The Duties Of An HOA President

As with any organization, homeowners associations have a set of board members that run the community. And, at the helm of every HOA board, there sits an HOA president.

 

What Are the HOA President Responsibilities?

hoa president responsibilitiesHomeowners associations are governed by a board of directors. Each of these board members has a specific title and set of duties. The HOA president sits at the very top and is responsible for a multitude of tasks.

Whether you are the current president of your HOA board, are running for the position, or are simply a regular member of your HOA, it is imperative to know the duties of the HOA president. As president, familiarity with these duties can help you fulfill your role in a successful manner. On the other hand, as a regular HOA member, understanding these duties will allow you to determine whether your current president is effective.

But, what exactly are these HOA president duties?

The president of the HOA board typically shoulders the same duties as those of any leader of a corporation. Though, it is worth noting that the exact nature of these duties can vary from association to association. To know the president’s duties specific to your community, it is important to check your governing documents.

More often than not, though, the president takes on the following roles:

  • Acts as the mouth or spokesperson of the association
  • Presides over all board and annual meetings
  • Initiates meeting agendas
  • Calls for votes
  • Serves as liaison between the board and other third parties (management, attorney, vendors, etc.)
  • Oversees the day-to-day operations of the community
  • Signs association documents
  • Co-signs checks with the secretary or treasurer
  • Designate committees

 

Small Associations, Community Managers, and Expenditures

The HOA president usually runs the day-to-day operations of a homeowners association. This is more common in small associations with fewer owners. Larger associations, though, tend to demand more time and work from the board. Considering the positions of board members are filled on a volunteer basis, it is understandable for the president to lack sufficient time to fulfill the more tedious aspects of their job.

This is where community managers come in. Many associations hire a community manager or an HOA management company to handle the day-to-day operations of the community. This includes talking to vendors, answering phone calls, and approving small expenditures.

But, what exactly constitutes a small expenditure? Again, this can vary from association to association. HOA boards usually permit the president or community manager to authorize spending of up to a certain amount. Such expenditures should still be reported to other board members as well as appear in monthly financial statements.

 

How Much Does an HOA President Make?

Many homeowners find an interest in running for HOA board president or some other board member role because of the pay. But, this is a common misconception. While some associations do offer paid board roles, most do not. A majority of associations clearly state in their governing documents that paying board members is prohibited.

Board members are volunteers — meaning owners volunteer to run for such positions. Associations that pay their board members take on higher risks, especially when it comes to conflicts of interest. Unsatisfied owners may also bring up a variety of issues, claiming that board members are incompetent, self-serving, or overcharging. Moreover, paid board members lose protection from the HOA’s D&O insurance. In that case, they will need to take out their own policy.

Of course, paying board members is generally legal. Though, it is worth checking your state laws and governing documents to make sure you stay on the right side of legal issues. Additionally, full disclosure to the membership must take place and any fees charged must remain below market price.

 

How Can I Be a Good HOA President?

The role of an HOA president is often paved with challenges, but asking how you can be a good one is the first step in becoming an effective leader. A good HOA board president typically possesses the following qualities:

  • Knows How to Lead. An obvious quality every board president should have is leadership. The president is responsible for presiding over meetings, delegating tasks, and guiding other members.
  • hoa president dutiesWilling to Learn. While the president is expected to understand the governing documents in every way, they are not perfect. Thus, a willingness to learn — be it from the law or professionals — is imperative in every good president.
  • Consistent. The president can’t make and enforce rules in an arbitrary manner. Uniformity and consistency are key when it comes to leading any community.
  • Knows How to Mediate. Homeowners associations experience disputes all the time, whether it involves board members, homeowners, or both. It is the president’s job to remain objective, mediate between parties, and make decisions in an impartial way.
  • Honest. Homeowners associations are not exempt from embezzlement, fraud, and other illegal acts. But, the president must stay honest and fulfill their job with integrity at all times.
  • Has Excellent Communication Skills. Talking to board members, owners, vendors, and management is a normal part of the president’s job. As such, the president must be a good communicator and remain responsive, especially when it comes to time-sensitive matters.
  • Prioritizes the Community Above All Else. A commitment to serving the community and a passion for the job is integral to successful leadership. Everything the president does must be within the association’s best interests.

 

Running for HOA President

If you are interested in becoming the president of your HOA board, there are a few things you must do first. It is essential for every president to know the community like the back of their hand. Therefore, you should take the time to attend community events, go to meetings, and understand the governing documents of your association. Talk to fellow owners and see what issues they are concerned about.

Once election season comes rolling in and the announcement for candidates goes out, express your interest. Many associations allow self-nomination, but make sure to refer to your governing documents to clarify. It is also best to check state laws for guidance. For instance, in California, Corporations Code 7213 states that fellow board members — not the membership — elect the president unless the governing documents say otherwise.

 

A Demanding Yet Fulfilling Role

As you can see, the HOA president takes on many duties and responsibilities. The job is not only time-consuming, but it also requires a lot of patience, communication, and effort. But, considering how much the president contributes to the community, the position is certainly a rewarding one.

Is your HOA board struggling to stay on top of day-to-day operations? Perhaps it is time to seek the help of an HOA management company. Start your search for the most reputable ones in your area using our online directory.

 

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Everything You Need To Know About HOA Fees

If you are moving into a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association, then you need to know about HOA fees. What exactly are these fees? And is there a way you can avoid paying them?

 

What Are HOA Fees? HOA Fees Meaning Explained

Before you can understand what these fees are, you must first learn how homeowners associations work. A homeowners association is a governing body that creates and enforces rules within a planned community. An HOA is also responsible for maintaining the community, usually in the form of hiring vendors to perform repairs and maintenance work or rendering other types of services.

This is where homeowners association fees come in. HOA fees, otherwise known as HOA dues, are sums that associations charge to homeowners to pay for various expenses. These fees are deposited directly to an association’s operating fund, with a portion of it going to the reserve fund. How often members must pay these fees depends on the association, but it is usually charged on a monthly or annual basis.

 

What Do HOA Fees Cover?

expenses | average hoa feesNot all homeowners associations are created equal. Thus, the exact items and expenses that dues cover can vary from community to community. Though, the typical HOA fee includes coverage for maintenance services, professional fees, and insurance premiums. Some examples are management fees, landscaping costs, seasonal services like snow removal, and pool maintenance.

As mentioned above, reserve fund contributions also account for a portion of HOA dues. Every homeowners association should have a reserve fund for the purpose of covering unanticipated expenses as well as major replacements and repairs in the future. Some examples of reserve fund expenses are roof replacements, road repaving, and pool retiling.

 

How Much Are HOA Fees?

Because every association is different, there is no universal amount when it comes to HOA dues. The location, type, and size of an association, as well as the nature of its amenities, will influence the calculation of these fees. But, average HOA fees can range from $200 to $400. Some communities, usually higher-end ones, even charge monthly dues in the thousands.

 

How an Association Determines HOA Dues

The HOA board is responsible for calculating HOA dues. This process typically starts with budget preparation, anticipating all the needs and expenses of the community for the coming year. They will then factor in reserve fund contributions. Once the board has determined the total amount, they will then divide this among the members of the community, themselves included.

For example, if an association’s anticipated expenses total $300,000 and there are 100 members in the community, then according to the HOA fee calculator, that would amount to $3,000 per member for the year. The association can divide that further into 12 monthly payments to arrive at $250 per member per month.

 

Why Are HOA Fees So High?

salary and wages | what do hoa fees coverThere are a number of factors that can affect the cost of HOA dues. Economic factors such as inflation, the rising cost of materials, and increased wages can all play a role since they influence vendor fees. The location of your community can also have an effect. If you live in a rich area, your HOA fees will also tend to be higher.

If you believe that your HOA fees are much higher than they should be, talk to your HOA board. Perhaps there are certain expenses your association can cut back on without sacrificing quality. Most HOA boards are required to present the budget to the membership during the annual meeting. A budget ratification meeting is even mandatory in some states (like North Carolina).

In some cases, high HOA fees can signal mismanagement of funds. To avoid fraud and embezzlement in HOAs, make sure your HOA board is being transparent with all of the association’s finances. Having a professional perform regular HOA audits can also discourage or identify fraud.

 

Limitations on Increasing HOA Dues

Homeowners association fees don’t remain the same forever. In fact, it is normal for an association to increase HOA dues every now and then. This usually happens when the cost of goods and services rises. An HOA board may also be forced to raise fees if unbudgeted or unexpected costs come up that the reserves can’t cover.

Although an association can raise its dues, that does not mean its ability to do so is limitless. Certain state laws and provisions within its governing documents bar associations from making HOA fees too high. For instance, in Arizona, HOAs may not raise dues by more than 20 percent of the previous fiscal year’s dues without obtaining approval from a majority of their members.

It is important to understand that limitations like this are not always beneficial to the association. For example, if your HOA’s governing documents prevent the board from raising dues by more than 5 percent, then your association might face an inability to meet its annual budget. This could lead to serious cuts and poor maintenance of the community, ultimately resulting in lower property values.

 

The Consequences of Refusing to Pay HOA Dues

Before you start Googling “how to get out of paying HOA dues,” let us save you the trouble. The short answer is, you can’t. Members agree to abide by the association’s rules (including paying monthly fees) when first buying their homes.

Possible consequences of non-payment include:

  • Late Fees. Depending on state laws and your governing documents, your HOA might charge a late fee on top of your unpaid balance. In some cases, this fee can compound over time.
  • Suspension of Privileges. Some associations can suspend your member privileges for refusing to pay fees. That means you will no longer have access to your community’s amenities and facilities. While this can prove effective for some non-paying members, it is not really a good penalty for members who don’t use the amenities in the first place.
  • Lawsuits. Your association may file a lawsuit against you and take you to small claims court in an effort to seek compensation.
  • Liens. Many associations have the ability to attach a lien to your property if you fail to pay your HOA fees. Liens make it hard for you to sell your property and can even lead to the next item on this list.
  • Foreclosures. Once your association has filed a lien on your property, it can then choose to foreclose on that lien.

Defaulting on your payments has an unfair impact on other homeowners. When an association experiences a high delinquency rate, it will fail to cover the cost of necessary services, leading to a poorly maintained community. It may even be forced to levy special assessments. Therefore, in essence, when you refuse to pay your HOA fees, other homeowners will have to pay more to cover for you. If you are struggling financially, you can always ask your board for a payment plan.

 

Are HOA Fees Worth It?

property value | hoa feesSome people dislike joining homeowners associations because of the very idea of having to pay HOA fees. But, since these fees come in exchange for amenities and services, they are definitely worth the added cost. Always remember that HOA dues ultimately go toward the beautification and maintenance of the community. This, in turn, leads to higher property values.

Many homeowners associations have a hard time collecting HOA fees, especially when they become past due. An HOA management company can help with this, though. Start looking for the right management company in your area today using our online directory.

 

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What Are HOA Restrictive Covenants?

Anyone who has ever belonged to a homeowners association knows what restrictive covenants are. If you are thinking about purchasing a home within an HOA community, you must understand what these covenants are and how they affect you.

Understanding the Definition of Restrictive Covenants

What is a restrictive covenant? A restrictive covenant is a type of agreement or obligation that restricts the actions a buyer can make. The term can also apply to real estate. Restrictive covenants in real estate are written legal obligations found within a property’s deed.

Within the context of a homeowners association, the definition of a restrictive covenant remains the same. These are agreements homeowners make with the HOA that restricts how you can use your property. It can cover what you can’t do as well as what you are obligated to do, i.e. maintenance.

 

The Benefits of HOA Covenants

Benefits of HOA CovenantsTo an outsider, it might seem like these covenants serve no function, but the truth is far from it.

What is the main purpose of restrictive covenants? To understand that, you must first understand what homeowners associations do.

Homeowners associations exist to maintain the community with the overall goal of preserving property values. Part of its job is to make sure the neighborhood looks appealing and is a good place to live in. This is where restrictive covenants come in.

Restrictive covenants help make the community a better place by outlining how you should and should not use your property. Let’s take one of the most common restrictive covenants and apply it here. Many associations have covenants limiting what color paint you can use for your house exterior. At first glance, it might seem absurd that your HOA would want to control something as trivial as that.

But, house color is not trivial at all — at least not when it comes to curb appeal. When rows of houses have a coordinated look, it can add to the aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood. This, in turn, can lead to higher property values.

Another benefit of a restrictive covenant agreement is it allows for easy dispute resolution. Most associations clearly define what kind of behavior is allowed in the community. A neighbor with a barking dog or who loves to throw all-night ragers can disrupt your quiet enjoyment of your property. Luckily, your HOA can step in to handle the situation.

 

The Problem With HOA Covenants

The disadvantages of HOA covenants, though, are also obvious. As a homeowner, you naturally want to have control over your own property. But, the existence of these covenants can impede that. If you move into a community run by an HOA, you will have to follow these covenants or face penalties.

In a few cases, an association may even have the authority to enter your property without permission. This usually happens when there is a covenant violation you refuse to remedy.

 

Restrictive Covenant Types

There are two primary types of association covenants you might encounter as a homeowner — property use restrictions and required maintenance. Let’s take a closer look at each one below.

 

1. Property Use Restrictions

Property use restrictions are the most common type of restrictive covenants. In fact, a majority of HOAs have at least one restrictive covenant that refers to property use. These covenants tell you what you can and can’t do with your property.

Again, this all circles back to how your property looks as part of a bigger picture. Homeowners associations want to maintain a certain aesthetic, and restricting property use is the way they accomplish this goal.

Many associations establish Architectural Control Committees that help maintain the uniformity of the community. These committees inspect properties for violations, update architectural guidelines, and oversee the architectural review process. If you want to change the color of your house or add a new shed to your property, you will likely need to go through the ACC.

 

2. Required Maintenance

Apart from limitations on property use, restrictive covenants can also cover your obligations as a homeowner. These obligations usually have to do with maintenance. Your association might require you to mow your lawn a certain number of times per week or trim your trees every now and then. Some HOAs entrust this job to homeowners, while others provide maintenance services as part of your dues.

 

Common Examples of Real Estate Covenants

pet policy | restrictive covenantsRestrictive covenants can vary from association to association. But, there are some that are more common than others. Here are some restrictive covenants examples you should know about:

  • House Color. This is perhaps the most common restriction across all associations. Some HOAs dictate specific colors homeowners can and can’t use, while others only accept varying shades of a particular color.
  • Exterior Construction. Adding a fence or new garage to your property? Wait just a minute, because your HOA might have rules concerning exterior constructions. Many associations ask you to go through an approval process, complete with submissions of your design, while others prohibit constructions entirely.
  • Rental Use. Some associations have covenants restricting a homeowner’s ability to lease or rent out their home. An HOA may only allow you to lease your property for a specific number of months or not at all.
  • Business Use. Many HOAs don’t allow members to convert their homes into a business. Of course, that does not mean you can’t work from home or use an extra room as a home office. But, if it starts bringing in more traffic, you might have a problem.
  • Pet Policy. There are associations that have strict no-pets policies, but there are also ones that only impose reasonable restrictions regulating the species, breed, weight or size, and the number of pets you can keep. Keep in mind, though, that state law may also play a role here. For instance, California law does not allow HOAs to prohibit homeowners from keeping at least one pet.
  • Vehicle Regulations. In addition to pets, your association might regulate how many vehicles you can have, what types you can keep, and where you can park them.

 

Restrictive Covenants Real Estate FAQs

 

Are restrictive covenants enforceable?

Generally speaking, homeowners associations can legally enforce restrictive covenants. But, there are certain exceptions to this rule. A covenant is unenforceable if it:

  • Was not enacted according to the proper procedures;
  • Violates of homeowners’ rights;
  • Violates federal or state laws;
  • Is enforced in an inconsistent or arbitrary manner; and/or,
  • If the HOA’s governing documents do not give it the power to enforce it in the first place.

 

How do you get around restrictive covenants?

Since covenants are binding legal agreements, there is really no way to get out of them short of leaving the association itself. If a covenant is too strict or unreasonable, homeowners can bring it to the HOA board’s attention. As a result, the board can try to amend the covenant.

 

What happens if you breach a restrictive covenant?

fine | what is a restrictive covenantHomeowners associations deal with covenant violations in differing ways.

The most common penalties you can face, though, are monetary fines, suspension of member privileges, lawsuits, and even foreclosure. It is important to check your state laws and governing documents to see what consequences you can expect as a result of breaching a restrictive covenant.

 

How long do restrictive covenants last?

In general, restrictive covenants don’t expire unless there is a written expiration date. Restrictive covenants that run with the land — meaning they are attached to the land itself and not the structure built on it — continue to live on for an indefinite period, even if the property is sold off to another owner.

 

The Pros Outweigh the Cons

Restrictive covenants can interfere with the way you use your property, but they do serve a purpose. Homeowners associations use them to maintain consistency, improve curb appeal, and protect property values. Before buying a house in an HOA community, it is imperative to first find out what restrictions lie ahead of you. But, you should also understand that these restrictions can increase the value of your property and are, thus, ultimately beneficial.

Enforcing restrictive covenants as well as rules and regulations is not always easy. This is why many homeowners associations turn to an HOA management company for help. Finding the right management company, though, is often time-consuming. Streamline your search process today with the help of our online directory.

 

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What Are Unenforceable HOA Rules? What To Do About Them?

Homeowners association rules are man-made, so it makes sense that they are not perfect. You might like to believe that all the rules in your HOA are good and enforceable. But, the fact of the matter is, unenforceable HOA rules do exist in many communities — and you may not even know it.

 

What Are Unenforceable HOA Rules?

Before you can understand unenforceable HOA rules, you must first know what HOA rules are. Simply put, HOA rules are rules that members of an HOA community must follow. These rules exist to regulate members’ behavior within the association.

Some people use HOA rules and HOA covenants interchangeably. You can find HOA covenants within your association’s Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions (CC&Rs). These dictate the association’s and the members’ obligations and rights. In essence, both HOA rules and HOA covenants dictate what homeowners (and the HOA) can and can’t do.

You must then realize the extent of an HOA’s authority. Are neighborhood covenants enforceable? Generally speaking, yes. Both HOA covenants and rules are legally binding and enforceable. There are some exceptions to this statement, though. Some rules can be unenforceable.

But, how do you distinguish the unenforceable HOA rules from the enforceable ones? Rules are deemed unenforceable if they fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Violates rights or breaches laws
  • No power to act
  • Enacted incorrectly
  • Enforced inconsistently or selectively

 

Unenforceable HOA Rule #1: Violates Rights or Breaches Laws

Federal and state laws, including constitutional rights, take precedence over all of an association’s governing documents. Therefore, when a rule violates the law, it is unenforceable. Typical HOA rules that fall under this category often have to do with the following:

 

Freedom of Speech

Homeowners and HOAs usually butt heads when it comes to freedom of speech. Commonly, the two areas of concern are political speech and displays of patriotism, particularly when it comes to signs.

Many associations restrict what types of signs homeowners can display, with some even banning all types. In some states, though, associations don’t have much power to do so. For example, in Maryland, HOAs may not prevent homeowners from posting political signs on their own property near election time.

The best course of action for HOAs is to only restrict the number, size, and location of political signs. Associations can also allow such displays only prior to and immediately following an election.

Flags are also a point of contention among associations and homeowners. But, thanks to the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, HOAs generally can’t prohibit homeowners from displaying the American flag. They can, however, limit the size of the flag.

 

Discrimination

The Federal Fair Housing Act prevents associations from discriminating against homeowners and potential homeowners based on their race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and/or disability. Therefore, a rule banning women from the gym during certain hours directly goes against this act.

Some states have also enacted laws that provide further defense for protected classes. In California, for instance, the law extends to gender identity as well as sexual orientation.

 

Right to Bear Arms

right to bear arms | hoa rulesThe Second Amendment remains a hot topic in the United States. For homeowners associations, though, the general rule is that they can’t disallow residents from owning guns.

This is one of the homeowners rights against HOA. But, the association can restrict weapons in open or communal spaces. After all, residents have a right to feel safe within their own community.

 

Religious Freedom

The Fair Housing Act and several state laws protect homeowners’ right to religious freedom. Therefore, homeowner association rules that discriminate against a particular religion are unenforceable.

An HOA may have a rule that restricts religious displays or activities in a common area. If the language does not single out a specific religion, then it is enforceable. In this case, the rule or covenant might indirectly interfere with religious practice, but it is applied equally to all religions.

 

Other Federal or State Laws

There are several other rules that might breach federal or state laws and are, therefore, unenforceable.

  • Right to Dry. In many states, HOAs can’t prohibit homeowners from hanging laundry on a clothesline.
  • OTARD Rule. The FCC’s Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule prevents HOAs from banning satellites or antennas.
  • Landscaping. In a few states, homeowners should have the ability to use synthetic grass or plants that don’t require much water in their landscaping.

 

Unenforceable HOA Rule #2: No Power to Act

If the HOA holds no authority to act on a certain rule, then the rule may be unenforceable. Fines are a great example to demonstrate this. Can a homeowners association fine you? Yes, in general, HOAs can impose a fine when homeowners violate a rule. But, can an association fine you just because? That is a different story. The HOA can only impose fines for violations provided the governing documents or state laws allow it.

 

Unenforceable HOA Rule #3: Enacted Incorrectly

It is also worth looking at how a rule was put in place. Typically, an HOA records its covenants and rules in the declaration at incorporation. Such rules usually don’t pose a problem.

Can an HOA change rules after purchase? If you just bought a home that belongs in an HOA community, don’t expect the rules to remain the same forever. It is not uncommon for HOAs to amend their governing documents. In fact, many associations continue to change or add to their rules.

But, there is a right way to create a new rule or change an existing one. Similar to the HOA’s authority, you will find the proper enactment procedure within state laws and the association’s governing documents. If the HOA changes a rule or makes a new one without following procedures, then it is unenforceable.

For example, Georgia law states that associations must obtain a super-majority vote from the membership to approve any amendments to the declaration. Your HOA may also have set stipulations for amending its governing documents, such as a written petition or notice requirements.

 

Unenforceable HOA Rule #4: Enforced Inconsistently or Selectively

Unenforceable HOA regulations | homeowner association rulesIs your HOA not enforcing rules equally? Does your HOA fail to follow the proper procedures and pre-requisites when enforcing a rule? Then, there is a good chance those rules are unenforceable.

State laws and most HOA governing documents outline the procedural requirements associations must comply with when enforcing a rule. Usually, this involves sending written notice and providing the homeowner with an opportunity to be heard by the board. When such procedural requirements are not met or are applied inconsistently, the homeowner can challenge the enforcement of the rule.

Selective enforcement is another problem many associations fall victim to. Some boards will apply a rule to one homeowner but not the other. This type of enforcement also happens when boards apply some rules but ignore other rules.

Can I sue HOA for selective enforcement? Homeowners have a right to take legal action against their HOA for selective enforcement. But, keep in mind that you will need to prove that selective enforcement took place, which is often difficult to do. Additionally, the litigation process can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money. HOA boards typically have insurance to cover their defense fees as well.

 

Just “Enforceable” Is Not Always Best

It is not enough to have rules that are enforceable. The rules in your HOA should also be good, which means they must exist for the betterment of the community. But, how do you determine whether a rule is good or not?

First of all, good rules must be fair and reasonable. Even without the rule in place, common sense should dictate that it is the right thing to do. Good rules are also efficient in that they achieve their purpose. HOA boards must also make sure the rules are understandable and easy to follow.

 

Stay Away from Vague Language

Unenforceable HOA rules are not just ones that blatantly go against the law. Some rules may be considered as such if they contain vague language. Vague language can create all sorts of misunderstandings. And rules with unclear terms can cause more problems for both the board and homeowners.

HOA boards should make every rule as clear and direct as possible. Use terms like “You must…” or “You shall…” to convey the mandatory nature of the rule. Don’t beat around the bush.

Additionally, some rules consist of terms such as “nuisance” or “unappealing.” Unfortunately, these terms leave much room for interpretation. To remedy this, HOAs should include language that gives the board sole discretion when it comes to deciding what are nuisances or what counts as unappealing.

 

What Can Homeowners Do?

Contrary to what some might believe, HOAs don’t possess almighty powers that make them impervious to homeowner action. When you encounter some unenforceable HOA rules, there are a number of ways you can defend yourself or bring the matter to the board’s attention.

  • Talk to the Board. Start expressing your concern regarding the unenforceable nature of the rule. You can do this in-person or by writing a formal letter. Use a professional tone and be careful not to place blame on anyone. In many cases, a sincere reaching-out can change the board’s judgment.
  • Dispute Resolution. Some state laws and governing documents require that homeowners undergo a dispute resolution process prior to filing a lawsuit. You can do this through mediation or arbitration.
  • Take Legal Action. If worse comes to worst, you may need to begin legal proceedings. You can challenge the validity of the rule/s in question in state court (or federal court if it breaches the Fair Housing Act).

 

You Can Always Ask for Help

hoa management company | hoa covenantsHomeowners associations should not have any unenforceable HOA rules. To ensure this, board members must see to it that HOA rules don’t violate any laws or homeowner rights.

They must also make sure they have the authority to enforce these rules as well as enact or amend rules according to the proper procedures set forth by state laws and the governing documents. Finally, to avoid problems, boards must always enforce rules consistently and uniformly.

Many associations experience difficulties with rule enactment, amendment, and enforcement. As such, they turn to HOA management companies to make these tasks easier. Start looking for a local HOA management company that best suits your needs with the help of our online directory today.

 

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HOA Parking Rules: Resolving Common HOA Parking Issues And Rules Enforcement

HOA parking rules are a common point of contention in homeowners associations. The key to resolving issues related to parking, though, lies in understanding what rules the HOA can and can’t enforce.

 

Creating and Enforcing HOA Parking Rules

Living in an HOA community means having to abide by the many rules and restrictions that exist to keep the neighborhood in order. One of the most disputed rules in any given HOA, though, often relates to parking. Considering there are about 273.6 million registered motor vehicles in the United States, it’s easy to see why.

When enforcing homeowners association parking rules, the first thing your board must do is refer to your governing documents. Your CC&Rs should clearly dictate in black and white what your HOA parking policies are.

Your policies should be direct and explicit, leaving no room for misinterpretations. Use specific language when crafting your parking rules so that homeowners know exactly what to expect.

It’s often difficult to balance HOA parking restrictions and keep homeowners happy at the same time. But, since the HOA exists to maintain the community, you must make it apparent to all members that these rules are for the good of the association.

 

Sample HOA Parking Rules

What are the typical parking rules a homeowners association might have? Rules can vary from community to community. However, HOAs generally enforce rules concerning what type of vehicles can’t be parked inside the community, where vehicles can be parked, how long vehicles can be parked, and certain time periods vehicles can be parked in a given spot.

 

1. Prohibiting Certain Vehicle Types

trailers, RVs, boats and campers | homeowners association parking rulesMany associations have restrictions on the type of vehicles homeowners can park inside the community.

Usually, HOAs don’t allow trailers, RVs, boats, campers, and vehicles with commercial signs. Associations do this to maintain the aesthetic appeal of the community and, therefore, keep property values high.

 

2. Regulating the Parking Location

There are also a lot of associations that have rules about where homeowners are permitted to park. Generally, homeowners can park their vehicles in their driveway, but there may also be a designated area for this. For instance, in condo associations, unit owners may have specific spots in a common parking lot.

 

3. Regulating the Time Period or Length

The last of the most common types of parking rules has to do with how long homeowners can park their cars in a certain spot before getting towed.

For example, if the HOA has a common parking area, the board might allow vehicles to park for a maximum of 24 hours. If the owner goes beyond that, the HOA can take action. Associations do this so that the community doesn’t accumulate abandoned vehicles.

In other cases, associations may only allow homeowners to park in a specified area within the allowed timeframes. For instance, homeowners may only park in the clubhouse parking lot between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About HOA Parking Regulations

 

Can HOA Restrict Parking on Public Streets?

Can HOA enforce no parking on the street? It depends on whether the street is public or private. In most cases, associations have no authority over public streets. Therefore, they can’t really say whether or not members can park there unless state laws say otherwise.

If a violation occurs on a public street, law enforcement has jurisdiction. In contrast, HOAs are free to regulate parking on private streets within the community.

How do you know if a street is public or private? If the general public, i.e. non-members of the HOA, can use the street, then it’s a public street. Public streets are maintained by the government. On the other hand, private streets are maintained by the HOA and are only open for member use.

 

Can HOA Force You to Park in Your Garage?

It might seem unfair, but the HOA can make you park your vehicle in your garage. Associations usually do this for vehicles that don’t meet their standards or are prohibited within the community. It’s a matter of preserving aesthetics and keeping the community appealing to the eyes.

 

Can HOA Restrict Parking in Driveway?

Yes, some associations can restrict the type of vehicle homeowners can park in their own driveway or on the street in front of their house. HOA driveway parking rules exist to maintain the appeal of the neighborhood. Again, it all boils down to aesthetics.

 

Can HOA Impose Speeding Limits?

speed limit or restriction | sample hoa parking rulesIn general, homeowners associations can impose speed limits within the community, provided that it only applies to private streets and your CC&Rs give you the power to do so.

Make sure the speed limit doesn’t conflict with local ordinances, though. If it does, then you can’t enforce it.

 

Can HOA Limit Number of Cars?

While associations typically can’t limit the number of cars you can own, they can limit the number of cars you can park in your driveway or in common areas. Condos and apartments usually limit it to one parking slot per owner. Therefore, if you have a lot of cars, you need to (legally) find somewhere else to park them.

 

HOA Parking Enforcement: Making Sure Owners Comply

Just as difficult as coming up with HOA parking rules is enforcing them. Violations do happen, and they can happen with parking as well. But, can your HOA issue tickets and tow vehicles?

 

Temporary Revoking of Privileges

While not all HOA boards have this authority, some can temporarily revoke owner privileges after committing a violation. The process can change depending on the association, but it usually involves sending an HOA parking violation notice as well as an option to have a hearing.

Given the severity of this type of punishment, though, it’s usually reserved for repeat offenders. Check your CC&Rs to verify whether you can suspend owner privileges.

 

Towing of Vehicles

Is the HOA allowed to tow vehicles that violate parking restrictions? Can HOA tow without warning? These are common questions homeowners ask when it comes to towing.

The answer is, it depends on the laws in your state. Generally, though, associations can tow vehicles that violate parking restrictions.

Your board should first send a notice to the offending homeowner informing them of the violation at least 96 hours before towing the vehicle. Then, provide written authorization to let the towing operator know that your HOA has the power to request the tow.

After that, you should inform the owner of the tow within one hour of authorization. You should also report the towing to your local traffic law enforcement agency within the same timeframe.

Although you can tow vehicles, it should be your last option. More often than not, taking this route will result in a more complicated and heated argument between the owner and your board.

 

Common HOA Parking Issues and How to Resolve Them

Every association encounters problems with parking. The trick is to learn how to deal with them. Here are HOA parking solutions to some of the most common parking issues:

  • Insufficient Parking for Residents. If you don’t have enough parking for residents, you can convert some guest parking spaces to resident parking. This is provided you live in a community where the HOA owns the common areas.
  • Residents Parking in Guest Spots. If this isn’t allowed in your community, you must inform all homeowners and post signs reflecting that. A good way to curb this type of prohibited behavior is to levy fines and suspend privileges. You can even resort to towing if the problem remains rampant.
  • Scarce Parking for Guests. If you live in a planned community, you can charge a parking fee to guests who want to park in guest spaces. Alternatively, you can also require guests to obtain HOA parking permits. This will allow you to prevent fights from breaking out between owners. Make sure to check your governing documents, though, to see if you have this power.
  • Inadequate Handicapped Parking. Certain federal laws like the Fair Housing Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act require you to accommodate disabled residents. Make sure to have proper handicapped parking available. If that’s not possible, try to rework the space to make it more accessible to disabled residents.

 

Final Reminders

Can HOA restrict parking? The short answer is yes. Provided the CC&Rs outline the HOA’s authority to do so, an association can impose HOA parking rules. When crafting and enforcing these rules, though, make sure they comply with federal, state, and local laws. Your governing documents should also give the HOA the authority to impose them.

 

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HOA Noise Rules: Can Homeowners Complain About Neighbor’s Party Noise

Homeowners living in an HOA community must abide by the many regulations that exist within the association. For many communities, that includes HOA noise rules.

 

Do You Have HOA Noise Rules in Your Community?

Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to find a homeowners association that does not have rules about nuisances. For those who are unaware, nuisances are activities that impede on the homeowners’ right to quiet enjoyment. These can also cover any conditions considered offensive or dangerous as well as activities that breach federal, state, or local laws.

Noise is an example of a nuisance because it interferes with the community’s quiet enjoyment. Other examples include odors such as cigarette smoke or garbage and health and safety issues such as outdoor fires or pests. It can also pertain to items that are visually unappealing, such as litter on patios or lawns.

Can HOA help with noisy neighbors? Homeowners and board members alike should refer to their governing documents for HOA noise rules. If no such rules exist, the board should consider creating them. In doing so, the board can set a precedent for maintaining order within the community.

 

What Homeowners Can Do About Loud Parties

Perhaps one of the most common noise complaints that homeowners have has to do with parties — holiday parties in particular. Associations generally take no issue with an HOA holiday party, but it becomes a problem when there is excessive noise.

Before the holidays roll around, HOA boards must remind all homeowners about the HOA noise restrictions. It is also a good idea to encourage residents to schedule their parties to start earlier. This way, they can end earlier, too.

In case a neighbor still holds a loud party, homeowners have the following options:

 

Take It Up With the Party Host

hoa noise complaintResidents who find the party next door too loud should first talk to the host. They should ask their neighbor to turn down the music or keep the noise down.

Approaching the offending neighbor in a polite manner can usually take care of the issue.

 

Contact Local Authorities

If the noise persists, though, residents can contact the police. Most cities have noise ordinances that prevent excessive noise in between certain hours. For example, in New York City, Local Law 113 specifies quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

You might wonder, though, “Can police enforce HOA rules?” It depends. The police can only enforce the rule if the person has also violated local laws. If no illegal activity takes place, then the police cannot do anything to enforce the HOA rule.

 

Submit an HOA Complaint

How do you stop noisy neighbors? File a complaint. Residents can bring the noise issue to the HOA board’s attention.

The board will likely ask the resident to submit an HOA noise complaint letter containing specific details about the alleged offense. If the board decides that a violation has indeed occurred, the offender will suffer the consequences stipulated in the governing documents.

Here is a sample noise complaint letter to HOA:

HOA noise rules_sample complaint letter

Download the Sample Noise Complaint Letter Here

 

Take It to Court

In some cases, the noise problem might even escalate to a lawsuit. This is, of course, the least favored route since it requires both ample time and money. It is best to resolve the noise issue through other means first. Legal action should be the last resort.

 

Other Common Noise Complaints

Parties are not the only sources of noise in an HOA or COA community. Even with a homeowners association noise ordinance, here are some other possible noise issues residents may encounter:

 

1. Barking Dogs

For associations that allow pets, a common noise issue has to do with barking dogs. Dogs that bark loudly well into the wee hours of the night can frustrate neighbors.

It is likely, though, that the association also has certain pet restrictions and provisions that owners must follow. This includes keeping the pet under control at all times.

What can HOA do about barking dogs? The HOA board can hold the owner liable for any nuisances the dog causes.

The owner might suffer penalties such as fines or suspension of privileges. In some cases, the association can even force the owner to remove the pet if it becomes a nuisance, even if it is a service animal.

 

2. Noisy Kids

Most complaints about kids pertain to excessive noise in common areas. But, the HOA cannot enforce any rules that single out kids, in particular, and that treat them differently.

This is considered discriminatory behavior and will put the association in trouble. It is imperative for the HOA board to treat children as it would any other adult to avoid Fair Housing issues.

 

3. Ceiling Noise from Neighbors Above

condo noise rulesHow do you deal with noisy neighbors in a condo? Even COAs have condo noise rules that owners must follow.

Condo noise complaints, though, usually have to do with impact noise because condo units are arranged in stacks. Condo owners might complain about their upstairs neighbor creating too much noise just by walking on their hard flooring.

It is best to check the COA’s governing documents to see if there are any provisions concerning what type of flooring is allowed in units. Typically, though, COA boards have two options.

The first is to require the installation of sound attenuating materials or the use of rugs to soften the sound, and the second is to force the owner (usually through a lawsuit) to replace the noncompliant flooring with a compliant one.

 

Dealing With Noise Complaints

Can HOA enforce noise complaints? In a word, yes. The HOA board can take suitable action if the complaint is grounded, provided the association’s governing documents permit it.

Standard procedures can vary from HOA to HOA, but they usually start with an evaluation. The board must first assess whether there is a need for them to interfere. The complaint might not have grounds and is simply just a personal issue between neighbors. It is usually best for neighbors to try to talk it out between themselves first before involving the HOA.

Then, the board must check how frequently the violation is happening. If the issue is persistent and the neighbors fail to resolve it themselves, the board should ask the complainant to submit a written letter about the noise. Following that, the board should then send a written request to the offending owner to remedy the situation and abide by the HOA noise rules.

Should the offending owner continue or refuse to stop, the board can deal with the nuisance in the same way it deals with other violations. This includes levying applicable fines, suspending certain owner privileges, or even taking legal action. Keep in mind, though, that it is always best for the board to check with an HOA attorney before proceeding.

 

The Bottom Line

Holiday parties are a great way to celebrate with friends and family, but they can be a nuisance. That is why it is essential for associations to have HOA noise rules in place. Homeowners who feel that their neighbors are creating too much noise can either talk to the offending owner first or take it up with the HOA. In some cases, they might even call the police or file legal action.

Managing a homeowners association means having to juggle a variety of tasks, including enforcing noise rules. Get some help from an HOA management company today. Find the best one in your area using our online directory.

 

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How Does Real Estate Season Affect Market Value?

The real estate industry can be a tricky path to navigate, especially if you fail to factor in timing. As with anything in life, timing can affect the outcome of any given endeavor. Learn how the real estate season influences the market value of properties below.

 

A Guide to Understanding the Real Estate Season

There are many things that can affect the market value of a property or unit; the location is one. If a property is located in a high-end neighborhood, its market value is naturally higher. The surroundings can also play a part in influencing the market value of a property. For instance, if more amenities start to open in your neighborhood, it causes the values of nearby properties to rise as well.

Another thing that can shape the market value of a property is curb appeal. In other words, how attractive the property is, especially when viewed from the street. Curb appeal itself can be influenced by a lot of things, such as landscaping, the house exterior, and even trash bin placement. It is why homeowners associations place a large focus on how properties look and have restrictions to control that.

Beyond location and curb appeal, though, one thing that both buyers and sellers must consider is the season. In fact, the month you choose to either buy or sell a property can inform your closing price.

 

How Seasons Impact Real Estate

Believe it or not, the changing seasons and weather can affect real estate market trends. It can also influence consumer behavior. Here are some seasonal property factors you must take note of:

  • The Holiday Season. Because of the busy schedules associated with the holiday season, it is unusual for there to be a lot of buyers or sellers during this time. Most people are more focused on attending events and doing holiday errands. Additionally, the weather conditions during this time are typically not conducive to real estate.
  • The School Year. The school season is a significant factor, too. Families typically do not want to move houses in the middle of the school year. In fact, according to Realtor.com, 73 percent of buyers with children place importance on school boundaries when searching for homes.

 

Best Season to Buy and Sell a House

high market value | how seasons impact real estateDuring these colder months, prices tend to drop.

Additionally, the number of buyers also decreases, so there is less competition overall. Less demand in the real estate market directly translates to better deals.

Conversely, the best season to sell a house is during the summer. During this period, buyers are more inclined to go house hunting because of the good weather. Moreover, families with children may want to move in before the school year begins.

In summer, there is a higher demand, which means home sellers can usually set higher prices. In fact, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, sellers experience the highest premiums (at 9.2 percent) during the month of June.

 

Worst Season to Buy and Sell a House

When it comes to the worst seasons to buy and sell a house, the real estate chart simply flips. The worst season to buy a house is during the summer. This is mainly attributed to the higher demand experienced during this season. April, in particular, is the busiest month out of the year for the housing market.

In the summer, there are more prospective buyers looking to close deals. Therefore, sellers can demand higher prices. It is also difficult to land the house you want because of the stiffer competition.

From a seller’s point of view, on the other hand, the reverse is true. The worst season to sell a house is during the winter, especially in December. During this time, sellers experience significantly lower premiums, with the lowest at 3.3 percent. The decline usually starts in September and continues until January to early February. The inclement weather and general busyness of the season contribute to the low demand.

 

Considering the Region

Although the weather plays a major role in determining the best real estate season, it is worth noting that not all regions are made equal.

The Northeast and Midwest, in particular, experience more pronounced effects than the South and West regions. This is because the Northeast and Midwest have more contrasting winter and summer seasons. Winters in these regions are colder and more evident, whereas winter in the South and West regions do not differ greatly from summer.

That said, the best and worst time to buy and sell a house will also depend on your region. If you live in a state where winters are not very cold, you may find that the demand remains mostly the same throughout the year.

 

Real Estate Seasonality FAQs

 

Q: What are the busiest months for real estate?

A: The busiest months for real estate are May, June, July, and August. According to the National Association of Realtors, 40 percent of annual sales take place during this four-month period.

 

Q: What is the peak real estate season?

A: Summer is the busiest time for the real estate industry. It is during this season that inventory, sales, and real estate web traffic reach a peak.

 

Q: What is the slowest month for real estate sales?

real estate sales | seasonal property

A: Historically, December is the slowest month for real estate sales. During this time, buying and selling houses comes to a screeching halt, with very little inventory and even less activity.

 

Q: Which month are most houses sold?

A: The four-month period from May to August is the busiest time for the housing market. Most houses are sold during this time. Additionally, home sellers usually experience the highest premiums during May and June.

 

The Importance of Professional Help

The real estate season is simple enough to understand, but that does not mean you can take matters into your own hands. Whether you are buying or selling a house, it is imperative to seek the help of a real estate agent. An experienced professional knows how market trends work and can help you land the best deals. In addition, real estate agents have knowledge of the local scene and can provide you with valuable information.

 

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HOA Security Camera Policy Every Board Member And Homeowner Should Know

To a homeowners association looking to strengthen security, the idea of installing surveillance cameras might be attractive. But, you can’t just slap on a bunch of cameras around your community and call it a day. You must craft and follow an HOA security camera policy that will protect your association.

 

What to Include Your HOA Security Camera Policy

Security is a common concern among many homeowners in HOA communities. And while associations have a handful of options to address it, one of the most popular recourse is to install security cameras around the neighborhood.

But, the mere presence of security cameras can put the association at risk of liability. Therefore, it is important to lay down a set of rules that your HOA can follow and use to protect itself. When creating your HOA rules for security cameras, consider including the following:

 

1. Align With Aesthetics

Let’s face it — giant chunks of metal dotting your neighborhood doesn’t exactly scream beauty. Plus, chances are, security cameras won’t go well with your community’s aesthetics. Since an HOA’s primary purpose is to maintain curb appeal and protect property values, homeowners might argue that installing security cameras can only have a detrimental effect on the appearance of your community.

If you do decide to install them anyway, though, make sure to plan it out carefully. See to it that they won’t impact the appeal of your neighborhood in a negative way. Security cameras come in all shapes and sizes, and some of the designs are very sleek, too. Go with the ones that will fit in the best with the style of your community.

Moreover, you should plan for seasonal changes. If you plan to install outside cameras, make sure they are made with durable materials and can withstand even the harshest of weather conditions.

 

2. Regulate Placement

A common conundrum HOAs encounter is where to place security cameras. This is where privacy concerns come into play. Homeowners have a reasonable expectation of privacy, so you should never point cameras directly into their homes or any area deemed private. This includes backyards and windows as well. It should also go without saying that you should never install security cameras in private locations like shower rooms and changing rooms.

 

3. HOA Monitoring and Reviewing Footage

hoa security camera policyYour HOA video surveillance policy should define what happens to footage once it is created. Will the HOA assign or hire someone to monitor the footage? Is someone just going to review them afterward? When and what time will they do that?

Sometimes, the HOA can’t afford to have anyone monitor the cameras. In that case, you should post a sign telling passersby that the cameras are recording footage but no one is currently monitoring them. You might think this is counterintuitive as it gives criminals a leg up, but it is more of a liability issue than anything else.

 

4. Access to Footage

Similarly, your HOA security camera policy must outline who has access to the footage. Make sure to only give access to select people and only allow law enforcement to view the footage in private. You should also keep saved footage in protected folders, never in personal computers, so that nobody can just open them as they please.

Additionally, you should make it clear to homeowners that they will not have access to the security footage. Let them know that these cameras exist to monitor and deter crime in common areas. They are not to be used for personal reasons. In the event that a homeowner would like to view the footage, they must go through the proper channels and issue a subpoena.

 

5. Destruction of Footage

Finally, your HOA security camera policy should state how long the association will keep the footage before it is destroyed. There is no universal standard for the duration of storage, but something like 30 days is a good place to start.

It is imperative that you communicate the HOA’s policy on security cameras with all members of the community. This way, homeowners will know what to expect and how to proceed.

 

The Law on HOA Security Cameras

Are security cameras a violation of privacy? When it comes to the installation and placement of security cameras, it is essential to check federal, state, and local laws for guidance. Generally, though, the law says that you can install security cameras provided they don’t interfere with residents’ rights to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Again, this means you can place HOA or condo security cameras in public spaces but never in locker rooms, restrooms, and changing rooms. Cameras also can’t face privately-owned areas like the interior of a resident’s home. Security camera laws can differ from state to state as well, so it is best to talk to an attorney before taking action.

 

The Law on Audio Surveillance

It is illegal to record private conversations without the consent of the parties involved. Thus, if your security cameras record audio as well, you may violate the law and put the HOA at risk. Thankfully, most security cameras forgo audio recording and only record video.

 

What Do Your Governing Documents Say?

Can an HOA put up cameras? It depends on the homeowners association. Not all HOAs have the same rules about security camera installation. To know what your HOA says about the matter, you must check your governing documents.

Some governing documents may stay mum on the issue, especially for older communities. In that case, it is a good idea to amend your documents to include your HOA or condominium security camera policy. When in doubt, consult your HOA manager or attorney.

 

Installing Security Cameras in Common Areas

installing security camerasHomeowners associations usually place security cameras in and around common areas. Many do this in an attempt to discourage criminal activity or catch them in the act. Security cameras don’t come cheap, though, and you should expect to pay ongoing expenses even after installation. This includes maintenance and video storage expenses as well as the cost of upgrading the entire security system.

But, not all HOAs have the budget for security cameras. This brings up the question of whether or not it is advisable to install dummy cameras instead. If you decide to go with dummy cameras, remember that you are still bound by security camera privacy laws.

While dummy cameras are significantly less expensive and can discourage crime, it is generally not a good idea to use them over real cameras. The HOA might face liability issues when a resident becomes a victim of a crime and mistakenly believes the camera caught all of it on tape.

Another point of contention is whether or not to post signs alerting people of the camera’s presence. Although there is no law that requires HOAs to post these signs, you should still make sure to inform all homeowners of the locations of the security cameras. Moreover, posting a notice or sign can enhance their deterrent effects.

Are homeowners associations required to install security cameras? Unless state law or your governing documents say so, HOAs are not required to install security cameras around the community. Make sure to check with your HOA manager or attorney if you feel unsure.

 

Can an HOA Restrict Security Cameras?

Can HOA deny security cameras? Homeowners associations can prohibit members from installing security cameras in common areas, as the HOA should be the only one with the ability to do so. When it comes to cameras in individual properties, though, you should check state laws and your governing documents.

Can I still cameras in my condo or home? Homeowners or condo owners can generally install cameras in the interior of their property. For outdoor cameras, though, not all associations have the same rules. An HOA may allow it provided it does not violate their neighbors’ reasonable expectation of privacy.

If your HOA decides to permit it, homeowners must still follow the HOA rules regarding security cameras. You can also consider establishing an approval process for outdoor cameras on homeowner property, especially since these can be considered architectural changes and may impact curb appeal.

 

Balancing Security and Privacy in HOA Communities

Although security is not entirely the responsibility of an HOA, residents will feel more at ease living in a community that works to promote it. Surveillance cameras can help prevent crime, but they also bring up the issue of privacy in neighborhoods. To make sure your HOA remains protected, it is critical to come up with an HOA security camera policy of your own.

An HOA management company can also help you navigate the complexities of video surveillance. Begin your search for the best one in your area today using our comprehensive online directory.

 

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When Is The Right Time For Reopening HOA Amenities?

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the world to adapt, and homeowners associations are no exception. As the country slowly starts to reopen, HOAs are left with the problem of whether or not to follow suit. Is reopening HOA amenities now the right decision?

 

Reopening HOA Amenities Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

With no immediate end in sight for this worldwide health crisis, homeowners associations everywhere are starting to toy with the idea to reopen amenities. It is, after all, within members’ rights to use community amenities like pools and tennis courts.

Reopening HOA amenities may also help boost the mental and emotional health of association members. But, safety remains an important factor that HOA boards must take into consideration.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines designed to help communities mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Similarly, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) also published a set of guidelines called “Healthy Communities” that can help HOAs protect residents as they adjust and reopen. It is also worth checking with your State Department of Health and County Health Departments for additional support.

 

Shielding the HOA from Potential Liability

Liability is a common point of concern among associations when it comes to reopening HOA amenities. This can mainly stem from the association’s purported negligence in reopening amenities or from the association promising the members’ safety.

Homeowners associations and their boards must never make a promise they cannot keep. That includes guaranteeing the safety of amenity users.

Even if the HOA creates a plan and does everything in its power to do so, it can never guarantee that members will not contract the virus while using the amenities. Members can also follow the new rules to a T and still end up sick.

To protect your association from liability, it is imperative to avoid making any such promises. Instead, warn all members that these new guidelines cannot guarantee their safety. If they choose to use community amenities, they acknowledge and accept the risks involved.

Some associations ask members to sign blanket waiver documents to free the HOA and its board from potential liability. Before you decide to take the same route, make sure to consult with your HOA attorney first.

 

Strategy Tips When Reopening Your HOA Amenities

sign in a field asking people to socially distance | reopen amenitiesNot all associations are permitted to reopen common areas and amenities. Before making a decision, check your state or local government rules and regulations for any related provisions.

This includes provisions regarding public facilities such as pools, clubhouses, gyms, tennis courts, and the like.

Once you have the all-clear and decide to reopen amenities, here are some strategy tips you can adopt:

 

1. Create and Distribute Emergency Rules

Rules exist to maintain order, but they are also designed to keep members safe. Most HOAs must follow standard procedures when creating or amending rules.

But, in some states, HOAs can adopt emergency rules without the need for normal procedures. For instance, in California, associations can enact emergency rules with a maximum effectivity period of 120 days. Sample rules include requiring the use of face masks and limiting the number of people in any given amenity.

In addition to creating these rules, HOAs must put them in writing and communicate them to all members. It is also a good idea to post these emergency rules in every common area or amenity.

Furthermore, you must warn members that the HOA and these rules do not guarantee their safety. Include this disclaimer in all posts and notices.

 

2. Make Use of an Amenity Booking System

In an effort to limit the number of members at any given time, some HOAs have adopted the use of a booking system. With such a system in place, residents can pick and reserve timeslots for each amenity.

Once a timeslot is full, other residents cannot book it anymore. This will allow your association to control the number of members at each amenity for every time period.

 

3. Allow Space for Social Distancing

Since the coronavirus passes primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets, social distancing can significantly mitigate the spread of the disease. But, it can be a challenge to practice social distancing, especially in tight or cramped spaces.

As a response, associations must create space to promote social distancing. You can do this by modifying the layout of each space.

Consider removing unnecessary furniture or making use of tape to mark areas where users can stand. In gyms and fitness centers, turn off every other machine or equipment.

 

4. Adopt a More Frequent Cleaning Schedule

Because the COVID-19 virus can survive on various surfaces for extended lengths of time, HOAs must clean and disinfect amenities more frequently. Make time in your schedule to close down amenities for regular cleaning and disinfection.

Use EPA-registered disinfectants that have been proven to kill the coronavirus. High-touch points, such as doorknobs, handles, railings, light switches, elevator buttons, and the like, must be disinfected at least daily.

If your HOA does not have the resources to clean and disinfect amenities and common areas, consider hiring a cleaning service. Most cleaning companies can come in at regularly scheduled times to accommodate your needs.

 

5. Provide Sanitizers and Soap

A closeup of a woman cleaning her hands with a sanitizer gel | reopening your HOA amenitiesProper hygiene is of utmost importance now more than ever. To encourage this, post reminders for residents to wash their hands frequently.

On the association’s part, consider installing sanitizer or alcohol dispensers in common areas and amenities. Make sure that soap is also readily available in bathrooms and sink areas.

 

6. Be Prepared for Change

There is no telling when the pandemic will come to an end. Similarly, no one can know for sure what the future holds. You might reopen the pool one day and end up having to close it down the next.

As such, refrain from sticking to a single approach to safeguard your community and its residents. Instead, monitor the situation on a daily basis and be prepared to make adjustments as instructed by government officials and health experts.

 

A Safer Environment for All

When it comes down to it, there is no blanket answer as to the right time for reopening HOA amenities. Every community may have its own set of factors that can affect the board’s decision to reopen.

For starters, make sure your local government allows it. Consider the health of your members, including mental and emotional. If you do decide to reopen your amenities, create and communicate rules that residents must follow.

Adopt strategy tips that can help you keep a safe environment. Lastly, remember to protect the association from liability by warning residents that their safety is not guaranteed.

 

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Halloween COVID 19 Activities: How to Safely Have Fun in Your HOA

Halloween is just a stone’s throw away, but many HOA communities are finding it hard to come up with activities to do during the holiday. With the coronavirus pandemic keeping everyone indoors and anxious, calm yourself down and enjoy some spooky fun with these Halloween COVID 19 ideas.

 

Spooktacular Halloween COVID 19 Ideas for HOAs

During pre-COVID times, HOA neighborhoods used to be filled with costumed kids parading door-to-door with their parents in search of treats. Parties took place in every city, while haunted houses served to entertain and terrify willing (and some not-so-willing) guests. To many, Halloween is an opportunity to get creative and have some fun.

The COVID 19 outbreak, though, has forced the nation at large to change its plans. Parties are too crowded and trick-or-treating has too much close contact. But, that doesn’t mean your HOA community has to remain quiet come Halloween night. Residents can still enjoy Halloween during COVID 19 with the following fun yet safe activities:

 

1. Carve and Decorate Pumpkins

It’s almost impossible to imagine Halloween without pumpkins — they’re a staple, after all. The best part is that decorating and carving pumpkins is an activity that the entire family can enjoy. Let your kids express their creativity and draw what they want to on the pumpkins. Parents should then do the cutting since it involves a sharp object. Be careful not to injure yourself, too, though!

Instead of a candle, place battery-operated lights inside the carved pumpkins. This eliminates the risk of a fire. Plus, battery-operated lights last much longer than candles do. For a healthy and on-theme snack, take the pumpkin seeds and roast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.

 

2. Host a Remote Costume Party

Just because you can’t have a Halloween party doesn’t mean you should skip wearing costumes. Organize a virtual costume party with your friends or relatives. You can use Zoom, Skype, or other video conferencing platforms.

For HOA communities, invite the entire neighborhood to participate in a remote costume contest. This will take some planning and communication, though, so start early. If local authorities allow it, you can even put on a costume parade. Residents can don costumes of their choice and walk through the community while observing social distancing protocols. Those who wish to watch can do so from a safe distance or even indoors.

 

3. Make Halloween-Themed Treats

What’s a good way to get in the Halloween spirit? Make spooky treats, of course! This Halloween COVID 19 activity is particularly great because it teaches kids how to prepare food, allows them to express their creativity, and is perfectly on theme. Plus, there are so many treats you can make.

Candy apples are one of the most popular Halloween snacks. To make them, melt some chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler. Stir in some coconut oil for a glossy look and smoother consistency. Take your apples and dip them one by one in the melted chocolate. Cover it as much or as little as you want.

Then, add the toppings of your choice. You can go for chocolate chips, M&Ms, Oreos, pretzels, sprinkles — whatever you like! Finally, drizzle some gooey caramel on top. Allow it to harden before eating or just dive right in! It might be on the unhealthier side due to all the sweets, but it’s a fun and tasty Halloween treat.

 

4. Put Up Decorations

Halloween in COVID 19 times wouldn’t be complete without decorations. Give your house a spooky feel with fake cobwebs, carved pumpkins, fake skeletons, and witch silhouettes against your windows. You can also take your family for a drive through the entire neighborhood to view all the decorated houses.

Don’t forget to decorate the inside of your house, too. Even something simple like cutouts of bats and spiders can get your kids in the mood for Halloween. You can buy a lot of these decorations for cheap online. Alternatively, you can also make your own decorations with colorful paper and some scissors. Kids will love it!

 

5. Trick-or-Treat… from a Distance

What’s Halloween without some trick-or-treating? It’s a long-standing tradition that kids all around the country love. And what’s not to like? They get to dress up in costumes and ask for candy from neighbors.

With COVID 19 easily transmitted through respiratory droplets, though, HOA residents should take extra caution. If your city or town allows trick-or-treating, consider imposing stricter guidelines for residents to follow.

Remind everyone to wear their face masks and practice social distancing at all times. Ask residents not to personally give away candy. Instead, encourage them to leave a bowl of candy by their door along with a hand sanitizer dispenser. Ask them to post signs reminding trick-or-treaters to sanitize their hands first before getting a handful of treats.

Alternatively, residents can opt to place individual goodie bags in their driveway. Trick-or-treaters can then just grab one and move on to the next house. These Halloween COVID 19 trick-or-treat ideas can make the activity a lot safer for everyone.

 

6. Schedule a Movie Night

Another community-wide event your HOA can host is a scary movie night. You can watch movies online together using third-party services like Netflix Party. You can even organize a post-movie online discussion where residents can express their thoughts and even make new friends.

Residents can also schedule their own movie nights with friends and family. If children will be watching, too, though, make sure to choose your movie wisely. Kids tend to scare easily, so go for a family-friendly flick that everyone can enjoy. “Toy Story of Terror,” ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “Monsters Inc.” come to mind.

 

7. Take the Fun Outside

Although it’s better to stay home, there are some outdoor Halloween activities you can participate in as well. A visit to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch can bring smiles to your kids’ faces. You can also go to a haunted forest or a corn maze. Just remember to pack hand sanitizer, wear your face masks, and practice proper social distancing.

Of course, you don’t have to go too far to enjoy an outdoor activity. Simply camping in your backyard can be a fun experience. You can sleep in a tent, make shadow puppets, and play flashlight tag. Don’t start a campfire, though, as that can quickly grow out of control. If you want to make smores, you can prepare them beforehand in an oven or microwave.

 

Halloween and COVID 19: Make Safety a Priority

Don’t let the coronavirus pandemic dampen your Halloween spirit. You can still have some fun with your family and stay safe at the same time. Similarly, HOAs can still foster a sense of community even during these trying times. Choose from these great Halloween COVID 19 ideas or try them all!

 

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