Clearly Defining Violations and ARC Requirements through Board Resolutions

If you’ve served on a board or managed community associations then you know how difficult it can be to handle violations or ARC requests. This is especially the case when the governing documents are not crystal clear. In some cases, HOAs have an extremely detailed section of the governing documents that lays out exactly what you can and cannot do. However, in many cases the rules can be extremely vague.

In the case where things are not very detailed, you see words like “unsightly”, “unreasonable”, etc.. This creates large grey area for interpretation. As trustworthy and competent as some board members can be, the grey area can still create unrest and drama within the community. For example, two residents send in ARC requests. Both fall under a grey area of interpretation. One is approved and the other is denied. The one who was denied may argue the tree they were going to plant was not unsightly, and that the board is partial against them. When I managed communities, I saw this exact situation play out hundreds of times. I even saw one lead to the board getting voted out entirely at the next annual meeting.

If you have this kind of situation in your community and are getting tired of all the uncertainty and drama, check your governing documents for something called a “board resolution”. The reason I mention this first is that it can be extremely hard to amend the governing documents entirely, many times requiring a 75-100% vote after reaching a quorum. In some cases, the governing documents contain a clause saying the board can pass a “resolution”. This is basically an addition to the governing documents that does not contradict what is written currently. The beauty of this is that if there are parameters like “unsightly, and “unreasonable”, you may be able to add a board resolution that outlines many rules specifically in writing. For example, if it isn’t indicated already, you could add specific paint colors, parking rules, etc. as long as it didn’t contradict the governing documents.

Frequently I see governing documents allowing a board resolution through a board vote as long as all residents are sent a copy. This is not always the case, and it is very important you read your governing documents thoroughly or ask your community attorney before proceeding with this. If you have drama in the community that developed from vague and subjective text, it is worth looking into.

A lot of communities call us at HPS Management with this exact situation. They’ve been self-managing and want a trusted company to take over. Drama and/or unrest is already occurring. We read the governing documents of every community we manage, and if we can help create a board resolution that the board approves, it helps make sure the rules are clear and no drama is arising from what some people perceive as preferential treatment.

If you’re having issues with your self-managed community, or your current management company is struggling with violations enforcement, HPS can help. We manage communities in Maryland, Delaware, Washington D.C., North Carolina, and South Carolina. Visit our web site at www.hpsmanagement.com to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you.

HOA Websites 101: What The HOA Board Needs To Know

HOA websites, even in this age of social media, are still powerful communication tools. A well-made homeowner association website does more than just present information. HOA community websites also help residents up to date with what your board is doing. Let’s look at the sections that best HOA websites always have. Let’s also note some features that your HOA website templates should include when you’re starting your own.

HOA Websites Impact Your Community in a Positive Way

The advancement of the Internet has created opportunities for many industries and communities. HOAs are no exception. HOA websites are an excellent tool for communication within communities. They also help your HOA board volunteers keep on top of tasks for the HOA. If you are considering how an HOA website could positively benefit your HOA, consider the following:

Resident Communication

Resident communication is something that commonly HOAs struggle with. Keeping track of all your residents can take up too much time. What’s even worse, is when your HOA communications fail to reach someone. Sending out HOA announcements by mail can also get out of hand as your community grows.

With an HOA website, you get a solution that grows with your community. HOA websites make it possible to post upcoming events in the community so that residents are informed and make the time to attend. Community engagement is one of the top priorities of HOA boards. Good communication with residents is a huge factor for successful HOAs. Having an HOA website can be a huge benefit in that regard.

Maintenance Tasks

Laptop with word "HELP" on table against color background | hoa websitesMuch of the pressure of managing an HOA has something to do with maintenance. Requests from residents can get lost in the shuffle.

Paper-based feedback systems can be too slow to address homeowner complaints. As your community grows, you need to drop outdated tools that waste your time and energy. That’s where HOA websites can streamline things for you.

HOA websites have all sorts of features depending on the level of sophistication your HOA is looking for. There are ways to input maintenance requests or other services that the HOA offers to its residents. An online form will streamline and organize requests. This improved level of organization will increase resident satisfaction in both the short and long-term. It is important to consider carefully which tasks your HOA needs to complete that can be done online.

Thus, a professional and polished HOA website is a great way to accept maintenance requests. Once you do so, you will be amazed at the positive difference it makes in your overall HOA operations.

Important Announcements

There are times in any community where important announcements need to be made. These may also include things like major maintenance advisories, meetings, or events. Often, time is of the essence, so you also have to make sure that word gets out as quickly as possible.

By having a website, it will be possible to post this information online instantly. It’s a lot faster to make an online calendar update, compared to leaving a note on each homeowner’s door. If your HOA puts out a lot of announcements over the course of a year, those notes quickly add up. HOA websites, on the other hand, will create savings in the HOAs budget in the long-term. Thus, you save time while also saving money on printing costs.

Posting of HOA Rules & Regulations

There should be complete transparency between the HOA and its residents. Posting key information about the structure of the HOA along with its CC&Rs online is a great start. By putting them online, you provide an excellent way for residents to have access to them. They can check, anytime, which rules and regulations apply to an issue that they may be facing.

Plus, any updates and revisions can be easily posted online. There is no need to reprint dozens of copies of your bylaws every time it changes.

Required Applications & Forms

business man working on laptop computer use Online Web Job Application Form moniter | hoa websiteMost projects in HOA communities require approval before they are done. Renovations, fencing, and landscaping projects should all be submitted to ensure they adhere to the community covenants, or if exceptions can be made. This process can be frustrating when there is no clear process for finding the forms, filling them out, and getting them approved by the board.

Having everything readily available via an HOA website goes a long way toward streamlining the process. Your HOA board saves time and effort while your residents get instant access to your forms, too.

Starting a Custom HOA Website

Convinced that HOA websites are the way to go for your community? Your new website does not have to be overly complex. In fact, the simpler it is to use, the better! Simple websites are also easier to understand and maintain. Plus, you can always add other features as needed. You just need to make sure that you have room in your website structure for these important items:

  • A section for new residents
  • FAQs
  • General contact information: emergency hotlines, inquiry emails, etc.
  • Information on amenities, pool hours, how to access, and advisories
  • Maintenance service schedules: trash collection, snow removal schedule, etc.
  • News and recent events, and updates on recent repairs if any
  • Calendar of events
  • A section for your HOA rules and regulations
  • Download pages for your governing documents
  • Either an online form for architectural requests or downloadable versions of your architectural forms
  • A subscription system to support your email blast tools

Is an HOA Website Risky?

Of course, some HOAs are wary about putting sensitive content on their HOA websites. For things like financials and a list of delinquent payers, they need to be cleared with your legal advisors first. Like with most websites, you also have to be responsible for any public forums you provide.

Get a Quality HOA Website Service Provider

Your HOA websites also need to be easy to use. It also needs to be available whenever your residents need it, so it’s always a good idea to look at a reputable national directory of HOA management companies and vendors for your HOA website needs. Soon, you’ll be on your way towards having a custom HOA website to call your own!

 

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How Much Is The Typical HOA Management Fee?

Homeowners association can greatly benefit from the services of a management company. Since board members don’t always have the time or expertise, it’s good to have a professional handling essential managerial functions on a full-time basis. But, how much does property management cost? Here’s a closer look at the HOA management fee and how much your HOA can expect to pay each month.

HOA Management Fee: How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of property management services will vary dramatically. Associations must understand that the cost of property managers will depend on several factors. This includes the HOA management company itself, the scope of its services, and the size of the community.

For example, a large HOA community may have numerous communal areas and amenities that require regular attention. The community may have hundreds of homes, as well. This means a large volume of work for HOA management when it comes to collecting dues, enforcing rules, and so on.

An HOA of this magnitude can most likely expect to pay a higher HOA management fee compared to a smaller community with fewer amenities, services, and homes.

Some HOA or condominium property managers may also charge extra for additional services, such as organizing and planning community events, preparing and distributing newsletters, setting up and maintaining the HOA website, and so on. For these services, HOA management fees may be on a cost per unit basis.

What Is the Average HOA Fee?

Average word concept on cubes | cost of property managerWhen looking for new HOA management, it’s important for associations to have an idea of typical HOA management fees to see if it will fit their budget. Since management companies will have different fees, it can be beneficial to compare average HOA fees.

On average, management services typically range from $10-20 per unit, per month. These per-door rates still vary drastically, though, depending on the scale of your community.

It’s also important to consider property management laws in your state, city, or municipality. Some states regulate property management activities, and this may have some bearing on your HOA management fees.

What’s Included in the HOA Management Fee?

Upon choosing an HOA company, the association will have to sign a management contract. This should clearly detail the management services they will provide as well as the HOA property management fees to be paid. Here is a sample breakdown of the HOA management fee:

Initiation Fees:

The initiation fee is what an HOA management company may charge to handle the day-to-day management of your community. This can range from a couple of thousand dollars up to $30,000 depending on the size and need of your HOA.

Monthly Management Fees:

HOAs may also pay an HOA management fee each month. This amount will be clearly stated in the HOA contract.

Extra Services and Charges:

An HOA manager can still provide services that are not initially stated in the contract, but it will come at an additional cost. Make sure to clarify this with your HOA management company so that the association won’t be surprised by hidden costs.

Termination and Transition Fees:

A typical HOA contract lasts for one year. It’s not usually recommended to sign a multi-year management contract unless the association is already familiar with the quality of service of the company. It’s also easier to renegotiate terms with a yearly contract.

If for some reason, the association wants to terminate the management company’s services before the end of the contract, or vice versa, a termination fee will be imposed.

Then, at the end of the year, if the association wishes to transfer to change their management company, there may also be transition fees. Your former company can orient the new management but they will have to be compensated for it.

Services You Can Expect With Your HOA Management Fee

Once your association has signed with an HOA management company, the board can expect assistance with the following aspects:

  • Accounting and financial management services
  • HOA collections and vendor payments
  • Rule enforcement and sending violation notices
  • HOA communications (answering phones, responding to emails, homeowner inquiries)
  • Scheduling maintenance services and overseeing contractors
  • Insurance and tax returns
  • Drafting and/or amending governing documents
  • Board meeting agendas

Again, the scope of work provided by your management company should be clearly outlined in the HOA contract. This is to set expectations and avoid disappointments for both parties involved.

Does the HOA Management Fee Matter?

woman | cost of property managerWhen choosing an HOA management company, of course, it is important to look at the HOA management fee. However, it shouldn’t be your only consideration.

It’s important to stick to your HOA budget. But considering the invaluable services of a management company, the HOA management fee may be greatly justified. It can be a worthy investment that leads to the growth and success of your community. So spend time looking at different companies and comparing services and HOA management fees.

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How To Select Property Management

It can be overwhelming to maintain multiple properties, even if you are skilled in business and maintenance. Meanwhile, it can be downright impossible to manage even one small property if do not have such skills. So, hiring a quality property management company to handle your holdings with ease can be a Godsend. But, how do you find property management that is capable enough to take the reins? Here are some pointers on how to select property management

Follow These 10 Steps to Select Property Management

You may already be aware of the many benefits of having a property management company, but are unsure of what to look for in a property manager. Here are 10 steps that you can follow to select property managers:

1. Start with Referrals

Referrals | select proprty managerStart with realty professionals that you may know, such as the realtor that sold you your home. Do they have any contacts in the property management business?

Perhaps you have colleagues or personal connections with realty investments that may be able to shed some light on the subject. Surely, they would know who to recommend.

Just remember, even if a person or company comes highly recommended by those that you trust, you should always conduct your due diligence by running a check with your state’s real estate commission.

2. See How Many Properties He or She Is Currently Managing

It has been estimated that a trained employee of a management company can easily handle approximately 35 units alone. That also means one manager can handle that much, or a sufficient management company with multiple employees can handle an amount equal to the number of employees times 35. Just how many units are you looking to rent? Keep in mind the size of the company and its prior commitments before making a serious offer.

3. Evaluate the Candidate’s Advertising Strategy

Do you like the strategies used or do you feel they are over the top, or worse, not effective at all? Look at the signage advertising vacancies in front of properties managed by the prospective company or individual. See if he or she also advertises in newspapers or on websites. Perhaps they have their own website for advertising properties for rent. You should review it for aesthetics and usability.

4. Check the Manager’s Vacancy Ratio

It is a good idea to check on the number of vacancies that the manager has at the properties that he or she is currently managing. Are the properties in question more than halfway full? If they are not, what is the issue preventing occupancy? How long does it take for the manager to place a prospective tenant and what criteria are used to evaluate a prospective tenant’s fitness?

Also, is the manager’s experience in line with what you are looking for? For example, if you are looking to rent a 5-bedroom house, and he or she has only rented from a community of one-room efficiencies, can you be sure that he or she is a good fit?

5. See If He or She Owns Property

While you may think that it would be beneficial for a manager to also own his or her own property, that is not always the case. That is because his or her interests will always be in competition with your own, especially if your properties are in the same market. He or she is not likely to bring tenants to your properties at the expense of his or her own. You want to be his or her number one priority.

7. Ensure He or She is Willing to Conduct Inspections

Construction concept , Foreman officer inspector defect about engineer&architect work home building before complete project | select property managerYou will probably need to accomplish this by getting a commitment from him or her in writing. You can include this in his or her contract, or add it on as an addendum.

Most of the time, prospective managers will oblige willingly, however, there are a few who may refuse or insist on charging a fee for such services. This is not usual, and many managers worth their while will consider it part of the job.

7. Ask How They Will Handle Maintenance Issues

Will you allow the manager the leeway to make all maintenance decisions on his or her own, or will you allow him or her to spend cash flow up to a certain amount before including you in the decision? If so, what amount would that be? Are you going to allow the manager to hire any qualified professional, or do you have specific people in mind to handle each job that may arise? You need to know that the manager is comfortable with the way you choose to run things.

8. Ensure Your Personalities Mesh

Personality matters in all business relationships, including when you select property management. Do you feel that you will be able to get along with a potential candidate over the long run? Is he or she well-spoken and well-versed in landlord-tenant etiquette and local law regarding the same? You will also have to put yourself in a prospective renter’s shoes and ask yourself if you would feel comfortable leasing from the candidate.

9. Be Sure His or Her Contract is Mutually Favorable

A good management contract should outline the expectations of both parties and go over the finer points in great detail. How many days’ notice is needed to terminate the contract? When can you expect your rental payments? How will repairs be handled? These are all important points to clarify.

You will certainly need to clearly state what you are willing to pay for the manager’s services and what you are expecting in return for such an investment. Usually, a manager will receive a percentage of each rent collected – typically 7 to 10%. Just be sure that your contract outlines that you will not pay the percentage on rent that could be collected, just rent that is already received. Also, are you including a leasing fee per tenant acquired? This is similar to a real estate commission in a way, and such a charge is customary.

Also, be sure that all fees outlined are considered reasonable for the market. While a discounted rate may seem preferable, you don’t want to end up with a manager that is just starting out and not sure of what he or she is doing.

You will also need to be sure that you can openly communicate with your manager at all times, whether by phone, text, or email. All contact information should be clearly stated as such in an iron-clad contract.

10. Don’t Forget to Review His or Her Tenant Leases

LEASE AGREEMENT CONCEPT | select property managerA good lease must address a few questions of its own. You will need to specify the monthly rent amount, when it is due, and the consequences for late payment.

How delinquent can one be on the rent prior to eviction proceedings beginning? How much time does the lease cover? Is it a month-to-month or does it cover a certain term, such as a year? Are there legal consequences for breaking the lease? Does the tenant have to contribute to property maintenance, such as lawn mowing, or is that included? A good lease should address all this in detail.

A good manager should also be familiar with the marketplace in which the property is located. Using comparables, is the stated price the going rate for monthly rent in the given area? You don’t want long term vacancies due to greed or a misunderstanding.

Important Questions When You Select Property Management

As you can see, there are many important questions that you should ask before you select property management. By now, though, you already know what to look for in a property management company and/or manager. Being meticulous and discriminate will pay off in spades when you see profits increase and vacancies fall. Like any other business, hiring quality property management is the key to getting ahead.

 

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How To Choose Pressure Washing Services For Your Community

This post from Washh, a pressure cleaning Company based in Charlotte, NC.

One of the most essential duties of a homeowners association is to maintain certain standards within the community. Often, this means keeping common areas clean to ensure residents’ safety. A neighborhood facility is a great asset when promoting your community. New homeowners consider every aspect of a potential home, this includes amenities like clubhouses, pools, and playgrounds. While it does benefit your community to have these areas, it is also crucial that you regularly clean them.

It is no simple task to wash a pool deck or jungle gym by hand. Those difficult stains require a more powerful cleaning method. Pressure washing allows you to clean even the toughest stains from any surface with ease. When your common areas become covered with dirt, mildew, or grime it is time to call the professionals. How do you choose pressure washing services? This article will help you make that decision.

Can They Do The Job?

An established HOA will have specific requirements for the jobs they need to outsource. Pressure washing is no different. The work that a power washer is to do for a community should be put into writing. That includes the work they need to do, and for how long they need to do it. Job details and expectations should be specified, as well. First is the quality of the work. Second is the price the HOA will pay to the vendor.

Can your pressure washer do the job within the allotted time and budget? Not every pressure washer contractor has the crew, experience, and equipment to do a thorough job in a certain amount of time. So before you settle on a vendor, it’s a good idea to check your governing documents first. Do you have enough bids to decide? Among these bidders, can they do the job as outlined?

Do They Have Proper Insurance?

It is always important to make sure vendors you hire have the right insurance. Pressure washers are no exception to this. It may look like an easy job at first glance, but that pressurized water jet can be a dangerous tool.

They have to be cautious when working with powerful machine cleaning surfaces that are fragile. Without proper care, holes can be punched at the side of a building. Even cement can also be eroded, and other issues may occur. As we also know, “accidents happen.”

A proper company is insured so that if an accident does happen, you won’t be stuck with a repair bill. Before you decide on a professional company, make sure they are fully insured to cover damages or liabilities. Use a bit of time to check and confirm their insurance now, and you might just save your HOA from potentially expensive headaches later on.

Are They Trustworthy?

You now know that the pressure washer is insured. Insurance is a good indicator of a professional company, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are experts in their field. Just like large purchases, hiring a vendor requires research.

A great way to evaluate pressure washing companies is to look through their reviews. A quick look through their Google reviews will tell you if previous buyers dislike or praise the work they did. If a company is lacking reviews you can ask for references.

Requesting testimonials, previous clients, or images of their work can be a great resource when deciding on a pressure washer. Companies who have handled communities before have experience in handling those common areas with care.

Also, ask the pressure washing company about their years of experience. Many local vendors like Washh have been offering affordable services for more than a decade to clients across their local area.

Family businesses that are locally owned can often be trusted to care about their local community. Thus, your HOA is not dealing with just a faceless contractor. You are working with a friendly neighbor who will listen to your needs. More importantly, they will make sure to do the job the right way.

Are They Certified?

Power washers are not toys. They must be handled with care and used in a safe manner. Nearly 3,000 psi is released from the nozzle. That much force can cause damage to a building and even inflict physical harm.

A professional pressure washing company has experience using this equipment in different situations. Similar to insurance, it is important that the contractors you search for are certified. Determining the credibility of a vendor could also be the difference between a job well done and a job gone wrong.

Reputable vendors like Washh care about certification. A trustworthy vendor will have all of their power washing technicians certified through the Power Washers of North America (PWNA). Thus, they know how to follow the strict guidelines and how to ensure that customers are taken care of.

Have You Verified Your Vendors?

It’s best to exercise due diligence, despite how trustworthy a vendor looks. You don’t want to find out later on that your pressure washer is not properly licensed and bonded. So before you sign at the dotted line, make sure to check that they have the right licenses, insurance, and a valid contract for the job. It will save you problems later on when you have to wrap up the taxes and documentation requirements for this year.

Many HOAs will never sign a contract without first running it by their lawyer. There’s a good reason for that, too, given the way state laws and local regulations change every year. So, make sure you have an attorney to verify your vendor contract before you proceed.

Choose Pressure Washing Services to Save Time and Money

If you have a choice, choose pressure washing over manual cleaning of common areas like patios, decks, and building exteriors. The benefits of pressure washing services can end up saving you time and money in the long run. Plus, your residents will appreciate the thorough cleaning job that only professional pressure washers can bring to outdoor spaces.

 

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HOA Board Insurance: How Does It Protect Board Members

Do homeowners associations need insurance? HOA board members will easily know the answer to this question: Yes. After all, proper insurance coverage is one of the best ways to protect your community from natural disasters and emergencies. But many associations tend to overlook insurance that protects board members from liability. Here’s everything you need to know about HOA board insurance and why you need it.

What Is HOA Board Insurance?

HOA board insurance is commonly referred to as Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance. It is a type of insurance policy that protects the board members in case there is an accusation or lawsuit from a homeowner. It is very difficult to please every homeowner. So, when a homeowner becomes upset, there is a potential for the HOA and its board to be at risk.

Why Is D&O Insurance Important?

When a homeowner decides to sue the HOA, they may decide to include the name(s) of your board member(s). D & O insurance for homeowners associations serves to protect the board from personal liability.

Board members are simply volunteer homeowners. There is no monetary compensation for the services they provide to the community. In order to attract homeowners to the board, they need to be assured that they won’t be financially burdened by lawsuits and legal expenses. Otherwise, nobody would ever join the HOA board.

HOA D&O insurance will cover board members’ legal costs and damages in case a homeowner sues them. Even if a case doesn’t reach the court, or a judge dismisses the case, there will still be legal expenses. With adequate D&O insurance coverage, the board members won’t have to worry about becoming bankrupt as a result of helping their community.

What Does D&O Insurance Cover?

insurance | hoa insurance costD&O insurance will cover everyone on the HOA board. It won’t cover anyone who is no longer serving as part of the board. However, depending on your insurance provider, HOA board insurance may also cover select employees or personnel.

A D&O insurance policy typically includes fees associated with a legal defense. In most cases, it will also cover the settlement amount in the event of a judgment. However, some D&O policies will only cover lawsuits that have a final ruling. You may want HOA board insurance that also covers legal expenses for cases that don’t have a final ruling.

Keep in mind, though, that D&O insurance won’t always cover lawsuits that hold HOA board members personally liable. The important thing to establish is whether the board member(s) upheld their fiduciary duty. For example, if a homeowner sues the board member for making a bad decision, as long as they acted within the boundaries of their duties, they will be covered by the D&O policy.

Most — if not all — D&O insurance policies will not cover the board member in the case of willful negligence, fraudulent activity, or intentional breach of governing documents. It also won’t cover any lawsuits that existed before the D&O policy was purchased.

How Much Does This Type of HOA Insurance Cost?

The cost of D&O insurance for your HOA depends on several factors such as your insurance company and the size of your community. But, D&O insurance can range from less than a thousand dollars to a couple of thousand dollars.

Your D&O insurance costs will also depend on the maximum coverage limits. A larger community with hundreds of homeowners and many amenities will typically want a higher limit. However, if you are a smaller community, a modest limit may already suffice. HOA board insurance policies are usually flexible and you can purchase the amount of coverage that you need for your community.

Knowing Your HOA Board Insurance Coverage

know | hoa insurance costSome homeowners association insurance plans will come with a D&O policy attached. However, just because the HOA is adequately covered doesn’t mean that individual board members are as well.

It is important to review your current insurance plan to confirm whether D&O is part of the package. If not, consider purchasing an adequate D&O policy separately.

Although it may seem difficult to add another policy premium to your HOA’s yearly budget, the cost of not having D&O insurance is much higher. You’re likely to pay much more in legal expenses in case a board member is sued.

HOAs also need to know how their D&O insurance payouts will be made. In some cases, the HOA or board members may first have to pay out-of-pocket before being reimbursed by the insurance company. However, if an HOA board member is dealing with a major lawsuit, they may not be able to make upfront payments.

How to Choose D&O Insurance for Your HOA Board

If your HOA has overlooked D&O insurance in the past, now is the time to start researching for a plan. Make sure to compare plans from different insurance providers. This will make it easier to find the ideal D&O policy that works for your community.

When choosing a D&O insurance policy, you should double-check with state laws. Some states like Colorado and California have limitations on HOA board members’ personal liability. You won’t want to choose a policy with higher premiums when your state already offers adequate protection.

Board members may also want to consult their HOA management company, HOA attorney, or insurance agent when choosing a policy. They will be able to provide valuable insight when it comes to D&O insurance for the board. Your HOA management company can also refer you to reputable insurance companies with reasonable but comprehensive D&O insurance policies.

Protect Your Community With HOA Board Insurance

HOA board members should not be riddled with expensive legal fees and fines for simply doing their job. Nobody is perfect so they, too, can make mistakes. What’s important is whether their actions are within the scope of their duties. Nevertheless, D&O insurance is a must.

A homeowners association must be able to protect board members facing legal liability. Though the policy only covers select members, HOA board insurance is vital to the success of the entire community. By having added protection, you can ensure that the association has the manpower it needs to operate properly.

 

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Why And How To Set Up A Community Garden

Summertime is the time for planting, nurturing, and harvesting delicious fruits and vegetables. And when it comes to your community, warmer weather encourages neighbors to get out of doors, meet one another, have picnics and barbecues, and socialize in ways that they cannot during the winter months. One of the ways that a community can come together during the summer is to set up a community garden.

Why Should You Set Up a Community Garden?

More and more homeowners associations are starting community gardens where residents can get their hands dirty and grow their own produce, and it’s easy to see why. Apart from adding a lush breath of freshness into the neighborhood, community gardens promote physical and mental health as well as encourage skill-building. If your community currently doesn’t have one, now is the time to bring the idea to the board.

Here are the many benefits of starting an HOA or condo community garden:

  • Gets you out of the house and under the sun — just remember to apply sunscreen!
  • Makes for a great exercise
  • Save money by growing your own healthy and organic food
  • Eco-friendly
  • Good for mental health
  • Allows you to socialize with neighbors in a supportive setting
  • Promotes community involvement
  • Sets a good example for the younger generation
  • Appealing to the eyes
  • Develops skills and expands knowledge of gardening

How to Start a Community Garden

start text on long road with green field and blue sky | hoa community gardenCommunity gardens don’t just pop up out of nowhere, with soil ready to be tilled and seeds ready to be planted. If you’ve never set up a community garden before, there’s a good chance you don’t know where to begin.

Here’s how you can start your very own community garden in your HOA.

1. Get Permission From the Board

Before you really get started with your idea to set up a community garden, it will be necessary to get the backing and permission of the HOA board. After all, a community garden isn’t just a one-off thing. It’s a big project that will stay within your community perhaps forever. Set aside a time during a meeting where you can discuss ideas and vote on the prospect of setting up a community garden.

2. Get Help From the Community

Once your board has approved the idea, it is time to get the community involved. Try to get volunteers from both the board and around the community to help with construction and planning. Make sure to use as much community talent as you can before hiring anyone to do the job for you. This way, everyone will have a vested interest in the project and have a chance to play an active role.

3. Establish Rules and Policies

As with any project in an HOA, there should be community garden rules for everyone to follow. Make sure to draw up some community garden policies to keep everything in order. Consider how often owners should weed their plot. Don’t allow owners to leave their gardening tools lying around.

In addition to creating these rules, it’s vital that everyone knows about them, so post these rules at the entrance, too. This way, plot owners can avoid committing violations.

4. Pick a Site and Assign Lots

After deciding on the rules, it’s time to choose a site. When picking a site, make sure there’s enough room and consider things like weather and temperature.

Equally as important as the beauty of the space is the functionality of the space. The best community gardens are those that are sectioned out into specific plots that homeowners can rent out for the summer. These plots should be raised both to accommodate older residents and to keep weeds from taking root in the gardens.

5. Protect the Plants and Plots

small tree growing with sunshine in garden | hoa community gardenEven a small bunny can wreak havoc in a garden. To prevent them and other critters from munching on the plants, install a fence around the area.

Make sure the fence can keep out all sorts of animals, even dogs. Dogs love to roll around in the soil and, if one that escapes from its leash, can cause plenty of damage.

6. Install Sprinklers and Benches

Many people travel during the summer season. To help everyone in the community out, it may be helpful to install a sprinkler or soaking system to ensure that each plot is getting the moisture that it needs even if the owner of the plot is out of town or forgets to visit the garden.

A community garden should be a place where anyone from the community can come to enjoy the beauty and the peace that the garden affords. Spend time and resources planning the space to be not only a place to grow plants but a place to sit and enjoy a chat with a neighbor. Consider placing inviting benches and a table to encourage repose.

7. Educate

Not everyone has a green thumb, so it’s only natural for residents to feel apprehensive about gardening since they don’t know how to do it. You can easily solve this problem by enlisting the help of a local farmer to educate the community about gardening. They can give community gardening tips and advise residents on the best flowers and produce to grow.

Farmers are pretty busy during the summer and spring seasons, though. So if your schedule can accommodate it, set up the orientation during off-peak months.

8. Set Up a Sharing Page

Share Concept Clipped Cards and Lights | hoa community gardenThere is nothing more neighborly than sharing the bounty of the harvest. One excellent idea is to set up a sharing page on social media where owners of the plots in the community garden can go to find or share produce that has been grown in the garden. That way, if one plot has a bounty of squash or cucumbers, they can be shared with the whole community.

Try HOA Community Gardening Today

Having an HOA community garden is a great way to beautify your neighborhood and bring people together during the summer and spring. It’s no wonder an increasing number of HOAs are adopting it as a norm. If you don’t know how to set up a community garden, use these tips to get started. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to a lush community garden and satisfied residents.

 

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9 Ways The HOA Make Extra Money

Income is paramount to the successful running of any organization, HOAs included. While the HOA primarily relies on dues or assessments for HOA revenue, it can turn to other modes of earning cash, too. So, how can the HOA make extra money?

How Can Your HOA Make Extra Money?

At times, the expenses of an HOA can exceed the amount that is brought in by monthly HOA fees. As a result, residents can be hit with special assessments, which can be a shock to homeowners and a large blow to community morale.

However, if your HOA board is hardworking and creative, it can find many ways to bring in HOA extra income without unduly burdening homeowners. Here are nine ways your HOA makes extra money and boosts your budget in the coming years without charging special assessments.

1. Rent Out Your Clubhouse

Clubhouse with Pool | hoa revenueIf you have a clubhouse, it can be a great asset for bringing in extra funds to your homeowners association. The clubhouse can be used for birthday parties, business meetings, baby showers, fundraisers, and many other events.

If you are not doing it already, consider making the clubhouse available for rentals. Sit down with your fellow board members and HOA manager to discuss a reasonable pricing matrix. Most of all, make sure to notify all homeowners of the clubhouse’s availability.

2. Advertise in Your Newsletter

Your monthly newsletter can be a great way to bring in a little extra money each month. Reach out to local businesses and offer the space to them for advertisement.

Businesses can pay your HOA for space in which to put advertisements or coupons and can, in turn, grow their customer base. This is also a good way to introduce your residents to local businesses in the area. Although this might not bring in big bucks, it is still a great method if you want consistent HOA additional income.

3. Allow a Cellular Tower

If there are any unused roofs in your community, consider a cellular tower. There are both pros and cons to allowing a cellular tower on unused roof space. One of the pros, however, is having a little extra cash each month.

It can bring in up to $3,000 a month to your association, which is no small amount. In addition to the rental fee, your HOA can benefit by having superior cell service on your property.

4. Use Your Surrounding Environment

Take a moment to consider the natural area around your community. Try to think of ways that you can utilize the space that you often take for granted to make HOA additional revenue.

Do you have a hill that can be opened for community sledding? Are there any rivers or lakes that can be used for rafting or fishing? Is there a nice plot of land that can be rented out to the community or residents for a community garden? Do not let these natural features go to waste.

5. Think About Storage, Parking Spaces, and Other Underused Areas

Open self storage unit full of cardboard boxes. 3d rendering | hoa revenueIf there are spaces in your community that are currently going unused such as a parking area or empty buildings or sheds, it is time to think about how these areas can be used to start generating income.

Transform empty buildings into storage units that can be used by residents or anyone in the community. Rent out parking spaces, and see if there are any indoor areas that can be rented out by teachers for fitness or art classes. Get creative with the use of spaces in your association.

6. Make Use of Outside Vendors

How else can an HOA make extra money? By inviting outside vendors into the community — for a fee. Vendors are usually willing to pay a fee to use the facilities your association provides. The best part is, this is a win-win for everybody involved.

Vendors get to sell their services or products, residents get convenient access to these products and services, and the HOA can make extra cash. There are endless possibilities for the types of vendors you can invite in — from mobile pet groomers to mobile markets!

7. Take a Green Approach

Going green is not only beneficial to the planet, but it can also be a great way to save money in your HOA. For instance, by recycling your trash, you can cut back on how often to schedule trash collection services. You can also go paperless by transitioning to a digital platform for communication, dues collection, and the like. By doing so, you can save money on paper and printing.

8. Cut Costs

It is not something all associations want to consider. However, if there are no other options, your board may want to cut costs. Instead of boosting revenue by getting more cash inflow, you can do it by saving up on expenses.

Take a good look at your current budget and assess which ones are absolutely necessary. Perhaps you can cut back on the frequency of certain services. When taking this route, though, it is important to do so without sacrificing the property values of the community.

9. Charge an Amenities Fee

Although not a particularly popular option among residents, your association can charge an amenities fee on top of the usual HOA fee. Just like HOA fees, you can charge amenities fees on a monthly or yearly basis.

This method works well for communities with existing amenities, like pools and fitness centers, because it involves little to no expenses on the HOA’s part. The amenities fee can go into maintenance and general upkeep. It can also go into potential upgrades in the future.

More Ways Than One

There are many ways that an HOA board can use current assets and amenities to begin making extra money for the community. All it takes is a little bit of thinking outside the box and the willingness to put in a small amount of time and effort. So, how can your HOA make extra money? Use these nine ways to start the process! The homeowners in your community will thank you!

 

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7 Tips for Recruiting HOA Board Members

Recruiting HOA board members is not just a matter of going out to recruit new board members from whoever volunteers. First, you need to find HOA board members who will fit the job. Then, you need to make sure that when you recruit HOA board members, you also prepare them for the role. Let’s look at a few tips on how to recruit board members, starting from the recruitment message.

Recruiting HOA Board Members: Deploy These Tips to Maximize Your Success

At times, filling positions on the board can be a challenge. Recruiting HOA board members won’t be easy, because homeowners have their own careers and family to think about. That said, having new ideas and fresh faces joining your board is one of the most crucial parts of a successful homeowners association. Here are a few tips for recruiting HOA board members that have potential.

1. Start With a Good Recruitment Message

recruit concept | find hoa board membersYour board member recruitment letter sets the tone for the whole thing. After all, it’s this letter that will potentially set someone towards HOA board membership.

It needs a strong message, so start with what you already know very well. Start with what your board does for the community. Then make sure to emphasize how important the job is.

Also, make sure to give your readers a clue as to what you’re looking for when you’re recruiting HOA board members. Remember, an HOA board is always in need of fresh ideas. Your current board might be missing something. So, make your letter inviting, and ask volunteers if they have ideas in mind for your association.

2. Appeal to the Specific Talents of Your Homeowners

Sometimes, homeowners may not be getting involved in their community because they believe they do not have the right strengths or talents for the job. Your residents may think that most of what you do in the HOA board is to manage finances. After all, many residents may only be reminded of their HOA every time the fees come up.

However, an HOA board does not just need people who are good at accounting. Given this, this is a very important skill for HOA boards to possess. However, the HOA board needs people with all manner of skills.

If you know that your HOA board is in need of a particular skill set, then you may need to go the extra mile for them. Recruiting HOA board members need not be only about your HOA – make it about your homeowners as well. Approach them personally, and acknowledge their specific talents. Then, explain to them why they should get involved.

Find people in your community who are skilled at construction, design, information technology, or gardening and appeal to their specific skill-set to help get them involved.

3. Turn Complaints Into Recruitment Opportunities

complaints | find hoa board membersWhen a homeowner politely expresses discontent in the way the association is doing things, that’s a good thing. That’s useful feedback, in many cases.

Make special note of people who are good at turning complaints into constructive suggestions. These constructive complaints are far from being a bad thing. These complaints are actually opportunities for wonderful, passionate residents of the community to get involved.

If you find that a particular homeowner is often politely complaining, try to see if they want to contribute. See if you can encourage them to get involved so that they can have an active hand in improving the community.

Don’t forget to fix the issue they have as well. Personally update them on the progress you’ve made about their complaint. That’s a good opportunity to mention that you’re recruiting HOA members as well.

4. Consider Starting New Recruits in Low-Commitment Positions

Some homeowners are hesitant to jump into the board. Many of them think it is too much responsibility all at once. What if they did not like being a member? One of the easiest ways to encourage and empower from this type of person is to let them handle low-commitment activities or positions. The type that will not eat up too much of their time.

If they do well, that can encourage them to take it to the next level. Committees are a great start for the hesitant resident.

5. Market Your HOA Board to Your Homeowners

marketing | find hoa board membersIt can be very easy to forget that the association board even exists, especially so if they do their job so well that fees are low, maintenance is great and everything runs smoothly.

It is on the shoulders of the board to improve the community, so make sure that homeowners are aware of its active role in bettering the community, and improving their property values as well.

Make sure that everyone knows that there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved. Your HOA website and newsletters are great options to start doing your recruitment drive.

Also, make sure to try the personal approach as well. Try sending letters, personally addressed, every now and then to residents. In these letters, remind them of the work that your board is doing. and add an invitation for them to add their talents to the mix.

6. Be Prepared to Answer Questions Candidly

Homeowners who are approached about trying for a position on the board will have a lot of questions regarding their position. Be prepared to answer questions such as “Do I have enough experience?”, “How much of my time will the position require?” and “What if I’m not very political?” Prepare answers for these questions that both quell fear while being as transparent as you can. With every answer, try to educate the questioner about their role as a potential board member.

7. If Your Bylaws Allow It, Try Appointing the Perfect Candidate

Many HOAs have governing documents that actually allow them to appoint an HOA member to a position. Do you know someone who is the perfect candidate for an HOA board role? In case of emergency, like if a sitting board member has to move, for example, remember this option. Think twice about using this on an unsuspecting HOA resident, though – few people will appreciate the surprise.

If the situation allows for it, try to approach them first with an appointment offer. Make it a short-term one if you can afford it. After all, you and your new HOA board member always have the option to extend it if it works out.

Recruiting HOA Board Members to Build A Strong HOA Board

Recruiting HOA board members is one of the most important tasks that you will undertake. A strong board is the foundation of a solid managed community. So, take the time to educate, encourage, and invite your residents to take part in the development of your HOA.

 

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HOA, POA, and COA: Breaking Down Each

As a first-time homebuyer, the terms HOA POA COA may sound confusing or unfamiliar to you. There are numerous terminologies and acronyms that exist in the world of real estate. So, it will be helpful to understand the meaning of these three terms, as well as recognize the differences between them and how they function. Here’s what you need to know.

HOA POA COA: Breaking Down Each of These Three Terms

What is HOA? What is COA? What is POA? As someone who is currently looking to purchase a new home, these are legitimate questions to ask. Many people seem to think that these three terms are interchangeable. While HOA, POA, COA do share some similarities, it’s important to know that they are slight differences between them.

What Does HOA Stand For?

house network | hoaThe acronym HOA stands for homeowners association. An HOA usually consists of single-family homes in a neighborhood or a gated community.

When you buy property in these communities, you automatically become a member of the HOA. All homeowners share ownership of common areas such as clubhouses, swimming pools, fitness centers, basketball courts, and so on.

An HOA is governed by a board of directors, who ensure that the community rules and regulations are followed. They are also responsible for the day-to-day management of the community — which includes regular maintenance and repairs of amenities and facilities.

Homeowners pay an assessment fee each month to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the community.

What Does COA Stand For?

The acronym COA stands for condominium owners association. A COA has the same functions as an HOA but in the context of a condominium building. In a COA, anyone who purchases a unit in the building will share ownership of common areas such as the lobby, elevator/s, swimming pool, and gym.

Unit owners also share responsibility for the condo maintenance of communal walls and the roof. Similar to an HOA, members of a COA pay monthly fees that pay for maintenance and repairs, as well as services such as landscaping, trash collection, and snow removal.

What Does POA Stand For?

The acronym POA stands for property owners association. This type of association is more expansive in nature and can encompass both HOAs and COAs. POAs often govern over a mixture of residential properties and businesses. And so, a POA can span several neighborhoods, an entire town, or even several towns.

POAs can implement zoning restrictions, development projects, and enhancement projects. Rather than just maintaining property values — like in an HOA or COA — the main objective of a POA is to encourage and sustain the long-term development of a larger area. Just like HOAs and COAs, POA members pay fees too. However, these are usually paid annually instead of monthly. The amount also depends on the maintenance needs of your area and the range of services it requires.

HOA vs POA COA: What Are the Differences?

As you can see, there are some similarities between the terms HOA POA COA. So, some people take it to mean that all three terms are the same and fail to recognize the differences in how they function. For the purpose of providing clarity to first-time homebuyers, let us discuss the specific differences that may exist between HOA, POA, COA.

HOA vs COA

condo | hoaAdmittedly, the lines between HOA and COA are blurred most of the time. Some condominium buildings may even refer to their governing association as an HOA. This is because the HOA and COA share quite a lot of similarities.

In terms of differences, though, an HOA may have more comprehensive rules and regulations for its homeowners. One of the main goals of an HOA is to protect property values so there is a lot of emphasis on the aesthetics of homes in the area.

HOAs may have strict guidelines when it comes to the paint color of your home, the length of grass on your lawn, or the height of fences in your property. The more curb appeal the HOA has, the higher the property values. It also attracts more home buyers to your community.

Since condo owners all live in the same building, COA rules have less emphasis on architectural guidelines. However, COAs still enforce strict rules concerning noise levels, smoking and odors, ownership of pets, and so on.

HOA vs POA

In HOAs and COAs, you become a member of the community by owning property. However, in a POA, the association doesn’t necessarily have to own property. POAs are also less concerned about the aesthetics of residences and businesses in the area. Rather, their main objective is to boost the industries in the area. As such, POAs may offer community education, legal assistance, and networking events to help owners across a large area.

HOA POA COA: What Are the Benefits?

Choosing a property with an HOA, COA, or POA can be very beneficial. It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to maintain a home, condo, or business. So, having an association that governs your community can remove a lot of the burden on your shoulders. Owners in an HOA, COA, and POA can have peace of mind that their community is safe, well-maintained, and prosperous. Though this may come with some trade-offs — such as additional expenses and adherence to strict rules — it’s an investment worth considering.

A Better Understanding of the Terms HOA, POA, COA

By now, you should have a clear understanding of the terms HOA, POA, and COA. The next step is to choose which one is most suited for you. As a first-time homebuyer, try to think about your specific needs and preferences. It will also help to visit your prospective communities and ask any questions you may have.

A home is a major investment so you have to make sure that all your bases are covered, especially when it comes to fees and services. As you compile all the information gathered, it will be easier to determine which among HOA POA COA is most advantageous for you.

 

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