Posted on January 13, 2017 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The beginning of each year is a great time for the HOA board to focus on improving certain aspects of the homeowners association to be better than the previous year. As time passes, many circumstances can be expected to happen and the homeowner association website ensures residents they know the latest. What key questions should board members address at the start of the year to avoid complications later on?
Annual Budget & Projects
An important part of any homeowners association is to determine the budget for the operating budget and reserve fund. The funds for the operating budget, or annual budget, get used to cover expenses that are recurring such as insurance and landscape upkeep. The reserve fund is used on areas of the association that are typically expensive and occur over a long period of time such as replacing roofs.
When was the last time an extensive project was completed in the homeowners association? A good idea is to update the reserve study every year to ensure sufficient funds are saved for future projects. During a project, save all related expenses to accurately update the budget for reserve funds.
Aside from that, what else should be planned ahead for the year? Schedule meetings in advance and post a calendar on the homeowner association website so homeowners may plan accordingly if they want to attend. Additionally, are there positions to fill on the HOA board? If so, think about who would be a valuable addition and discuss it at the next board meeting.
Is It Time For An HOA Manager?
If you don’t have an HOA manager, strongly consider hiring one as they help communications and manage deadlines in the homeowners association. Their job is also to keep others informed about what needs to happen for the New Year to start well so residents enjoy a better quality of life.
Posted on January 3, 2017 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The holiday season is a festive time where many residents in the homeowners association make plans with family and friends. Before decorating your home or inviting anyone over, take a moment to read the Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions to verify you follow the rules of your association. During times of celebration, you may forget what is posted on the neighborhood website but these reminders will ensure you adhere to the rules.
Comply With Guidelines
Three aspects to consider are outdoor decorations, noise level, and rules for visitors. The last event you want to deal with during the holidays is for the HOA board to notify you that you have violated one of the homeowners association rules. What should be a joyous occasion might quickly be spoiled with removing decorations or lighting to conform to the guidelines.
Always read over the CC&R’s prior to starting so you learn about the restrictions regarding outdoor decorations. It just might save you from receiving an annoying violation notice and climbing the ladder to remove decorative lighting. Aside from that, what noise level is acceptable and what should guests know about parking?
Reminders For A Special Time Of Year
Many residents host a party for the holiday season which means parking spaces may be limited if neighbors next to each other have a party at the same time. If you are the one hosting, take a look at the CC&R’s or ask an HOA board member about guest parking so your family and friends know where they should park.
Occasionally, the noise level at holiday parties will be loud, especially if there is a large crowd. In a homeowners association, noise should be kept to a minimum to respect other residents and end the party at a respectable time. Residents are urged to check the neighborhood website frequently for updates and remember these reminders to ensure the HOA rules are followed!
Posted on December 12, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The HOA website provides homeowners with the latest news about the homeowners association and tips that make their life easier. When a season changes, many residents make time for seasonal cleaning to dispose of items that are no longer used. Often, items are put in a convenient place until later which eventually causes the neighborhood to look disorganized. Prevent that from happening by donating items to a nearby organization so the homeowners association stays looking clean and organized.
What Items Are Acceptable?
Guidelines from one donation center to the next varies so always ask what they accept if your item isn’t listed as an eligible donation. If one donation center rejects your donation, network with your neighbors to see if they know another location that would accept it.
Neighbors in the homeowners association might know of a closer donation center which helps significantly when you want to donate larger items. A variety of items are accepted at donation centers as they are in need of certain donations. Usual donations accepted include clothing, furniture, electronics, appliances, vehicles, sporting goods, books, dishes, jewelry, and toys.
Homeowners generally dispose of broken items but some organizations will accept them as long as you inform them ahead of time it needs repaired. The task of delivering unwanted items to an organization may present an obstacle, but larger organizations are likely to pick it up from your home. What else should you know before donating?
At the end of the year, items you donated may be used to count as a tax deduction if you get a receipt from the donation center. Create an itemized list of the items you give away along with an estimated value and request a receipt before you leave. Regularly visit the HOA website to know the latest tips towards keeping the homeowners association clean.
Posted on November 28, 2016 8:14 AM by HOA Sites
Not all homeowners associations have an HOA board that consists of members who treat everyone equally and fairly. There are over 351,000 homeowners associations in the United States and some of those HOA’s may have a homeowner that pushes their own agenda.
Inappropriate behavior may eventually lead to some form of bullying on the community website or during a meeting regardless of CC&R’s and rules. Homeowners who are long-time residents of the community may try to persuade a board member or HOA manager to enforce what they want. What can you do if this happens in your homeowners association?
Homeowners that display questionable behavior may do things such as insult other homeowners and interfere at times with their demands. When those demands aren’t met, they often resort to bullying to get even or become very vocal about how the HOA board should be at fault. If that happens, HOA board members must promptly remedy the situation by reminding the homeowner about the CC&R’s and HOA rules.
Comments on the community website may also get out of control when debatable topics are mentioned. Online bullying is more likely to happen than bullying in the homeowners association as people think they can get away with it. Any homeowner who feels they have been bullied is encouraged to consult with a board member as soon as possible. How should you act if you were to become a board member?
Know The Tactics & Act Accordingly!
Most bullies are easy to identify since there are certain tactics they use on different people to push their agenda. Condescending comments usually indicate a negative attitude and whether or not they have plans to try and divide the HOA board. Board members that work together know the tactics bullies use and act accordingly to ensure the homeowners association always enforces the rules.
Posted on November 14, 2016 7:30 AM by HOA Sites
In any homeowners association, there should be funds allocated towards repairs in the future or to cover maintenance needs that might be expensive. Reserve funds make it possible for repairs and maintenance in the community to be performed without delays or burdening homeowners with a special assessment. Do HOA board members have a financial plan in place for the future of your homeowners association and the homeowners association website?
Budgeting For The Future
In the homeowners association, a sequence of repairs can result in a shortage of reserve funds. The HOA board has the challenging task of ensuring adequate money is always in the reserves. Costly repairs such as roofs need to be saved for but the average life span of a roof is anywhere from 15 to 30 years depending on the roofing materials and labor costs.
If it would cost $75,000 to replace the roof and it needs replaced after 15 years, then each year $5,000 should be saved. The HOA board should make sure a percentage of the HOA fees are set aside for the reserve fund so all areas of the homeowners association are well-kept. How can the HOA board confirm that the reserve fund always has enough money?
Conduct A Reserve Study
The process of conducting a reserve study involves analyzing the homeowners association visually and creating a plan that considers all repairs or replacements. Do you know when your homeowners association last performed a reserve study?
A reserve study should be updated yearly even when no repairs are performed as the rate of inflation has a profound impact on funding future projects. Know which items the homeowners association is responsible for by frequently visiting the homeowners association website and reading the governing documents. You should always question how the HOA board will fund major projects in the future as it may save you from a special assessment!
Posted on October 27, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Every homeowners association needs to plan for the future and one way of doing that is to conduct a reserve study. A reserve study is performed to determine when areas of the association will need renovated or repaired and how much that will cost. Certain areas such as the roof and parking lot are expensive to repair so money needs to be saved each month to fund those projects when mandatory. Does your homeowners association set aside enough money to pay for future repairs?
Financial Planning For The Homeowners Association
Typically, a reserve study is prepared by someone who specializes in doing them but they can be performed by anyone. Board members should ensure they have an extensive knowledge of HOA’s in order to accurately calculate a time frame and a budget. An HOA board member will analyze the budget and determine how much of the HOA fees will be required to cover the expense of future projects.
A competent reserve study performed by a professional provides board members with valuable information as they know what to look for and offer helpful advice. It can be difficult to predict what areas will need repaired based on appearance or when the last time any maintenance was performed. Areas of the homeowners association need updated from time to time including the neighborhood website. What happens if the reserve study is not performed by a professional and funds are insufficient?
Why It Matters To You!
The reserve study not only matters to board members but also to homeowners whether they follow the neighborhood website or not. If the reserve study fails to include all areas of the homeowners association or the budget is not accurate then there would be a shortage of reserve funds. Unfortunately, a shortage of reserve funds leads to a special assessment unless board members postpone projects in the community.
Posted on October 17, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
HOA fees are part of owning a home located in a homeowners association but these fees help provide amenities for you and others in the community. In most associations, they cover amenities such as pools, tennis courts, trash removal, landscaping, and maintenance in the community. Does the HOA website explain in detail what the homeowners association fees cover and when you might expect an increase? If not, you may be surprised one day to find out that the fees have gone up to cover other areas.
Why You Should Read The Governing Documents
The governing documents of the homeowners association clarify what the homeowner association is responsible for so take the time to understand them. Not all homeowners associations are run correctly and HOA fees can vary a great deal in what they cover from one homeowners association to another.
Never assume that an association with higher fees provides more amenities. Equally, verify that an association with lower fees provides basic amenities and request to see a history of the fees to determine how often they are raised. HOA fees not only cover amenities but a portion of the money is also set aside in an account called a reserve fund.
This account provides the funds for bigger projects such as repaving roads and replacing roofs. If the HOA fee is lower than average then residents may be asked to fund those projects in the form of paying a special assessment.
Have You Asked What The HOA Fees Cover?
Just because you pay higher HOA fees or a special assessment doesn’t guarantee that everything will be covered. The best way to find out what the fees cover is to ask the HOA board and what might cause that to change in the future. This saves you the frustration of finding out later that some amenities are not covered if the HOA website isn’t up-to-date.
Posted on September 29, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Political views of residents in a homeowners association are usually shown by posting yard signs of the candidate who they support. Before posting signs, every homeowner needs to ensure they follow the rules of the association by knowing the political sign restrictions.
While the HOA board and the homeowner association website should follow the CC&R’s of the association and have a neutral bias. Has your homeowners association chosen a side this campaign season or have they remained unbiased?
Board Members & The CC&R’s
The presidential race this year is heating up and each vote counts so all homeowners are encouraged to vote. However, the HOA board must follow the CC&R’s and not show their political interest or take the side of a candidate. This keeps political debates from getting out of control. Regardless of political views, the board has a duty to inform each homeowner of the HOA rules and the consequences if they aren’t followed.
Additionally, board members must know exactly what the rules say so they are prepared to handle any issues in the association. If the CC&Rs are contrary to the law then the law takes priority over the CC&R’s. Members may suggest measures worth supporting that affect the homeowners association. During an election, there may be times of doubt so it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney on those matters.
Has The HOA Board Advised You?
Residents are informed about matters in the homeowners association in a variety of ways but the homeowner association website keeps residents the most up-to-date. Information posted on the homeowner association website should always be politically unbiased and address the concerns of homeowners. Homeowners also have a right to post political signs in their yard to show support for a candidate as long as they adhere to the HOA rules.
Posted on September 23, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The air quality in your home may not be as healthy as you think. Most modern homes are insulated extremely well so they are more energy efficient. While that provides a lot of benefit it may also lead to issues as the air might contain more pollutants. Without a community website, you and other residents could encounter difficulty to increase oxygen levels in your home so you breathe easier.
Are Pollutants Your Problem?
Periodically, pollutants become trapped indoors depending on how well your home is insulated and how frequently you use chemicals. Chemicals in cleaners, paints, air fresheners, and pesticides all have toxins that lower oxygen levels. Toxins such as carbon dioxide lower the air quality in your home but there are ways to remove these toxins from the air.
Houseplants offer a natural way of replacing air in your home as they take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the atmosphere. The number of plants you have can make a difference, but a general rule to follow is two plants for every 100 square feet of space. Generally, there are signs to watch for when determining if the air quality in your home is healthy or not. Do you ever experience frequent headaches or irritation in your throat, eyes, or nose?
Visit The Community Website & Lower Your Exposure
Pollutants in the air cause a negative effect on your health. Some homeowners are more sensitive to pollutants than others and consistent exposure could cause health issues to show up. Often, the key to breathing easier is to remove the pollutant from the air space which eliminates any exposure. The community website and the EPA website offer detailed information on which pollutants to keep out of your home. As a result, the air indoors is controlled which makes it easier to breathe and lowers your health risks!
Posted on September 16, 2016 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Natural disasters in a homeowners association happen no matter how prepared you may be but you should know how to take action when they occur. Obviously, the more prepared you are increases your chances of minimizing losses while keeping everyone safe in your home. Generally, the homeowners association website informs residents of all the aspects to be aware of in the neighborhood. Do you live in an area prone to flooding, tornadoes, or other natural disasters?
Actions To Follow
Some areas are more prone than others to suffering damage from a natural disaster which should be a concern when buying your home. Verify the insurance company knows the possible dangers associated with your place so you always have adequate coverage. If a disaster strikes, contact your insurance company first to advise them what has happened.
They know what dangers exist following a natural disaster and can guide you towards remaining safe at all times. Damage may be so significant that it causes structural weakness in your home and other buildings. Always keep your safety a top priority and enter with caution if you must go in the home.
Before leaving, secure the area so other residents resist the urge of going near and putting themselves at risk. After informing your insurance company, contact the HOA manager or an HOA board member for further direction. If there is major damage, notify the utility companies to have the electric, water, and gas shut off immediately.
What About Your Belongings?
Once it’s safe to enter again, survey the extent of the damage and take multiple pictures so you have proof when processing your claim with the insurance company. As well, list all valuable items that suffered any damage and include receipts if you still have them. Homeowners can develop a plan for taking action after a natural disaster by checking the homeowners association website.
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