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!
Posted on September 10, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
In some states like California, HOA boards are forbidden to act on business items outside the board meeting. If your HOA doesn't hold board meetings regularly, there’s a greater chance that some important issues will go unresolved and they could ultimately damage the HOA. In case your association isn’t already holding board meetings systematically, it’d be a good time to start doing so.
Problems Get Addressed On Time
If you have an HOA website, there’s a good chance that homeowners use it as a platform to voice their thoughts on certain matters and to report issues. By holding regular meetings, the board ensures that homeowners won’t have to wait for several months to have their problems solved. As a result, all matters are handled in a timely manner and homeowners complain less.
Increased Engagement Online
When homeowners don’t know when the next board meeting will be, they might not be very interested in participating in productive discussions on the HOA website. As opposed to when they know the specific date of the next meeting, they’re more likely to publish blog posts and ask or answer questions. In most associations, homeowners tend to be more engaged when meetings are held according to a schedule.
Regular, scheduled meetings are an effective means of ensuring the HOA stays focused on long-term and short-term plans. The board can issue updates about the progress of certain projects and depending on what the homeowners are saying on the HOA website, they are able to gauge their efficiency in handling those tasks.
If your HOA is having trouble determining the frequency with which to hold board meetings, check what the governing documents specify. In the event the documents haven’t addressed this topic, talk to an HOA manager while working with an attorney to have the topics included in the governing documents. Basically, the bigger the HOA, the more often board meetings should be held.
Posted on August 30, 2018 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Did you know the money that the HOA spends on maintenance is generated from the pockets of homeowners in the form of HOA fees? One way of reducing these fees would be to take steps targeted at easing the maintenance obligation of the HOA. In that regard, adopting a more green approach to your daily routine can be tremendously helpful while enabling you to participate in conserving the environment.
Go Digital Or Recycle
How does your homeowners association communicate with homeowners? If you’re still using paper, propose that the HOA starts using the homeowner association website to reduce litter. Also, try obtaining the local and global news on the internet as opposed to buying the newspaper. When a majority of members adopt these approaches, the waste disposal service charges will decrease and so will the HOA fees.
Maintain The Common Areas
If you keep common areas such as the swimming pool and playground free from debris, that will help cut the costs that management spends on cleaning them. Additionally, there might be flowers and other plants or structures in common areas and these should also be protected. The costs for replacing them are carried by homeowners so always encourage kids and neighbors to respect the common areas.
Study The Rules
Some homeowners build illegal structures or paint their houses in a manner that violates the HOA rules and they end up paying a large fine. To avoid falling victim to this, go through the rules and ask for help from the board or other homeowners where you need clarification.
Obviously, reducing the maintenance expenses is not a task that you can efficiently accomplish on your own. Thus, consider using the homeowner association website to get other homeowners interested in doing their part. Show them the benefits of minimizing paper waste, recycling their garbage, and respecting plants in common areas so more homeowners join in.
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.
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- December 1969 (4)