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.
Posted on May 2, 2019 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Most HOA’s post the parking rules on the neighborhood website to ensure all residents and visitors are aware so they don’t unknowingly violate the rules. For one reason or another, some people still break the rules even though several warnings have been issued. Is it possible to wake up one day and find out that your car was towed? Below is the interesting truth you should know about your vehicle and parking in the HOA community.
Towing Is Definitely Possible
Changes in vehicle code now allow HOA’s to tow but only when one or more of the following conditions are met. First, if there are appropriate signs from a towing agency where parking is not allowed. Secondly, if a parking offense notice has been issued to the car owner and 4 days have passed without any action taken by the owner.
Lastly, the vehicle isn’t roadworthy and the relevant authorities have been contacted. As stated earlier, the towing companies that management uses to remove the vehicles must be on the towing signs that are displayed around the HOA. Management also has to be in a written agreement with the company before they are allowed to operate in the community.
When the parking violation has satisfied the conditions for towing as the vehicle code dictates, there’s a proper process to be followed. The association needs to provide the towing company with a signed authorization to remove the vehicle. A member of the association must be present at the time of the towing and the request has to contain the details of the car, as well as those of the person who authorized the removal.
Note that there are exceptions to these conditions. For instance, when the car is parked in a fire lane, the HOA is allowed to have the vehicle towed immediately without following the proper process. Towing is absolutely legal, even in an HOA community. However, it is the obligation of the HOA to use all means necessary, including the neighborhood website, to inform members about the parking rules.
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!
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