Posted on December 28, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Whether an outage happens as a result of a storm, winter ice, or overloading, a power failure can be a devastating occurrence in your HOA. Food storage is one of the most important areas that should be a focus during an outage and it’s only wise that homeowners know the best way to preserve their food. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that happens.
Since an outage rarely happens, many homeowners are not prepared for this type of situation. Use the quarterly newsletter or the HOA website to inform members on how to handle any refrigerated and frozen food when there’s a power failure. With fifty pounds of block ice, that can keep a regular-sized freezer cool for around 48 hours.
Maintain An Ideal Temperature
Make sure you suggest places where homeowners can quickly get dry ice when they need it and include tips on how to handle it safely. Also, caution against touching it with bare hands or inhaling the vapors. One essential item to always have around is a thermometer to test the temperature of food and it should remain lower than 40?? F.
Opening and closing the refrigerator when there’s no power is a bad idea so avoid it unless it’s absolutely necessary. Perishable foods such as meats, fruits, and vegetables are the first foods that should be consumed during this time. Any perishable food that has been warmer than 40?? F for several hours should be discarded.
When Power Is Restored
After the outage, take a few extra minutes to deodorize the freezer and refrigerator. A simple washing solution can be made by combining a few tablespoons of baking soda with water. Additionally, an open baking soda box in the refrigerator will help absorb foul odors efficiently. When posting on the HOA website, be sure to point out the months that most electrical outages happen, though, the best solution is to always be prepared.
Posted on December 17, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The holiday season is a time to get together, have fun as a community, and perhaps talk about the future plans of the HOA. During this time, the last problem you want to face is dealing with a board member who is irritable. The close-minded and stingy nature of such a person can make a negative impact on the holiday spirit for the entire HOA and it’s wise to know how to deal with them in a professional manner.
Characteristics To Watch Out For
A board member who lacks the holiday spirit might vote against many items, even when it concerns a proposal to boost the mood of homeowners during the holiday season. Such a person may be greedy and negative-minded, constantly complaining over matters that others are in agreement about. In some cases, they may even want the design of the homeowner association website to be changed.
A scrooge-like member usually prefers to take the easy route and opposes the idea of spending money on holiday decorations even though they’re included in the budget. Often, their argument revolves around saving money and minimizing expenditures with regard to enjoyment.
Dealing With Such A Member
If a selfish board member is ruining your holiday plans, the first step you should take is to talk with them and remind them about their responsibility as a board member. Help them understand that even though it’s their duty to protect the HOA’s resources, they also need to enhance a homeowner’s quality of life.
Additionally, encourage them to use logic rather than force and intimidation to get their points across. Maybe they’re not aware of how to be a good leader and all they need is a little guidance. If that isn’t effective, it might be necessary to call for the member’s removal. In order to reduce the odds of this happening in the future, consider having a page of the homeowner association website where board members learn about good leadership.
Posted on December 5, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Determining the budget is an integral part of the fiduciary duty that comes with being a board member. In addition to this, there should be a means of ensuring the fees and assessments are not only appropriate but also fair. 2019 is quickly approaching, and the budget should be prepared as soon as possible so the board has adequate time to deliver a comprehensive financial plan. This post examines a few important budget-related items to review.
Proper budgeting requires that an assessment of the HOA’s current financial situation be done first. Therefore, it’s necessary to examine the HOA’s end-of-year financial statements, including the balance sheet and the income statement. If you notice that expenses are more than the income, then next year’s budget should address that issue by cutting costs.
Contracts With External Parties
Start by assessing all the existing contracts and evaluate if your association will continue to benefit from them next year. Keep in mind the wants versus the needs and the financial capability of the HOA. Similarly, consider the value of the services you receive from your current suppliers. For instance, is the community website manager doing a great job or do you need to replace them?
The task of calculating the homeowners’ fees is quite easy. All you need to do is add up the contributions from the annual reserve and operating expenses then divide the total by the number of homeowners. However, the formula may vary depending on your HOA’s unique needs. Get a financial expert to help you compute some reasonable figures and use the community website to keep homeowners informed.
Preparing the budget is one of the most important duties the HOA board has to fulfill as it affects many key areas. For the HOA to be financially sound in 2019, it’s essential that preparations begin early and board members work together to come up with an accurate budget!
Posted on November 26, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
A reserve fund is meant to plan for an HOA’s future replacements and repairs. But, what if a component that isn’t included in the reserve study needs funding? For instance, common drainage lines may be failing and you might be forced to decide whether or not to fund the repairs from the reserves. This post offers helpful suggestions on the steps a homeowners association should take.
Add The Item To The Reserve Study
Typically, the first step is to bring the issue to a reserve specialist so they can offer their guidance and help you add the item to the reserve list. One of the cases for items getting added includes unforeseen disasters. Maybe at the time of the last reserve study, the item was mistakenly excluded because it was well concealed, like rusting underground drainage lines.
It’s the board’s fiduciary duty to get the opinion of an HOA manager or a reserve study specialist to ascertain the necessity of adding an expense to the reserves. Also, the HOA’s governing document should be reviewed at this time to see if there are guidelines for handling unlisted components.
If it’s in the HOA’s best interest to use some of the money in the reserves for an item that was not initially included in the study, then the item should be added as long as the governing documents allow it.
When Not To Use The Reserves
There are situations when it’s not acceptable to use the reserve funds for handling unexpected projects. If the rules specifically state the reserves are never to be used for minor projects, then the HOA could secure a loan or issue a special assessment.
Before using the reserves for unlisted components, it’s advisable to inform members about it through the homeowners association website for a wider reach. Anytime a special assessment is issued, consider posting a detailed explanation on the homeowners association website so residents know why the funds are needed.
Posted on November 14, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Are you disappointed with the services of your HOA’s management company? In most cases, chances are that the company was hired by past board members. Perhaps because they liked the services of a particular manager who worked for the company but that person no longer works there. As a responsible board member, if you feel that your HOA is not benefiting from the management firm, it may be a good time to make a change.
What Leads To Poor Management?
Often, poor management is the result of inadequate communication between the management firm and the homeowners association. Maybe the manager assigned to your HOA is in charge of multiple tasks from several associations. Additionally, it might be that the firm has grown so much that they view your HOA’s needs as trivial compared to those of larger associations that pay more.
What To Do About It
If you have tried reaching out to the management company but their services are not improving, the best step is to hire another firm. Begin by holding a meeting with board members and make a list of your HOA’s likes and dislikes.
After that, create a list of a few management firms and interview them to see if they would be a good fit for your association. This is a great time to ask them about the systems they use, the managers’ experience, and if they can help you manage the neighborhood website and financial reports. Some members think choosing the right management company only involves talking to the person in charge of the firm.
Instead, you need to interview the manager that’s assigned to your HOA to ensure there’s a personality fit between them and the board. A good manager is able to communicate properly and in a timely manner, and they’re well versed in running any HOA. As soon as you have a new management company, it would be best to notify members through the neighborhood website about the change.
Posted on November 5, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The inability to make decisions in a timely manner is one of the biggest deterrents to the completion of projects and general development in an HOA. When the same topic keeps being brought up but no consensus is reached even after hours of discussion, that means progress is interrupted and time gets wasted. Highlighted below are a few measures you can use to avoid indecisiveness and make your decision-making process more efficient.
Understand The Topic Beforehand
When HOA board members are having trouble reaching a final decision, it might be due to them having little knowledge about the topic and they’re unaware of the consequences. For that reason, it would be ideal for them to study the topic thoroughly prior to the meeting.
If you have a page on the HOA website designated for posting topic resources and study materials, that would likely help board members stay informed. Alternatively, consider sending an email to members a week before the meeting so they have time to look over the material and reach a conclusion.
On occasion, members discuss a single topic for hours on end without focusing on the final decision because no definite timeline has been set for the topic. Some HOA’s not only have a deadline but also a huge stopwatch in the board room to keep members constantly aware of the schedule, and this is very effective.
Track The Results
Making decisions and implementing them shouldn't’t be the end goal. It would be best if you delegated time towards finding out how the decision affected the HOA and whether or not the issue was actually resolved. The delegate could monitor the views of homeowners on the HOA website to see if the results are popular.
The tactics discussed above should help your HOA board streamline the decision-making process. When members have a good understanding of the matters at hand before the meeting, decisions are often made more efficiently so the community ultimately benefits from the outcome.
Posted on October 23, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
As an HOA board member or a property manager, it is inevitable that you will have to deal with conflict at some point. One homeowner might approach you with a complaint that their neighbor keeps playing loud music. You know that is against the HOA rules but you may not have laws clearly defining the way to deal with such issues. Here are a few tactics you can apply to handle conflicts among homeowners.
Talk Directly To Those Involved
When a complaint is brought to your attention, you might be tempted to take action immediately. For instance, the other person could be fined but that only leads to the start of grudges and resentment. Instead, call the other person and have both of the individuals give their side of the story.
Listening is the key to efficient conflict resolution so be sure each party is given enough time to speak. Focus on the facts and the events rather than the personalities when resolving the issue and don’t make it personal as that only leads to one party getting defensive.
Identify Conflict Areas
In every HOA, there are certain areas that are more prone to disputes than others. Perhaps the people are in disagreement about the right to use the clubhouse or to manage the homeowner association website. Once you identify the conflict areas, come up with a plan to handle any potential issue. If residents would like to use the clubhouse for personal events, you should have them go through an application procedure.
More often than not, people get into a dispute due to a lack of rules or they simply fail to get informed about the rules. For that reason, consider reviewing your HOA laws and start a motion to create laws for conflict areas that the current laws haven’t addressed. Aside from that, use the homeowner association website so all homeowners know the latest laws and stress how important it is to obey them!
Posted on October 15, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
In order for the homeowners association to make progress, it’s imperative that board members act in the best interest of the community rather than their personal interests. For this reason, the homeowners association must always be careful who they elect to the HOA board as one member could cause major issues. In fact, selfish goals and manipulation by some of the board members is the reason why various associations are struggling with loans, unfinished projects, and other problems. Here’s one situation to help you identify a selfish board member.
There may be a potential member who runs for the board that is pushing for the renovation of common areas in the HOA such as the clubhouse. They might even go as far as to publish a post on the community website to show everyone the importance of renovating the clubhouse, citing it will improve the overall value of the property.
What they haven’t said is that next year is their anniversary and they know renting a decent place would cost them a lot. For this reason, they intend to get on the HOA board and push for the renovation of the clubhouse so it can serve as the venue for their anniversary.
Once they become a member, the financial situation is assessed and it’s noted the clubhouse renovation could be postponed for a couple of years. Still, there’s a majority vote that the property should be upgraded right away. When a member is being selfish, they may be persistent about a certain matter where other members show little or no interest.
Carefully Observe New Members
One sign of selfishness is when a board member comes up with proposals without explaining them or they fail to answer questions on the community website about it. The danger in that is sooner or later, such a member could land the entire community in debt as they make decisions in their best interest, not in the best interest of the homeowners association.
Posted on October 1, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
In some homeowners associations, there are board members that misunderstand the purpose of the reserve fund. Often, these members see it as a means to deal with every financial difficulty that hits the homeowners association. Aside from that, others view it as a tool that unnecessarily burdens members.
Potential members that are running to be on the board might use the homeowners association website to promise reduced HOA fees once they win. Even though they may have good intentions, their plan will most likely take a toll on the HOA’s well-being in the long run.
Purpose Of The Reserve Fund
Typically, the reserve fund is meant for advancing projects in the community which includes building roads, setting up or replacing structures like gates, and dealing with disasters. This fund is sourced from HOA fees and when contributions go down, the fund also diminishes over time.
In the event a natural disaster strikes or the HOA needs to complete a major project, the association might fall into a crisis since there would be no money set aside for that purpose. In that situation, the board is forced to take drastic measures like get a loan or impose a high special assessment that is unfair to residents.
One of the primary duties of board members is to make sure the association has adequate money in the reserves. Of course, reduced HOA fees are a good idea initially, but how it impacts the reserve fund should always be considered. In most cases, the reduction will do more harm than good in the long run as members may eventually have to shoulder the costs that would have been handled by the reserve funds.
If someone is running for a position on the board with the platform that they will lower HOA fees, use the homeowners association website to prove that’s not a good proposal. Likewise, stress the point that dealing with issues in advance is better than carrying a heavy burden all at once.
Posted on September 20, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Like most other organizations, an HOA relies on vendors for accomplishing various projects throughout the year. Some situations may arise where a vendor is needed quickly but finding reliable vendors can be quite difficult. Occasionally, low-quality products may be delivered or the delivery might take unreasonably long. The following tips will ensure you locate and keep dependable vendors for the homeowners association.
Choose Vendors Who Care
As you may have already guessed, there are numerous vendors out there but the problem is that many of them only care about what they earn and not the project. For instance, if you’re looking for a company to design your neighborhood website, you might meet with several vendors. Often, most of them will give you a quote within a few minutes without considering what type of design works best for you.
When a vendor takes the time to discuss your goals and marketing strategy before taking any payment, that’s an indication they genuinely care. Obviously, this is an area you should heavily consider prior to making a decision as it can impact the HOA to a great extent.
Their Level Of Experience
The next tip to think about when choosing a vendor involves factoring in their level of experience. Can the vendor show you proof of their past work? Suppliers with a properly-composed portfolio are usually more likely to deliver great results so be thorough with your search.
Maintain Professionalism With Vendors
Some members join the board and start pushing for new vendors. Typically, this leads to the HOA losing the vendor which is very unfortunate when they offer great services or products. If you find a good vendor, treat them professionally so they feel valued and always pay them on time. Also, make a post on the neighborhood website about the importance of respecting vendors and commending their amazing work to ensure members know how they should be treated!
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