A Guideline To Write HOA Board Meeting Minutes

A homeowners association board holds regular meetings to discuss various items on the agenda. During these discussions, it is imperative to write HOA board meeting minutes. But, how exactly do you do that?

 

In this article:

Why Write HOA Board Meeting Minutes?

Meeting minutes are an essential part of any HOA board meeting. In fact, most states require HOAs to take minutes of a board meeting. For instance, California Corporations Code 8320 states that corporations — such as an HOA — must keep written minutes of meetings, including board meetings.

The importance of HOA board meeting minutes is clear. It is something board members can refer to in the event of disagreements, confusion, or items past recollection. The minutes of a meeting are written proof that a discussion took place and decisions were made. Board meeting minutes help mitigate disputes and prevent conflicts from escalating.

How to Write Minutes of an HOA Board Meeting

two people writing notes together | writing hoa board meeting minutesTypically, the HOA board secretary is assigned to write HOA board meeting minutes. If the secretary is absent or busy, someone else can take over the task. You must remember, though, that the meeting’s minutes must still go through the secretary for final approval.

Now that you know who is responsible for the board meeting minutes, it is time to answer the big question. How do you write HOA board meeting minutes? The board meeting minutes must only cover items on the agenda. It is not a transcript nor is it a play-by-play of the meeting.

Here are the things you must include in the minutes of a board meeting:

  • The date and time of the meeting, as well as when it was called to order
  • Names of attendees and absent members
  • Approval of previous meeting minutes
  • Evaluation of current HOA finances
  • What motions were proposed, who proposed them, and who seconded them
  • Any voting that occurred, names of those who voted for and against, and the results
  • What actions were taken
  • What decisions or resolutions were made
  • Unfinished business from the previous meeting
  • New business for the current meeting
  • Date and time of the next meeting
  • The time of adjournment

Here are the things you should not include in the minutes of a board meeting:

  • Commentary
  • Personal opinions
  • Chitchat

Tips for Writing HOA Board Meeting Minutes

At this point, anyone who has never taken meeting minutes might feel overwhelmed. When there are so many people talking over each other, it can be hard to keep up. But, writing HOA board meeting minutes does not have to be an uphill battle. Here are a handful of helpful tips that can make your meeting minutes the best they can be.

1. Keep It Short and to the Point

A good HOA board meeting minutes is not a transcript of the entire meeting. It does not contain every single word uttered by every single person. It is also not something you write narratively. When taking down minutes, it is vital to keep it concise.

It does not need to be a long, winding description of how a board member delivered a point. Only include major points, such as decisions or resolutions, voting results, and the outcome of debates.

2. Ask for Clarification

When you are too engrossed in taking down notes, you might miss a few key points every now and then. Apart from listening attentively, a good minute taker is not afraid to ask for clarification, especially if you missed a point or are unsure about it. If your meeting minutes are not accurate, then they are not reliable.

3. Leave Opinions at the Door

It is easy to get wrapped up in a debate or drama, but do not let your minutes reflect them. Refrain from writing down judgments and comments, whether they are yours or someone else’s. Taking these items down is not helpful and will only open up your HOA board to legal issues or personal liability.

4. Type Instead of Write

Let’s face it — keeping up at meetings is not always possible. Some people talk so fast that you easily miss what they are saying. Take advantage of technology. Instead of writing down your meeting minutes with a pen and paper, use a computer or laptop. Typing boosts your speed and is more convenient when it comes to erasures than doing it the old-fashioned way.

5. Use a Recording Device

Although it is not mandatory, if you are really having a hard time keeping up, consider using a recording device. Doing so will ensure you capture all the important details of a meeting. All you need to do is play it back to go over the points you missed. Just make sure to delete the recording after completing your minutes. This way, no record of any personal comments or opinions made during the meeting will exist.

6. Edit Before Submitting

Your meeting minutes might make sense to you, but everybody else may find it confusing. Before submitting your meeting minutes for approval, make sure to edit it down. Summarize where necessary and see that it reads smoothly. People tend to jump from one topic to another during meetings, so make sure to collate and arrange the points appropriately.

7. Keep Community Members in the Loop

panoramic view of business people working with sticky notes on glass wall in office | write minutes of an HOA board meetingResidents of your HOA have a right to stay informed. After approval, distribute your meeting minutes so that community members know what discussions and decisions took place.

You should also do this even if your board meeting was open to everyone, as some homeowners might have been absent. Of course, some closed-door board meetings should remain private, as certain topics might be too sensitive or confidential.

Make board meeting minutes available within a reasonable amount of time. Some states have laws in place concerning this issue. You should also refer to your HOA governing documents for any related provisions. When distributing minutes, post them on your HOA’s website or social media page instead of physically giving out printed copies.

Compose Your Meeting Minutes Properly

Board meeting minutes not only serve as documentation, but they also provide structure. This is why it is important to keep your minutes brief, accurate, and clear. And, above all, objectivity reigns. The next time you write HOA board meeting minutes, keep these things in mind. The act of taking down minutes is essential, but how you do it also matters a lot.

 

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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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21 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. 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. Email Policy

man sending email using laptop | hoa policyThere 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 email policies 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.

3. Social Media Policy

If 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. 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.

5. Regulations for Meetings and Minutes

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.

6. 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.

7. Pet Policy

female hands hugging puppy pet on lake shore | 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 follows the policy.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. Drone Policy

drone flying front of home | hoa 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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

17. 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 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.

18. 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.

19. Equal Opportunity (Fair Housing Policy)

The 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.

20. 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 don’t need. You can request for 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.

21. Background Check Certification

Depending on state laws, your HOA may need to perform background checks on prospective employees and homeowners. 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.

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.

 

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The top 41 HOA software solutions for 2020

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 management software can make your life much easier, however, choosing the right software can be difficult, for its 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 2020

We’ve rounded up a list of software solutions you need to watch out for this 2020. Check them below:

 

What exactly is an 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 a 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 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 like 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
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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 leverage their solution.

 

PropertyPop

properypop website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • No reviews on Capterra as of writing
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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 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
  • No free trial available

Pilera focuses on improving communication to HOA, Condominiums and Apartment communities. Their suite of features include 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

  • No reviews as of writing
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial available

Founded in 2012 Nabr Network is a Cloud-based software system built for Community Association management companies and neighborhood associations. They are based on 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
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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 membership.

 

Monthli

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

Monthli is revolutionizing HOA management software. Thier 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, its 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
  • No free trial 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 rapid growth of their product, it quickly became more than just a side project. They offer a range of features including HOA 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, one for property management companies and the other for condos. 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
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial available

Eunify is an all-in-one solution for community management. Founded in 2001 and it offers different products such as community association websites sites 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.
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $1/month/unit
  • No free trial 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 phone, tablet or computer.

 

Conduu

Conduu website | The 41 best HOA software solutions

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $49/month
  • No free trial 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 a 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
  • No free trial 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 Canadian company offers accounting, communications, management, and building register, and a web portal.

 

Condo Control Central

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

  • Customer service has 4.9/5 stars
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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
  • No pricing 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 as of writing
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial available

CiraConnect was developed by RealManage, an Austin,TX based property management company. CiraConnect offers Monthly Management Reports, Mobile Apps, and White Papers for it’s 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
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Starting at $19/month
  • Free trial available

CHOPAS is a HOA software built to improve the communication flow inside an community. It was founded in 2016 and its 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
  • No pricing available online
  • No free trial 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

  • No reviews as of writing
  • Pricing starts at $165/month per community
  • No free trial 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 $us 250/month
No free trial available

Appfolio property manager helps automate and modernize your community, it doesn’t matter the size. It has 4 different portfolio types, for Residential, Commercial, Student Housing, and Community Associations. For HOA’s 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.

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 2020!

Try our award-winning HOA software today!
Visit vinteum.io to start your free 14-day trial of Neighbors.

How to Keep HOA Cost-Effective To Lower HOA Assessments

One of the main challenges for HOAs is how to improve the annual budget. HOA boards are constantly faced with the rising costs of expenses, which leads them to increase homeowners’ monthly assessments. If more associations only took the time to examine their existing policies, though, they will discover viable solutions that will help lower HOA dues. If you want to design a budget that will lower HOA assessments, here are cost-effective measures to implement.

7 Cost-Cutting Tips to Lower HOA Assessments

With economic factors such as inflation, it’s not surprising that operating costs increase each year. Nevertheless, if HOAs are able to look at their budget and expenses, they may be able to find areas for improvement. Here are cost-cutting tips that can be effective in reducing HOA assessments.

1. Examine Existing Vendor Contracts

couple | reduce hoa feesVendor contracts are one of the largest potential improvement areas for lowering the budget and assessment fees. Does your HOA have old or expiring contracts with unfavorable terms?

Ideally, vendors should be contracted each year so that the HOA can renegotiate for better terms.

If you have trusted vendors that deliver high-quality service, try to lock in your current prices with them. Meanwhile, if you are not happy with the service you are getting, it’s time to seek bids from new vendors.

You want to pick HOA vendors that deliver better service at more reasonable prices. So, even if you are cutting costs, your HOA will still be in capable hands.

2. Eliminate Wasteful Spending

Wasteful spending is something that can hurt the budget of many associations. If you want to reduce HOA fees, the board needs to sit down and assess its expenses. Determine whether each expense was essential for the community, or whether it was just an unnecessary expense.

For example, if you have drought-resistant landscaping, there is no need to water them as frequently as non-native plants. So, having your landscaper come in to water them each week just becomes an unnecessary expense

As you audit the previous year’s budget, try to come up with a list of areas where you can reduce expenses. You can then use this to adjust your upcoming budget. HOAs that do this will be amazed at the additional funds they can get simply by eliminating wasteful spending.

3. Examine Your Utility Bills

How much is your HOA paying for electricity, gas, and water each month? If the amount seems high — to the point that you have to increase HOA fees — you may want to consider introducing energy-saving practices. If the HOA has the budget for it, you can invest in energy-efficient technologies such as solar water heaters, solar street lamps, and motion-activated light switches.

However, there are still a lot of ways to reduce your utility bills without having to spend on gadgets. You can implement some HOA rules such as turning off lights and fans when a common area is unoccupied or shutting off faucets when water is not needed. These small practices, when done consistently, can make a significant impact in lowering your budget and assessment fees.

4. Review Your Insurance Coverage

Having adequate insurance coverage is one of the best ways to protect HOA funds. However, you also don’t want to be paying more in premiums or deductibles than what is necessary. Consult with your HOA management company or insurance provider to get the best rate for your association.

5. Balance Employees vs HOA Volunteers

corporate lady relaxing | reduce hoa feesFor larger communities, it may be necessary to hire staff to take care of the community. But, does your association really need to have one or several full-time employees?

Typically, full-time employees cost additional capital in terms of benefits, and this can become expensive for your HOA.

Keep in mind that the HOA board can always call on homeowners to volunteer. You can utilize the talents and skills of your homeowners by setting up HOA committees. Many residents will gladly offer their services to the community if that meant being able to reduce HOA fees. Not only will this improve the budget, but it also fosters a sense of community in your HOA.

6. Defer Non-Essential Community Projects

If money is tight, the HOA board should push back non-essential community projects for at least a year or two. For instance, a new playground would be nice but it is not absolutely necessary to have. You can use this opportunity to save some money and avoid having to increase assessment fees. When the HOA is in a better financial position, you can start up on these projects.

Keep in mind though that there are some projects that cannot be pushed back. You will still have to push through projects like a major roof repair; otherwise, you might sacrifice the aesthetics and property values of the community. Again, if funds are limited, try to allocate them for essential community projects.

7. Reduce Reserve Contributions

HOAs that want to lower HOA assessments might consider reducing monthly contributions to their reserves. However, this is very risky and you should avoid doing so as much as possible. Reserve funds serve a special purpose and not having enough could lead to massive financial problems later on.

Only associations that have fully-funded reserves should consider scaling back their contributions (if absolutely necessary). Even so, conduct a new reserve study first to confirm whether your association has enough reserve funds for emergencies and unexpected expenses.

The Cost of Lowering HOA Assessments

Homeowners accept that monthly assessment fees are necessary to keep the community running. However, they are not too thrilled when the HOA decides to increase HOA fees due to rising operational costs. In an effort to keep homeowners happy, HOA boards will try to find ways to lower HOA assessments. While there is nothing wrong with cutting back on expenses, you must also consider the potential costs that come with lower HOA assessments.

The most important point is that lowering HOA assessments is simply not sustainable. You are just delaying the inevitable. If you lower HOA fees to an unreasonable amount, the association will not have enough money to operate properly. This can put you in debt. And in that case, you will have no choice but to raise HOA assessments or even levy a special assessment. The amount will be even higher than what you initially planned — which will not make homeowners happy. So, there is no winning in this scenario.

It’s important to understand that increasing HOA assessments don’t always have to be a bad thing. It’s a way for you to secure the growth of your community. If HOA fees are put to good use, homeowners will be able to reap many benefits, including higher property values. So rather than focusing on lower HOA assessments, the HOA should focus on better budgeting and financial planning. You can still find ways to adjust HOA dues without it having to significantly impact the homeowners.

Finding a Balance Between Lower HOA Assessments and Maintaining Your Community

Cost-cutting measures can significantly improve your HOA budget, which, in turn, helps lower HOA assessments. By analyzing your expenses and eliminating wasteful spending, your association can save a lot of money — even without really doing anything drastic. Just remember to find a balance between lowering HOA assessments and maintaining your community. Your attempts to lower HOA assessments should never come at the cost of your community and its members.

 

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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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HOA Disaster Management: How To Plan For The Unpredictable

Every community association should have an HOA disaster management plan in place in case of emergencies. Planning for disasters, though, is often easier said than done. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make the process simpler.

Tips for HOA Disaster Management

HOA disaster management is one of the most difficult areas to plan for your community. Especially since there are many different elements that need to be considered. Depending on where your HOA is located, there will be different necessary requirements to plan for your HOA disaster management protocols and procedures.

With improper management, HOAs can be at risk of liability. One of your residents may file a lawsuit claiming the HOA was negligent in its planning and implementation of emergency protocols. Therefore, HOAs should always consider how they can clarify and improve their HOA disaster management strategies to better protect their community members.

If your board is set to establish or update the existing HOA disaster planning for your community, consider the important information below:

1. Realistic Assessment of Local Potential Geographic Disasters

It is always wise for your HOA to look realistically at where your community is located. If you are able to check off various threats to your region, it will be a framework for the emergency policies that you need to prepare your community for. For instance, if you live in an area with frequent wildfires, prepare a fire disaster plan. On the other hand, earthquake emergency planning may be required if you live in an earthquake zone. In addition to local potential geographic disasters, your community will need to have protocols in place for disease outbreaks and terrorism even if these events happen rarely.

2. Consider the Age Demographics of Your Community Members

Depending on where your HOA is located, it may appeal to residents of varying ages. How your HOA approaches disaster planning does need to consider what the average age of your residence is. For example, if your community mainly has elderly residents, then your planning has to cater to their specific needs and potentially limited mobility that will be greatly affected by an emergency situation. If your community has families with young children, your emergency planning will have to take into account the evacuation of smaller children in the event of an emergency.

3. Be Aware of the Languages Spoken in Your Community

Wooden signpost | hoa disaster planningThere are many diverse communities in the United States. HOAs need to have an awareness of what is the cultural background of their residents. For example, if the community is located in a community that predominantly speaks Spanish, the HOA should have their emergency guidelines available in both English and Spanish.

The reason for this is that terminology related to emergency planning may be more complicated for a non-native English speaker to understand even if they are fluent in conversational English. Translate emergency protocols and notifications so that community members can understand them. By doing so, your members can stay prepared in the event of an emergency. Moreover, you can shield your HOA from potential lawsuits from residents in the future.

4. Creation of a Community Disaster Relief Plan

Once you take a realistic look at what potential local geographic dangers your community may be susceptible to, it will be possible to design plans for different disasters that may affect your community. Make sure to review these plans carefully and community members can understand and integrate them easily. A common pitfall that many HOAs face is a lack of clarity about their emergency protocols. This can lead to major causalities or lawsuits in the future.

It is equally important to define the roles and responsibilities of each board member in case disaster strikes. This way, everyone can follow a set of guidelines should the worst happen. Include what to do before, during, and after the disaster. It is also a good idea to prepare resources to help the community recover from the disaster. In case you require further assistance, consider getting in touch with emergency planning consultants.

The disaster management plan for HOA communities must also address key problems, such as:

  • Your insurance company’s level of involvement
  • Inhabitable units
  • Whether homeowners can enter their properties to retrieve personal belongings
  • Professional inspections to see if residents can return to their homes

5. Communication & Education of Community Disaster Relief Plan to Residents

A disaster emergency plan will not be useful to your community members unless they know about it and fully understand it. It is important to host meetings before the start of a dangerous season that poses a risk to your community. Residents may forget the rules over time or new residents may relocate to your community and will likely require a fresh training on what your protocols are. Having meetings at least twice per year is a great way to clarify resident questions. In turn, this can shield your HOA from liability should an accident occur resulting from a disaster that greatly impacted your community.

6. Have Your Plans Published on Your HOA Website

Now that many HOAs have websites, it can be useful to always have updated emergency plans available for residents to review. This way, should one of your residents have a question about the required protocols, they will be able to reference the guidelines set by your HOA with ease.

7. Include Information About Disaster Planning in Your HOA Newsletter

If your HOA has a monthly newsletter, it is an excellent opportunity to further educate your residents about disaster planning. Plan an article about disaster planning that is relevant to the month in which your HOA newsletter will be published. For example, if hurricane season is approaching, having an article to remind your residents about your HOAs disaster planning could be very valuable to your residents.

8. Mitigation of Legal Liability from Affected Residents

Natural disasters do happen. It is important to shield your HOA from any legal liabilities that it can be eligible for resulting from those natural disasters. The key is to eliminate any doubt from residents about the negligence of your HOA. When residents sue, it usually has to do with negligence and what the HOA “should” have been doing to prevent further injury to community members in the event of a natural disaster.

9. Coordination with the Office of Emergency Management

The Office of Emergency Management is available to communities located within the United States for information related to local natural disaster threats. Newer homes should collaborate with the Office of Emergency Management to figure out which natural disasters need to be planned for in their emergency plan and procedures for their communities. If HOAs are able to match their plans to connect with local law enforcement procedures, it will create a safer protocol for their residents to follow and increase resident satisfaction with the efforts of their HOA to put the proper and relevant emergency protocols into place.

10. Adherence to Fire Protocols

Depending on where your HOA is located, it may have strict fire protocols. Make sure that your HOA is prepared with the required emergency protocols for wildfires. In addition, it is important for your HOA to be proactive in preventative measures. This way, you can minimize the damages should a wildfire occur.

Another way to do this is to impose certain regulations. This includes trimming landscapes and removing unnecessary materials within the community. These things can encourage the fire to spread. By imposing these regulations, HOAs can safeguard their residents from wildfire damages.

11. Installation of Electronic Emergency Alert System

Emergency text on a smartphone | hoa disaster planningMany larger HOAs have been able to integrate electronic emergency alert systems. These systems have the ability to send text messages and emails about developments related to emergency disaster situations.

HOAs should absolutely consider integrating these systems into the benefits they offer to their members. Once they do so, they need to be sure they have the current phone number and email address of their residents to be sure the message gets to their residents promptly. HOAs are wise to have electronic emergency alert systems since they demonstrate an effort to protect their residents from harm in the event of a natural disaster, which could also be strong evidence utilized in a lawsuit that may arise after the natural disaster has occurred.

The Importance of Disaster Preparedness

Natural disasters happen every year. Some can be predicted to a certain degree, while others happen unexpectedly. The most important part is to stay prepared for anything. HOA disaster management is key to keeping a safe and secure community. So, if your association does not have one yet, start drafting your plan immediately.

 

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10 Signs You Are Qualified For The HOA Board

HOA board qualifications – do you have them? The qualifications for an HOA board member are not things that everyone possesses. Thus, a qualified HOA board member is a precious asset to the community. Read on to see if you have the qualifications for an HOA board member.

Top 10 HOA Board Qualifications

Board members are important officials that are elected to be responsible for an HOA’s affairs. They also play important roles in properly running the community. The level of responsibility involved with HOA board members is not small and should not be taken lightly.

The choice in an HOAs board of directors can make the difference between making the community a success or failure in both the short and long-term. So are HOA board qualifications – they are a big deal. Considering running for your HOAs board of directors is a decision that you should consider carefully. There are certain qualities that an individual must possess in order to be successful in the position.

Here are ten signs that you are an ideal fit to become the newest member of your HOA board:

1. You Are a Leader

Board members are essentially leaders of an association. As an elected official, your community’s members have confidence that you will represent them with integrity. You need to be capable of always acting in the best interest of the HOA. To be a successful leader, you must be able to recognize your strengths. You need to know your limits, as well, so you can work within your authority and use your attributes for the good of your community.

2. You Can Be Objective

When you are performing duties on behalf of your HOA, you have to be objective. It is essential to leave your biases and preferences behind. As a director on your HOA board, you have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the association. Being objective is the only way to avoid any and all conflicts of interest.

Fiduciary duties are often misunderstood in that individuals think that they can interpret it how they like. It does not mean to provide a favor to another individual or serve their own agendas.

As a member of your HOA board, it is important to remember to be impartial. That you are an agent that needs to be loyal to the best interests of the HOA. It takes strength to remain so regardless of whether they conflict with your own personal agenda or that of another individual.

 

3. You Have a Passion for Serving Your Community

passion for communityIndividuals who decide to serve on their HOAs board of directors should have the purpose of bettering the community around them. They must be willing to volunteer without expecting to be paid well.

Instead, they will view this as an opportunity to enhance their community’s overall assets. Individuals who have selfish interests or who are expecting to be heavily compensated should reconsider their interest in joining their HOAs board.

 

4. You Value Successful Relationships

One of your sole duties as a board member of your HOA will be to spend time nurturing relationships with your fellow neighbors as well as neighboring communities to yours. Your primary objective should be to personalize leadership, build, and establish trust. You also need to show that the HOA leaders achieve more than measure budget performance and enforce strict rules. Positively connecting with residents will greatly impact governance and make your community an overall better place to reside.

 

5. You Are Tenacious

At times, board members have to make challenging decisions that may not always be favorable with their community’s residents. Even when a board member’s decisions are not popular, they must be able to stand by their decision. Then, the need to be able to defend it with credible facts and not take negative criticism personally.

 

6. You Are Constantly Learning

Board members are not association experts when they begin their term. It is their responsibility to take the time to learn about both state and local laws, how and why the association operates the way it does, and governing documents. The more that a member is able to learn, the better off their HOA will be in the long-term.

 

7. You Are an Excellent Mediator

hoa board qualificationsThere are going to be times when residents and board members disagree. When these disputes occur, it is the board member’s job to get involved and find a resolution that their fellow leaders and community members will accept.

In order to achieve this, it is crucial that you are able to keep an open mind. By being a good listener and remaining calm, you will be able to remain consistent and fair even when the tempers of others erupt unfavorably.

 

8. You Are Always a Team Player

Boards always need to make decisions as a collective group. Even if your viewpoints are in the minority, you should always support the decision that was decided by the majority vote. It is wise to realize that no board member is more important than another. By having the ability to disagree respectfully, you will be putting your community in a position to be successful.

 

9. You Are Strategic

The board is responsible for maintaining assets, preparing the community for a strong future, solving issues, and preventing conflicts when possible. The most successful leaders operate as a business first and need a strategic plan to hold their members accountable, recognize areas that need improvement, and track overall progress.

 

10. You Are Reliable

It is vital that you make yourself available and attend all board meetings. Your board members should always be able to rely on you as well as community members within your community. You should always be well-prepared for board meetings and be ready to make informed decisions for the community. Among the HOA board qualifications, this is an underrated yet crucial characteristic.

 

Do You Think You Have the Right HOA Board Qualifications?

Being a board member can be difficult at times; however, it can also be an extremely rewarding experience. If you have an ideal combination of the HOA board qualifications listed above, then we highly recommend that you reach out to the board in your local HOA to see what positions are potentially open to you. If you are able to become a member of your HOA board, you will be able to have a positive impact on your community while simultaneously having a rewarding experience.

 

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Can Homeowners Change Rules In Your HOA?

As a homeowner in an HOA, you probably don’t agree with all the rules and regulations governing your community. But, is there something you can do about it? Can homeowners change rules in an HOA?

How Can Homeowners Change Rules in Your HOA

Anyone who has lived within a community association for single-family residences or condominiums understands that there are times when change is necessary. You might want to change the operating rules or the bylaws of the association.

When you desire change, it is never right to start with extreme measures, such as filing a lawsuit. It is important to remember that the people in your community are your neighbors and friends, so the process should ideally go smoothly.

Having said that, the inevitable question arises—can homeowners change rules in an association? The short answer is yes, but it involves some work. So, what are the best ways for a homeowner to make changes in their community? And how do these changes happen? Here are some tips on how to change HOA rules and HOA bylaws.

1. Check Your State Laws

law | hoa rulesSome state laws require HOA boards to get approval from homeowners on rule changes. To figure out if your association falls under this umbrella, check your state laws.

While you, as a homeowner, may not have a direct impact on what the rules say, you can make a difference with your vote. If you dislike a certain change in rules, you can vote against it.

There are also some states where HOAs must notify homeowners of any impending rule changes. The board must then provide homeowners with a 30-day period to make their comments and give their two cents. After this, the board will take all input into consideration before making a decision.

You might even have the ability to call a special meeting to reverse a change in rules. For instance, according to the California Civil Code §4365, a majority vote of a quorum of members can effectively reverse rule changes, provided they fulfill the stipulations set forth in the code.

2. Understand What Your Community’s Bylaws Say

As of 2019, there are over 150,000 community associations in the United States, with more than 40 million residents. Community associations are meant to represent the common interest of all residents, so all changes in the bylaws or governing documents that control the association’ operations must be enforced equally on all residents.

To make quick and effective change in your community, you first have to get to know your association’s bylaws, covenants, and rules. In those documents, there will be a process laid that you need to follow to make a change to the rules—or even the governing document itself.

Before calling for any changes, though, you must understand why the rules and restrictions exist in the first place. Remember that these governing documents were not created in haste. A lot of thought was put into drafting them, so there must be a reason behind every rule.

3. Talk to Your HOA Board

After checking your state laws and homeowners association bylaws, you can then craft your rule change. Make sure your proposed change is reasonable and enforceable. It should also not come into conflict with any existing rules or laws. Most of all, it should be for the betterment of the community.

Submit your proposal to the board ahead of time. You can also ask to present your case at the next open board meeting. When explaining your rule change, make sure to shed light on why you think the change is necessary.

List down practical reasons and how the community will benefit as a whole. Better yet, talk to your fellow homeowners about the proposed change. If they are in favor of it, ask them to sign a petition to support your cause. You can even urge them to attend the open board meeting to back you up.

4. Don’t Forget About the Elders

elder | hoa rulesFrom time to time, existing bylaws and covenants need to be changed to align with the updated needs of the community and evolving laws. As a community age, its maintenance needs to increase and its population itself usually ages.

If you are a homeowner in an older community association, you should consider asking older members to participate in the process by requesting rules that fit their needs.

Community associations usually run into the most trouble when they have subpar management and poorly or vaguely written rules. Remember—all rules and covenants must be for the benefit of the community.

The HOA board must apply these rules and covenants to every homeowner equally, regardless of their situation. Before making any sort of drastic change, always attempt respectful mediation measures and avoid changing management companies unless as a last resort.

5. Run for a Board Position

Usually, associations will require a percentage of the board to vote to change a rule and a percentage of the community members to vote on changes to the community bylaws. So, what is the easiest way to change the community rules or bylaws? The easiest way to change rules or bylaws in a community association, by far, is to run for a position in the association’s board of directors during an HOA election.

Unfortunately, not everybody can run for their HOA’s board of directors. Work, family, friends—life gets busy! Other people just simply are not a good fit for the job. Either way, if running for a seat on the HOA’s board is not an option for you, speak to your neighbors, persuade them that change is needed, and start an organic, grassroots movement that includes petitions and regular attendance at all board meetings.

When Homeowners Change Rules in the Community

In most associations, homeowners change rules all the time. It only really takes a good amount of effort and determination to get results. As a homeowner, if you feel your community needs a rule change, speak up. A homeowners association with active and engaged residents is more likely to achieve success. Just follow these tips so that you can make a significant difference in your community.

 

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