect their legal obligations can’t be trusted with the maintenance demands of the community.
Posted on July 26, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Neighborhoods that never implement a maintenance plan have been known to worsen over time. These communities are characterized by looking messy with unkempt yards, dilapidated structures, and roads that need to be repaved. Such neighborhoods are frustrating to homeowners as they tend to turn away potential buyers. Although, the presence of this type of wear and tear can work in your favor since it will likely convince your HOA to prepare and follow a maintenance plan.
The Role Of A Homeowners Association
Almost every homeowners association website emphasizes the role an HOA plays in maintenance. Yet, many aren’t exactly sure what that means. The association will repair damaged structures, perform basic landscaping upkeep on common areas, and combat insect infestations. HOA management must also collaborate with board members to not only administer ongoing maintenance but to plan for future maintenance tasks and projects.
Use A Proactive Approach
Many communities collapse due to their associations taking a reactive approach to maintenance. A maintenance plan should prepare for the future by analyzing all the areas of a community that might require maintenance in the weeks, months, and years to come. Then, outline the necessary steps that the association needs to take to prepare accordingly.
The Purpose Of A Reserve Study
Reserve studies are frequently mentioned on the homeowners association website as they are a key component of the maintenance plan. A reserve study is a budgeting tool that helps an HOA set aside funds for the community to use so future expenses are met. Board members can’t prepare a credible maintenance plan without crafting and annually reviewing the reserve study.
Some communities fail to meet their maintenance goals since the board has refused to trust in the reserve study. As a result, this presents more of an opportunity for maintenance issues to become a problem. Maintenance plans are vital because they extend the life of a community’s assets. Without a proper plan, the financial and aesthetic value of the community will likely decline.
Posted on June 29, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
A reserve fund is supposed to prepare the HOA for replacement and repair costs that will come along in the future. Reserve funds are crucial because they ensure that a community’s assets remain operational regardless of the deterioration that might occur over the years. The rules pertaining to how these funds get used are quite strict as they are meant to cater to specific issues and needs.
But, sometimes a problem arises that the reserve fund did not account for or isn’t listed in the reserve study. What happens then if no answer can be found on the neighborhood website? Can the HOA board take funds from the reserves to meet this unexpected expense?
Some people fail to understand why such situations occur since reserve funds are crafted by experts. They should account for every repair and any replacement cost the community might encounter. Residents presume that unexpected repair and replacement costs only happen in cases where the reserve specialist made a miscalculation.
However, this isn’t the case as not everything can be accounted for when analyzing a community. It’s almost impossible to identify all the potential failures. The good news is that reserve funds are flexible since they are prepared in a way to react to unforeseen circumstances.
When board members encounter an emergency, they are likely to feel more encouraged to seek expert assistance. Once the board has received guidance from a specialist, they can proceed by adding the new component to the reserve study. After that, the board can use the reserves to finance the new component but only if the reserves are well funded and can meet the needs of the project.
Many communities have strict rules governing the use of reserve funds and a majority of them can be reviewed from the neighborhood website. Other communities are more flexible when it comes to the way they handle matters in this area. Regardless of the situation, most homeowners wouldn’t object if the board used their power to resolve key components not included in the reserve fund!
Posted on June 8, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Homeowner associations are expected to maintain the assets of a community but that often involves going to the residents for funding. The more involved a maintenance project is, the more money your HOA will typically demand. But, did you know that it is possible for the association to meet any maintenance goals without raising HOA fees?
In fact, they can reduce maintenance costs altogether and those lower costs will result in lower HOA fees. The key is to make a few basic considerations that will have a significant impact in the long run.
Protect Landscaped Areas
When it comes to reducing costs, a great place to start is by protecting the landscaping throughout the neighborhood. Use the HOA website to encourage residents to respect all the flowers, bushes, and lawns in the common area. Any area that needs work directly impacts the labor costs the community will incur to make replacements. If residents do a better job of respecting the landscape, maintenance costs could drop considerably.
Reasons To Recycle
More people are recycling and this is a habit that needs to gain traction in many communities. Some areas have laws in place that expect communities to recycle and failure to do so results in a substantial fine. This isn’t the only reason to recycle though. Doing so reduces your waste which affects the amount of money you spend on waste disposal services.
Learn The Rules
You should also use the HOA website to fully understand the rules and regulations and make it known to the community when you have the chance. This ensures that more residents fall in line when it comes to recycling, protecting the landscape, and keeping debris away from the common areas. Teach residents what they have to do so HOA fees don’t increase and they almost always comply.
If you opt for a sustainable and renewable way of living, you can cut your costs drastically through recycling and the use of energy-saving techniques. Emphasize the importance of green programs such as this and show residents what they can do to participate. In most cases, it’s easier to lower maintenance costs and keep HOA fees under control when all residents get involved.
Posted on May 26, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Most residents know that the HOA board oversees all the decisions of a homeowners association. The homeowner association website goes into detail about it, though many people never realize that the board is also expected to protect the association. This is why some board members think of their roles in a light manner. It takes them a while to realize the responsibility they have within the association and its future. Additionally, they are supposed to play a role in keeping it safe from internal and external threats.
Legal matters should always be considered as some people neglect to fulfill their responsibility even though it can disrupt the association. Of course, an HOA has rules and they are governed by laws that vary from state to state. The board is not only expected to fully comprehend these laws but to also ensure that the association is adhering to all requirements. This prevents the association from incurring complaints and lawsuits.
The homeowners association is expected to maintain and enhance the community. Associations usually struggle to achieve goals on their own which is why the board works to locate and hire experts such as lawyers and accountants. They review the operations of the HOA, then provide advice and assistance when necessary. While it would be easy for the association to reject any help in favor of the knowledge of their members, the HOA knows that professionals will guide them to make wise decisions.
Almost every homeowner association website goes to great lengths to assure residents that all decisions made and implemented by the HOA are objective. Sometimes it’s difficult for HOA members to make choices that benefit the entire community rather than their own interests.
A competent HOA board will intervene when necessary to ensure that members always remain objective. The homeowners association plays an important role in the prosperity of a community and it wouldn’t be possible without protection from the board.
Posted on May 11, 2020 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Every community website you visit will probably have a different perspective on what percentage is healthy regarding the reserve funds. Yet, most of them agree that you can’t base your decisions on the percent funded because it rarely stays the same. Fluctuations happen all the time due to a variety of factors.
Even when an HOA is funded 100 percent, an unexpected project could suddenly come along and throw the HOA into disarray. Fortunately, there are ways to resolve such situations without depleting the reserves.
The law is surprisingly flexible where assessment issues are concerned. Basically, it permits the board to raise assessments by 20 percent and this can be done without voting on the matter. If the HOA keeps doing this every year, they might raise enough funds to resolve all emergencies.
The board can also take advantage of a special assessment, which is usually restricted to 5 percent (of the current assessment) when being enforced without a vote. Most homeowners are given the option to pay the amount in full or over a period of several months depending on the association.
Loans & Reserve Funds
An HOA can borrow money from the reserves but only after voting on the matter and putting in place a repayment schedule that returns all the funds. It is more common for homeowners associations to take out loans, especially if the emergency is much worse than the board anticipated.
As far as the ideal percentage for the HOA reserve fund is concerned, an average community website has posted that 70 percent is a good starting point. Naturally, every HOA prefers to have their reserves funded 100 percent. It would give the board peace of mind to know that they have the financial means to meet all the anticipated costs in the future. Aside from that, there’s no need to panic about the percentage unless the reserve fund is less than 70 percent!
- The Main Reason Why A Homeowners Association Needs Rules For Elections
- How The HOA Board Should Be Fair During This Campaign Season
- What Elements Should Be Included In The Homeowners Association Budget?
- Are Neighbors The Best Form Of Security In Your HOA?
- How To Tell If The HOA Has Been Properly Maintained
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