A Guide On How To Write HOA Board Meeting Minutes

In homeowners associations, the board regularly convenes meetings to discuss agenda items and vote. To record what transpires at these meetings, it is imperative to take HOA board meeting minutes. But, what is the process for doing so?

 

What Are HOA Board Meeting Minutes?

Homeowners associations are governed by a set of board members. These board members hold regular meetings to talk about community issues and vote on action items. This can include anything from budget presentations and approval to the status of an ongoing renovation project. During these meetings, someone takes minutes, which is essentially a written record of the discussions and decisions made during the meeting.

 

Why Learn How to Take Minutes at a Board Meeting?

Meeting minutes are a critical part of board meetings, whether in the context of a homeowners association or any other organization. Many states, like California, even make it mandatory for associations to record HOA board meeting minutes.

Apart from being a requirement in most states and governing documents, though, meeting minutes serve many purposes. Meeting minutes act as a record of what happened during the meeting, so you can easily look back on the discussions and decisions made. This makes it easy to resolve disputes based on misunderstandings or confusion.

Meeting minutes also offer legal protection to the association and its board. If an HOA finds itself the recipient of a lawsuit due to a dispute or accusation, meeting minutes can serve as proof of the board’s grounded decision-making process.

Additionally, meeting minutes guide future board members. Through these minutes, future board members can review past actions and mistakes of the board, making their own decision-making process smoother.

 

writing board meeting minutesWho Is in Charge of Writing Board Meeting Minutes?

In most homeowners associations, the board secretary takes on the task of writing HOA board meeting minutes. The secretary can, however, usually assign the job to someone else. But, keep in mind that the secretary must still review the meeting minutes and give their approval.

How to Take Meeting Minutes: What to Include

Many associations make the mistake of writing the minutes as if it were a transcript, with word-for-word dialogue and unnecessary comments. But, this is not the proper way of taking minutes of a board meeting. There are certain items that you should and should not include in your HOA board meeting minutes.

Generally speaking, the items you should include in your minutes are the ones that appear on the agenda. This is because board members can’t really discuss or vote on items that aren’t on the agenda. Here are the items you must include in your board meeting minutes:

  • Meeting date
  • Meeting time
  • What time the meeting was called to order and by whom
  • Names of present and absent board members
  • Approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, including any amendments or rectifications
  • Additions to the agenda
  • Establishing a quorum
  • Financial report or presentation
  • Any motions proposed and what they are, who proposed them, and who seconded them
  • Any voting that took place, including the results and those who voted for or against the item
  • What actions were taken
  • Any resolutions or decisions made
  • Unfinished business
  • New business
  • Open forum discussion
  • The date and time of the next board meeting
  • Adjournment time

What should not be included in meeting minutes?

  • Personal comments
  • Opinions
  • Irrelevant discussions
  • Word-for-word dialogue

 

How to Write Minutes for a Board Meeting

Taking down meeting minutes can be a daunting task if you have never done it before. There are some steps that you can follow, though, to make the process easier. Here’s how to write up meeting minutes for a board meeting:

 

1. Prepare for the Board Meeting

Not all homeowners associations use the same format for meeting minutes. Each one has its own style or method of recording. If you don’t know where to begin, consider talking to your board president about the proper format to use. You can also seek help from the person who previously occupied your board position.

In addition, some governing documents contain basic guidelines for how to write board meeting minutes. If there is no specific format, you can use past minutes as a basis. You can also work with other board members to come up with a format or use your own. Just make sure it’s understandable and structured.

 

2. Use the Agenda as a Guide

Every board meeting will have an agenda — a list of items the board will discuss and vote on. Since the agenda already contains the expected events of the meeting, you can use it as an outline for your minutes. Agendas usually already follow a structure, so it will be much easier for you to use it as a starting point. Type in or write the agenda, and then fill in the details of what motions were taken, who seconded them, and what actions were made.

 

3. Write Objectively

Although this is an obvious one, we can’t stress it enough. It is imperative to always write your HOA board meeting minutes using an objective tone.

Sure, you may discuss some controversial topics during the meeting, but that does not mean you should include them in your minutes. If they are related to the agenda, then try to summarize as much as possible. Exclude any emotional outbursts or deliveries. In other words, you should only and always stick to the facts.

 

4. Ask for Clarification

Taking meeting minutes can come as a challenge since you need to simultaneously listen to what’s happening and jot down the important details. And, let’s face it, not everyone has lightning-fast typing or writing skills, so you are bound to miss a few key points.

When that happens, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Don’t get creative or imaginative and fill in the blanks yourself. It is also best to clarify certain points immediately instead of after the meeting. This way, the discussions and decisions are still fresh on everyone’s minds.

 

5. Make Edits If Necessary

If you feel like your HOA board meeting minutes need a little tweaking, you can certainly make edits. Remove any unnecessary details, such as personal commentary or chitchat, and make sure the format is understandable. Proofread the copy as well to make sure there are no typos or parts that don’t make sense. If you are new to this, you will probably need help from your fellow board members or your HOA manager.

 

6. Distribute the Board Minutes

Board members should always keep homeowners in the loop. Even though a portion of the board meetings is typically open to all owners, not everyone has time to actually show up. Most members stay informed through meeting minutes.

As such, you should make sure to distribute the meeting minutes within a reasonable amount of time. Some associations do this via email or in-person. Others post them up on their HOA website. Make sure to check your state laws and governing documents on any provisions concerning the distribution of meeting minutes.

 

7. Save Digital and Physical Copies

Meeting minutes are important tools in HOA management, so you shouldn’t keep only a single copy. In addition to making and storing physical copies of the minutes, it is worth taking the time to do the same digitally. Paper records can deteriorate or fade over time. But, digital copies can last forever and are also easier to distribute, store, and copy.

 

Can You Record HOA Board Meetings?

board meeting minutesYou may wonder whether it is possible, or even permitted, to record board meetings using an audio or video recorder. The answer, though, isn’t quite simple.

In some states, homeowners associations can’t prohibit members from recording board meetings. Though, HOAs can place reasonable restrictions such as how far the camera should be from any person.

In states where such provisions don’t exist, though, HOAs should look to their governing documents. Usually, only board members have a right to record board meetings. If you wish to record your meetings to use as a guide for taking minutes, make sure to destroy the tape afterward. The very existence of such a recording can put the association at risk of liability.

 

HOA Board Meeting Minutes Template

If you are still having trouble picturing what your minutes should look like, use the sample of minutes of meeting below:

template | hoa board meeting minutes

Download Your HOA Minutes of Meeting Template Here

 

How to Write Minutes of a Meeting the Right Way

Taking meeting minutes is not always fun, but it remains a necessary part of board meetings. Just remember to write them with objectivity, clarity, and accuracy in mind. Using these steps and our helpful template, recording HOA board meeting minutes will be a breeze.

Many associations outsource minutes-taking to an HOA management company. If you wish to do the same, start looking for the best one in your location using our online directory.

 

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Water Damage Behind Brick Walls: How Do You Deal With It?

Brick walls are a lovely addition to any community. Although brick improves the overall aesthetic of your HOA, underlying water damage behind brick walls is not uncommon. Here are ways to deal with water infiltration in your brick surface.

 

In this article:

What Causes Water Damage Behind Brick Walls?

Many different construction projects utilize bricks due to their long lifespan and stylish design. To successfully construct a building using brick, contractors must have enough experience to avoid common pitfalls. If there is faulty construction on brick buildings, there can be very costly damages in the future.

Can water leak through walls? Short answer, yes. Faulty construction leads to water damage, and many HOAs have experienced such cases. If there are structures in your HOA that you suspect are suffering from severe damages related to water infiltration through brick from potential negligent construction, it is wise to review the information below.

 

What Is the Lifespan of Construction Using Bricks?

rain water leaks on the wall causing damage at exterior | water damage behind brick wallBrick usually lasts the full duration of a building’s lifespan. This is why many find it an appealing material for construction.

Depending on the construction date, buildings can last hundreds of years. Of course, this is assuming no major fires or natural disasters occur.

Improper construction, though, can lead to water damage. This is often due to the lack of drainage systems. For this reason, it is important to carefully and regularly survey brick structures. During an inspection, check for common signs of water damage behind brick walls.

 

Why Brick Buildings Need a Secondary Drainage System

Leaky walls in brick buildings are not unusual. To avoid leaks, brick buildings must have a secondary drainage system. This makes sure the wall cavity does not take in water. As a result, you can avoid damaging the framing or sheathing.

When a structure has a secondary drainage system, installed sill flashings and kick-out flashing can also have a weather-resistant barrier. Flashings ensure water is safely evacuated outside of the walls. So when water does penetrate through the brick and around fenestrations, it will simply roll down the barrier and make its way to the flashings. Failure to follow these precautions can cause substantial damage to a brick structure.

 

How to Tell Whether There Is Damage to Bricks in Your Community

woman looking at damage after a water pipe leak at home | can water leak through wallIt is easy to miss signs of water infiltration. If you look closely, you will see white, salt-looking deposits on the face of the brick. This is known as efflorescence.

Typically, incorrect construction gives rise to efflorescence. As a result, water becomes trapped inside the wall cavity.

Once efflorescence begins to get more severe, the wall gets saturated with water. The drainage plane is missing or clogged, and the water ends up having nowhere to go but through the face of the bricks.

HOAs must understand the severity of efflorescence. Once it becomes visible, it means substantial and costly damage has already taken place. Assessment and repairs must soon follow.

 

The Reason Many Contractors Make Mistakes with Brick Construction Projects

It is not uncommon for contractors to be sloppy and not install bricks properly. One of the most common errors that contractors make is not removing the extra mortar from the back of bricks during the construction process. If the contractor does not remove the extra mortar from the bricks, the mortar will then dry and set.

When this happens, the solidified mortar will block out water clearing down the weather-resistant barrier. As a result, water cannot evacuate properly. As more water gathers, the weather-resistant barrier erodes and water enters under it. Substantial damage then occurs without an outside observer even noticing.

 

How to Deal With Brick Water Infiltration Damage

If your HOA suspects water damage behind brick walls, the HOA should consider hiring an architect or forensic engineer who can testify in court. After deciding to have an expert investigate the surface, it is important to have moisture probes completed to see how far the water has entered and potentially destroyed the framing and sheathing.

If there are heightened moisture levels found in walls, you must have test cuts done to uncover the framing and sheathing. This way, you can assess and determine whether your insurance can cover the damages. Once this information is complete, it is wise for the HOA to assess what damages could realistically be collected in a lawsuit against the negligent parties.

 

How to Determine Negligent Parties That May Be Culpable

business team pointing and blaming each other | brick water infiltration damageWhen considering which parties are responsible for brick wall leaks, it is best to consider who was involved with the overall construction process of the building. For example, the mason who placed the brick may have been lazy.

The architect who drew up the plans for the building could have not done their due diligence to recommend appropriate design procedures. The contractor could have failed to install flashings properly.

If a technician who installed the doors and windows did not install them properly and water infiltration occurred as a result, they could be found liable. The roofer may have not installed kick-out flashings correctly. The general contractor could have cut corners to save on the project’s budget.

Independent or third-party inspectors could have overlooked key inspection details. A manufacturer of the brick could have had improper assemblies that gave rise to structural damages.

In any construction project, there are many parties involved. An HOA that is looking to recover damages will have to realistically assess which parties were actually involved and whether they can realistically recover damages.

If the HOA considers these variables and realizes that it is worthwhile to proceed with a lawsuit, it is highly recommended to work with an experienced attorney to have the best possible outcome of their case.

 

The Benefits of Working with an Experienced Attorney

When trying to resolve the water ingress case for your HOA quickly, there are times where investing in outside counsel is essential to have a successful outcome of your case. When managing severe structure damages from water infiltration through brick, there is potential to recover a great deal of capital if the HOA is working with an established attorney with experience in handling related cases.

In addition, the attorney will be able to recommend an expert witness to assist in gathering evidence about the nature of the damage and which potential parties in the construction process could be found liable. It is best for your HOA to interview many prospective attorneys to ensure that you find the best-qualified attorney to proceed with your case.

 

Take Care of Your Brick Surfaces

Water damage behind brick walls is one of the most common masonry issues HOAs face. While brick surfaces add an industrial charm to your community, they can also give rise to water leaks when done improperly. If you find yourself in the same situation, determine who is responsible, and take appropriate action.

 

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25 Important HOA Policies The Board Should Think About

Behind every successful homeowners association are effective HOA policies that govern them. HOA policies keep the community in order and residents secure. While HOA policies vary from community to community, there are some that should come as a given.

 

HOA Policies to Include in Your Community

Even though HOA policies are typically created when the community is originally built, it is important for the board of directors of every HOA to periodically reevaluate which HOA policies should be added to improve the quality of life within the neighborhood. A quick search online will turn up plenty of sample homeowners association rules and regulations. But, we have taken the time to compile a list of the policies your HOA can benefit from.

If your HOA board of directors is considering what new HOA policies should be added to the community, it is wise to review the information listed below:

 

1. Dispute Resolution & Complaint Policy

The dispute resolution and complaint policy required for HOAs can often cause a great deal of confusion for residents. So, HOAs need to make clear how residents can complain about issues that arise within the community. HOAs also need to make clear how a dispute resolution process would work if there was a dispute between community members or between community members and the HOA. Failure to set these HOA policies up in the community can cause unnecessary disputes that could have been avoided otherwise.

 

2. HOA Email Policy

There has been a great deal of legislation passed both at the federal and state level about emails and what policies organizations need to have for emails.

As such, it is wise for your HOA board of directors to seek outside advice about email policies and which potential HOA email guidelines should be implemented into the particular strategy of your HOA. By taking the time to put these protocols in place, you may be shielding your HOA from legal liability later on.

One question many boards ask is, “Can HOA board members email each other?” Although board members can email each other, you should never discuss or conduct official association business through email without giving notice to the membership and without the presence of a quorum. It is also not advisable to discuss issues through email prior to a board meeting and then reserve the board meeting simply for casting votes.

 

3. HOA Social Media Policy

hoa email policyIf your community uses social media, it is important to have a homeowners association policy in place regulating user behavior. This includes no use of foul language, no personal attacks, no rants, and no aggressive behavior. Additionally, social media should only serve as a way to keep residents updated.

Social media is a great communication tool that associations can take advantage of. However, it comes with its fair share of liability risks. Therefore, your HOA should take the necessary precautions to protect itself and its members.

 

4. Social Media Checklist Policy

When developing your social media policy, it is worth asking the following questions:

  • What is the association’s vision?
  • What does the association want to achieve with social media?
  • How will the association use social media?
  • What will the association use social media for?
  • Where should the association open an account?
  • Who will manage and control the account?
  • How often should posts be made?
  • What standards should members abide by when using social media?
  • Is a social media committee necessary?
  • What should the disclaimer include?
  • Who can visit the social media page? Will it be public or private?
  • What posts are considered okay to post? What are not?
  • Is there adequate insurance to cover the association’s social media activities?

 

5. Enforcement Due Process Policy & Procedures

It is quite common for HOA regulations to be violated by residents. Some of these violations are intentional and others are merely from not being properly informed by the HOA.

HOAs need to have clear policies about how enforcement will work if a resident violates one of their regulations. By making these policies clear to both new and existing residents, HOAs will have far less confusion and disputes with the residents in their communities.

 

6. Regulations for Meetings

HOA board meetings can be quite difficult if not all members are in agreement or have different work ethics. Each HOA board should establish regulations for how long these meetings should take and how much time should be spent on each subject in the interest of productivity. If separate meetings are held that do include residents, rules need to be established for those meetings as well. Having clear protocols for meetings will boost morale in the community across the board.

Apart from the meeting itself, your HOA must also have a set of guidelines for the proper way to record meeting minutes. Having a uniform format for meeting minutes helps minimize confusion and maximize productivity.

 

7. Recording of Meetings Policy

Some members may want to videotape or audiotape a meeting. Whether or not the HOA can deny this request depends on your state laws. In some states, associations can’t disallow members from recording meetings. If your state allows it, consider developing a policy.

You can choose to allow members to record meetings on audiotape or videotape. But, you must establish some rules such as where they can do so and require them to ask for permission first. If the board secretary wishes to record the meeting as a guide for taking minutes, you can certainly allow it. But, require the secretary to destroy the tape afterward. This will protect the HOA and the board from any potential liability.

 

8. Policies Regarding Neighbor-to-Neighbor Disputes

There will be times where neighbors will get into disputes. Perhaps one neighbor will not cut down their tree that is blocking the other neighbor’s view or a neighbor tries to build a guest house that infringes on another’s property line.

These issues come up periodically and HOAs need to be prepared to be the final voice of authority on neighbor-to-neighbor disputes in order to avoid hostile conflicts amongst residents that could hamper the community atmosphere. HOA board members need to think carefully about the best strategy that matches the size of their community.

 

9. Pet Policy

hoa policyEven though pets are sought out by many residents, HOAs need to evaluate a consistent pet policy that has appeal for neighbors that may not want pets.

By establishing areas where pets are allowed to be and where they are not permitted, HOAs enable residents who may have allergies or who do not want to be around animals the ability to have a pet-free environment.

Some HOAs will limit the size of the pet that is permitted. Others will have noise stipulations that residents who have pets will be responsible for. HOAs that have the best results will have a consistent pet policy that is clearly communicated amongst their existing residents and any new resident that joins the community.

 

10. Service Animal Policy

The ADA and FHA have different requirements of what counts as a service animal. Generally, though, HOAs can’t reject service animals or emotional support animals, even with a no-pets policy. Have a standardized procedure that homeowners can follow if they wish to apply for a service animal request.

Additionally, your HOA board can ask for supporting documents like certifications. Be careful not to impose unreasonable restrictions, though, especially the monetary kind. HOAs can’t collect an extra fee from homeowners who require service animals.

 

11. Assessment Collection Policy

This policy should detail the process of collecting assessments from homeowners. It should include information on how to calculate assessments, how to collect them, and what to do about homeowners who fail to pay them. Having such a policy in place prevents disputes and possible legal action. Just see to it that your board strictly and consistently follows the policy.

In some states, it is even mandatory to have an assessment collection policy in place. But, even if your state does not require it, it is best to create and implement one as a standard procedure.

 

12. Violation and Fine Policy

One area that HOAs do not like to manage is how to fine their residents if they have a violation. Fines are sensitive since they do cause residents to get angry. It is important for HOAs to establish clear policies about how violations and fines will be charged.

If residents are warned beforehand, it is much easier to reference a regulation to an angry resident than to charge a fee without any regulation to support it. HOAs that plan this out ahead of time has far fewer disputes with their residents than those that do not.

 

13. Social Host Rules

It is wise to construct a set of rules for social gatherings within community facilities. These rules should tackle the use of alcohol, age restrictions, liability coverage, the use of vendors or caterers, and other details.

For instance, the HOA may require the host to seek permission from the board if alcohol will be brought to the facility. Hosts must also ensure that no person under the age of 21 will consume or serve alcoholic beverages. If the host will hire a caterer, they should vet the caterer and make sure they have the proper licenses, insurance, and certifications. It is also a good idea to require the host to obtain liability insurance, even for a one-time occasion, and show the HOA proof of such insurance.

 

14. Towing Policy

Towing is another issue that can get complicated, particularly around the holidays. It is beneficial to have a clear policy about towing with signage around the community as well. Some HOAs have had success with parking stickers or badges that designate if a vehicle is parked in the proper part of the community. If residents are made aware of the rules, they will be able to give their friends and relatives the right recommendations to avoid getting towed.

 

15. HOA Drones Policy

hoa drones policyDrones are a recent invention that has caused a great deal of disruption in neighborhoods. Even though drones have become a popular toy for children to play with, they need to be controlled in communities to avoid excessive noise or invasion of privacy.

Your HOA should consider how to protect residents from the various invasions to privacy that drones cause so that residents have a clear understanding of how and when they can be used within the community.

 

16. Short-Term Rental Policy

Now that many websites offer property owners the chance to rent their properties, it can cause too many unfamiliar guests in the community. For HOAs that are in charge of condominiums, it is useful for the board of directors to decide what the exact policy is and then make it clear to residents what the expectations are to avoid an upset in the community.

Some associations may be able to completely ban rentals in their community. But, in some states, associations are prohibited from imposing such a ban. If you do allow rentals, make sure your policy requires the homeowner to notify the HOA and screen the tenant. Renter’s insurance is also a must.

 

17. Conflict of Interest Policy

Every HOA should have a policy laid out in case of conflicts of interest. Any board member who stands to gain financially from a decision should excuse him/herself from board discussions. For instance, if you own a landscaping company and your HOA happens to be looking for one, you should remove yourself from the discussion and subsequent vote.

 

18. Architectural Review Committee Policy

This committee evaluates and manages Architectural Review Change (ARC) applications from community members. Such a committee shoulders the responsibility of making sure any exterior property changes comply with the association’s CC&Rs. Your HOA must have a policy in place when it comes to selecting members of this committee as well as the review process for applications.

 

19. Application for Exterior Alteration

As for the application process, your HOA must have a standardized set of rules and requirements. Homeowner applications must include at least the following:

  • Name of applicant
  • Complete property address, including the lot and section numbers
  • Property owner’s contact information
  • A detailed description of the proposed alteration (including color, size, style, and materials needed)
  • Visual representations of the alternations (scale drawings, sketches, pictures, plans, etc.)
  • Sample color palate, if changing colors
  • Projected start and completion dates of the alterations
  • Signatures of neighboring lot owners affected by the changes

It is also important to understand the reason behind the application. In some cases, it is a matter of fair housing and reasonable accommodation. For instance, a homeowner might ask to add fake grass to a deck. On the surface, it might seem like an odd request and the board may deny it. But, it might be due to the deck being too slippery for the homeowner’s wheelchair.

 

20. Standards and Procedures for Committees

Aside from the Architectural Review Committee, an HOA may also have other committees. Your HOA must have a set of homeowner association guidelines outlining the standards and procedures of such committees. This includes how each committee is formed, the roles and responsibilities of the committees, who they report to, and the processes they go through. Without such a policy in place, your HOA’s committees would have no direction.

 

21. Document Retention Policy

The average HOA produces tens of documents each year. Over time, such documents can pile up and take up space in your office. There will come a time when you need to get rid of some of them. But, how do you determine which documents to retain and which ones to throw out? How long should you keep each document in the first place? These are the questions you must ask when formulating your document retention policy.

 

22. Equal Opportunity (Fair Housing Policy)

sample homeowners association rules and regulationsThe Fair Housing Act prevents housing providers, such as HOAs, to discriminate against potential homeowners based on a multitude of factors. This includes race, religion, and sex.

While this federal law governs all HOAs, it is still a good idea to have an equal opportunity policy in place. Such a policy should indicate that the board can’t reject potential homeowners from purchasing properties in the HOA community based on the color of their skin, religion, sex or gender, disability, or familial status. Having this policy also helps shield your HOA from legal liability.

 

23. Reasonable Accommodation Policy

By law, associations must provide homeowners with reasonable accommodations. Homeowners can request reasonable accommodations if they feel the association is lacking. For instance, a disabled person might ask the HOA to put in a wheelchair ramp at the entrance of the clubhouse.

While HOAs must comply with federal law, you must still have a policy regulating how requests are made. Ask the homeowner to identify what they need and why they need it. You can request supporting documents if the disability is not immediately visible. However, some state laws dictate that HOAs must not request such documents if the disability is obvious.

 

24. Background Check Certification

Depending on state laws, your HOA may need to perform background checks on prospective employees, homeowners, or tenants. Some states even penalize associations that fail to conduct such checks. However, due to the Fair Housing Act, you must be careful about what you ask. When constructing your background check policy, it is best to consult with an HOA attorney to protect both your association and its members.

 

25. Ice Dam Policy for Townhomes

Ice dams can cause a lot of trouble for homeowners associations, so it is imperative to have a policy for them in place. In townhomes, the association is typically responsible for the roof, with homeowners only responsible for the attic’s ventilation and insulation.

This creates a problem when it comes to who must shoulder the burden of responsibility for removing ice dams since ice dams are a result of issues with both the roof and the attic’s ventilation or insulation. Your policy should clearly state who must carry the responsibility of ice dam removal to avoid any problems.

 

The Right HOA Policy

Having the right HOA policies guiding your community can lead your association to success. After all, homeowners association rules and regulations define what you can and can’t do. These HOA policies keep the community in check and working in good order. In a lot of cases, they even shield your association from potential lawsuits. So, make sure to have these homeowners association policies in place. It may also help to ask experts for sample HOA rules and regulations to enforce.

An HOA management company can help you create and enforce different association policies. Look for the best one in your area today using our online directory.

 

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The Top 41 HOA Software Solutions In 2021

If you’re on the board of an HOA or condo you know how hard it is to manage both the property and the people, at the same time. You may even have a property manager to help you out, but it still feels like a full-time job, doesn’t it? HOA software can make your life much easier, however, choosing the right software can be difficult, for it’s important you choose the right one for you and your community. So let’s start with the basics.

 

HOA Software Solutions to Watch Out for in 2021

We’ve rounded up a list of software solutions you need to watch out for this 2021. Check them out below:

 

What Exactly Is HOA Software?

A Homeowners Association Management Software, or HOA Software, for short, is a management and communication tool comprised of different modules. This can include an HOA website builder, online document storage, a contact database, communication systems (text, Smart calls, emails, etc.), and a calendar.

 

Why Have HOA Software?

For someone who runs an HOA, a condominium, cooperative, or any kind of community, this industry-specific software reduces the administrative work that can bog down a management office. At the same time, it provides loads of value to the board and property manager. For instance:

  • It makes residents happier and more satisfied, as they can receive news easily, report any issues, and see what’s going on in the community. It also gives them more of a voice and control over what’s happening.
  • For the board and property manager, it saves time, money, and effort by automating many administrative community tasks. It also makes it easier to access reports, contracts, and important documents.
  • HOA software improves communication between residents and the administrative staff. This makes this relationship more transparent and helps to solve any issue that may arise as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • The community’s own personalized website is a great space to showcase your community to the world. You can post notices, information about your town, units for sale, and highlight what makes your community unique.

In order to make the best decision, it’s important to know your options. Knowing what’s out there will help you find the right fit for your community. Each HOA is unique, so take your time to explore the many options out there. To help you we’ve put together a list of 10 different HOA software solutions (all prices are in USD) listed in reverse alphabetical order (because we are fun like that).

 

Vinteum

vinteum website | 41 HOA software options for your community

Vinteum was born with the mission of providing the tools necessary to build an active community, where neighbors care for one another, participate in each other’s lives, and are engaged with the community’s leadership and social activities.

2x winner of the FLCAJ (Florida Community Association Journal) Reader’s Choice Award for the HOA Software, Vinteum’s attributes their success to a killer customer service team. Vinteum treats their clients as the heroes that they are, responding to in-app chats under 1 min, and all emails within 1 hour during working hours.

 

TownSq

townsq website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

TownSq was started in 2012 and partners with large community association management firms such as Associa. Meet your neighbors, manage your account, and access the resources you need for better community living, all through one user-friendly mobile app.

 

Smartwebs

smartwebs website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Google Reviews has 4.3/5 stars
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

Founded by Shawn Fielding, Smartwebs started after volunteering for his HOA’s architectural review committee. He quickly learned how tedious the HOA processes can be when done manually. Smartwebs offers three primary solutions focused on violations, architectural reviews, and work orders.

 

Simple Neighbor

simple neighbor website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • No reviews on Capterra as of writing
  • Starting at $0.50/month/user
  • Free trial available

Simple Neighbor is just that, an easy-to-use solution that helps neighbors stay in touch, send messages, and track unit history. Streamline your communication and take a team-based approach to tackle tasks.

 

SenEarthCo

SenEarthCo | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Customer service has 4.6/5 stars
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

SenEarthCo is based in Minnesota and is built to improve the day-to-day operation of your management company or large association. By leaving the accounting services to other players, SenEarthCo is able to focus on providing extraordinary communication, violation, maintenance requests, vendor information, and much more.

 

Raklet

raklet website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 5/5 stars
  • Starts at $49/mon
  • Free trial available

Raklet empowers communities to meet, network, and grow. All-in-one community management platform that helps you build brand engagement and opportunities. Raklet allows communities such as church groups, political parties, membership groups, as well as HOAs and Condos to leverage their solution.

 

PropertyPop

properypop website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Zero reviews on Capterra as of writing
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

PropertyPop is a newcomer to the scene releasing its product in July 2019, however, they are poised to pop on the coattails of their smart and modern self-managed HOA software. They are HB 1237 compliant, for those condo communities based in Florida.

 

Pilera Property Management

 pilera website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Customer service has 5/5 stars
  • Starts at $20/month
  • Free trial not available

Pilera focuses on improving communication to HOA, Condominiums, and Apartment communities. Their suite of features includes communication, maintenance, help desk, community website, resident portal, and condo & rental.

 

PayHOA

payhoa website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 4.3/5 stars
  • Starts at $40/month
  • 30-day free trial available

PayHOA manages your communications, dues collections, accounting, and website all in one easy-to-use platform. Their website states “We are building simple software that makes
life easier for residents and managers.”

 

Nabr Network

nabr network website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Zero reviews as of writing
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

Founded in 2012 Nabr Network is a Cloud-based software system built for Community Association management companies and neighborhood associations. They are based in Texas and provide communication automation, self-service features, and accounting integrations.

 

myCondoBooks

myCondobooks website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Customer service has 4/5 stars
  • Starts at $1/unit/month
  • 90-day free trial available

myCondoBooks is a comprehensive online management software solution for condominium and homeowner associations, started by a condominium association treasurer who was tired of letting the task of managing his condo association’s accounts take over his life. Founded on simplicity, transparency, and support.

 

My Green Condo

My Green Condo website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 1.5/5 stars
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

My Green Condo Inc.’s, “MGCOne” is a unique and holistic one-stop application that provides a dedicated management platform for communities and secure portals for all participating members.

 

Monthli

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Free
  • Free – No trial required

Monthli is revolutionizing HOA management software. Their cloud-based, online platform allows everyone involved in a community, from the board to the residents, to be better informed and improve their property values. The best part, it’s free HOA software.

 

Member Planet

Member Planet website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Customer service has 4.9/5 stars
  • Paid plans start at $50/mon
  • Free account – No trial required

Member Planet makes it easy to join your group, track activity, view reporting, and automate renewals. They work with communities of all types including non-profits, fraternities, sororities, and of course community associations. Their features include customizable reporting, website making, online databases, and fundraising.

 

HOA Space

hoaspace website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $15/month
  • 30-day free trial available

HOASpace.com is the community and HOA website solution of choice for hundreds of homeowners associations across the country. For more than 16 years HOASpace has specialized in providing neighborhood websites that offer the powerful HOA management software you want most.

 

HOA Sites

hoa sites website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 4.6/5 stars
  • Starting at $300/year
  • Free trial not available

HOA sites is an American company based in Indianapolis. They provide customizable HOA websites and maintain them. Their HOA services include professional website design, membership management, communication, email, professional services, and much more.

 

HOA Express

hoa express | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Customer service has 4.9/5 stars
  • Paid plan starting at $25/mon
  • Free account – No trial required

HOA Express was the side project of SparkSuite, a website design company, which launched in 2011. Due to the rapid growth of their product, it quickly became more than just a side project. They offer a range of features including homeowners association website design, password-protected content, communications, and a 15-minute setup wizard.

 

GoGladly

Go Gladly website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Facebook reviews are listed as 2/5 stars
  • Paid plan starting at $14/mon
  • Free account – No trial required

GoGladly offers a free website and social media platform for your HOA. While there are additional features available on a paid plan, they can also accept payments for a small convenience fee for each online payment. Their blog is also filled with fun and educational articles.

 

GeniePad

GeniePad website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $15/month
  • 30-day free trial available

Founded in 2009 by a disgruntled condominium board member, GeniePad is information and communication driven. Automatic notifications will keep residents updated every time there is content uploaded to GeniePad.

 

Frontsteps

Frontsteps | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Customer service has 2.4/5 on Capterra
  • Starts at $47/month
  • They don’t offer a free trial period

Frontsteps is the current form of what was known as Evercondo. Founded in 2006, it offers two solutions, the first is property management software and the other is condo management software. Each solution offers different features, some of which include online payments, work orders, build-your-own website, etc.

 

Eunify

Unify | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Customer service has 4.5/5 stars
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

Eunify is an all-in-one solution for community management. Founded in 2001 and it offers different products such as community association websites as well as a set of management tools designed specifically for Property Managers. Complete with HOA management integrations for payment and accounting solutions.

 

eStrata

eStrata | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 4.5/5 stars
  • Starting at $19/month
  • Free trial available

eStrata is a Canadian internet-based company founded in 2009, focused on creating a website content management system from strata councils, condo boards, and HOAs. Features include a public website, shared documents, classified, secure portal, calendar, email alerts, and more.

 

eNeighbors

eNeighbors website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • No reviews as of writing 4.5/5 stars
  • An account is Free
  • Free account – No trial required

Founded in 2007 in Kansas City, eNeighbors offers a free website and social network for residents to connect. Their core features include News, Events/Calendar, Groups, Classifieds, Referrals, Alerts, and Bulletins.

 

empoweredHOA

empowered HOA website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Customer service has 5/5 stars*- Only 1 review as of writing.
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

Empowered HOA was designed as an all-in-one solution by property managers with over 32 years of combined experience, allowing the management team to put all of their tools in one location.

 

Dagizmo

Dagizmo website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Zero reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $1/month/unit
  • Free trial not available

Dagizmo allows all parties involved in a community or HOA to fluently communicate and access documents, tasks, requests, and more. It’s available for different platforms such as phones, tablets, or computers.

 

Conduu

Conduu website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Zero reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $49/month
  • Free trial not available

Conduu provides communication and management solutions for all kinds of gated communities as well as for property management companies. They offer 3 distinct packages, one for website making, one for mobile apps, and the third one for residents to communicate directly with the gatehouse.

 

Condo Manager

Condo Manager website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Customer service has 4.3/5 stars
  • Starting at $150/month
  • Free trial not available

With 28 years of experience in Property management and software, it’s safe to say that Condo Manager knows a great deal about managing Condominiums. This software offers accounting, communications, management, and building register, and a web portal with the software.

 

Condo Control Central

condo control central website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Customer service has 4.9/5 stars
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

Condo Control Central started as the result of an exasperated condo board member, thinking there must be a better way. This Toronto based company offers communications, record keeping, security, and concierge.

 

Condo Communities

Condo Communities website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 4.4/5 stars
  • Paid plan starting at $50/mon
  • Free account – No trial required

Condo Communities is a Canadian software development company founded in 2001. It provides HOAs and condos with communication and management tools that allow residents to publish notices, create service requests, book amenities, vote on surveys, and keep track of visitors. It doesn’t have an app version, only a web-based one.

 

Concierge Plus

Concierge Plus website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Customer service has 3.5/5 stars *Only 1 review found as of writing
  • Pricing not available online
  • 30-day free trial available

Concierge Plus’s aim is to make day-to-day work easier for all staff members of a condo. The solution streamlines processes, provides online access, visitor parking, amenity booking, and more. This solution works on all platforms, but it doesn’t have an app of its own.

 

Cira Connect

cira connect website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • No reviews
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

CiraConnect was developed by RealManage, an Austin, TX-based property management company. CiraConnect offers Monthly Management Reports, Mobile Apps, and White Papers for its clients. With service offered in 16 states, CiraConnect is sure to be able to help your community association.

 

Cinc Systems

Cinc Systems | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Customer service has 4.2/5 stars
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

Cinc Systems was founded in 2004 and offers an all-in-one platform that allows its users to freely communicate and manage all different aspects of their communities from a single device including an iPad. Their solution is split into 3 areas, association management, cloud accounting, and integrated banking.

 

CHOPAS

Chopas website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Zero reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $19/month
  • Free trial available

CHOPAS is a self-managed HOA software built to improve the communication flow inside a community. It was founded in 2016 and it’s simple, robust, and powerful.

 

Buildium

Buildium website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 4.5/5 stars
  • Pricing starts at $47/month
  • They offer a 15-day free trial

Buildium’s solution is focused on serving the property manager and making their work easier. Whether you’re managing a community association, student housing, or a rental community, Buildium has something to offer. Their features include a website, tenant screening, document storage, and request tracking.

 

BuildingLink

building link website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • Customer service has 3.8/5 stars
  • Pricing not available online
  • Free trial not available

BuildingLink provides management and communication tools for condominiums and other types of communities. Some of the services their software provides are messaging, package management, resident engagement, and much more.

 

Build My Condo Website

Build My Condo Website | 41 HOA software options for your community

  • Zero reviews as of writing
  • Pricing starts at $165/month per community
  • Free trial not available

Build My Condo Website offers website design and personalized implementation for all types of communities. They have three different compliance packs for clients to choose from and are located in Florida, USA.

 

Boardspace

Boardspace website | 41 HOA software that you might not have heard about

  • Customer service has 4.5/5 stars
  • Pricing starts at $15/month per community
  • Free trial available

Boardspace is software specifically designed to help board members with their job. Helping them save time, simplify their work, keep up with work, and much more. It’s easy to use and targeted to board members.

 

Bazinga

  • Customer service has 4.5/5 stars
  • Pricing starts at $15/month per community
  • Free trial available

Founded in Vancouver, CA in 2012, Bazinga’s Community association software focuses on improving community living. They do that by strengthening communication inside the community, making shared documents and assets accessible. Bazinga also creates opportunities for residents to connect.

 

AssociationVoice

  • Customer service has 2.7/5 stars
  • Pricing starts at $19.95/month per community
  • No Free trial available

AssociationVoice offers communication services, CAM’s websites, and management tools for communities and HOAs. It has different editions for high-rise buildings, property management as well as some enhancements. AssociationVoice was acquired by Frontsteps.

 

Appfolio

  • Customer service has 4.6/5 stars
  • Pricing starts at $250/month
  • Free trial not available

Appfolio property manager helps automate and modernize your community, it doesn’t matter the size. It has 4 different portfolio types: Residential, Commercial, Student Housing, and Community Associations. For HOAs, it will help you have all your requests and architectural reviews in one place and have an easier time managing all board members.

 

Active Building

  • Customer service has 3.5/5 stars
  • The company doesn’t state its pricing
  • They don’t offer a free trial period

ActiveBuilding is a resident portal and mobile app developed by RealPage, founded in 1998. It’s focused on improving resident engagement and social interaction between the people in the community and staff members. ActiveBuilding offers a messaging hub, social community, online renewals, package tracking, service request, and more.

 

Get Started With Us

We hope that this article helps you to find the right HOA software for your community. As well as choosing the software you’re picking a team to work with. We hope that you find the best HOA software for you in 2021!

Try our award-winning HOA software today!

Visit vinteum.io to start your free 14-day trial of Neighbors.

 

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What Are HOA Assessments? Are Homeowners Obligated To Pay Them?

Anyone familiar with how a homeowners association works knows that there are certain fees members should pay. Apart from regular dues, homeowners may also need to pay HOA assessments. But, what is an HOA assessment anyway?

 

What Are HOA Assessments?

HOA assessments are also referred to as a special assessment. What is a special assessment? It is a fee that HOAs charge to members of the community to cover unexpected or unbudgeted costs.

What is an example of a special assessment? Let’s say a disaster strikes your homeowners association, resulting in damages to the fitness center. Your first line of defense is your insurance policy. But, if you lack coverage for this type of disaster, your next option is to turn to association funds. If your current budget fails to cover the cost of fitness center repairs, then you will likely need to charge homeowners a special assessment.

 

HOA Dues vs HOA Assessments

To further understand what HOA assessments are and how they work, you first need to understand HOA dues. HOA dues are monthly fees homeowners pay to the association to cover the cost of day-to-day operations. This usually includes maintenance expenses, management fees, landscaping expenses, insurance premiums, and the like.

A portion of the monthly homeowner dues also goes to an association’s reserve fund. With the help of a reserve study, the HOA maintains this fund to pay for future major repairs and replacements of common elements.

But, what is the difference between dues and assessments? Whereas dues are a recurring fee intended to pay for the day-to-day expenses of the HOA, assessments are a one-time fee typically meant to cover the cost of unexpected expenses.

The calculation of monthly HOA dues takes place before the beginning of each year by making expense projections and factoring in the reserves. In contrast, HOA assessments are calculated only when the need for them arises. Both, however, are calculated by the HOA board.

 

The Purpose of an HOA Assessment Fee

hoa assessmentWhat are assessment fees for? Homeowners assessment fees pay for unanticipated expenses in the community. Every year, the board sits down to work out how much each homeowner should pay in monthly HOA dues. In most cases, these dues are enough to cover the cost of the association’s expenses for the coming year. But, there are some instances where HOA assessments may be necessary.

For one thing, if the association’s operating expenses turn out higher than anticipated, the board will need to impose special assessments. Some homeowners may also default on their monthly dues, resulting in a budget deficit. When this happens, a need for special assessments may arise.

Natural disasters or emergencies such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes may also take place. If your HOA’s insurance is insufficient, then homeowners should be prepared to pay association assessment fees.

 

Who Pays Special Assessment Fees?

You might wonder, “Who pays for a special assessment?” By now, the answer should be clear — homeowners. Within the context of an HOA community, it is the homeowners who shoulder HOA assessments since they are members of the association.

Keep in mind that board members experience no special treatment. If you are a member of your HOA board, you must also pay the assessment fee. In fact, you should set a good example and be one of the first people to do so.

Every homeowner agrees to follow a set of governing documents when they first buy a property in the HOA community. Within these governing documents — usually the CC&Rs — lies a stipulation outlining the obligation of homeowners to pay monthly dues as well as special assessments. By declining or failing to pay, homeowners are in direct violation of the governing documents and may face penalties.

 

How Are HOA Assessments Determined?

Calculating HOA assessments is actually a pretty straightforward process. When an unexpected cost comes up, the HOA board will take the amount needed to address to cost and divide it among homeowners. How the board should divide the amount, though, typically depends on what your governing documents say. More often than not, HOAs split the cost equally among all homeowners.

Let’s use our example from earlier to demonstrate how to calculate special assessments. If the HOA expects to pay a total cost of $50,000 to repair the fitness center, and there are 100 homeowners in your HOA, then it is a simple process of division. In this case, each homeowner will need to pay $500 in HOA assessments to cover the expense.

 

HOA Special Assessment Limit and Requirements

There are, of course, certain limitations concerning the amount associations can levy in assessment fees. You will usually find this limit within your governing documents. Some state laws can also come into play. For instance, in California, Civil Code Section 5605 prohibits an association from charging an assessment that is more than five percent of the fiscal year’s gross budgeted expenses without seeking approval from a majority of its members.

Most governing documents also require HOAs to provide adequate notice to members prior to imposing special assessments. The period of notice can vary from association to association. To ensure your HOA remains free from liability, make sure to review your state laws and governing documents.

 

Are HOA Assessments Tax Deductible?

One question many homeowners ask is whether or not they can claim assessment fees on their taxes. In a word, yes. If the HOA used the assessments for maintenance and repairs, homeowners should be able to claim them on their taxes. But, it is best practice to consult with a tax professional first to avoid running into problems with your finances and the law.

 

Consequences of Refusal or Failure to Pay

Because homeowners are obligated to pay HOA assessments, a number of possible consequences may follow if they should fail to do so. These consequences can vary depending on what state laws and governing documents permit. Generally, though, residents may face one or more of the following:

  • Fines. Associations can slap on a monetary fine on top of the special assessment should a homeowner refuse to pay. In most cases, these fines even compound.
  • Revoking of Privileges. If a homeowner fails to pay HOA assessments, the association may take away their access to community amenities until they sort out their violation.
  • Lawsuit. In some cases, the HOA can sue the homeowner and take the matter to court. The court may force the homeowner to settle their debt to the association.
  • Liens. Some HOAs may attach a lien to the property of a homeowner who fails to pay the assessment fee.
  • Foreclosure. Some HOAs also have the ability to initiate foreclosure proceedings following the lien attachment. This is, of course, one of the more severe consequences, but it is not an impossibility.

But, homeowners are not the only ones who might suffer as a result of refusing to pay special assessments. The HOA itself will also find difficulty paying for the unanticipated expense, which is usually a matter of repair or maintenance.

Without the money to cover the cost of repairs or maintenance work, a domino effect will follow. Poorly maintained elements within the community can diminish curb appeal. As a result, property values in the neighborhood will start to plummet. When that happens, homeowners will grow dissatisfied and resident retention may drop. Before long, the association will have trouble attracting new residents as well.

 

How to Fight a Special Assessment

Many homeowners will naturally want to fight the association when the latter choose to impose an assessment, especially if the amount is a tad too high.

But, if the HOA is acting within its authority and in the community’s best interests, and if it is not in violation of state laws and its governing documents, then homeowners have no choice but to pay the fee.

If homeowners feel the assessment is not warranted, they can talk to the HOA board about the matter. The board, on the other hand, should try its best to explain the situation to the homeowners. Perhaps there is just some miscommunication regarding the purpose of the assessment.

If a homeowner is having financial troubles, it is also worth approaching the board and asking to set up a payment plan. Not all associations can do this, though, so check your state laws and governing documents first.

Homeowners can choose to sue the HOA, as it is their right to do so. But, if the court deems the assessment reasonable and justified, then homeowners should be prepared to pay both the assessment and the HOA’s legal fees.

 

Avoiding the Need for HOA Assessments

Clearly, there are instances when an association will need to levy HOA assessments. It is not a popular choice, though, so HOA boards must be prepared for potential backlash from homeowners.

If you want to avoid going through with such a decision, remember that prevention is always better than cure. In a lot of cases, you can prevent the need for special assessments through careful budgeting, setting aside an emergency fund, and making sure your HOA has sufficient insurance coverage.

On the hunt for an HOA management company in your area? Start looking for the best one today using our online directory.

 

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How To Prevent Crime In Your Neighborhood & Increase Resident Safety

Resident safety and crime prevention in HOA communities shouldn’t be left to chance. The perception of homeowners’ safety and the security in HOA neighborhoods directly affect property values. Thus, it’s on the HOA board to directly act to ensure resident safety in an HOA community. Let’s look at the top tips to prevent crime and boost resident safety in your community.

Tips on How to Improve Resident Safety in Your Neighborhood

The HOA has an important role to play when it comes to resident safety. That said, the board alone can’t keep the whole neighborhood safe. It’s a community effort. Can police enforce HOA rules? No, but their presence goes a long way towards deterring crime, so does maintaining a clean and well-organized neighborhood. Let’s look at the different ways you can help law enforcement keep an eye out for your homeowners.

Make It Difficult for Criminals to Hide

If a neighborhood does not have enough lighting at night, the likelihood of crimes could increase. It’s up to the HOA to make sure there aren’t many dark corners and alleys where miscreants can hide.

HOAs need to be sure that there are enough light fixtures evenly placed around the neighborhood so that is never pitch black anywhere. Also, HOAs need to be sure that light fixtures are regularly repaired in common areas of the neighborhood.

Multiple broken streetlights are a sign of neglect. If residents feel that these basic items are not being maintained, they might question whether their HOA is utilizing their member dues effectively. The HOA board needs to make sure residents have peace of mind. One way they can do it is by keeping the neighborhood well-lit at all times.

Make sure to enforce landscaping regulations that promote safety in your community. Bushes and hedges should not be allowed to grow above a certain height. Also, certain trees and some types of privacy fences can provide concealment for criminals. Make sure your residents are regularly trimming their bushes and hedges before they become hiding spots for burglars.

Establish Safety Protocols for Residents On Vacation

An important reality that communities have to be aware of is that there are robberies during the vacation seasons. Many burglary cases involved homes that are unoccupied. Thus, it is wise for your HOA to prepare for holiday seasons by establishing safety practices. 

Neighbors can help others by dealing with the tell-tale signs of homeowners on vacation. Thus, it’s a good idea for residents to ask their neighbors to pick up their mail while they’re away. If a  neighbor can park one of their cars on the vacant home’s driveway, it will make the home look occupied.

Work with Security Professionals and Volunteers To Improve Resident Safety

Police security officer protecting high school campusInspecting the safety of your community should be a regular activity. The HOA can accomplish this either by hiring security professionals or asking for security volunteers or even both.

Depending on the size of your community, it may be appropriate to outsource this service to a security vendor to make your residents feel safer. 

Your local police departments will also be willing to help you audit the security of your HOA. They can provide pointers on how to improve resident safety in your neighborhood, as well.

Having a neighborhood watch is an excellent way to get your residents involved in the community. It also helps the HOA with common safety issues that tend to arise within communities. It is usually best to start your community neighborhood watch at the beginning of the year to enable residents to plan their schedules accordingly to be able to participate.

Keep the Community Connected and Informed

One of the common elements of the most successful communities in establishing a close community. Today, it is uncommon for neighbors to be as friendly as they once were. This burden falls upon the HOA to be sure that there is room in the budget for social events that will enable neighbors to be friendly to one another. By having a close community, it will be easier to establish protocols to keep the neighborhood safe.

If your HOA has a social calendar, it is quite easy to integrate safety talks into the events that you are already hosting. This will be an easy way for you to reach more residents that you need to inform about various new safety regulations or recent crimes that have occurred either within your community or in the area where your community is located.

Keeping your residents informed is paramount. It will cause your residents to respect your HOA more and also encourage a close community amongst your residents.

To keep your community safer, your HOA should invest in having a digital monthly newsletter about various important events that are occurring in your community. For example, if there have been local crimes in your area, then it is important to make your residents aware of these crimes.

By having tips in your newsletter to have pertinent tips about how to maintain safety, your residents will be better prepared on how to keep their families and other members of your community safe.

Enforce Safety Regulations, and Prepare the HOA for Legal Issues

Aerial view of of a residential neighborhood

Many HOAs assume that residents will automatically follow their regulations. Certain regulations are important for the overall safety of the community. Residents need regular reminders of current regulations and any changes to them.

At times, residents may relocate to and from your community. As a result, HOAs need to be considering how they are going to make their safety regulations accessible to residents to avoid potential issues.

Your HOA may also find itself involved with legal proceedings in the event of a crime. Your HOA must have a clear understanding of what its legal obligations are and how to deal with any potential lawsuits that may be brought by residents.

If a member of your HOA board has legal experience, then it is wise to consult them on the various legal risks that your HOA is susceptible to. However, if you do not have any members of your HOA board that have legal experience, it is wise to seek outside counsel so that you can be aware of your risks and do everything that you can for your HOA to mitigate those risks with your residents.

Can Police Enforce HOA Rules?

Crime is one thing, but how about HOA violations? Can you call the police on someone breaking association rules? The answer depends on the legality of the behavior. Is someone doing something illegal? Then yes, by all means, call the police to stop an ongoing criminal act.

In any case, it’s important for you to have some form of proof. Otherwise, the police can’t start an investigation. Or in the case of HOA violations, the association won’t issue a violation letter just based on an anonymous tip, either.

Make Resident Safety A Community Effort

Resident safety is not just the responsibility of the HOA. There’s always something that a resident can do to help keep the community safer. Leverage the power of community effort by equipping your homeowners with the know-how on how to keep your HOA safe and crime-free.

 

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10 Effective Ways Your HOA Saves Money

Many HOAs have issues covering their operational expenses and as a result, end up charging homeowners with additional fees. In the interest of maintaining resident morale, association boards need to look carefully at their budget. You need to look for ways to reduce costs in HOA, while still providing exceptional service to the community. If you’re in need of some ideas, here are effective solutions so that your HOA saves money.

10 Sure-Fire Ways Your HOA Saves Money

Saving money may seem like a major undertaking — especially for bigger HOA communities. But what many associations do not realize is that it is the small things that can really help cut down costs. Actions like turning off the lights when a room us unoccupied or adjusting the room temperature — as long as you are consistent about it— saves HOA money in the long run. If you are interested in this effective saving strategy, consider the tips below:

1. Review Your Association’s Electric Bill

Depending on where your HOA is located, it may be possible to shop around for electricity providers. Consult each company to see whether your HOA is eligible to receive promotions or discounts. By doing so, you will be positioning your HOA to save a great deal of money on each electric bill.

2. Implement a Power Saving Strategy

chess | reduce costs in hoaRegardless of which electric company you are using, there are always ways to reduce the amount of electricity that you are wasting each month.

If you consider when your community’s lights need to be turned on in common areas, for example, it will be possible for you to save the amount of energy that you are using. If you are cautious with your power usage, you can greatly reduce HOA expenses.

3. Check and Adjust Your Community’s Sprinkler System

Sprinkler systems are notorious for increasing the costs of HOAs. It is a common misconception that the more often you water plants for small time intervals, the less the cost will be. It is less expensive to water plants fewer times per week for longer intervals. Make sure to set your sprinklers to this schedule because it will enable you to cut costs in HOA water bills each month. Also, it will help you reduce the amount of water wasted that could be used for other purposes.

4. Install a Rain Gauge and Ensure It Is Functioning Properly

Rain gauges are another way to reduce the HOA’s water bills each month. Rain gauges are inexpensive and allow your HOA to save water. The water collected can be used for irrigation systems so you won’t have to spend additional capital on water. If you already have a rain gauge, make sure it is not clogged so that you can benefit fully from its installation.

5. Perform Routine Maintenance Checks to Converse Water

If you are seeing high water bills each month, it could be caused by running toilets and sinks as well as leaky pipes. These issues can waste up to hundreds of gallons of water per day. Have your maintenance company perform routine checks to see if your plumbing fixtures are working properly. You can also check your meters to see if there are discrepancies between your water usage and the amount you are being charged each month. Addressing these issues can substantially cut down costs in your HOA.

6. Turn Off Non-Essential Equipment

There are many types of equipment that do not have to run continuously. Make a checklist of equipment in common areas that you have plugged in and when they need to be plugged in. By turning them off during non-essential periods, you can reduce the amount of electricity they use, which also greatly reduces your electric bill. Even with this small adjustment, it is possible to make a substantial difference in the monthly expenses of your HOA.

7. Do Not Over Utilize Heating and Air Conditioners

air conditioner | cut costs in hoaIn times of extreme heat and cold, it can be tempting to run heating and air conditioners in common areas at all times. One great way to save money is to put these systems on timers so that they are not running continuously.

Additionally, set them at one consistent temperature so that they use less energy. Evaluate which months of the year your community needs heating and air conditioning so that you can adjust your budget accordingly.

8. Periodically Evaluate Service Contracts with Vendors

Over time, your HOA will establish relationships with outside vendors that provide essential services to your community. Make sure to check in with them from time to time. Sometimes, they may offer special promotional pricing for their services. See if you can apply these discounts to help cut costs in HOA expenses. Having a more practical approach when negotiating with vendors can help the HOA save a substantial amount of money on essential services.

9. Consider Solar Power Solutions

Another great way to cut costs in your HOA budget is to invest in solar power technologies. Even though there will be an up-front cost for installation, it will save your HOA capital in the long term.

Be sure to price out several different options for your community so that you can see which companies have the most affordable pricing. You should also seek out reviews from previous clients to see if they offer great customer service. Ideally, service providers that have worked with HOAs before will be the best fit for customizing a solution that meets your community’s needs.

10. Reduce Paper Usage When Conducting HOA Business

Paper may not seem like a huge expense but considering how much the HOA uses each month, the costs still add up. Though paper may have been essential in the past, the advent of technologies now enables us to conduct business digitally or online. Rather than mailing out newsletters, announcements, and other community paraphernalia, you can send them via email or text.

You can also create an online portal where homeowners can receive e-statements, pay their dues online, and access HOA documents. Your HOA may even consider offering online support for paperless communications with its homeowners.  By combining all these paperless strategies, you will be able to save money in HOA purchases each month. You won’t have to allot that much on office supplies and other related expenses.

HOA Saving Money Is for the Benefit of the Community

By incorporating these 10 simple but effective solutions, your HOA will be able to cut down on operational expenses each month. If you are able to meet your budget each month, there is no longer any need to raise HOA fees or levy a special assessment. As a result, homeowners will be happy with their community management.

Investing in solar-powered and energy-efficient technologies will also go a long way in preparing your community for the future. As long as you stay practical and reasonable, you will keep finding ways your HOA saves money to keep homeowners happy.

 

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How To Make An HOA Emergency Plan For The Community

Every community must prepare a plan in the event of a disaster or emergency. But, what should an HOA emergency plan even include? And what types of emergencies can an HOA even expect?

 

The Purpose of an HOA Emergency Plan

While there are devices that can predict certain natural disasters, emergencies are generally erratic. Most communities don’t even see them coming. When they do happen, though, homeowners associations might find themselves in a panic and grasping for ideas on how to respond.

This is where an HOA emergency plan comes in. With an emergency or disaster plan, HOA communities can better prepare themselves for unpredictable events. Such plans outline what the community must do in case of an emergency as well as how to respond following the incident. It includes standard procedures and a chain of command to follow. To put it plainly, an HOA emergency plan serves as the community’s guide when disaster strikes.

Some of the most common natural disasters that affect the United States are hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods, and tornadoes. The frequency of these events can depend on the location of your HOA. But, there are also other types of emergencies that can take place.

The COVID-19 health pandemic, for one, reached a global scale at a lightning-fast speed. It plunged the world into uncertainty, both affecting and taking millions of lives. Economies suffered, with many businesses closing down as a result of the crisis. For homeowners associations, the pandemic raised questions concerning amenity closures, event cancellations, and the suspension of dues collections.

Active shooters also remain a critical problem in the United States. In fact, the year 2019 alone saw more mass shootings than days in the year, with a total of 417 mass shootings. The country also sees regular instances of civil unrest, with riots and protests taking place — some more dangerous than others. Homeowners associations must know how to act in the face of such events.

 

The Role of the HOA in HOA Disaster Management

Homeowners associations must come up with an emergency plan ahead of time. It is downright irresponsible to wait until the last minute to create a community disaster preparedness plan, just when an emergency is on the brink of happening. But, what steps should an HOA make exactly?

  • Determine Potential Emergencies. Your HOA must identify the possible threats the community might face. For instance, if you live in the Southeast, hurricanes are a common point of concern. Southwestern states, on the other hand, may experience more wildfires and earthquakes. But, that does not mean your HOA should skip planning for threats that aren’t as common in your area.
  • Create an HOA Emergency Plan. After listing down all of the potential threats to the HOA, it is time to formulate an emergency plan. This plan should include evacuation procedures, response plans, and essential documents.
  • Conduct Inspections. The resulting damage from disasters or emergencies is a major concern for most associations. To minimize damages, it is imperative for your HOA to conduct regular inspections of your assets and components. Make sure they are in good condition so that they can withstand more harm or injury.
  • Plan for Possible Repairs. If there are damages to your community’s assets, you will need to plan for their repair or reconstruction.

Even though an HOA functions mostly as a government, in no way does it have the same emergency powers. Some state laws and governing documents may grant the association expanded authority in the event of an emergency. But, not all HOA communities have such language within their state statutes or bylaws. If the HOA board is given additional emergency authority, it must still uphold its fiduciary duties and act in the community’s best interest.

 

Factors That Can Affect an HOA Preparedness Plan

hoa disaster managementEvery community has different needs and compositions. An HOA emergency plan that works for one association may not necessarily work for another. It takes careful planning, usually by the HOA board or an emergency response committee, to create a system that works specifically for your community.

When coming up with your own HOA emergency plan, make sure to keep the following factors in mind:

  • Location. Certain types of emergencies are more common in certain parts of the United States. California, for one, typically experiences earthquakes, floods, and fires. Florida usually goes through severe storms and hurricanes. In New York, floods, severe storms, and snow are the most common culprits. You can learn more about the types of disasters in your state by visiting FEMA’s website.
  • Association Type. The type of association you live in can also dictate parts of your emergency plan. For example, high-rise communities will usually need a more detailed evacuation plan than single-family home communities.
  • Demographics. Make sure to factor in the age of your population as well. If your association has a lot of elderly residents, then you need to adjust some of your plans to accommodate them. Remember that senior citizens have more problems related to movement, vision, and hearing.
  • Features. If your community has any special structures, buildings, and landscaping, don’t forget to account for them in your HOA emergency plan, too.

 

What to Include in an HOA Emergency Preparedness Plan

What should be included in an emergency plan? A well-crafted HOA emergency plan consists of the following items:

 

1. Chain of Command

Every plan requires a chain of command — an organizational structure that tells you who is in charge of what. This chart should obviously have a leader, which is a role usually fulfilled by the board president. The president must serve as the first point of contact, with the HOA manager closely following in second place. Someone should also be in charge of communications. Of course, every association is different, so this may not necessarily be the structure your HOA follows.

 

2. Site Plan

A good emergency plan should also consist of a site plan for the whole community. This site plan must highlight and label important areas of the neighborhood, including but not limited to shut-off valves, lift stations, debris staging areas, and generators. Shut-off valves, in particular, must be a priority when an emergency occurs. Getting to these valves will allow you to prevent leaks and reduce the potential for damage.

 

3. Evacuation Plan

One of the most critical items in an HOA emergency plan is the evacuation plan. As you might be able to tell by the name, the evacuation plan must consist of guidelines and a map for evacuation. Using this plan, residents will know the proper way to evacuate the premises and where they must head in case of an emergency.

Sometimes, disasters will force homeowners out of their homes for days on end. As such, your evacuation plan should also include a map consisting of nearby shelters, generator-powered gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores. It is also a good idea to tag which shelters are pet-friendly.

 

4. Standard Procedures

An HOA or condo emergency plan serves as a guide for everyone in the community during times of uncertainty. Thus, it should contain standard procedures for various circumstances. If the utilities shut off, what must residents do? What if some buildings and homes become condemned? Identify all possible disaster outcomes and outline the steps the HOA and its residents must take in the event of each one.

 

5. Insurance

Because emergencies can happen at any moment, you need to have all the essential documents with you in one place. Some of the most crucial documents you should have are copies of your insurance policies. Your association likely has insurance coverage for disasters or emergencies, so you should include them in your plan.

Make sure to also include instructions on how you can file claims as well as the contact information of your insurance provider. This way, you can get started on the filing process as soon as the situation allows.

 

6. Photos of the Community

Keeping photos of the community’s properties, equipment, and components will come in handy for insurance purposes and for when you need to restore them back to their original form. Make sure to take updated photos of the community, too. A camera with a date stamp is also recommended.

 

7. Designated Meeting Place

Confusion and panic are common feelings residents will experience during a crisis. To help mitigate such feelings, your plan should include a designated meeting place amidst the commotion. This is where residents of the community can proceed after an emergency occurs.

Assigning a meeting place will also allow you to have a standard area where you can give important community updates. You can schedule meetings at regular intervals. Usually, it is best to schedule these meetings on a daily basis for the first few days following a disaster.

 

8. Essential Contact Details

A list of all essential contact information should naturally make it into your emergency kit. This list should include the contact details of all board members, your HOA manager, your HOA attorney, and your insurance provider, as well as all vendors or contractors. It is also worth compiling a list of all residents, their contact information, and their addresses.

 

9. Debris Management and Removal

In case your community suffers a disaster that results in scattered debris, you must know how to handle them. Therefore, your HOA emergency plan should include instructions for debris management and removal.

This portion will usually consist of a list of vendors who can help you manage and remove debris. Make sure to include several vendors on your list, sorted in order of preference, as there is usually a high demand for them during times of crisis.

It is also likely that local dumps will be at capacity, so your plan must include a staging area for debris. This is where you will temporarily store debris until you can move them to the proper venues.

 

10. Response Plan

Apart from pre-emergency and mid-emergency plans, you must also come up with a post-emergency plan. This is typically referred to as an HOA or condo emergency response plan.

First, make sure everyone in your community is safe. Then, you must move on to the damages to your neighborhood. You will need the help of professionals to inspect and evaluate the level of damage. Based on their reports and recommendations, you can then start contacting vendors for repairs or reconstructions.

Some disasters will render homes uninhabitable. To make sure residents can return to their homes, you must talk to local authorities and safety professionals. Aftershocks and resulting perils such as gas leaks may happen. During this time, your HOA will need to ask for residents’ cooperation and understanding. Let them know that they might not be able to immediately return to their homes due to safety concerns.

 

Types of HOA Emergencies to Plan For

 

Thunderstorms

hoa emergencyPerhaps the most common natural disaster in the United States, thunderstorms are a veritable threat to homeowners associations nationwide. These storms bring lightning, flash flooding, and even tornadoes with them. To plan for thunderstorms, here are the things your HOA must do:

  • Trim trees in common areas to prevent breakage and damage or injury, and ask residents to do the same.
  • Advise residents to bring outdoor furniture inside their homes.
  • Advise residents to stay indoors at all times.
  • Unplug appliances and equipment, and ask residents to do the same.
  • Avoid using running water and landline phones as electricity can travel through them.
  • Stay updated on weather forecasts.

After the thunderstorm, make sure to wait for the go signal from local authorities before leaving the house. Your HOA will need to get in touch with vendors to address fallen power lines, trees, and other damages.

 

Floods

Flooding can happen as a result of thunderstorms and snowstorms. In some cases, it can even happen due to dam overflows. Here are the things to keep in mind before, during, and after floods:

  • Ask residents to look for shelter immediately.
  • Never drive, walk, or swim through floodwaters as they can be contaminated. There is also a risk of drowning or getting electrocuted due to fallen power lines.
  • Create an evacuation plan that includes safe routes and shelters.
  • Prepare a response plan for the aftermath.
  • Advise residents to prepare emergency supply kits that contain three days’ worth of food and water, a flashlight, a whistle, and a small fire extinguisher.
  • Store essential documents in waterproof containers.
  • Follow instructions from local authorities and wait for their signal before returning home.

 

Hurricanes

Most states experience hurricanes on a seasonal basis. Still, you should not discount them from your emergency plan. Every association needs an HOA hurricane preparedness plan. When crafting your HOA or condo association hurricane preparedness plan, make sure to include the following:

  • Stay updated on weather forecasts.
  • Create an evacuation plan that includes safe routes and shelters.
  • Prepare a response plan for the aftermath, including a debris management plan and a cleanup plan. You may also need to schedule electrical work in case power lines have been compromised.
  • Advise residents to prepare hurricane supply kits.
  • Advise residents to keep their cell phones charged.
  • Follow instructions from local authorities and wait for their signal before returning home.

 

Snowstorms

Snowstorms can continue for long periods of time and cause damages to structures. They can also result in a lack of electricity as well as harm or injury. As such, here are the things you should include in your snowstorm preparedness plan:

  • Advise residents to stay indoors at all times.
  • Warn residents of the possibility of power outages and ask them to be prepared. That means charging cell phones, preparing flashlights, and stocking up on supplies.
  • Make sure not to turn on generators inside homes as this could result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Educate residents on possible health issues that may occur such as frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Ask residents to prepare warm clothes and battery-powered heaters.
  • Create and implement a snow removal policy.

 

Earthquakes

There are three stages to consider when it comes to preparing for earthquakes — before, during, and after. Your HOA must educate residents on how to prepare for each of these stages.

Before an earthquake, advise residents to perform the following:

  • Put together an earthquake supply kit that includes three days’ worth of food and water, a whistle, a small fire extinguisher, and a flashlight.
  • Practice the “drop, cover, and hold on” technique.
  • Secure loose and heavy structures or items like televisions, appliances, and bookcases.

During an earthquake, advise residents to perform the following:

  • Do the “drop, cover, and hold on” technique.
    • Drop to your hands and knees.
    • Cover your neck and head with your arms. If there is a sturdy table nearby, crawl under it for safety.
    • Hold on until the earthquake stops.
  • For residents who are outside, stay away from power lines and buildings.
  • For residents who are inside, stay there. Position yourself away from doorways.

After an earthquake, advise residents to perform the following:

  • Remain vigilant as there could be aftershocks.
  • Check for any injuries you or other people may have.
  • For residents inside a damaged building, move outside and away from the building in a careful but swift manner.
  • For trapped residents, make sure to shield your eyes, mouth, and noise from dust. Call for help using a cell phone (if you have it) or blow on your whistle. If you have none of these, make loud noises to alert others to where you are.

 

Fires

hoa emergenciesFires can be very deadly as they can spread really fast. Other than burns, it is also possible to die of other fire-related hazards such as smoke or toxic gases. Here is what your HOA must do to plan for fires:

  • Construct an evacuation plan for the entire community consisting of safe routes and shelters.
  • Advise residents to create their own evacuation plans specific to the structure and map of their homes.
  • Put together emergency supplies, including medication and N95 respirator masks.
  • Advise residents to have smoke detectors and alarms installed within their homes.
  • Check that all smoke detectors and alarms are functioning properly.
  • Coordinate with local authorities after the fire to see whether residents can return to their homes.

 

Tornadoes

To plan for tornadoes, here are the things your HOA must do:

  • Learn to identify the signs of a tornado forming such as clouds rotating to form a spiral or funnel shape.
  • Stay updated on weather reports.
  • Create an evacuation plan for resident safety.
  • Tornado shelters must consist of additional covers so that residents can protect their heads and necks.
  • Advise residents to put together an emergency supply kit consisting of three days’ worth of food and water, a flashlight, and a whistle.
  • Prepare a response plan for the aftermath, including a debris management plan and a cleanup plan. You may also need to schedule electrical work in case power lines have been compromised.
  • Talk to local authorities and wait for their go signal before allowing residents to return to their homes.

 

Pandemics

Before the COVID-19 health crisis, the general public paid no attention to the possibility of a pandemic. Because most HOAs were not prepared for it, the coronavirus pandemic forced communities to adapt on the spot. Now, it is imperative for associations to come up with a plan of action in case of future pandemics. Here are the things to include in your emergency pandemic plan:

  • Deliberate on whether or not to close down common areas and amenities.
  • Cancel or delay community events.
  • Ramp up cleaning and disinfecting measures.
  • Consider installing hand sanitizer stations in common areas.
  • Educate residents on the proper ways to deal with the pandemic.
  • Recommend that residents be prepared with enough food, water, and medication.
  • Advise residents to maintain social distancing, practice frequent hand washing, and wear face masks.
  • Continue conducting HOA business with the help of digital resources.
  • Stay updated on the latest health news.
  • Adhere to CDC guidelines.

 

Active Shooters

If your HOA encounters an active shooter in the community, you must know what to do and how to respond. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Organize an active shooter training session for residents.
  • Advise residents to remain on alert and report any suspicious activities to local authorities.
  • Advise residents to run away as fast and far as possible in case of an active shooting before calling 911.
  • If residents can’t run away, advise them to split up and hide. Don’t hide in groups.
  • When hiding, block the entrances, shut off the blinds, close the lights, and don’t make a sound.
  • Ask residents to stay put until the police advise otherwise.
  • After an active shooting, check for any injuries and arrange for medical assistance.

 

Riots

Riots may happen in and around your community. When that happens, residents must know what to do. Your HOA must educate residents on the following:

  • Ask residents to stay inside and secure any entrances. That means locking their doors and shutting their windows.
  • Advise residents who are driving to drive away from blocked streets.
  • If you live in a gated HOA community, make sure to keep the gates closed and secure from rioters. Consider ramping up security.

 

HOA Emergency Budget and Insurance

In some cases, the government will provide financial assistance following a disaster or emergency. But, your association must still be monetarily prepared for a crisis. When budgeting for an emergency, there are some key questions you should ask first.

Will the HOA offer financial assistance to residents who have been greatly affected by the emergency? Will the HOA dues cover the cost of repair or replacement of common elements? What processes should the HOA follow when it comes to post-emergency repairs or replacements?

Make sure to be as specific as possible when it comes to budgeting for disasters, especially when it comes to the amounts. Contact vendors and contractors for ballpark figures. It is also best to be conservative with your projections.

Additionally, you should outline how your HOA intends to source the funds for the emergency budget. You can collect it from homeowners in the form of dues or special assessments. Alternatively, you can also earn the money through fundraising events.

Although your emergency fund should help you cover various costs, you must also have a comprehensive insurance policy for such instances. Revisit your policies and make sure your HOA has coverage for various disasters or emergencies.

 

Community Disaster Plan Education for Homeowners

hoa preparedness planComing up with an HOA emergency plan remains largely the board’s responsibility. But, that does not mean it should stop with the board altogether. After creating your plan, make sure every homeowner is aware of it. Communicate the plan with all members of the community. You can distribute it through various channels such as newsletters, your website, or via mail. It is also worth organizing a meeting or seminar to discuss the plan with everyone.

 

A Prepared Community Is a Safe Community

Disasters can happen at any time, some of them without warning. To make sure your community remains safe and secure, you must come up with a detailed HOA emergency plan. This plan acts as a guide for your HOA and members, letting you know what to do and how to proceed prior to, during, and after an emergency.

An HOA management company can also help you prepare for disasters. Look for the best one in your area today using our online directory.

 

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HOA Board Qualifications: Can You Become A Board Member?

A competent HOA board is integral to the success of any homeowners association. Thus, it is imperative to establish certain HOA board of directors qualifications in communities. But, what qualifications should you consider?

 

The Law on HOA Board of Directors Qualifications

Every homeowners association must look at state laws and their governing documents to understand board qualifications. As of now, though, there is no law explicitly specifying who can serve on HOA board. Additionally, many HOA bylaws do not make such qualifications a mandatory requirement for board members. In most cases, the qualifications outlined within the bylaws are only encouraged.

If your governing documents lack any language pertaining to HOA board of directors qualifications, then just about anyone can become one. This includes even non-owners or non-members of the community as well as tenants who are merely renting from owners.

It is important to establish HOA board qualifications within your bylaws to prevent issues down the road. If you have yet to include such requirements, then it is time to amend your bylaws. This process will usually require a majority vote from the membership. To ensure you follow procedure and avoid any conflicts with existing laws or provisions, ask your HOA attorney for guidance.

Keep in mind that HOA board member qualifications must be reasonable to be enforceable. Some examples of reasonable qualifications include:

  • Must be a member of the association
  • No delinquent dues/assessments or current violations of the governing documents
  • Not involved in legal issues (including litigation) with the association
  • Must not have a familial relationship or be a co-owner with any other serving board member
  • No convicted felonies

 

Ideal Skill Requirements for HOA Board Members

hoa board qualificationsHomeowners associations come in all shapes and sizes, so no two will ever be exactly alike. The same goes for the bylaws that dictate the HOA board member requirements for every association. Some HOAs have no such requirements at all, and that is understandable when you consider the fact that board members are volunteer positions. There is no guarantee that anyone in your community will have the requirements the HOA is looking for.

Still, it is important to establish some ideal skill requirements in those who are serving or running for HOA board of directors positions. When crafting your own qualifications, consider the following:

 

1. Educational Background

For many associations, board members need to have at least a high school diploma to serve. In some larger associations, though, the requirement is for board members to have a bachelor’s degree.

Sometimes, smaller HOAs have trouble filling board positions because members lack the required educational background. In this case, you can consider taking local courses on HOA management and operations. Many HOA agencies offer such courses for free.

 

2. Management Skills

Board members juggle a plethora of duties, including enacting and enforcing covenants, overseeing property assessments, and even filing annual taxes for the association. There are also important documents to manage, administrative procedures to follow, and tasks to delegate.

In many ways, running an HOA is much like running a business. Therefore, board members must possess a certain level of management skill to ensure the success of the entire operation.

 

3. Accounting and Bookkeeping Knowledge

In addition to management tasks, board members also handle the association’s finances. This includes planning the annual budget, calculating and collecting HOA dues, and keeping up-to-date on all vendor payments. To ensure accuracy and transparency, board members must record these transactions and prepare financial statements showing the association’s fiscal condition.

This is where accounting and bookkeeping knowledge comes in handy. Apart from recording and preparing the financials, board members must also know how to understand and interpret such reports. While expertise in this subject is preferred, a passing knowledge is usually enough if you have the help of an accountant or HOA management company.

 

4. Communication Skills

Board members are constantly in communication with each other, the HOA manager, vendors, and members of the community. As such, board members must have good interpersonal skills. Disseminating information through email, newsletters, phone calls, or letters are just some of the tasks involving communication that a board member can expect to complete.

 

5. Computer Skills

A few decades ago, HOA board members did not need to have computer skills. But, with technology the way it is today, more and more associations are adapting to the changes. Nowadays, many communities utilize computers to automate meeting notifications, updates, and even dues collection or payment. If your association does the same, then a working knowledge of how computers and programs work is necessary.

 

What Makes a Good HOA Board Member?

hoa board member qualificationsBeyond talent and skill, HOA board member qualifications should also take certain characteristics into account. A person can possess all the required skills of a board member, but a poor character can render it all useless. In terms of characteristics, here are some of the homeowners association board of directors qualifications you must consider:

 

1. Willing to Serve

One of the first questions people have when campaigning for HOA board positions is, “Do HOA board of directors get paid?” Board members do not get paid for their service to the association. These are volunteer positions, and receiving payment in any shape or form is not recommended. Good board members have a willingness to serve the community even if the position does not come with any perks.

 

2. Honest and Transparent

Honesty and transparency are essential traits of board members, especially since they handle the community’s money. Board members should provide financial updates to homeowners in the form of reports. Some states, like California, even make this a mandatory requirement.

Homeowners need to be able to trust and respect the HOA board, and even the perception of misconduct can break that. Board members must always follow the laws and governing documents as well as stay away from any conflicts of interest or fraud.

 

3. Consistent and Fair

Board members enact and enforce covenants and rules within the community, and they must do so with consistency and fairness. Selective or arbitrary enforcement not only jeopardizes the integrity of the board but is also in breach of the fiduciary responsibility of HOA board members. In all matters and decisions, board members must leave their personal feelings and biases at the door.

 

4. Works Well With Others

Running an association is not a dictatorship — it is a collaborative effort among all board members and, in some cases, the HOA manager. As such, board members must all be team players.

Collaboration is not limited to the board itself and the HOA management company, though. Board members must also understand that the community’s members have just as much as a right to their opinion. Therefore, board members must ask for homeowner input and conduct regular surveys to gauge their satisfaction level.

 

5. Puts the HOA First

“Should I join my HOA board?” When faced with this dilemma, it is imperative to first evaluate your motivations. If you genuinely want to serve and improve the community, then joining the HOA board is certainly a step in the right direction. But, if you have selfish reasons, then you do not have what it takes to become a good board member.

Board members should never be self-serving or look for opportunities for personal gain. They must always make decisions that are for the good of the community.

 

Continued Education for HOA Board of Directors

If you lack the HOA board of directors qualifications, fret not. There are many courses you can take to hone your skills and broaden your knowledge of HOA operations. Many HOA management companies also offer board education and training as part of their services.

Start looking for the best HOA management company today. With the help of our online directory, you can find one that serves your budget, needs, and area.

 

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How To Change HOA Bylaws, Covenants, And Rules

Homeowners associations are governed by a set of documents, among which are the bylaws and the CC&Rs. There will come a time, though, when you will need to amend those documents. Continue reading to learn how to change HOA bylaws and CC&Rs.

 

How to Change HOA Bylaws and CC&Rs: Is It Even Possible?

A homeowners association’s bylaws define how the community operates. It consists of stipulations such as how many board members can serve at any given time, how often to hold board elections, meeting requirements, and the responsibilities of each board member.

On the other hand, the CC&Rs, short for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, define the rights and obligations of an HOA towards its members and vice versa. It consists of provisions such as property-use restrictions, the enforcement of covenants, and dispute resolution. It also covers obligations relating to maintenance, dues, and insurance.

Typically, these governing documents are established upon the development of the planned community. Given the perception that these documents are set in stone, you might wonder, “Can HOA change bylaws?” or “Can HOA change covenants?” The short answer is yes. Homeowners associations can change their bylaws and CC&Rs, though it often involves a pretty lengthy process.

 

How to Amend HOA Bylaws and Covenants in Six Steps

Before proceeding with the process, HOA boards must first consider why they want to change the bylaws or CC&Rs. If there is no justifiable reason to do so and the board simply wants to alter the documents “just because,” then it is unwise to proceed. Remember that amending HOA covenants and bylaws is a time-consuming and often financially demanding process.

After you have done your due diligence and considered the matter carefully, you can then initiate the amendment process. This process may vary depending on state laws and your governing documents. Generally, though, here is how to change HOA covenants and bylaws:

 

1. Proposal of Amendment

The first step consists of a proposal describing the changes to the bylaw or covenant. The board will receive this proposal and then submit it for review.

 

2. Meeting to Discuss

can a hoa board change the rulesThe board will then discuss the proposed amendment at a board meeting. During this meeting, the board must allow homeowners to provide their input on the proposal. In some cases, the board may call a special meeting to confer.

 

3. Voting

Following review, the entire membership will then vote either for or against the amendment. Certain requirements may apply here, too. For instance, in California, HOAs must use secret ballots to vote for these changes. The process for changing HOA covenants will also need secret ballots. Some associations may have trouble with voter turnout. In that case, the HOA board may extend the voting period.

 

4. Counting of Votes

The next step in the process of how to change HOA bylaws and covenants is counting the ballots. The tallying of the votes usually takes place during an open meeting. This way, homeowners can watch their votes being counted. Doing this not only ensures transparency but also gives members peace of mind.

 

5. Approval of the Amendment

Homeowners associations require a majority vote from the membership to approve the amendment. What counts as a majority will depend on your governing documents. Usually, though, HOAs need two-thirds or three-quarters of members to approve the change.

 

6. Recording and Effectivity

After approval, changes to the CC&Rs must be recorded with the county recorder’s office. Bylaws, on the other hand, don’t need recording. Instead, bylaws become effective when notice is given to the membership of the change. Of course, that does not mean the board can skip the notice when it comes to covenant changes.

 

Changing HOA Bylaws and CC&Rs: Why Should You Do It?

Bylaws and covenants don’t stay relevant forever. Certain changes in society and the community might trigger the need to amend an association’s governing documents. Changes in state laws may also cause you to change your bylaws and covenants to remain compliant.

Another reason to amend your bylaws or CC&Rs is due to overwhelming demand from homeowners. For example, if a majority of your members want to change quorum requirements for a meeting, then your board should consider it. Of course, it goes without saying that your decisions must be based on sound judgment and rational thinking. Don’t just change your governing documents because you can.

How often do bylaws need to be updated? There is no standard frequency for updating your bylaws and covenants. Generally, though, it is a good idea to review your governing documents every 3 to 5 years. During your review, make sure to check whether there are any provisions or stipulations that are outdated or are no longer in compliance with the law. It is best to have your HOA attorney help you with this.

 

Expiring Covenants and How to Revitalize Them

Believe it or not, HOA covenants do expire in some states. Covenants generally reach this point when they become over 30 years old. When covenants expire, you can no longer enforce them.

The subject of expiring covenants may agitate you because it means you will need to go through the entire amendment process just to enforce them again. But, there is a process known as Covenant Revitalization that makes it easier.

Through Covenant Revitalization, you can simply reinstate expired covenants and enforce them as if they never expired in the first place. To revitalize covenants, though, you will still need a majority vote from the membership. After that, you must seek approval from local or state governments.

 

How to Change HOA Rules and Regulations

You might think HOA rules is just another term for bylaws and CC&Rs. And while a lot of people do use these terms interchangeably, there is a difference. An association’s operating rules and regulations (HOA rules) are additional rules that are not covered in the bylaws and CC&Rs. Usually, these rules tend to be more specific and help homeowners comply with the covenants.

But, can HOA change rules? Similar to bylaws and CC&Rs, the HOA does have the power to change its rules and regulations. The process, though, is a little different.

It starts out the same, with a proposal of the rule change and a meeting to discuss the proposal. The board must provide notice of the proposed change to all homeowners within a specific time period. In California, it is 28 days’ worth. Boards also obtain input from homeowners. But, there is no vote from the members.

Can the HOA board change the rules without member approval? Typically, the board does not need approval from the members to enact a rule or make a rule change. The only vote will come from the board members themselves. If the board reaches a majority vote as defined in the bylaws or CC&Rs, then the rule will come to pass. The board must then send out a notice following the adoption of the new rule.

The process for how to change condo rules and regulations remains largely the same. As usual, though, it is best to check your governing documents and state laws to avoid potential liability.

 

Can Homeowners Change the Rules?

how to change hoa rulesEven though the board typically holds authority when it comes to rule changes, that does not mean homeowners are entirely powerless. Homeowners who want to make a change in their rules should first review their governing documents. The process for submitting proposals will usually be outlined there.

Then, homeowners can draft a proposal and submit it to the board for review. If there are a lot of homeowners who feel the same way about an issue, it is a good idea to include that in the proposal.

Perhaps the easiest way to change rules in a community association, though, is to run for a position on the board. Sure, not everyone is cut out for governance. Plus, the entire campaigning and election process might scare off homeowners, especially if they just want a single rule change. But, there are plenty of other benefits and reasons to serve on the HOA board.

 

Follow Procedure, Avoid Liability

Every HOA board must know how to change HOA bylaws and covenants as well as rules and regulations. Familiarizing yourself with the proper procedures will enable you to make and adopt amendments smoothly. Failing to do so will render any changes you make unenforceable. Additionally, you may even find the association and your board in legal trouble.

Trouble finding the right way to change your bylaws and CC&RS? Hire an HOA management company today. Find the best one in your area using our comprehensive online directory.

 

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