Posted on April 23, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The CC&R’s, or Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, define the responsibilities of the homeowners association and homeowners. They’re the most important documents in the HOA, above the by-laws and the HOA rules, where only the law can override them. This is why changing the CC&R’s normally ends up being such a lengthy process. Summarized below are some considerations to make and the process to follow when making a change to the CC&R’s.
Is The Change Necessary?
If the documents are not in line with the way you want to live as a community, it might be time to change them. However, the change must be reasonable and it should be about a matter that affects the HOA as a whole. The CC&R’s can also be changed when there’s been an alteration in government policy and the CC&R’s aren’t in line with it.
Costs & Time
The services of an attorney might be needed to ensure the process is kept legal. Ballots will also be printed for voting and if the association doesn’t have an HOA website, newsletters will be sent out beforehand to notify the homeowners of the proposed change. An HOA needs to assess all the costs and time involved to accurately gauge whether or not they’re within affordable limits.
All board members and homeowners are notified of the change and a meeting is scheduled for them to discuss the matter together. Then, a secret ballot is sent out and the proposed change is approved or denied based on a quorum. If it’s approved, all HOA members are sent the new version of the CC&R’s and a downloadable copy is usually placed on the HOA website.
A change to the CC&R’s can be a long and exhausting process, but an HOA manager makes it all easier. The manager typically bridges the gap, helping the board reach HOA members more efficiently and they help speed up the process while keeping costs low!
Posted on April 8, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Does your HOA board take charge of all the community’s construction projects? Do you think they fail to provide you with key information on the progress of the projects? You might be wondering whether or not the board is allowed to manage these projects.
The board has supreme authority when it comes to running the community and it has a legal right to run any of its projects. The homeowner association website can be used to keep members up-to-date on the status of the projects and avoid the issues discussed below.
Conflict Of Interest
If a board member’s managerial choices are based on their personal interests instead of those concerning the community, a conflict of interest arises. For instance, a board member might use their legal power to show favoritism when awarding contracts. This equates to a breach of their fiduciary duty and it could lead to a voiding of contracts in the end, which in turn causes projects to stall.
Lack Of Professionalism
Board members are homeowners that are voted into their positions to oversee the development of the community. Often, they lack the specific know-how regarding project management and accounting. As a result, success becomes more difficult to achieve when the association is left to run without the help of an HOA manager.
Aside from running the homeowners association, board members typically have other personal jobs. As such, they’re extremely busy and it’s only natural that they’ll forget to post project updates on the homeowner association website or communicate thoroughly with homeowners.
So, the board has a legal right to run its construction projects. That being said, it needs to avoid the conflict of interest, a lack of professionalism, and any communication failure. Unfortunately, it’s impractical for most boards to overcome all these problems, and they usually turn to an HOA manager to take charge of their projects.
Posted on March 28, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
In the past, customer service was only relevant with regard to the retail industry. But today, it has become a determining factor of success in almost every field, including homeowners associations. One way of improving customer service in an HOA is to create a community website that will be used as a platform for listening and responding to member questions or complaints.
In an HOA, all of the people that work for the association need to be properly oriented and educated about their roles. You could hire an expert or request that existing members give new members proper guidance on responding to homeowner issues. Summarized below are some essential skills to know for customer service.
Listen & Respond Promptly
Whether a homeowner contacts you on the community website, calls you, or visits you in person, you should always give them your undivided attention. As a staff member, exercise professionalism at all times and show them that you care about their concerns. Even if you don’t have a solution or answer right away, give the homeowner some assurance that you will work on their problem within a respectable time frame.
You may be approached by many residents that present a plethora of issues. Some residents will be calm while others are irritated or filled with anger. When a homeowner gets loud, it might be because they’ve tried to voice their concerns but no action has been taken so remain calm and serve them diligently. If the situation continues to escalate, remind them about the HOA rules and notify the authorities.
In a homeowners association, residents are like customers while the board and HOA managers are like customer service representatives. Ensure that residents receive the best customer service experience so they feel compelled to pay HOA fees on time and take better care of their property.
Posted on March 19, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Before leasing out a home, all homeowners should realize that if your tenant breaks the HOA rules, you will likely be blamed and their actions may lead to you having to pay fines. No homeowner wants to be burdened with that kind of responsibility. Summarized below are a few tips that you can use to help your tenant feel more at home. When that happens, they tend to live harmoniously with other HOA members and take responsibility when they violate the rules.
Comply With Governing Documents
Every HOA has CC&R’s, bylaws, and other rules that homeowners are to follow. To start with, review the portion that concerns leasing out property to ensure you’re not violating any regulations. The renter also needs to understand the rules governing the lease so be sure to give them a copy.
Often, tenants break the HOA rules unknowingly as they were never given a proper orientation. Make sure you do your part and inform all tenants about the special considerations of living in your HOA, such as the community having a strong dislike for loud music.
Give A Lease Addendum
Aside from the legal lease document containing the signed agreement, consider giving the renter a lease addendum covering the regulations they’re to abide by and confirm they have signed it. The addendum should also specify the fines that the tenant will pay when they break the rules and state the consequences of repeated rule violations.
Encourage Participation In The Community
One of the reasons why tenants break HOA rules is that they feel like outsiders; it’s your obligation to make them feel at home. Verify they have access to the recreational facilities and introduce them to the homeowners association website so they can take part in the discussions.
If you’re renting a place out for the first time, you might want to talk to a board member and ask them to help you. Are you wondering where you can get copy of the CC&R’s, bylaws, and other legal documents? Try visiting the homeowners association website as they might be available for download on there!
Posted on March 6, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Throughout the year, many homeowners rush to get the supplies needed for their trips, but one critical matter they tend to forget is the security of their home. When a home is left empty for a prolonged period of time, it becomes susceptible to several risks such as fires and theft. Try exercising the following safety strategies to minimize the risks and keep your property safe while you’re away.
Setting Lights On A Timer
One indicator that burglars use to know a place is empty is an absence of lights for days or lights that are consistently on at the same time each day. Fortunately, these days there are smart lighting control systems that help confuse any potential intruder. When the lights go on and off at normal times, it increases the chance an intruder might reconsider breaking in.
Ask Friends To Help
If you’ll be gone for a few days or longer, asking a friend to check on your property periodically is an excellent tactic that improves safety. With an active community on the neighborhood website, that platform could be used to inform neighbors so they don’t mistakenly raise an alarm.
Stop All Mail & The Newspaper
An overflowing mailbox or a stack of newspapers at your doorstep is an obvious sign that nobody is home. Some homeowners inform the mail service and newspaper person to stop delivering temporarily. Upon returning home, be sure to notify the post office and collect mail that accumulated during your trip.
Make A Security Check
Before you leave, double check that everything is in order. Are the doors and windows locked? Is the main circuit breaker turned off? Is the water supply turned off at the point of entry? These small tasks could save your home from intruders and accidental fires or flooding. As a homeowner who wants to help the community, take advantage of this opportunity and share these tips on the neighborhood website so more neighbors enjoy their trip.
Posted on February 25, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
It is not uncommon for some HOA’s to be faced with unexpected repairs that require considerable amounts of money to solve. Faced with these problems, finding the most practical solution might seem like an arduous task. In most cases, the choice is to choose between using the funds in the reserves or issue a special assessment. Here are some options you can use to ensure major repairs are performed without jeopardizing your HOA’s finances.
Get Advice From A Reserve Expert
Obviously, a reserve specialist understands the HOA’s reserve funds better than anyone else so they should be the first person you get advice from. Their specific knowledge helps them assess the situation keenly and according to upcoming repairs. As well as the reserve study, the specialist might recommend adding the cost as a one-time item or advise you to issue a special assessment.
In case you don’t have a reserve expert, the next best option is to get advice from a financial expert that deals a lot with property matters. That could be an accountant, a property manager, an insurance agent, or even a HOA website manager who’s well acquainted with HOA costs.
Borrowing From The Reserves
Though not ideal, borrowing from the reserves may be your only practical solution. Just ensure you have a plan in place for paying back the borrowed money. Note that in some states, there are laws governing the process of borrowing money from the reserve funds.
For instance, in one state the board is required to notify members about the transfer of money, as well as the reasons involved and the repayment plan. Through the HOA website, the whole process can be kept transparent so homeowners stay informed.
Dealing with unexpected repairs that are not in the reserve study can be daunting but by following the tips above, the task becomes a lot easier. Consider having a reserve specialist and a manager as part of your team to help you overcome the financial aspect of getting repairs done promptly.
Posted on February 11, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The funding levels of your reserves can affect property values and the ability of homeowners to obtain mortgages. While looking at the percentage funded can be a quick way of assessing the reserves, it can also be misleading. The association may be funded 100% and still face difficulties due to unforeseen projects.
On the other hand, the association might be 70% funded and efficiently handle expenses throughout the year. Before answering the question of what percentage funding is ideal, consider the following for dealing with unexpected projects without depleting the reserves.
Consider Raising Assessments
Even without a vote from members, the HOA board can legally increase an assessment by 20 percent. Likewise, the board is allowed by law to raise a special assessment up to 5 percent without having a vote. The homeowner association website could be very useful for notifying all members about the increment.
Forms Of Borrowing
There are two ways of borrowing that an HOA can rely on. The funds may be borrowed from the reserves or ask for a loan. If you decide to take money from the reserves, you need a popular vote by the board members and a repayment plan must be in place to replenish the reserves. Borrowing money from the reserves is usually done for small projects while taking out a loan is done for extensive projects.
Most homeowners associations want to have their reserve funding at 100 percent. However, achieving that is quite a challenge and HOA’s have to enforce special assessments on members. Often, this leads to complaints on the homeowner association website and other platforms.
In order to keep your reserves at a healthy level and not put a huge burden on homeowners, set a minimum figure that you must hit; 70 percent would be a good start. From there, track the cash flow in and out of the reserves meticulously, using fair assessment increments when necessary to avoid depleting the reserves!
Posted on January 29, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Annual meetings are one of the best ways to keep HOA board members involved and informed. Unfortunately, for most associations, there are always members who tend to be absent for such meetings. An effective way to ensure members have no excuse for failing to attend is to set a date far in advance. Here are more suggestions to help you prepare and encourage people to attend.
Tactics For Getting Them To Attend
As mentioned, you should set a date far in advance so everyone has time to make plans to be there. But that’s not all; consider sending notifications from time to time via email or text messaging and post reminders on the community website. You could also ask them to mark their calendars as some members may not visit the community website frequently.
Aside from that, food and drinks work well since it serves as an incentive for them to show up. Some HOA’s set their meetings to the evening and notify members that dinner will be served. If many of your board members have a 9 to 5 job, consider other options because these people could be busy in the evening.
Issues To Address
In order to be prepared, take some time beforehand to think about what should be discussed in the meeting. Generally, the board discusses how the HOA thrived in the past year as well as situations to expect in the upcoming year. You could also use the meeting to celebrate achievements such as the completion of a project while coming up with suggestions for dealing with difficult issues.
Additionally, the annual meeting provides a perfect opportunity to talk about the potential for special assessments. Let members know how much money needs to be raised and how it will be used. Preparing for the annual meeting is often a time consuming process. Make sure everyone is ready by coming up with an agenda, placing reminders on the community website, and preparing the ballots if any elections will be held.
Posted on January 21, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Each HOA member is important but not everyone adds value to the association. Homeowners offer value to an HOA by participating in the discussions on the homeowners association website, volunteering in various activities, paying HOA fees on time, and more. If you’re looking to be a better member in 2019, here are a few areas to focus on.
Adhere To The Rules & Think Ahead
These days, there’s no excuse for not knowing the rules as most HOA’s have them readily available to every member. If your HOA rules are not on the homeowners association website, consider asking one of the board members to email you a copy of them.
Don’t just read the rules; obey them and if there’s any rule you’re not okay with, bring it up in the next meeting. In case you receive a letter regarding a rules violation, don’t automatically toss it in the trash. Read it and if you’ve been fined, pay the fine or appeal the matter. Failure to pay fines without appealing often leads to bigger fines and causes more trouble.
Pay HOA Fees On Time
HOA fees keep the community going and also help ensure the reserves have adequate funding. If everyone fails to pay, how will the costs be met for common amenity maintenance and other important expenses? When you live in a clean, well-maintained community, make sure you’re doing your part and contribute on time.
Be An Active Member
Due to the demanding nature of many careers, several homeowners barely have enough time to interact with neighbors. However, more companies are adopting policies that allow workers to have extra social time, and it would be great if you spent some of it getting to know your neighbors.
One way of doing that is to connect with them through the homeowners association website as that can be done from a smartphone. Use the strategies discussed above to be more valuable to your HOA this year and really make a notable difference.
Posted on January 7, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Some of the factors that contribute to the success and growth of an HOA include a comprehensive financial plan, a competent board, an active neighborhood website, and a good property manager. The last factor will be the main focus for this article as a good property manager is vital for several homeowners associations. When looking for an individual to take charge of a property, here are some of the factors that you should consider.
Property managers deal directly with board members and residents, and thus they need to have great interpersonal skills. For instance, if the board needs to adopt a policy that residents find unusual, the manager should know how to use the neighborhood website to talk with residents about the positive side of it. The most important skill is the ability to handle people of all personalities in an effective way.
The CAI and other professional organizations in the community management industry require managers to keep advancing their education and also set the code of ethics that community managers must follow. Additionally, they keep them up-to-date with the latest trends in HOA management and inform them about the tools needed to offer excellent services. Most managers with certifications from these organizations must be competent and likely possess the traits to be considered for hiring.
A manager is one who not only knows what their job entails but also delivers management services in an efficient and respectful manner. Property management requires skills in accounting, marketing, customer service, and verbal communication. Furthermore, the manager needs to be highly organized and capable of coming up with solutions for problems in a timely manner.
Good property management ensures your community thrives, keeping both the board and homeowners happy. These are just some of the traits you should look for in a manager to know whether or not they have what it takes for your HOA to be successful!
- December 1969 (4)