Posted on September 3, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Some people think that homeowners associations can be a financial burden and they have probably voiced their thoughts on the neighborhood website, especially when the reserve funds are used. Reserve studies are usually not complicated but there may be times when residents question how they are used.
Though, they can cause confusion, particularly when it comes to determining the number of years they should cover. Your neighborhood website won’t provide an answer to that issue because HOA communities vary and what works for one HOA could lead to problems for another.
How Do Reserve Studies Work?
A reserve fund is money set aside to meet the costs of maintaining, repairing, and replacing various items in a community. The capital assets of any given community have a limited shelf life, such as pools and roads. An HOA can take preventative steps to reduce the rate of wear on these assets. This is called proactive maintenance and it’s covered by the operating budget.
In other words, when an asset stops functioning, you may use the reserve funds to cover the expenses associated with the replacement, repair, and maintenance. A reserve study is done by an analyst who tries to determine the projected costs of major maintenance in a community over a given period of time. Reserve studies prioritize capital assets as these are owned by the HOA.
How Many Years Should The Reserve Study Cover?
Major assets like vehicles and recreational centers that have a long life of being useful tend to result in reserve studies that extend forward for longer durations. The opposite is true for smaller communities whose capital assets have short useful lives. National standards encourage associations to project up to 20 years forward, which is the minimum.
Some HOA’s have a tendency to extend the useful life of their assets to keep their reserve funds lower. But, that only creates potential financial issues in the future. Instead, make honest projections and analyses to ensure you have a reserve fund that adequately serves the community.
Posted on August 19, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Board members that have the best interest of the association in mind do everything to ensure the well-being of the community. From addressing homeowners’ problems on the HOA website to attending board meetings, they need to know how to solve issues in an efficient manner. But, what about complying with any requirements of the law? In that regard, do your board members understand the code that applies to annual disclosures?
What Does The Law State?
Most states have passed legislation that defines the way HOA boards manage their communities. In one state, for instance, they have a portion of civil code that governs condominiums and development communities. This Act contains the provisions for annual disclosures, breaking them down into three categories; the annual policy report, the annual budget report, and the miscellaneous report. Below is an overview of the requirements.
The Annual Budget Report
Some of the disclosures that fall into this category include the full budget or a summary showing the projected revenues and expenses, an overview of the reserves, and data on outstanding loans. The annual budget report needs to be issued one to three months prior to the start of the association’s fiscal year.
The Annual Policy Statement
Homeowners’ rights and policies on how rules are enforced fall into this category, such as what happens when a homeowner fails to pay an assessment. Other items include the procedures used to resolve disputes and how they oversee physical changes to property, like landscaping.
Unlike others, this category doesn’t contain specific requirements. It includes items such as changes in management, election results, notices regarding board meetings, and assessment increases. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in the association losing its Certificate of Good Standing. That can lead to issues like state-imposed penalties and an inability to file lawsuits. Aside from making a disclosure, you could keep members in the know by posting relevant information on the HOA website.
Posted on August 5, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Do you or any of your board members every dread going to the HOA board meeting? Maybe your association meetings normally take longer than they should or important matters are forgotten about. In many cases, nothing significant gets accomplished as most members tend to waste time arguing with each another. If you’re encountering the same problem, have the HOA board try the following tactics so your meetings are more effective.
One of the biggest reasons for ineffectiveness and boredom at board meetings is that members fail to be prepared. When board members aren’t well informed of what’s to be discussed, they’re more likely to argue and jump from one topic to another without any order.
If you want to ensure everyone is prepared, confirm that each member has received the details of the meeting several days before it takes place. You could also try placing relevant resources on the homeowner association website for members to prepare well in advance so they understand the topics.
Specific Time For Open Comments
Another time-wasting activity is when members are given a chance to talk about issues outside the agenda as the meeting continues. An effective way of dealing with this is to create time for open comments, before or after the meeting. During this time, members are allowed to give their thoughts but they must stop once the meeting starts if the subject isn’t part of the agenda.
One idea is to get a book that contains the guidelines for conducting meetings professionally and how to reach decisions as a group. You could also upload a copy of the HOA rules to your homeowner association website so all members can easily review them. These strategies may not transform your HOA meetings into a fun-filled activity but they’re highly likely to help you reach better decisions in less time!
Posted on July 29, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
An HOA board is charged with handling all business matters regarding the association and how well they perform directly impacts the community. Board members make some of the most important decisions that affect the future of the community in terms of landscaping, HOA fees, future projects, and more. As a result, education is a vital aspect that ultimately determines the HOA’s success. When directors are more educated, it usually increases the chance of success for the homeowners association.
Managing a homeowners association is similar in many ways to running a business. Board members have to deal with the association’s financial accounts, deal with suppliers, and handle other processes that need some technical skills. These days, many HOA’s have a community website and board members need to know how such a platform works if they want to connect well with homeowners online.
How To Get Relevant Education
Board members don’t need college degrees to run the association successfully. After all, most of them are just volunteers who want to better their communities. The best way to get relevant education is to bring a good HOA management company on board. Then, the company should be able to explain to board members what they’ve been elected to do and give them advice that helps them along the way.
When new members are elected, they could go through a training seminar issued by management company representatives or board members. Some of the issues that need to be discussed in these seminars include the association documents and laws, conflict resolution strategies, and how the community website works.
Of course, education doesn’t stop after the training seminars. It’s good to have an HOA manager as a resident expert that provides board members with continuous education and shows them how to deal with issues as the arise. Beyond that, an HOA manager also encourages board members to work together which helps the community run smoothly and become a better place to live.
Posted on July 12, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Whether a volunteer serves on the board or uploads content to the homeowners association website for free, they all play an important role in your community. Without them, your association would be burdened with paying for those services and that would lead to higher HOA fees. The following discusses ways in which you can be an HOA volunteer, as well as how to show appreciation towards volunteers.
Volunteer Opportunities In Your HOA
If you think about it, there’s likely some service you can provide for free to your HOA that will show your devotion to the community. You could team up with other neighbors and start a weekly cleanup routine to ensure the neighborhood remains tidy. Another way to volunteer would be to plan social activities such as holiday parties with the goal of nurturing community relationships.
Does your HOA have a homeowners association website? If not, and you have web design skills, you should think about volunteering your time to create one for the community. However, if the HOA has one, why not engage your fellow members in meaningful discussions and post content they find helpful? Other ways of volunteering include starting a community watch program and helping with the delivery of newsletters.
Show Appreciation Towards Volunteers
Those who impact the community in a positive way are normally featured on the homeowners association website or in the association newsletter. If you want to make a volunteer feel appreciated, introduce yourself and tell them how much you value their work. You may also send them a thank you card or a small gift around the holidays.
Special acts shouldn’t go unnoticed so when you see a volunteer go out of their way, push for them to be recognized. The recognition helps them feel that the community values their effort and others will be encouraged to follow in their footsteps. Volunteers invest their time and energy for the benefit of others so be sure to show them some appreciation.
Posted on July 1, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Do homeowners in your HOA ever complain on the neighborhood website that the assessment fees are too high? It can be a daunting task to maintain low fees and meet the financial obligations of your homeowners association but it doesn’t have to be that way. This post describes a few techniques you can use to keep HOA fees low without compromising the financial well-being of the association.
Type Of Assessments
HOA assessments exist in two basic forms; monthly assessments and special assessments. Monthly assessments are meant for basic upkeep of the homeowners association and they’re also used to take care of expenses such as maintenance of the common areas and security.
On the other hand, special assessments are imposed once in a while to pay for huge expenses such as replacing the roof or pool. If monthly fees are too low, the HOA board might be forced to issue a special assessment that ends up burdening some homeowners.
Keep Assessment Fees Low
Whether they’re monthly or special assessments, the board should ensure that all fees are paid as needed. This will prevent the reserves from running out and eliminate the need for suddenly increasing HOA fees. The board should be vigilant to make certain that all funds are used as intended.
It’s also important to cut overhead expenses as much as possible since these increase your overall expenses for the year. When looking for suppliers and service providers such as designers for the neighborhood website, look at quotes from different parties. Then choose the one that offers you the best deal with regard to quality and price.
Even though HOA fees are often expected to increase, there are steps you can take as the board for them to stay at decent levels. Try the methods discussed above and see how they affect your association. For instance, when a homeowner takes care of common areas, it tends to reduce the maintenance fees and ultimately keep assessments down!
Posted on June 19, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Most management companies will help your HOA with the day to day tasks such as monitoring any activity on the HOA website and managing of financial accounts. However, before you sign an agreement with the management company, you should know exactly what the contract entails. Have you thought about some of the essential questions to ask that would ensure the homeowners association gets a fair deal?
Does The Contract Specify What The Company Will Do?
As you might expect, this question is the most important for some HOA’s as each management company differs in some regard. The contract should clearly state the duties that the company is in charge of as well as the associated fees and expectations that the HOA has concerning how the duties are fulfilled. If there are any important tasks that the manager isn’t required to handle, such as updating the HOA website, the contract must state it clearly.
Are There Additional Fees?
If the manager has to respond to urgent matters on the HOA website beyond their normal working hours, will the association incur an additional fee? What if the HOA wants to cancel the contract before it ends? You can avoid paying any hidden fees if you go over the details of the contract and understand how those fees are calculated.
How Will The Contract Be Renewed?
Contracts can be renewed in two ways; either manually or automatically. Most HOA’s find it convenient to have the contract renewed automatically. Though, it’s always good to schedule a meeting with the company before the renewal date to discuss how everything is being handled while negotiating a new fee.
Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the board to protect and enhance the association. For that reason, take the time to review any contracts thoroughly before signing them to ensure they’re consistent with the needs and goals of the association. The board should also consider having an attorney present when a contract is being reviewed to verify everything is in order.
Posted on June 10, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Do you ever get complaints on the homeowner association website about the appearance of common areas in your community? It might be time to think about hiring a company to handle all landscaping needs related to the HOA. Landscaping is an ongoing process if you want to maintain great results. When you employ a landscaping service, it ensure's your HOA gets a consistent look and presents the following undeniable benefits.
While some communities use their own staff, it usually requires more than general skills to maintain a beautiful landscape throughout the HOA. With their training and experience, landscaping experts help create an eye-catching environment. They also have special materials and equipment for completing tasks efficiently which increases the chance of delivering great results.
Better Plant Survival Rate
One of the reasons why plants don’t survive in your HOA could be due to the variety that is chosen. Landscaping professionals make suggestions about what varieties to plant based on the climate and soil. Another benefit that comes along with having a landscaping service is that you will likely see more green in your HOA.
At first, it might seem like hiring a landscaping company is just going to increase monthly expenses. However, such a company has the means to secure supplies and plants in bulk which often leads to discounted prices for the HOA. Besides that, you won’t need to invest in any special tools as they have their own.
Landscaping companies are normally aware of federal and local safety regulations, environmental rules, and also have insurance. When you enter into a contract with these companies, the blame shifts to them in the event the rules or regulations are violated.
Similar to the design of your homeowner association website, the physical appearance of your community is important. Rather than wasting time and money on your own staff, it’s more cost-effective to work with a landscaping company. As always, make sure you research the company to confirm they are reputable before signing a contract with them.
Posted on May 28, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
A quorum refers to the minimum number of association board members who must be present at a meeting for it to conduct business. Virtually every homeowners association has a provision for quorum requirements in the governing documents and sometimes even on the community website. If your HOA often has difficulty reaching a quorum during meetings, here are a few helpful suggestions to straighten that out.
Consequences Of A Non-Quorum
A common rule is that when a meeting doesn’t reach the quorum, it should be rescheduled for a future date. Therefore, all the effort and planning that was done for the meeting is wasted and the board is forced to use more time to plan for another meeting. Every once in a while the scenario repeats and the future meeting doesn’t happen due to quorum issues.
A non-quorum presents an undesirable consequence as the board has no power to carry out what they have planned. If the meeting was meant to determine a new assessment, then homeowners have to accept the current assessment until enough members attend the meeting. Again, if it was an election to choose new directors, the old directors have to continue to serve.
Proxy As A Viable Solution
A proxy is where a person assigns their vote to another person in writing. It enables members to be counted as being in attendance at a meeting even when they’re not able to be present. Members complete quorum forms and assign their voting rights to other members, just in case they’re not able to attend the meeting.
Without a quorum, HOA meetings cease and if this is a common problem in your association, you may ultimately notice inefficiency in the completion of projects. For that reason, use your community website to encourage all members to attend the meetings and sign a proxy so they’re represented when they fail to show up!
Posted on May 14, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Has your HOA been paying board members to fulfill their role in the association? In most homeowners associations, being a member of the board is a volunteer position that doesn’t include any form of compensation. Nonetheless, it’s not uncommon to hear about board members getting their accounts credited for the work they do. As illustrated below, giving monetary rewards to board members are a huge mistake and one you should always avoid.
Most HOA’s have their own governing documents where it is clearly stated that board members are not to be paid. If your documents state the same, then members who receive some form of compensation are obviously getting those benefits illegally. In this case, the proper step to take is to stop the monetary payment immediately and force them to return the credits they have received.
Whether it has been put on the homeowners association website or in the governing documents, there’s likely a provision stating that being a board member is a volunteer position. If they’re truly volunteering, it’s only fitting they don’t get paid. In the event they’re being paid, they shouldn’t be eligible for the benefits that your association provides.
Board members might be getting some compensation, yet homeowners aren’t aware of it. In case the documents fail to mention that directors are paid or it states that they’re to be paid, homeowners should be aware of it through a newsletter or maybe a discussion thread on the homeowners association website.
Being a board member comes with a lot of duties but without compensation and often no recognition. Of course, it’s easy to think that being in such a situation means doing favors for everyone else and none for yourself, but that isn’t the case. Board members have a unique opportunity to improve the community they live in as they see fit which is a huge advantage.
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