Posted on August 20, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Before a homeowner puts up a new building or sets up a major structure like a fence on their property, they’re typically required to follow the HOA’s architectural review process. But there are some homeowners who fail to comply with that even when the rules might be posted on the community website. Here are a few tips for dealing with such members should you encounter them in your association.
Discuss It With The Offender
Perhaps the homeowner misunderstood the rules or just wasn’t aware of their limitations. The best way of reaching out to them is through writing so communication remains confidential. Send them an official letter informing them that they need to follow the correct protocols before going any further with their project. Be sure to include a description of the violation, the solution, and the possible repercussions that could come if they continue the violation.
Impose A Fine
In the event a homeowner ignores the first letter and pursues the project anyway, it’s time to take severe steps as outlined in the HOA’s laws. Following the established laws and procedures, send the violator a fine letter so they know how the issue should be settled.
Normally, the homeowner has a right to a hearing with the board. If they book one, ensure it is granted as they get the opportunity to try and prove why they think they’re being unlawfully fined. Depending on the facts and outcome of the hearing, the fines may or may not be imposed so the board should always be ready for what comes next.
In some cases, the homeowner loses the hearing but still doesn’t pay the fine. When this happens, it’s time for the last step which is filing a lawsuit. To prevent the mayhem that comes along with that, use the community website to create more awareness. The architectural guidelines should be crystal clear, as well as the construction and landscaping regulations of the HOA so all homeowners know how the process works.
Posted on August 10, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Are your HOA laws stopping you from displaying the American flag on your property the way you want? While it’s good of all homeowners to observe the association laws, you have a right to know the federal laws as well as the state laws regarding the matter. Before starting a discussion about flag restrictions on the homeowners association website, make sure you understand what your rights are as outlined in the governing documents.
Why Associations Have Flag Restrictions
Some homeowners display the flag in a manner that isn’t appealing or tasteful. It can be irritating for neighbors to have to listen to the rope thump against the flagpole all night. Also, drilling many holes for displaying the flag might cause damage when not done properly. Aside from that, there’s other people that may display the flag incorrectly and this could lead to restrictions from the HOA.
What The State Says About Flag Display
The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 holds that condos and homeowners associations shouldn't stop people from displaying the national flag on their property. Nonetheless, the same law permits associations to reasonably restrict display based on manner, place, and time if doing so will protect vital interests of the HOA.
If the restrictions are not protecting any vital interests, then the HOA is probably violating your federal right. But before you confront the board or start a revolt on the homeowners association website, check what the state law says about the issue. Some states have laws that govern association rules on flag display while others leave the matter to federal law.
In many HOA’s, there are no outright bans on flag display; however, there might be restrictions on the location, size, position, and type. Go through the governing documents of the association and see what the restrictions are on flag display. Not only does this keep you aware of the latest but if you feel the restrictions are violating your rights, you can take the matter to the board!
Posted on July 31, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
For many people, fall is an escape from the hot summer sun and the cooler months ahead offer more pleasant days. But how many people take the time to think about potential drainage problems? As an HOA board, you need to have a good strategy in place to protect the community so utilize the neighborhood website to create awareness about this issue. Here are some vital areas to focus on regarding drainage failure.
Inspect The Roof
Every year, make it a habit to have a roofing expert check the drainage capacity of the roof and gutters. The water should drain properly and you might want to have a reliable place where water gets channeled into during heavy rains. There might be leaves and debris on the roof and in the gutters; ensure these are cleaned so water can flow off the roof and through the gutters.
Normally, these are found in the walls and they’re typically created for fireplaces, light fixtures, windows, and more. Water pipes and other plumbing lines also make their way into your home through openings. Although it’s necessary, these openings offer moisture a great opportunity of getting into your home so make sure all openings are properly sealed.
Doors & Windows
Doors and windows are some of the best entry points for moisture, particularly when the weep holes are too small or debris is trapped in the tracks of the sliding frames. Be sure to vacuum the windows and the sliding door tracks but if the windows and doors show signs of wear, consider replacing them to prevent moisture from getting in. After all, repair costs caused by water damage could be much higher than the replacement costs.
An experienced HOA board recognizes the harm that bad drainage can do to homes in the community. As a result, they invest in researching drainage techniques and reliable drainage experts. For homeowners to manage their drainage system better, advise them by posting to the neighborhood website about it each year.
Posted on July 23, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
An HOA board is normally run by volunteers who are homeowners in the association. In most cases, these volunteers are not experts in financial or management matters. As such, one or more board members might take advantage of their position to embezzle funds or manipulate matters that are of personal interest to them. Use the following advice as a guide if you suspect fraudulent activity is taking place in the homeowners association.
The most common form of fraud committed by dishonest board members is embezzlement. Typically, they take funds that belong to the association or acquire HOA property using deceptive tactics. To help them steal from the association without getting caught, they may lie about financial matters or exaggerate the figures when recording transactions. Others usually make up fake records of transactions or delete existing entries for their benefit.
Rigging the elections is another way fraud is committed in HOA’s. Some board members might band together to rig the election results so that a person who was unlikely to win will gain a particular seat. Then, they use this position to embezzle funds or utilize it in some way to benefit from the HOA.
Dealing With Fraud
If you suspect that a board member is taking part in deceitful activities, gather as much evidence as you can such as audio recordings and incriminating documents. Also, ask for financial statements, tax returns, budgets, audits, vendor approvals, and other documents that would confirm any wrongdoing. Once you have adequate evidence, use the HOA website to call a special meeting and discuss your claims before the homeowners.
In case no corrective measures are taken, contact an attorney to talk about what action you should take against the board. To prevent board members from committing fraud, consider hiring a professional to handle sensitive matters like auditing and recording financial statements. Through the HOA website, ensure all homeowners are educated on financial matters as it benefits them and the association.
Posted on July 9, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Have you ever been at an HOA board meeting and what seemed like a minor issue ended up taking most of the meeting because members failed to reach an agreement? That was probably due to a lack of standard procedures for conducting business during meetings.
Standard procedures can be extremely helpful when starting motions and getting the board to vote on an issue in question. With firm procedures in place, members are less likely to waste time going back and forth on matters. When comments are kept to a minimum, meetings go smoother and usually become more productive.
Starting A Motion
As a board member who follows the rules, you need to wait until other members have finished talking about an issue before presenting your own motion. Then, start the motion by addressing the board with, “I move that our community”, then go on and state your motion.
As soon as you have mentioned the motion, another member should second your motion in order for all members to begin discussing it. If no one else seconds the motion, it won’t be considered. On the other hand, if another member seconds the motion, the board should officially discuss the matter before members and later call for a vote.
Maintain Accurate Minutes
Minutes are the official record of the proceedings at an HOA meeting and associations are required to maintain these records. When you start a motion, the secretary should be granted adequate time to write the specifics of the motion. These minutes can then be placed on the homeowner association website where all members may review them.
When meetings are carried out according to standard procedures, there will undoubtedly be increased effectiveness and more members might voice their opinions. Furthermore, the minutes become clearer and nearly all members will understand them when they’re placed on the homeowner association website!
Posted on June 29, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Collecting for reserves routinely is a typical part of what HOA’s do as it reduces the possibility of homeowners having to shoulder an unforeseen financial burden. For instance, when a major common asset like a swimming pool needs repaired, homeowners don’t need to cover the expensive costs unexpectedly if the HOA collects for the reserves monthly. All homeowners associations should make it a priority to collect for the reserves regularly so homeowners never face a financial dilemma.
Major Projects Are Covered
Common assets such as roads and the main gate deteriorate over time and they eventually need to be repaired or replaced. Collecting funds monthly spreads the costs of a project over a long duration; homeowners make small contributions on a regular basis rather than paying all at once.
Imagine the board forcing members to make massive contributions to finance an urgent project because the HOA failed to routinely collect funds. There might be belligerent posts on the community website or even a lawsuit against the board as members feel there was a mismanagement of funds.
Minimize Borrowing & Special Assessments
Loans and special assessments are two more reasons why you tend to see so much uproar during an annual meeting and on the community website. No homeowner is pleased to hear about a special assessment of any amount. Regularly collecting funds for reserves not only minimizes the need for getting a loan but it also reduces a special assessment.
Improved Resale Value
In some states, HOA’s are required to disclose the status of the reserves and this can have a substantial effect on the value of HOA properties. More importantly, real estate agents usually take the reserve funds into consideration when estimating what a home is worth. Collecting for the reserves throughout the year is a professional, fiduciary, and often legal requirement so every association should make it a priority.
Posted on June 20, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
After going through the lengthy and expensive process of getting a new HOA board, some members start a discussion on the homeowners association website. Quickly, various members dispute the election and threaten to bring a civil action if the board is not removed and the election results voided. Often, their reason for doing this solely revolves around the homeowners association not having election rules. Ensure this never happens to your HOA and use the following as a guide.
The Issue With No Election Rules
Even after following the CC&R’s and other governing documents, election results can indeed be voided if the HOA’s rules regarding elections aren’t in line with the Civil Code. This issue particularly affects votes involving the removal or selection of directors, special assessments, changes in the bylaws, and more. The situation can be especially chaotic if the new board’s actions are nullified.
Is It Possible For The Board To Draft The Rules?
The election rules are typically drafted by lawyers, but perhaps you feel that your HOA won’t be able to afford one. The problem is the draft must comply with government legislation on this matter, failure to do so means it will be regarded as invalid. The qualifications of directors, secret balloting, and the procedures of nomination are some of the issues that should be covered in the document.
No matter how small or new the HOA may be, never hold elections without having election rules in place that are aligned with the law. Otherwise, one member might rebel and use the homeowners association website to get others to help them call for the board to be removed.
When drafting the election rules, always contact an attorney beforehand and ask for help on the matter. If funds are limited, try to come up with a way to pay for legal services because the cost might end up being too high should you hold elections without the proper election rules in place.
Posted on June 7, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Do you know the last time your HOA did a reserve study? Maybe the homeowners association is new and the reserves need to be financed, or the HOA has been around a long time and an update is all that’s needed. Without a neighborhood website, you might be wondering how many years the reserve study should cover.
First, the size and age of the homeowners association should be considered, as well as the value of the capital assets. Then, ensure that the expenses you include should actually be listed on the reserves. Keep in mind that reserve funds are meant for the repair, replacement, and maintenance of capital assets.
Duration Of The Study
If your HOA is small, assets such as simple playground tools are likely only good up to 10 years. In that case, the reserve study should last around ten years. On the other hand, if the HOA is large, there will be more complex items with a longer useful life of up to 20 or 30 years. This means the reserve study should cover a longer time up to 30 years and complex items usually cost more.
Rules On What To Include
Obviously, your HOA should own the item, and privately owned assets like swimming pools or other structures belonging to homeowners are not eligible. Also, assets need to have a limited useful life that is predictable, for instance, an HOA van may have a limited life of 25 years.
The replacement costs of the capital asset that you intend to include in the reserve study should be above a minimum, like over 0.5% of the annual budget. The operating budget should cover any replacement cost that is below the pre-defined minimum. Consider using the neighborhood website to explain the reserve fund to homeowners so they don’t wonder why the HOA is setting aside such a large sum of money!
Posted on May 29, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Social media has become a major part of everyday life for many people as it has tremendously changed the way we communicate. For businesses, social networks are either a great source of growth or a letdown. If your homeowners association recognizes the advantages and disadvantages associated with these platforms, it can profit rather than lose from using them. What positives and negatives should your HOA be familiar with?
Speed & Cost Efficiency
Previously, HOA boards designed newsletters which involved having them printed and distributed to their communities. A process that was not only costly but also time wasting as several people never took the time to read them. But now, with social networks and the HOA website, you can design newsletters and post them for free within seconds.
Convenient Access To Information
When you publish a post, you could include links to HOA laws, annual reports, and other data that homeowners might find helpful. If you discover any errors or need to make changes, the corrections can be made easily and quickly through a phone or computer.
Sensitive Data May Be Compromised
You have probably heard of the Facebook scandal where many users’ data was stolen and misused. For that reason, you cannot rely on social media to disperse sensitive data that only HOA members should have access to. Always keep this issue in mind and only use social media for general, unrestricted information and the HOA website for relaying confidential data.
Misuse By Members
Social channels are meant for positive outreach, but some members use them in a negative way against the board and fellow homeowners. In order to avoid this issue, make sure your accounts are managed so inappropriate content is blocked promptly. Your HOA will definitely benefit from social media if you utilize it properly to inform, influence, and engage members. Consider hiring a professional to be in charge of your social accounts to take your association to the next level.
Posted on May 15, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Special circumstances might face your homeowners association even when management is excellent and everything is running smoothly. Improvement projects, large-scale repairs, and other unforeseen situations may occur which put the reserves at risk. For many HOA’s, special assessments offer the best way out. But, what if homeowners fail to pay the special assessment?
What Is A Special Assessment?
A special assessment refers to the funds that homeowners are required to pay when the board decides not to use the reserves to cover emergency expenses, repairs, and maintenance costs. Assessments are important as they prevent the reserve funds from being diminished or drained.
If homeowners are complaining on the homeowner association website and vowing not to pay the special assessment, there may be a problem with communication between them and the board. Here are ways in which you can ease their frustration and encourage them to pay without having to resort to legal action.
Transparency Is Key
Often, all homeowners want is for you to keep them updated with regard to the HOA’s financial matters. One way of doing so would be to encourage them to attend HOA meetings. Aside from that, consider keeping them informed about major projects that impact the budget of the HOA using the homeowner association website.
When a homeowner is irritated, the first option should be to try and reason the situation out. Make an attempt to show them the importance of special assessments so they understand that using the reserves could place the association at risk of financial stress in the future.
It’s almost certain that reasonable homeowners will understand why the special assessment is necessary, but you can always take legal action if reasoning the situation out doesn’t work. In some states, an unpaid special assessment is considered personal debt, and the HOA board is given the right to take possession of the property or hold it until the debt is settled.
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- December 1969 (4)