What Does An HOA Secretary Do For The Association?

A homeowners association operates in much the same way as a corporation. And, just like a corporation, the HOA board also has a secretary. But, what does an HOA secretary do exactly?

 

What Are the Responsibilities of HOA Secretary?

If you are familiar with how homeowners associations work, then you know that a set of board members is usually in charge of running the community. Every person on the HOA board has responsibilities to perform. For instance, the HOA president serves as the association’s spokesperson and leads board meetings.

But, what about the board secretary? Whether you are considering running or are currently holding the position, it is imperative to learn the different duties of an HOA secretary.

 

1. Keeps Association Records

records filing | hoa secretarySimilar to other organizations, homeowners associations must maintain records and documents relevant to the community. These records are essential to the continued operations of the association and should, therefore, remain intact and accurate. The HOA secretary acts as the recordkeeper of the association.

Keeping association records is important and often mandatory. For instance, in states like North Carolina and California, associations must maintain records and make them reasonably available for member inspection. Without a proper recordkeeping system, producing these records would prove difficult for the board.

The secretary is responsible for keeping records and official documents such as meeting minutes, membership lists, voting records, copies of financial reports, and the like. This means organizing these records and storing them in a secure location.

 

2. Sends Out Meeting Notices

Annual meetings and board meetings take place on a regular basis. And it is the HOA secretary’s job to send out a notice of the meeting to all members within the appropriate timeframe. This timeframe, of course, can vary from one association to another. It really depends on what state laws and your governing documents say.

A notice of the meeting includes details concerning the date, time, and location of the meeting. The meeting agenda also typically comes attached to the notice. This informs members of what the meeting is about and what topics they can expect to discuss.

 

3. Prepares Agendas and Takes Minutes

As the HOA board secretary, you will work directly with the president to prepare the meeting agenda. Since members should receive a copy of the agenda prior to the meeting, it is important to create it well beforehand. As previously stated, the agenda should include the topics to be discussed in the meeting.

But, the secretary’s duties do not stop there. During the meeting proper, it is also your job to take minutes of the meeting. Remember that meeting minutes are critical because they serve as a reference to all members. You should also make sure to write them in an objective and straightforward manner. Leave out the unnecessary opinions and comments.

Sometimes, you may be able to assign the task of recording minutes to someone else. In this case, though, you will still need to review the minutes and give your approval by signing them.

 

4. Communicates With Residents

businesswoman talking | hoa board secretaryResidents have a right to know what is going on within their community. Perhaps your board intends to raise monthly dues, swap out vendors, or temporarily close down a common area for maintenance. When homeowners remain in the dark about these things, they can quickly grow dissatisfied.

As the homeowners association secretary, it is part of your job description to communicate regularly with members. This can be in the form of email blasts, website announcements, social media posts, newsletters, and more. When your board has an important update to disseminate, you must make sure all members receive it.

 

5. Validates Documents

In some cases, the HOA secretary may also act as the witness when it comes to official documents. This means you may need to put your signature on things like vendor contracts or management contracts. Certain documents may also require validation, a task that will fall under your responsibility.

 

6. Files Forms

Many states recognize homeowners associations as corporations. Therefore, you will also need to file certain forms and documents with state agencies. One example is annually filing official documents with the Secretary of State. There are deadlines for these filings, too, so you need to keep track of them and make sure not to miss any.

 

What Makes a Good HOA Board Secretary?

at your service | role of hoa secretaryConsidering the role of an HOA secretary, there are a number of specific qualities and skills you should possess to become effective. First and foremost, it is the secretary’s job to maintain records, so it is imperative to be well-organized. You should have a system for filing, categorizing, storing, and accessing documents.

Additionally, a good secretary values accuracy. As a recordkeeper and minute taker, accuracy is an essential quality. You should also be a responsible person since you are in charge of a lot of things. That means no deferring of tasks or procrastinating as even the smallest of delays can prove detrimental to the association.

As the HOA secretary, you should also have excellent communication skills. After all, a big part of your job is to constantly communicate with both fellow board members and residents. Finally, a good secretary is honest and puts the community’s best interests ahead of their own.

 

A Helping Hand

While it is clear that the role of an HOA secretary is an integral one, not many can handle the pressures of the job. Due to a lack of time or skill, a lot of residents feel apprehensive about volunteering to run for the position. And those currently in the position find it difficult to fulfill their duties effectively.

An HOA management company can perform a lot of these tasks, though — from sending out notices to communicating with homeowners. Such a company can also help other board members with their own responsibilities.

If that sounds like the ideal setup to you, then it is time to hire an HOA management company. Start your search today using our comprehensive online directory.

 

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What Does The HOA Vice President Do?

HOA boards are typically led by the president, with the vice president next in line. But, what exactly are the duties of an HOA vice president?

 

The Duties of HOA Vice President

Every homeowners association is governed by a set of board members. While the structure of the HOA board can vary from community to community, the positions more or less remain the same across a majority of them. Generally, the HOA board is headed by the president, followed by the vice president. If you intend to run for the position of vice president, it is imperative to know what the job entails.

Here are the roles of HOA vice president:

 

1. Fills In When the President Is Out

The main duty of the vice president is to stand in as the president when the latter is absent or unable to tend to their tasks. As such, the responsibilities of the HOA vice president are similar to those of the president.

When the president is unavailable, the vice president takes over tasks such as overseeing board meetings and annual meetings, heading the preparation of the annual budget, and approving large expenditures. It can also include signing checks and contracts or any other important documents that require the president’s signature.

If you have an HOA management company, the vice president must also act as the liaison between them and the association when the president is not around. Basically, all of the day-to-day operational tasks that the president is usually in charge of fall under the vice president’s area of responsibility.

Given how important the president’s job is, it is a good idea for the VP to shadow the president for some time. This will help the vice president familiarize themselves with the specifics of the position. In many cases, though, the HOA management company assumes control over the association’s day-to-day operations. This relieves much of the burden from the president’s shoulders.

 

2. Heads HOA Committees

group meeting | hoa vice presidentBecause the VP’s primary job is to fill in for the president, there is some level of uncertainty when it comes to the exact nature of the position. The vice president acts mostly as support, though many associations do specify that the VP is responsible for heading and liaising with committees. This gives committees some direction and added help.

For instance, Architectural Review Committees (ARC) in larger communities tend to receive countless requests. The vice president can serve as the middleman of sorts between the board and the ARC for when these applications need approval. The vice president can also double-check the recommendation of the committee and make sure it complies with the HOA’s governing documents.

 

3. Performs Delegated Tasks

The HOA president often has a lot on their plate, thereby needing an extra set of eyes and hands. This is where the VP comes in as well. The vice president will carry out any tasks delegated to them by the president. This may involve things like organizing social events, overseeing maintenance, securing bids from vendors, and coordinating with third parties. If your association has employees, the vice president may also be in charge of managing them.

 

How Much Does an HOA Vice President Make?

There is a common misconception that HOA board members get paid for their roles. In truth, board members are volunteer positions and most associations don’t compensate these volunteers. Granted, there are a select few that do, but the ones that don’t outweigh them.

But, if board members perform work for the HOA, why should they not receive a salary? Mainly because of the risks involved. Board members who receive compensation are excluded from the HOA’s D&O insurance. As such, these board members must secure their own policy for protection against personal liability. Beyond that, it is also a matter of preventing conflicts of interest and accusations of mismanagement or self-service from owners.

This does not mean that paying board members is completely against the law. If you want to know whether or not your board members are paid, it is wise to check your governing documents as well as the laws in your state. Many associations expressly prohibit compensating board members for their jobs.

If your HOA does pay board members, it must make sure to disclose this information to the association’s members. Moreover, the fees must not exceed the market price.

 

Qualities of an Effective HOA Board Vice President

integrity | hoa vice presidentBecause the vice president essentially acts as a substitute to the president, the person in this position must possess the same qualities as those of a good president. What are these qualities?

First of all, a good VP must know how to lead and delegate tasks. When the president is absent, the vice president takes over. Thus, they must possess excellent leadership skills. Consistency is another vital quality in a VP, especially when it comes to rule enforcement. Communication is equally vital, not just for the VP, but for every board member.

Homeowners associations are also vulnerable to disputes. As such, the vice president must know how to mediate between parties, weigh out cases in an objective manner, and make impartial decisions. Because the VP can also sign checks and give go signals for large expenditures when the president is out, another key quality is honesty and integrity in all financial matters.

Other than that, an effective HOA vice president is willing to learn, knows how to cooperate, is not afraid to ask for help, and always puts the community’s best interests first. If you want to run for the position of HOA vice president, it is important to work on these qualities.

 

The Role of Professional Services

While there is some confusion concerning the role of the HOA vice president, it nevertheless remains an important job. Unfortunately, many HOA boards find it hard to juggle their duties with their personal responsibilities. This is where an HOA management company can help.

With professional services, your board can delegate most of its tasks to an experienced management team. Of course, your board will still retain the sole ability to make large or important decisions. Start looking for an HOA management company today using our helpful online directory.

 

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Make Your Roof Last Longer With Regular Maintenance

The roof is the one part of our home that takes quite a beating from the harshest elements day in and day out. While roofs are designed to last, the time will come when you have to replace them eventually. However, you can delay that for years with proper maintenance.

Some roofing maintenance work can be done the DIY way, while others may require the expertise of a roofer with the right roofing insurance coverage, just like the ones we have here at G. Fedale. Let’s take a look at some of the top ways to maintain your roof and make it last longer.

Check Your Shingles Regularly

A bi-annual check on your shingles should help you see whether any of them are missing, cracked, or broken, especially after a period of severe weather. While you can always use a ladder to get to the roof, it’s still best (and safest) to just do it from the ground using binoculars. You can also use a drone, if you have one, to see the state of your shingles up close. If your inspection shows damage, then it’s time to call us at G. Fedale to fix it.

Clean The Gutters Regularly

Clean The Gutters Regularly | roof maintenancePeriodic cleaning of your gutters will ensure that leaves, branches, and other types of debris will not cause rainwater to back up and damage the fascia boards, attic, and other living spaces.

Doing it at least twice a year, especially before a storm, should be good enough.

Trim The Trees

Your trees are giving your home plenty of shade, but if they’re a bit close to the house, some of their branches—some big ones—could fall on your roof and cause damage.

So if your trees have large branches hanging directly over your roof, make sure you cut them off before more severe weather sets in.

Get Rid of Algae

roof maintenance Do you see long, dark streaks on your roof? That’s algae growth, and it doesn’t just make your roof look dirty. It can also cause your shingles to rot in the long run.

Washing your roof using a 50 percent mix of water and bleach should kill the algae. To ensure the algae won’t make a comeback, install copper strips at the top of your roof. Rain will send copper molecules cascading down and killing algae on its path.

Fix Small Leaks Right Away

Whatever you do, don’t ignore roof leaks, no matter how small they are. Small leaks will always get bigger if you don’t address them right away. Contact us at G. Fedale to plug any leak as soon as you notice signs like water spots on your ceiling or walls.

Professional Roof Inspections

Professional Roof Inspections | roof maintenanceThere’s still no better way of checking the status of your roof than to get professional roofing contractors like the G. Fedale team to do it. Aside from being the much safer option, we at G. Fedale will also be able to spot things you will probably miss if you did the checking yourself.

By having us inspect your roof twice a year,  you would be able to discover and nip any problems in the bud. That way, roofing issues won’t become bad enough to require more expensive repairs or force an earlier-than-expected replacement. With the level of protection that your roof provides for you and your family, it’s only right that you give it a good chunk of your attention, even when things seem all right. With regular maintenance, you’ll have a perfectly-working roof over your heads for years to come.

 

This article was originally posted at www.gfedaleroof.com.

8 Essential HOA Communication Tools

Having the right HOA communication tools can make all the difference in keeping your community in the loop. Having open, effective communication improves life in an HOA, because residents feel included. There’s nothing worse than being kept in the dark about what’s going on. Often, it’s not done intentionally, but it feels that way to the resident.

 

What Should You Do?

The board can take their pick of different HOA communication tools at their disposal, and they should choose more than one. That’s important because not everyone will want to get their information in the same way. Here, we’ll go through what channels they can use and what the pros and cons are to each one.

 

1. Website

This is good for residents as it can be a one-stop-shop to find information on their community. However, it isn’t private, so you can’t share everything on your website. A website is an ideal HOA communication tool if it’s also where residents can log in to their members-only portal.

That way you can post images and public information on your website, which allows potential residents to see what the community is like. Then residents will have access to all of that, and be able to log into a back-end portal. There you can include members-only documents, residents will have a place to add maintenance requests and view their community directory.

The one downside is that older members of your community may not have a computer. Even if they do, they may not know how to use it well or go online often. This is why you should have another communication channel.

 

2. Calls

hoa communication toolsIf you have a lot of elderly residents in your HOA, then calls may be a good option. Everyone (or almost everyone) has a phone, and calling is an excellent option in case of emergencies. However, it’s time-consuming because you could be on the phone for 20 minutes explaining something to a resident.

So, you could use software that allows you to type in your message and automatically call people. Then when residents pick up, an automatic voice delivers your message. This is less personal, and won’t work if a resident has a specific question but it’s a good option if you need to give a group of people the same message efficiently.

The calling software should tell you who picked up and who didn’t so that you know who you may need to follow up with.

Calls are a good option for older communities, but it’s not the most efficient way to give your community regular updates about what’s going on.

 

3. Emails

Emails are the best way to regularly send out information to your community, and let residents reply to you. Email can also be free, your board can set up an email account for free. They can send out notices from there without any cost. The main drawback to that is that residents can reply all without meaning to, which is messy and can be embarrassing.

If you’re willing to invest in emails, then you can make them more attractive and avoid the dreaded ‘reply all’ function. If you do choose to spend money on emails, then you’ll be able to see who opened your emails and clicked on any links you included. The other advantage to emails is that you can send different emails to different groups, or send them to individuals.

 

4. Groups

hoa communicationI mentioned groups above, as you could have groups for emails. You could also have a group on Facebook. This could be a group for the whole community or for specific clubs or committees. This is a good option if you’d like members of your community to have more say in what goes on or if you’d like them to talk to each other.

However, this can become a downside quickly if people start arguing. Having clear rules of use can be helpful if you’re concerned about that happening.

If your HOA has a lot of clubs or committees, then having groups on social media is a plus. This could be a closed Facebook group, or a group chat on iMessage, whatever works best for the members of the group. They aren’t so good for getting official HOA news out, but they are good for networking and getting people involved in community activities.

 

5. Texts

Texts can be linked to groups, as they might use a text message chain to chat. But texts can be used by the board to get some last-minute information out to everyone. For instance, if a tree has fallen but not caused any damage, sending a text is a good way to let people know. If it has caused damage, you may want to call!

Like calls, texts can take up time and become expensive. That’s why it’s good to use a text message service if it’s an HOA communication tool that your community likes. It will allow you to reach everyone with a cell phone quickly, and it lets them reply to you if they have any questions.

Texts are a good balance between calling people (which isn’t always popular if your community is younger), and emailing (not always ideal if your residents are older).

 

6. Hybrid Meetings

hoa online meetingsAt Vinteum, we’ve noticed that this has become a trend. Depending on the situation where you live it might be possible to meet with a few people if you’re socially distanced.

However, getting a lot of people in one room isn’t possible anymore, so people are choosing to have semi-online meetings. That way residents can participate in the meeting without having to be physically present.

Online meetings are here to stay, so offering online or hybrid meetings is very important. If you’re a seasonal community, then it’s a huge advantage. Even if not people attend online, having that option there shows that the board is open and would like people to come to meetings.

 

7. Newsletters

A newsletter can be integrated with your website and emails, but it’s here as a separate point because it’s an important HOA communication tool. A monthly newsletter must include information that residents ask about, that could be events or maintenance, or paying dues. It must be of interest to your members or people will stop reading your newsletter. You should also include some images, and make sure to proofread!

After that, you should see how residents want to receive the newsletter, some people may want it printed out. If they do, then go for it! Ideally, everyone should get and read information from their HOA board. If some people don’t like getting emails, or calls, then a printed newsletter may hit the spot.

 

8. Online Portal

hoa online portal

If you’re looking for an all-in-one system where you can send emails, calls, texts, and create chat groups then a portal may be for you.

Online portals also let you host online meetings, store documents, create your website, and much more.

This is the ultimate HOA communication tool, as there is software that was made for community associations. Depending on what you want from your portal, then you can also manage maintenance requests, amenities, create surveys, and pay dues.

Having a community portal can be a hub for everyone, if residents know that the board posts news regularly, that documents are there and they can talk to neighbors it will become the place everyone goes. Most portals also have an app, so you and residents can check what’s going on in the community on the go. It also ensures that everyone gets notifications on their phone which helps keep people up to date.

 

Whichever HOA communication tools you choose, make sure that you communicate with residents in the ways they prefer. You should also be in touch with members of your community regularly with open, honest, transparent information.

 

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California’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Law: What Is It All About?

The state of California has passed six bills. This makes it easier for homeowners to construct accessory dwelling units on their property. Here’s what you need to know about the Accessory Dwelling Unit law in California.

 

Why Is There a Need for California’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Law?

What is an ADU? Before tacking California’s new laws, here is a brief introduction to accessory dwelling units.

Accessory Dwelling Unit Definition

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a detached residential structure built on the same lot as a single-family home. Also known as granny units or backyard cottages, ADUs come equipped with living facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms.

There are also additional types of ADUs:

  • Attached: The ADU comes attached to the primary structure such as an apartment over the garage.
  • Converted: It is existing space on the primary structure. For instance, the basement or a storage area is converted into an independent living space.
  • Junior ADU: An existing space within the primary structure, such as a bedroom, is converted into an independent living space.

Accessory dwelling units have been very popular among homeowners. They have many benefits including an additional source of income for homeowners, higher property values, independent living spaces for family or friends of homeowners, and affordable housing for low-income families. However, building ADUs is not always easy. Many cities and counties have local ordinances that place financial and structural restrictions on ADUs.

To address the housing crisis in the more populated areas of California, Governor Gavin Newsom has passed six ADU bills into law. The new California ADU laws, which took effect on January 1, 2020, remove most of the restrictions that made it difficult for homeowners to build ADUs.

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What Is California’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Law All About?

Here is a summary of the recent changes to California’s ADU law.

 

Assembly Bill 68, Assembly Bill 881, and Senate Bill 13

  • Local agencies cannot impose minimum requirements for accessory dwelling unit floor plans, lot coverage, and open spaces.
  • Local agencies can establish a maximum size for ADUs but it cannot be less than 850 square feet for a one-bedroom and 1,000 square feet for more than one bedroom.
  • They have streamlined the approval process so that instead of 120 days, local agencies will have to approve or deny applications within 60 days.
  • ADUs that are smaller than 750 square feet are exempt from impact fees. Local agencies may charge an impact fee for larger ADUs but it should be proportional to the size of the primary structure.
  • It is no longer required to have off-street parking spaces if you convert the garage or carport into an ADU.
  • The owner-occupancy requirement, which stated that homeowners must occupy the primary structure or ADU, cannot be imposed until January 1, 2025.

 

Assembly Bill 587 and Assembly Bill 671

  • Local agencies can adopt an ordinance that allows the separate sale of ADUs from the primary structure. For this ordinance to take place, a qualified non-profit organization must build the primary structure and ADU as low-income housing.
  • Local agencies must create a plan that incentivizes and promotes the construction of ADUs. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will develop a list of financial grants and incentives to promote affordable ADUs.

 

California HOA Laws Regarding ADUs

dwelling accessory unitThe new accessory dwelling unit California laws also includes a stipulation for HOA communities. Assembly Bill 670 voids any restrictions that an HOA may have in its governing documents that prohibit the construction or use of ADUs on single-family homes. Thus, it is now easier for homeowners to create HOA granny units or secondary dwelling units on their property

HOAs also can’t enforce restrictions that unreasonably restrict the construction of ADUs — such as high construction costs. However, there are no guidelines on what restrictions are considered “reasonable.” As such, HOAs could still implement requirements related to the size and design of ADUs, the architectural application process, and the use of communal facilities.

 

Does California’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Law Apply to My State?

The new changes to the ADU law are only applicable to California. However, many other states have their own ordinances when it comes to ADUs. This includes Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, and Tennessee. It’s important for HOAs to consult their local governments to see whether there are new ordinances regarding the construction of ADUs.

 

The Purpose of California’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Law

The main purpose of California’s new ADU laws is to address the housing crisis in many parts of the state. However, constructing ADUs can be very beneficial for homeowners. By renting their ADUs to low- and moderate-income families, homeowners can also create an additional stream of income. This can offset some of the costs of owning a home, which can be crucial during times of economic downturn or a pandemic. Take time to read through California’s accessory dwelling unit laws to determine if an ADU is the right move for you.

If you have additional questions regarding ADUs and other HOA laws, feel free to reach out to the Cedar Management Group today! Call us at (704) 644-8808 or email us at help@mycmg.com to learn how we can better serve your community.

 

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The Differences in Owning a Condominium and a Single-Family Home

There are significant real estate legal differences between owning the typical single-family home and owning a condominium. They aren’t necessarily negative or positive for the owner, but a buyer in the market for housing should understand these differences. This way they can decide which type of home best fits their lifestyle and needs.

What Comes With Owning a Condominium?

First, a basic definition of a condominium: A condominium is a dwelling that’s part of a group of housing units. Each homeowner owns their individual space and a share of common areas in the condominium project.

1. There is no land ownership with the unit.

Though units may share walls, it isn’t always the case. However, the homeowner owns only the structure, not any land beneath it. The land in the project is owned in common by all the homeowners.

2. Casualty and liability insurance are separated.

The homeowner insures the interior of their unit, walls, furnishings, and personal possessions. The condominium association insures the exterior of the structures, roofs, and common areas. This insurance is paid for through condominium association dues.

3. Maintenance is separately controlled as well.

The homeowner maintains the interior of their unit, while the association maintains all the exteriors and all common areas. The association maintains landscaping, parking areas, pools, activity buildings, etc. This maintenance is also paid for from homeowner dues to the association which is often managed or overseen by an association management company.

4. All common fees paid through dues assessments.

Taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs, some utilities, and any other common area related costs are paid from monthly or quarterly dues paid by homeowners.

5. Dues and other common decisions decided by vote.

Each owner has one vote as a member of the association. When major repairs require unusual expenses, there can be a vote for an extra one-time assessment. Also, due to inflation, regular votes are required to increase dues to cover costs.

6. Owners subject to association rules for their units.

All exterior modifications or enhancements are subject to strict rules, as the association wants to maintain all exterior design and finishes the same for all units. Some interior modifications may also be prohibited by the rules. This is justified by the common interest in maintaining value in the marketplace. So, strange color schemes or moving walls can be against the rules. For those who are interested in maximizing their ROI by renting out their unit, there might even be specific rules against this or at least a percentage of how many association units can be rented out at a given time.

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Condo

The Differences in Owning a Condominium and a Single-Family HomeThe pros of condominium ownership:

  • The owner is relieved of all exterior maintenance, including landscaping.
  • Owners who couldn’t otherwise afford amenities like pools or hot tubs can use common facilities.
  • Homeowners who value a community atmosphere often enjoy the common area meetup aspects of the condominium project.
  • The nature of construction can make a condo a lower investment per square foot than a single-family home.

The cons of condominium ownership:

  • There are rules, and the creative individual can be frustrated when they can’t do things to decorate or modify their home.
  • Though each owner has a vote in the association, the majority rules. At times, onerous fees or dues pass against the wishes of several owners.
  • The dues are required, and the association can place a lien on the unit for back dues.

All considered, whether to buy a home or a condo is very much a personal decision. Now that the differences are clear, that decision should be an easier one to make.

Get in touch with us today if you have any questions or If you are looking to become a featured HOA property management company or HOA vendor on our site.

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Should HOAs Close Community Pools During COVID-19?

HOAs are now implementing measures that will lessen or prevent the transmission of the coronavirus in their communities. One common question that many HOA boards face is whether to close community pools during COVID-19. Before you decide, here are important things to consider.

Community Pools During COVID-19: Should You Close Them or Not?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread through the use of recreational waters — such as swimming pools in HOA communities.

Chlorine, bromine, and other chemicals used to clean and disinfect pools can deactivate the coronavirus. This means that you are not likely to catch the coronavirus from swimming in the community pool.

However, outside the water, there is still a chance that you could catch the coronavirus from other people or to a lesser extent, from touching surfaces in the community pool area. As a result, many HOAs decided to close community pools during the start of the coronavirus pandemic as a precautionary measure.

As communities are starting to reopen, the CDC has released a new set of guidelines for public aquatic venues, which can be useful for HOA board members during COVID-19. Combined with social distancing and healthy hygiene practices, these guidelines can significantly reduce the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in your community pool area.

 

Important Guidelines for Keeping Community Pools Open During Coronavirus

If you’re planning to open community pools during COVID-19, HOAs must implement safety measures that will protect their community members.

Here are important guidelines to consider:

1. Following Social Distancing Rules

social distancing | close community poolsIt will be hard for homeowners to follow social distancing rules if your community pool area is crowded. The HOA can encourage social distancing by limiting the number of people who can access the swimming pool at any given time. You can set up an online reservation system or a sign-up sheet for specific time blocks so that all homeowners have a chance to use the community pool. It would also be best to have someone patrol the area so that everyone follows the social distancing rules.

2. Adjust Pool Furniture

Another way to encourage social distancing is to make sure that the lounge chairs, picnic tables, and other furniture in your community pool area are six to 10 feet apart.

3. Use Cloth Face Coverings

The CDC does not recommend wearing cloth face masks while in the water. However, when outside the swimming pool, guests should wear their face masks to reduce the potential risk of coronavirus transmission. Wearing of face masks must be strictly enforced if it is difficult to maintain social distancing in your community pool area.  

4. Install Sanitation Stations

Install sanitation stations near high-touch areas such as the light switches, door handles, and elevator buttons. Make sure that the restrooms and shower areas have an adequate supply of hand soap and paper towels. The HOA can also place hand sanitizers (with at least 60% alcohol) and disinfectant wipes in different areas around the swimming pool so that guests can easily clean and disinfect their surroundings.

5. Place Signs and Visual Cues that Promote Safe Behaviors

HOAs should place signs in the swimming pool area to remind homeowners to practice safe behaviors. You can have a list of rules outside so that everyone can read them before entering the swimming pool. If you have a PA system, the HOA can make regular announcements over the air. In high-traffic areas such as the shower room, place visual cues to encourage social distancing. You can place protection tape on the floor to keep homeowners at a safe distance while waiting for their turn.

6. Clean and Disinfect the Community Pool Area

The community pool area should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, but due to the coronavirus, pool maintenance must be done more frequently and thoroughly. Contact your maintenance company to ensure they are using EPA- approved products for cleaning and disinfecting your community pool area.

Make sure to target high-touch surfaces such as handrails, door handles, tabletops, lounge chairs, handwashing stations, diaper-changing stations, and showers. Cleaning and disinfecting the pool area should be done daily at the very least. If you have shared items such as kickboards and pool noodles, they should be cleaned in between each use.

7. Educate Community Members About COVID-19 Guidelines

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HOA board members must work together with the homeowners during these uncertain times. By educating them about the community’s COVID-19 guidelines, you will be able to make common areas such as the swimming pool safer for everyone. Remind them to stay at home if they are feeling sick, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or belong to a high-risk group.  

 

Can HOA Board Members Get Into Trouble for Opening Community Pools During COVID-19?

HOA board members should consult their governing documents before deciding to open or close community pools during COVID-19. Your governing documents will have provisions on how to handle emergencies or crises. In such cases, the board may be granted emergency powers. They can enact certain policies such as closing community pools and other communal areas.

If the HOA is planning to reopen community pools, board members should first consult HOA management and local health officials. The HOA management company can help board members with creating and enforcing safety guidelines for the community. Meanwhile, local health officials can give the go signal whether it is safe to reopen community pools. This step is important if your HOA is in an area with a high number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

If the HOA board makes an informed decision — one that prioritizes the safety of the community — they should not get into trouble for opening the community pool area during COVID-19. If you need further guidance, consult an HOA attorney to ensure the community’s safety guidelines are compliant with the law.

Regardless of your decision, make sure to communicate with your homeowners. The coronavirus pandemic has put us all in uncharted waters so the simple act of talking to residents can help. If homeowners want the pool open, make sure they understand their personal responsibility in ensuring their health during this pandemic.

 

What to Do With Community Pools During COVID-19

Ultimately, the decision to keep community pools open or closed during COVID-19 is up to you. What’s important is that HOA boards educate themselves about this issue. They should consider all possible scenarios, and then make a decision based on their resources and capabilities.

Each community member is responsible for his/her own health. But, that doesn’t mean that HOAs cannot implement measures that will protect their community during COVID-19.

 

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Everything You Need To Know About Making And Wearing Face Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends the use of face masks in public to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, in the United States. HOAs should take note of these guidelines to further prevent coronavirus transmission in their communities. Here’s everything you need to know about making and wearing face masks.

In this article:

 

The Importance of Wearing Face Masks

According to the CDC, everyone should wear cloth face coverings or face masks when going out of their homes. New studies have shown that people who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic can transmit the coronavirus.

About 25% of people who have the coronavirus do not exhibit symptoms such as coughing or sneezing so it’s possible that they don’t even know that they are positive for COVID-19. This means that even you or the person beside you could be an asymptomatic carrier.

For your protection and the protection of others, it’s important to wear face masks in public settings or when interacting with people in close proximity.

Take note, though, that the CDC does not recommend the use of surgical face masks or N-95 respirators if you are not a healthcare professional. These are personal protective equipment (PPE) that is in critical supply so they should be set aside for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

 

When to Use Face Masks?

Face masks should be worn in all public settings, especially in areas where 6-feet social distancing is difficult to maintain and in areas where there has been a significant community-based transmission of COVID-19.

This means wearing a simple cloth or homemade face mask when going to the grocery, pharmacy, or other public places.

All essential non-medical workers should also be wearing face masks. This is already a mandate in several cities such as New York City and Los Angeles.

 

Who Should Not Wear Face Masks?

There are some exceptions as to who should be wearing face masks. This includes children under the age of 2, individuals who have difficulty breathing, and people who are incapacitated or unconscious.

Generally, those who are wearing face masks should be able to remove them without needing assistance.

 

How to Make a DIY Face Mask

Given the shelter-in-place order, as well as the scarcity of medical-grade face masks, there is no need to leave your home to purchase face masks. You can easily create a face mask using materials that you already have at home.

For instance, a bandana face mask or a t-shirt face mask already provides adequate protection from COVID-19.

It has been established that though coronavirus particles are very tiny, they are commonly transmitted when stuck to water or mucus droplets that are released when someone with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or talks.

These droplets are much larger, and homemade masks are enough to block them. So, wearing a face mask made of cotton or flannel can prevent asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus, or non-infected individuals from catching COVID-19.

tshirt face covering v2 | how to wear mask

How to Sew Face Masks

Here’s what you need to know when creating a DIY cloth face mask.

Materials You Will Need:

  • Cotton Fabric (Quilted Fabric or Flannel as Alternatives)
  • Elastic (Rubber Bands, Hair Ties, or String as Alternatives)
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine

Instructions:

  1. Cut two pieces of rectangles from your cotton fabric. They should measure 10 inches by 6 inches.
  2. Place the fabric on top of each other. This will create a double layer for your face mask.
  3. Form a 1/4-inch fold on the top and bottom of the fabric. Sew or hem the fabric.
  4. Make a 1/2-inch fold on the sides of the fabric. Sew or hem the sides.
  5. Cut two pieces of elastic or string. It should be around 6-inches long and 1/8-inch wide.
  6. Attach a needle or safety pin on one end of the elastic. Thread elastics through each side of the face mask.
  7. Create a knot to keep the elastic in place. Tuck the knot inside the hem.
  8. Gather the sides of the face mask. Place a mask on your face. Make sure that the mask covers your face and the elastic is tight enough that the mask doesn’t fall down.
  9. Make adjustments if necessary.

 

DIY T-Shirt Mask

If you do not have a sewing machine, or cannot hand-sew, you can still create your own face mask. Here’s how to make a t-shirt face mask:

Materials:

  • T-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Strings

Instructions:

  1. Cut the bottom end of a t-shirt. It should be about 7-8 inches in height.
  2. Place t-shirt fabric on a flat surface. Measure about 6-7 inches on one side of the fabric.
  3. Cut the fabric. These long, thin parts will serve as the strings of your face mask.
  4. Cut the thin ends of the fabric.
  5. Wear the t-shirt face mask and tie the strings over the top of your head and around your neck.

 

How to Make a Bandana Face Mask

The Surgeon General also has a guide on how you can create a bandana face mask without any sewing. Check out the video below:

When creating a bandana face mask, make sure the fabric you are using is thick enough. Also, the bandana face mask should fit snugly on your face and shouldn’t be falling down.

 

How to Wear Face Masks

Simply having a face mask isn’t enough; you should also know how to wear masks properly. Here are some important guidelines on how to use a face mask.

  • Cloth masks should fit comfortably on your face. It should cover both your nose and mouth.
  • A face mask should have at least two layers of fabric for adequate protection.
  • The face mask should be secured on your ears with elastic or ties.
  • You should be able to breathe comfortably while wearing the face mask.
  • When removing the face mask, make sure not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands after removing the face mask.
  • The face mask should be washed regularly. Ideally, it should be laundered after being used in public. Putting it in the washing machine will suffice.

 

Is Wearing a Face Mask Enough?

It’s important to remember that a face mask alone isn’t enough to protect you from COVID-19. You should still follow other safety guidelines such as washing your hands often and observing social distancing.

Similarly, just because you are wearing a face mask doesn’t mean that you can start going out in public again. The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to limit your potential exposure to the virus.

Thus, staying home is still the best preventive measure.

 

Wearing Face Masks Can Protect You, Your Family, and Your Community

Given the devastating effects of COVID-19, it is our social and moral responsibility to not only protect ourselves but also those around us.

While we still have so much to learn about the novel coronavirus, we do know that wearing face masks can prevent asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers from transmitting the disease. It also reduces our chances of catching COVID-19 when out in public.

So, by now, you know the importance of wearing face masks and how to make one for yourself. You can even take social responsibility to the next level by making extra face masks for the members of your community.