Posted on May 31, 2017 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
The process of collecting HOA fees is a constant that homeowners can always expect when living in a homeowners association. That fee covers the maintenance on amenities in the neighborhood and costly projects that require money to be set aside for in a reserve fund. The amount is different in each homeowners association but you can expect to pay them monthly, quarterly, or annually. However, the association is prohibited from certain acts should you not pay the HOA fees on time. Have you checked your rights on the neighborhood website?
Fair & Equal Treatment
While it is policy to pay HOA fees, there is an act in place that protects homeowners called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA. The FDCPA limits what the homeowners association is allowed as it prohibits any harassment of a member. Unpaid HOA fees are considered a debt according to the act but it controls how collectors conduct themselves.
First, collectors must maintain a level of respect and not use any means of coercion to obtain the overdue fee from a homeowner. Other actions prohibited under the act are threats of violence, harassing, repeated phone calls, and publishing their name on the neighborhood website. All of which have little effect on the homeowner actually settling their balance when patience and understanding have a positive impact. Additionally, the amount should never be exaggerated as the association could be sued.
Proper Collection Technique
Most homeowners know the right path for the association to collect HOA fees as they entered into that agreement when they purchased their home. If that agreement is violated, then homeowners have a right for their fees to be settled legally and professionally. Periodically, the HOA Board should allocate time to communicate what HOA fees are used for and emphasize how they improve the quality of life for all homeowners.
Posted on May 15, 2017 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Threatening thunderstorms accompanied with lightning are primarily an occurrence during the summer months. The HOA website rarely has information about lightning as the risk of it causing a fatality is highly unlikely when the proper precautions are taken.
Last year, less than 40 fatalities occurred in the United States as a result of lightning but there a couple of key statistics that should get all homeowners attention. Over the last 10 years, there has been an average of ten fatalities for the month of July while June has averaged seven. How does this factor into your safety as a homeowner?
Lightning Safety Tips
June, July, and August are the months with the highest potential of encountering a thunderstorm with lightning. Always take this into consideration anytime you have plans that will be happening outdoors. The easiest way to do that is to use a weather app on your smartphone or frequently visit a weather website to know the latest forecast.
If severe thunderstorms are in the forecast, change your plans to another day or have a backup plan to move inside until weather conditions improve. Hopefully you are at home when lightning strikes so you can unplug any electronics that are not being used. When it comes to electronics, a surge protector helps reduce the risk for electrical damage, but the best form of prevention is to unplug those appliances or devices.
Stay Protected In Your Home
Lightning is known to transfer a strong current to electrical outlets when it strikes and the same thing can happen to the plumbing in your home. When you hear lightning, exercise caution by postponing any action that requires the use of a faucet or shower and stay away from windows. Visit the HOA website frequently so you remain aware of the best ways to protect yourself and your home when severe weather is in the area.
Posted on May 1, 2017 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Homeowners associations have rules for homeowners to comply with that is for the benefit of the community and to protect the value of homes. Occasionally, some homeowners may break the rules unknowingly but they get informed through the homeowners association website and follow what is outlined in the rules. However, there are a select few who violate the rules more frequently and it’s the responsibility of the HOA board to enforce the rules or make a modification. What should a board member take into account before modifying the HOA rules?
Areas Of Importance
Board members that plan to modify or implement a new rule must do so according to the authority which is granted in the CC&R’s. The process from one homeowners association to the next will likely differ from state to state. Typically, the first step in changing an existing rule or creating a new rule is to submit it to members for a review. They are given time to critique the proposal and offer their opinion about the changes to the HOA board.
An important element to any rule change is to explain the reason for it and the positive effect that you expect to follow. After members respond, the board analyzes the proposed rule change and takes into consideration the insight offered by all the members. Then, a vote is held where the HOA board determines if the rule change will be approved or not.
Find A Balance
Most homeowners associations strive to offer a community and a homeowners association website that residents are proud of. At times, rule changes may be necessary to keep the association thriving while providing people the opportunity to enjoy where they live. Anytime rule changes happen, board members should ensure they are consistent, reasonable, and equally enforced so homeowners always feel inspired to comply.
Posted on February 10, 2017 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Throughout the year, a variety of issues in the homeowners association are discussed during meetings. Occasionally, various issues have a direct impact on your life as they might involve upgrades in the community that lead to higher HOA fees or a special assessment.
One of the many advantages to living in a homeowners association is that you can follow the homeowners association website and voice your opinion at meetings. How can you make a difference on community issues in your homeowners association?
Your Right To Vote
In any homeowners association, there are certain issues that need to be addressed every so often. Homeowners may participate in how these issues are resolved by casting their vote at the annual meeting. Typically, the homeowners association notifies each resident several weeks in advance so they can make arrangements to attend.
Residents unable to attend are advised to contact a board member or read the governing documents to learn about voting using a proxy. With a proxy, you should always use a well-trusted person to ensure your vote is placed according to your wishes.
There are two ways you can vote by proxy in most homeowners associations which is by a general proxy and a directed proxy. Both grant another person the right to vote on the homeowners behalf with one important difference. A general proxy gives the person the right to vote without specifying how that vote is cast, but a directed proxy specifically directs how the person should cast the vote.
Who Will Represent You?
Homeowners should make voting a priority as it helps represent the community more accurately when people have a voice on issues. The HOA board election is a key component when it comes to your rights in the homeowners association as elected board members control the future of the community. Check the homeowners association website periodically or ask a board member if you want to know more about your rights.
Posted on January 27, 2017 8:00 AM by HOA Sites
Maintenance and insurance issues in the homeowners association may cause confusion among HOA board members. The task to differentiate between areas covered under the insurance policy and items that are considered maintenance requires understanding the responsibilities of each. The community website informs residents of many topics in the homeowners association but experience is often needed to distinguish between insurance and maintenance.
Maintenance is responsible for certain areas of the homeowners association such as the streets, roofs, and landscaping. The first step in establishing what is covered under maintenance in the HOA is to identify the responsibilities as outlined in the governing documents. The governing documents, or CC&R’s, clarify the responsibilities and limitations of maintenance.
For instance, maintenance covers replacing roofs due to deterioration but that coverage has boundaries. In the CC&R’s, there’s a portion that explains what maintenance accounts for and also what insurance is supposed to cover. HOA board members must act according to the governing documents and keep maintenance issues separate from items covered by insurance. Without the community website, would you know where insurance coverage begins?
Ensure Proper Coverage
It’s not unusual for board members with limited experience to be unaware how to handle maintenance and insurance matters. In regard to insurance, board members should confirm the homeowners association has adequate coverage that meets or exceeds the minimum requirement. Typically, this requirement is found in the bylaws and includes details about the insurance policy intended for the association.
The key is for board members to realize the importance of insurance and the time when it is necessary. Maintenance is meant to keep the homeowners association up-to-date where insurance is meant for times where part of a building is destroyed. Ideal action for the HOA board is to consult with a professional about insurance coverage that complies with the CC&R’s.
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!
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