Renovating a Home in an HOA: What You Should Know

Living in residences that are part of the homeowner association has its perks. The associations help maintain an organized and cohesive atmosphere in the neighborhood and spare homeowners from some responsibilities.

However, homeowners have to adhere to the strict regulations usually spelled out in HOA’s CC&Rs (covenants, conditions & restrictions). Thus, if moving to such residences, homeowners need to join the existing HOA community and pay fees to cater to the cost of upkeep of common areas, exteriors, and shared structures.

What’s more, if planning to undertake a renovation project, you need approval to ensure compliance with the community’s rules and regulations. HOA rules vary from one community to another, but there are basics every homeowner should acquaint themselves with when undertaking a renovation project.

What is a Homeowner’s Association?

It is a governing body operated by an elected board of directors to manage a residential community. Members make annual, quarterly, or monthly payments to the association to facilitate the management of day-to-day operations of the community.

The primary objective of HOAs is to improve property value by holding homeowners to the same set of standards. It explains why you may be required to follow specific design, color or height restrictions when building a property.

Renovation Projects the Need HOA Approval

You need to seek HOA approval for exterior renovations like painting the exterior of a home, building a fence, and even changing the front door of your home. Similarly, the HOA requires homeowners should seek approval when undertaking interior renovations like replacing bathroom tiles.

This is because such a project affects the waterproofing of a bathroom and cause flooding. Of course minor projects like replacing a wallpaper with https://www.photowall.co.uk/canvas-prints may not need HOA approval as they barely affects other homeowners. Other interior renovations that need approval include:

  • Flooring, rewiring
  • Structural projects like adding or changing rooms, plumbing, removing exterior or interior walls, kitchen renovations
  • Exterior changes like landscaping, adding a new roof, front door trim, gutters, and exterior paint
  • Replacing the ceiling

Projects that Don’t Need HOA Approval

  • Light fixtures like electrical outlets and switches
  • Interior trim work
  • Bath fixtures like the shower and the sink
  • Landscaping a fenced backyard

The HOA may order you to stop the work or redo the project if you don’t seek approval even when you have complied with its rules. As such, it is imperative to seek approval before starting the project to avoid wasting time and resources.

Also, HOA communities require homeowners to hire a licensed professional (with all permits) to perform all such renovations. You may be provided with a list of contractors experienced in working on HOA properties, but if the recommendations are not available, you still need to find the right contractor.

Be sure to discuss the CC&R regulations to avoid pitfalls. Emphasize on sticking to the scheduled work times and inquire where the contractor intends to store the work materials and dispose of debris.

Sanitation haulers prohibit homeowners from disposing of construction materials in the trash receptacle. The HOA also inspects the project after completion to ensure such garbage has been disposed of properly, and the project complies with the community’s rules and standard of quality.

Getting HOA Approval for Renovation

The process varies from one association to another, but the standard procedure involves filling out an application that explains the renovation plan. It would help if you engaged an expert to help you fill out the form as it increases your chances of getting approval.

Provide as much information about the project as the HOA will use it to approve or deny the proposal. Essential information to include:

  • The timeline
  • The type of work and its effect on common property
  • Common areas that will be used during the renovation
  • Sometimes the HOA approves the project based on conditions concerning:
  • Hours the project should take place
  • Types of materials to be used in the project
  • Licenses tradespeople and contractors should have
  • Separating the work area and the common area

The approval process takes 14-30 days once you submit the proposal. Factors such as the complexity of the project and the need to verify if the contractor is licensed and insured can prolong the approval time.

Once the proposal is approved, you can commence working on the project. Since renovations are noisy and disruptive, it is imperative to work during HOA-approved construction hours (usually 7 am-7 pm, and 9 am-9 pm during the weekends).

Consider alerting your neighbors via email or a letter explaining the length of the project. Be ready to answer questions they may have to prevent conflict and reduce the chances of getting complaints.

Before embarking on a renovation project in an HOA community, check its CC&Rs to find out the specific approvals required. Also, talk to the correct people to determine the renovations do’s and donts in the neighborhood.

6 Typical Rules For an HOA

If you haven’t dealt with a homeowners association before, you should prepare for rules. HOA rules govern many of the activities of daily residents. HOA’s aren’t for everyone, so before you make an offer on a home and move-in, you should understand how one may affect your living experience. 

 

HOA’s are more commonplace in certain parts of the country than others. Their main goal is to maintain increasing property values by creating a positive quality of life.  Usually it’s the developer that governs the HOA until a certain amount of homes are sold and then it will eventually be turned over to the homeowners. These fees go towards, parks, pools, garbage, etc.   Here are six common HOA rules that you should be aware of.

 

Parking

This is one of the major causes for concern. When you live in community with limited parking, visitors and homeowners tend to park in a highly unorganized manner. This might be reminiscent of living in big apartment community that you can find here https://www.rentkidz.com/apartments-tx-dallas/. These communities have many cars and often not enough spots to park.  Guests may block your garage or park in the middle of the street. This can also create an eyesore.

 

If you’re the type of person who has lots of friends and family who visit,  then you will want to check out the parking situation. Is there adequate guest parking? What happens when guest parking is full? Many HOA’s have a parking policy that you should review. 


Fees

You will be responsible for paying your HOA fees, also called the “assessment” or the “dues.” These fees will vary based on the community size, amenities, and the physical property maintenance that the association is responsible for providing.  What do they cover in the community? Usually these fees cover the street, gates, landscaping, insurance, and utilities for the association. In condominium associations, the fees are typically higher because they also cover exterior maintenance of the building and all the common elements in the association. HOA’s also like to keep reserves in case of an emergency. Fees are always a major of a topic if you live in an HOA.

 

Pets

Dogs bark and they leave messes. When homeowners walk their dogs and don’t clean up after their pets this can create frustration for other owners in the community. Some HOA’s have pet restrictions and may even not allow certain size or breeds of dogs. Condominium buildings may also restrict animals and not allow pets of any kind in the building. Other associations may allow pets but require them to be registered so the association has the information on file.

Renters

Some homeowners will at one point start to rent out their home. You will find that there are also rules that govern this as well. The tenants who move-in will not have voting rights. Some associations will place restrictions on the number of renters in the association or may not allow renters at all. Many associations will also not allow short term or vacation rentals. Be sure to review the association’s governing documents carefully to ensure that the proper guidelines are being followed.

 

Keep Up Appearances

Homeowners must make timely repairs and maintain certain standards that are specified in the governing documents of the association. If you choose to repaint your home or replace your fence, chances are there are certain rules to abide by and you must request approval for any changes to be made. Changes or architectural modifications that are made without approval can be considered to be in violation and the HOA may levy fines if the changes are not corrected or brought up to the architectural standards in the community.

 

An HOA offers many benefits, but buyers must be aware of the rules that govern them. If you are considering purchasing a home that is in an HOA, you should request a copy of the governing documents in order to perform proper due diligence and make an informed decision.

Want an instant summary of important rules at your HOA? Run an Eli Report

 

Easily Manage your HOA Pool with Task(and Time) Eliminating Software

Pools managed by HOAs are easily susceptible to losing revenue channels and offering freedom that
is often taken advantage of. Without the ability to constantly overlook the pools management
elements, it is difficult to control important aspects such as access control for members and
guests, employee relations, and membership payments.

Many HOAs accept these disadvantages and allow members and nonmembers to abuse the pools benefits.
However, that does not need to continue any longer. There is a simple solution to these issues, a
management software. This software can handle each of the previously mentioned problems with HOA
managed swim clubs while decreasing staff time and increasing revenue.

Access Control:

Member Check-in
Tracking member check-in is a vital aspect to any successful pool. With HOAs, there is variability
in the membership aspect. Your HOA pool may offer the pool pass within the HOA pool while another
HOA may offer pool access for an extra fee. Since both of these options exist, being able to track
the people accessing the pool becomes a priority. The software features that are offered to deal
with this aspect of pool management includes the option of check-in through barcodes or by last
name. Barcode check-ins typically involve having a member ID number or a member card to scan when
entering the pool. That option is simple but even more straightforward is the last name check-in
process where members will give their name or put it into a check-in system.

Guest and Childcare Passes
With members comes the desire to bring in guests or have childcare bring their children to the pool
while they are unavailable. With a strict membership check-in procedure through the software, it is
a necessity that there is an offer for guests and babysitters to attend the pool. A software will
have the ability for your members to purchase guest and childcare passes as well as be able to
track the use of the passes. Typically, childcare passes will be offered for the entire season,
while guests will use one-day passes that will be sold individually or in packages.

Employee Relations
Members are not the only ones that seem to take advantage of the lack of management that an HOA
pool has; the employees are also known to work the system to their advantage. Without a

software, what is to stop employees from closing the pool a little early or showing up to their
shift a late? With the software, the employee check-in system will enforce the hours of each shift
and eliminate any opportunities for employees to abuse their freedom. The time clock feature will
track employee clock-ins and clock-outs. Another feature helpful in employee relations includes the
calendar schedule. This gets rid of shift confusion and allows staff to keep track of their
coworkers.

Membership Payments:
As the leading revenue channel for HOA pools, the membership fees/dues need to be the easiest
process of pool management. Software systems will eliminate the manual payment process that most
pools use now, and replace it with an online format. Not only does this stop the transaction of
physical money, but it also offers 24/7 access to the system for people who want to be able to
purchase their memberships, guest passes, and childcare passes on their own time. Whether it be
five minutes before or two weeks ahead, the system will track each purchase and make it accessible
to the member.

If your HOA already has another system for payments, the software can also work with third parties
to gather the membership information and place the members and their extra passes into the system.

To learn more about a pool management software with features that specialize in saving you
time and money, check out: https://www.esoftplanner.com/packages/swim-club/

No Condo or HOA Management Company Near You? – No Problem

A lot of towns around the country may not have a company that provides management services that cater to condo communities and homeowner associations.  Maybe an experienced manager hasn’t moved to town or the market is not large enough to support a company that specializes in community association management.  Or there is someone but their service is terrible. What is a board to do?

Hiring someone without condo or HOA expertise usually leads to problems.  You may be tempted to work with a generalist property manager. Someone that manages some houses, a few small apartment buildings and a commercial property or two.  This person will reduce some of the workload of the board but they lack critical understanding about community associations and their needs.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could hire a specialist that understands community associations?  The company would know about declarations and bylaws, about any state regulations and also help advise the board on industry best practices.  If applicable, the business would be licensed to work with community funds and would carry insurance required by the state. Additionally, the business would be using the latest community management specific technology that would make the board’s job easier and make unit owners happy with features like online payments.

What if I told you there is a way to get over 55% of the work of operating a community done remotely by a company that understands community association management?  In the process you could get better information and financial transparency that would give you more peace of mind. You could go from having a full-time volunteer “job” to enjoying the stress-free lifestyle that community living promised.  Plus, you may even be thanked by unit owners for giving them the latest online tools.

Enter Remote Financial & Administrative Management

Remote Financial Management handles the following accounting tasks: invoicing owners, collecting and depositing funds, answering payment questions, mailing late letters, working with collection agencies and attorneys with delinquent owners, paying bills, answering vendor questions and providing financial reports.  Depending on its capabilities it may also help with the following administrative tasks: sending out violation letters, processing community mailings, handling lender questionnaires when an owner refinances and resale certificates when an owner sells.  

Skeptical of Remote Services?

You may think that working with a service provider located out of town is spooky or something.  However, you already receive all sorts of similar services from companies that are not located in your area or the actual processing of the services are handled from outside your area.  Here are some examples: Collection – loan invoices, loan coupon books, credit card and utility bills are generated and mailed from a far off location; you also mail the payment to a distant location where they open, record and deposit the funds. Bill Payment – you receive an online payment request for a bill.  You have set up an online account and review the charge, and approve it by pay the bill online – this happens by debiting your bank account, entering information from a check or by credit card.  Financial Reports – you own shares in an investment and you receive financial reports in the mail or online from an investment manager or other business that is not located in your area.  Customer Service – you call or email support and the customer service representative is not located in your town, plus it is much faster than getting in your car, driving and waiting for an answer.

If remote service works for all these businesses it can work for your community.  To learn more about remote financial management and if it may be a fit for your community click here: Remote Financial Management – What it Is and How it Works.

Eight Golden Rules for Boards of Directors

This article originally appeared on Associaonline.com’s Living Better Blog.

By Mike Packard at Associa

Board members must interface with their membership, management team, association vendors and other members of the public pragmatically at all times. Following are my personal “Eight Golden Rules” to assist you with achieving that goal:

  1. Always be a straight shooter.People admire this trait in other human beings more than almost every other characteristic. Those who quibble or, at worst, lie about something are destined for failure. Effective and respected board members always practice this principle.
  2. Praise in public; criticize in private. Never publicly ridicule nor scold someone. “Someone” is any of the many, many people that you interface with as a board member. People who rebuke in public are neither respected nor admired. When I was an officer in the military, I never, ever witnessed someone being admonished publicly (except in “boot camp”!).
  3. Read, read, read.The world, and certainly the responsibilities of serving on a board of directors, require staying abreast of legal issues, state statutes, finance, insurance, risk management, etc. Unless you keep current on public events and issues, you will suffer in terms of lacking a better understanding of how to perform your job as a board member.
  4. Emulate the quality traits you see in others.To do so is “OK plagiarism”!
  5. What goes around really does come around. Treat others as you would like to be treated. An axiom for this is “never throw anyone under a bus as there will certainly be a bigger bus coming for you”. This rule complements rule # 1 but deserves its own place in the hierarchy of “golden practices”.
  6. Never get in a hissing contest with a snake.Those few people in your community who may want to pick a fight are not worthy of your energy and time. When confronted, turn the other cheek as you cannot nor will not win battles with those kinds of folks!
  7. Don’t put something where you don’t normally put it. If you violate this edict, men, it’s in the back seat of your car, and ladies, it’s in your purse. Life is too short to be looking for stuff when you should know where it is in the first place.
  8. Don’t borrow something of value from a friend or a team member. How many times have you violated this important universal rule and damaged or lost that item of value? Be honest! Too many times?

 

These tips will help you become a better person and, most importantly, a person of influence. Influential people are the most respected in any profession, and this is especially true for the profession of leading community associations as a board member.

 

Like what you’ve read?

 

Subscribe to Associa’s Living Better Blog!

 

5 HOA Terms Every Board Member Needs to Know

Whether you just got elected to the community association board or you’ve served for years, you want to make a good impression. Knowing these common HOA terms will help you sound like you know what you’re doing while you get up to speed or serve as the refresher you need to keep growing as a community leader.

  1. Fiduciary Duty

The highest ethical and moral obligations and duty of good faith a person is charged with for fulfilling their responsibilities. The board of directors of a community association has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the association.

This is a fancy sounding term that applies to the board of directors of a community association. It boils down to trust. The straightforward definition of “fiduciary” alone is stated as: involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.

That definition is not very practical. In a nutshell, when you are a board member for a community, you need to act for the good of the community as a whole and not for yourself. You have a duty to make decisions for the benefit of all instead of just your home or your friend’s homes nearby.

I know of one board member in a condo association who was great friends with one of her neighbors, but that neighbor fell behind in their assessment payments. Even though it might’ve been tempting to look the other way, the board member joined the rest of the board in applying their community association’s written collections policy in this situation. This put the community first over the board member’s personal interest and ensured equal treatment of all homeowners.

 

  1. Governing Documents

The declaration, bylaws, operating rules, articles of incorporation or other documents which govern the operation of the association.

The governing documents, sometimes referred to as the CC&R’s (Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions) is where the HOA and the board get their authority. They will spell out exactly what you can and can’t do when governing the community.

Governing documents are arranged in a hierarchy of descending authority:

  • Plat map
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Declaration
  • Bylaws
  • Rules
  • Manuals/Policies

In general, the documents above the line cannot be changed by the board alone; it will be spelled out in the documents themselves how to do so. They will require a vote of the membership, usually an approval of 66 percent or more of the residents, to actually pass changes to these documents.

The documents below the line are more fluid and can clarify the property restrictions in the documents above them, but cannot contradict documents higher in the hierarchy. For instance, if the Declaration says rentals are allowed, the board cannot pass a Rule saying no rentals are allowed. You may, however, be able to set parameters around rentals or procedures to follow if the Declaration is vague. Always check with an attorney for your state’s specific laws when implementing Rules.

As a board member, you should actually read these documents and understand the hierarchy of them.

 

  1. Business Judgment Rule

Actions taken by directors of a community association in good faith, that are within the powers of the association, and that reflect a reasonable and honest exercise of judgment, are valid actions.

The business judgment rule is a presumption that in making a business decision, the directors of a corporation acted on an informed basis, in good faith and in the honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the corporation, in this case, a not-for-profit corporation or homeowners association.

Given that the directors cannot ensure success, the business judgment rule specifies that the court will not review the business decisions of directors who performed their duties (1) in good faith; (2) with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances; and (3) in a manner the directors reasonably believe to be in the best interests of the corporation.

The business judgment rule along with directors and officers insurance will cover you as a board member for any decisions you make, even if they turn out to cause more problems than they solve for the community. However, the big caveat is that you must follow the spirit of the rule.

Did you act in good faith? In other words, did you deal with homeowners, vendors, and management in an honest and fair manner. Did you utilize care? In other words, did you read the board packet and understand the information in it prior to the meeting when making your decisions. Finally, did you act in the best interests of the community? This goes back to the fiduciary duty: acting in the best interest of the entire community and not in the interest of your friends, your neighbors or yourself.

 

  1. Insurance

A practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium.

In light of the natural disasters in 2017, including multiple hurricanes on the east coast and wind and hail damage in the midwest, you’ll want to make sure you understand your community’s insurance policy.

You’ll want to know terms like “per building” versus “per occurrence” deductibles, and the answers the key questions: Is there a per building cap? Is there a percentage wind or hail deductible? Do you have or need flood insurance? Do you have a basic, broad, or special form property policy (sometimes referred to as “all risk” coverage or “named peril” coverage), and what does that even mean?

Just for the record, “special form policy” covers everything except what is specifically excluded within the policy. “Basic and broad form policies” only cover the perils that are specifically named in the policy and excludes everything else!

Invite your insurance agent to a board meeting or schedule a conference call to ensure you know and understand what kind of coverage your community has so you can effectively communicate that to your members and/or homeowners. Condominium and townhome owners will need to have a personal lines policy (HO-4, HO-5, HO-6, etc.) to cover their personal belongings, their personal liability, to cover a possible deductible assessment, and for any physical property not protected by the community’s property policy. It’s also wise to ensure your community’s insurance agent specializes in community association coverage and can readily explain the insurance needs of your community according to its governing documents (including any insurance-related amendments or resolutions).

As mentioned above, you’ll want to ensure you have a directors and officers policy that covers the association and its board of directors for both monetary and non-monetary claims. Some policies in the marketplace exclude coverage for non-monetary claims, so it’s especially vital for the board to review this policy closely since non-monetary claims make up roughly 60 percent of most association-related D&O claims.

You cannot expect a homeowner to understand the association’s insurance policies if you as a board member don’t understand them. That’s why it’s imperative that you partner with an experienced agent to ensure your association’s policies make sense, and that they address all of the community’s exposures to loss.

 

  1. Objectivity

The quality of being objective; not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased.

As a board member you are going to be making decisions for the community, and you’ll never be able to please everyone. Some owners will want more services and be willing to pay for those services; other owners will want to keep assessments as low as possible by any means possible; some owners will have purchased in the neighborhood because of the rules in place; others will want there to be absolutely no rules whatsoever.

You may have to make unpopular decisions such as raising the assessments to cover increasing costs for insurance, landscaping, or repairs and maintenance expenses as buildings get older. You’ll be selecting contractors, and sometimes they will do a poor job. Or, in trying to keep costs low you will choose fewer services and then owners will complain that they aren’t getting the service they “used to” receive. You are in charge of enforcing the Rules and Regulations and governing documents, making decisions on possibly fining owners that do not comply or enforcing them to remove that fence that is too tall. You just have to remember that all owners agreed to abide by the governing documents when they purchased in the community and apply the standards fairly and uniformly to everyone.

Don’t take it personally when someone acts inappropriately in response to you simply performing your duties as a board member. They are usually not mad at you but mad at the situation, and they may even apologize in the future.

Be prepared for these conflicting situations and act objectively knowing deep down you’re being a true community leader.

 

Like what you’ve read?

 

Subscribe to Associa’s Living Better Blog!

 

The Most Important HOA Checklists You Should Have

Running a homeowners association can be tough, especially if you don’t know where to start. As a board member, you often need a guide of sorts to keep up with all your tasks. Luckily, these HOA checklists are designed to help you stay on track.

 

Your Ultimate HOA Checklists Guide

Homeowners associations require a lot of work to keep everything operating smoothly. Every year, the HOA board must prepare for the year ahead, plan the budget, stay on top of property maintenance, and schedule audits. Without a proper guide, it can be easy to forget critical items. That’s why we’ve put together these HOA checklist templates for you.

 

HOA Yearly Checklist

hoa maintenance checklistLet’s start with a general checklist that every homeowners association will need for the year. What should you include in your annual checklist?

  • Governing documents
    • Update physical and digital copies
    • Reupload to HOA website
    • File with the SCC and local jurisdiction land recorder
  • Annual Report
    • Create the annual report
    • Review the annual report
    • Distribute the annual report to all members
    • Make a copy of the annual report
    • Store the annual report digitally and physically
  • Audit
    • Collect all financial statements
    • Send statements to CPA
    • Give CPA access to HOA records
    • Approve audit report
    • Copy audit documents
    • File audit documents
  • Taxes
    • Schedule tax preparation
    • Consult tax professional
    • File tax return form 1120 or 1120-H on or before the deadline
  • Budget and dues
    • Prepare budget
    • Calculate monthly dues
  • Insurance
    • Evaluate current policies
    • Contact provider to ask about premium increases
  • Annual meeting
    • Schedule annual meeting
    • Prepare for the annual meeting events (such as HOA elections)
  • Schedule board meetings
  • Schedule committee meetings
  • Plan for major construction or renovation projects
  • Schedule special events
  • Schedule newsletter distribution

Download Your HOA Yearly Checklist Here

 

Governing Documents

Make sure all copies of your governing documents are up-to-date, whether they’re hard copies or soft copies. If you have an HOA website, don’t forget to update that, too. You should also file your updated governing documents with the SCC and your local jurisdiction land records.

 

Annual Report

A majority of states require HOAs to produce an annual report. Thus, you should give yourself time to prepare this annual report and review it after the first draft. Once you have finalized it, you can then distribute it to all members. Plus, don’t forget to make a copy of the report for storage.

Audits

You should schedule your audits to take place as soon as the previous fiscal year closes. Not every HOA will require annual audits, as state laws and your governing documents have varying provisions on them. For example, according to Florida law, associations with total revenue of $500,000 or more must prepare audited financial statements.

Taxes

Association taxes must be filed on or before the deadline, which is usually March 15. As such, you must schedule tax preparation ahead of time, ideally in February.

Budget and Dues

You must also make time in your calendar for budget preparation and dues calculation. Planning for the following year’s budget and dues usually takes place in the middle of the current year.

Insurance

Evaluating your active insurance policies will give you the opportunity to identify gaps in your coverage. It’s also worth contacting your provider to see if there will be any increases in premiums.

Annual Meeting

Your governing documents should tell you when to hold your annual meeting. Make sure to notify homeowners of the annual meeting accordingly and plan for any events that will take place during the meeting such as HOA elections.

Board Meetings

It’s a good idea to plan your board meeting dates and times at the start of the year. Make sure to comply with the requirements set forth in your governing documents.

Committee Meetings

After scheduling your board meetings, you can then move on to scheduling committee meetings. Generally, it’s best to hold committee meetings a week or so before board meetings to give committees time to prepare for their presentations.

Constructions or Renovations

If you’re expecting any major construction or renovation projects, make sure to include them in your yearly checklist. Scheduling these projects ahead of time will give you a chance to plan for them and notify homeowners.

Special Events

If your HOA has any upcoming special events, make sure to include them in your checklist. This way, you don’t forget to plan for them and notify homeowners of the appropriate dates and times. It’s also a good idea to include holidays in your checklist to plan for office closures and employee holiday leaves.

 

Newsletter

If your HOA distributes newsletters, schedule the distribution cycle and put the dates in your yearly checklist. In doing so, the person/s in charge of the newsletter can stay on track.

 

HOA Budget Preparation Checklist

Preparing your HOA budget is a critical part of ensuring financial success for your community. With a proper budget, you can plan your association’s expenses and calculate your monthly dues accordingly. It’s undoubtedly one of the most important HOA checklists you should have.

Here’s what to include in your HOA budget preparation checklist:

  • Schedule a target date for approving the budget
  • Review your current financial health
    • Assess the most recent HOA budget
    • Analyze notable variances
  • Set goals
    • Outline your budgetary goals
    • Decide how to achieve those goals
  • Estimate expenses
    • List down all HOA expenses for the year
    • Compute the average monthly cost for each expense
    • Tally the total projected expenses
  • Estimate revenue
    • List down all revenue sources
    • Compute the average monthly revenue from each source
    • Tally the total projected revenue
  • Input all items and numbers in a spreadsheet
  • Finalize the budget
  • Approve the annual budget

Download Your HOA Budget Preparation Checklist Here

 

HOA Maintenance Checklist

hoa yearly checklistEvery homeowners association should go through regular inspection and maintenance. This way, you can catch minor issues early on and prevent them from becoming major ones. Here are the things you should include in your HOA or condo maintenance checklist:

  • Exterior
    • Foundation
    • Walls
    • Paint
    • Doors
    • Windows
    • Roofs
    • Gutters
    • Storm drains
    • Vents
    • Patios
    • Wood decks
    • Driveway
    • Electrical supply boxes
    • Satellites
    • Pest control
  • Interior
    • Walls
    • Flooring
    • Roofs (for leaks)
    • Screens
    • Vents (including attic)
  • Utilities
    • Electrical lines
    • Water lines
    • Phone lines
    • Gas lines
    • Air conditioners
    • Heaters
    • Furnace
    • Sewage system
  • Common areas
    • Roads and asphalt
    • Sidewalks
    • Roofs
    • Gutters
    • Downspouts
    • Yards and lawns
    • Landscaping (tree trimming, irrigation systems, etc.)
    • Fences
    • Security cameras
    • Computers
    • Security system (software)
    • Vehicle entry gates
    • Parking lots
    • Trash collection
  • Write a maintenance report
  • Identify action items
  • Approve the maintenance report and action items

It’s also a good idea to mark the condition of each item and allow space for comments.

Download Your HOA Property Inspection Checklist Template Here

 

HOA Audit Checklist

Depending on your state laws, your HOA may need to conduct audits every year. For instance, under Florida law, associations with total revenues of $500,000 and upwards must prepare audited financial statements. Your governing documents may also contain provisions concerning how often you must perform an audit.

Here are the things you must include in your HOA audit checklist:

  • Decide on the objectives of the audit
  • Schedule fieldwork times
  • Set an audit report deadline
  • Confirm audit fees
  • Pre-audit
    • Gather and collate all HOA financial statements
    • Send statements to CPA
    • Give CPA access to HOA records
  • Evaluating risk
    • Analyze audited financial statements (most recent)
    • Review IRS tax returns
    • Examine the annual budget
    • Review board meeting minutes
  • Fieldwork
    • Analyze the income statement
    • Analyze the balance sheet
    • Review vendor contracts
    • Examine bank reconciliations and statements
    • Go through payroll records
    • Verify proof of ownership of equipment, land, and buildings
  • Audit report
    • Confirm audit
    • Review audit report draft
    • Approve audit report

Some of the financial statements and records you will need to submit to the CPA for review include:

  • 1099s for HOA contractors
  • Annual budgets
  • Annual IRS tax returns
  • Assessments receivables
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Bank statements
  • Board meeting minutes
  • Financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, etc.)
  • Insurance policies
  • Investment information
  • Paid invoices
  • Payroll records
  • Proof of ownership
  • Reserve schedules
  • Signed contracts and leases
  • Vendor contracts

Download Your HOA Audit Checklist Here

 

HOA Home Cleaning Checklist

Although HOAs aren’t responsible for individual homeowner property, it would help to provide members with a checklist for home cleaning. You can distribute this checklist physically or upload it to your HOA website. Alternatively, if you have a newsletter, you can also include this checklist there. Homeowners will appreciate the reminder and extra help from the association.

Here’s what to include in an HOA home cleaning checklist:

  • Exterior
    • Wash windows
    • Clean outdoor spaces (decks, patios, and balconies)
    • Clean the pool
    • Mow the lawn
    • Trim the bushes
    • Pressure wash the driveway
  • Living Room
    • Dust everything
    • Sweep or vacuum the floor
    • Mop the floor
    • Clean light fixtures
    • Wash windows
    • Vacuum or wash the carpet
    • Examine furniture for marks
  • Kitchen
    • Dust everything
    • Sweep or vacuum the floor
    • Mop the floor
    • Clean light fixtures
    • Wash windows
    • Clean cupboard exterior and interior
    • Wipe and disinfect countertops
    • Scrub the sink
    • Clean the stove
    • Clean the kitchen hood
  • Bathroom
    • Sweep or vacuum the floor
    • Mop the floor
    • Clean light fixtures
    • Wash windows
    • Wash the mirrors
    • Scrub the toilet
    • Scrub the bathtub
    • Clean the shower area
  • Bedroom
    • Dust everything
    • Sweep or vacuum the floor
    • Mop the floor
    • Clean light fixtures
    • Wash windows
    • Vacuum or wash the carpet
    • Examine furniture for marks
    • Replace sheets and pillowcases

Download Your HOA Home Cleaning Checklist Here

 

HOA Transition Checklist

hoa checklistHomeowners associations usually start out under the control of the developers of the planned community. When it’s time to pass on the control to the residents, HOAs go through a transition process. To facilitate a smooth transition, use the checklist below:

  • General documents and finances
    • Pass all necessary documentation
    • Examine financial statements and records
    • Perform an audit
    • Perform a reserve study
    • Review insurance policies and ensure sufficient coverage
  • Property inspection
    • Hire an engineer to survey all properties
    • Perform property inspection
    • Document property inspection
  • Legal matters
    • Hire an HOA attorney
    • Verify compliance with federal, state, and local laws
    • Review governing documents
    • Enforce CC&Rs
  • Board of directors
    • Elect board members
    • Form board committees
  • Finalizing transition
    • Verify all documents have been received from the developer
    • Schedule follow-up turnover meeting date

Download Your HOA Transition Checklist Here

 

An Easier Time All-Around

Successful homeowners associations make sure to always plan ahead. One of the best ways to do that is to come up with HOA checklists for various important tasks. We’ve made it easy for you with these downloadable templates.

Another way to ensure day-to-day operations run smoothly is to hire an HOA management company. If you’re looking for one in your area, use our online directory to make the search easier.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


A Risk Management For HOA Guide

Running a homeowners association is just like running a business. And if you want your HOA to succeed, it’s important to have a proper risk management plan in place. Here’s a helpful risk management for HOA guide to get you started.

 

Importance of Risk Management for HOA Communities

The concept of risk management can be quite complex. However, if you want to understand the importance of risk management for HOAs, it’s important to know the basics — at the very least.

 

What Is Risk Management?

Risk management is a formal process that identifies, evaluates, and manages risks that can lead to significant losses. It is commonly used in business and other financial sectors. However, running an HOA is very much like running a business. As such, board members must make sure that their association is protected from potential disasters that can affect its financial stability.

 

What Are the Different Types of Risk Exposures?  

A risk is defined as the possibility of loss. Risk exposure, meanwhile, is the measurement of a potential loss due to an event or activity. There are four major types of risk exposures that HOAs should look out for.

 

1. Property Risks

Property risks refer to events that can impact the structures or facilities of your HOA. These events include fires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

 

2. Liability Risks

Liability risks refer to losses that are caused by a third party. For example, if your vendor did not follow safety protocols and this resulted in injury or harm, the HOA could be held financially liable for the resulting injuries or property damages.

 

3. Net Income Risks

Net income risks refer to losses due to a decrease in revenue or increase in expenses.  For instance, if homeowners do not pay their dues on time, the association will not have enough money to pay for operating expenses. Net income losses can also occur if the board is not adept at financial management, which can lead to mismanagement of HOA funds.

 

4. Personnel Risks

Personnel risks refer to loss exposure due to the departure, resignation, or retirement of HOA board members, employees, and volunteers. This also covers claims that fall under workers’ compensation laws.

 

Benefits of Risk Management for Associations

risk management for community associationsWith risk management, the HOA can develop strategies or plans that will eliminate or mitigate their risk exposures. The benefits of having effective risk management for community associations include:

  • Safety: A risk management plan helps create a safe environment for your entire community.
  • Protection: Another benefit of HOA risk mitigation is that it helps protect homeowners’ investment: their homes.
  • Continuity: Risk management also ensures that the HOA can continue to run properly and effectively even after a natural disaster or major disruptive event.
  • Reputation: Proper risk management can protect the HOA’s reputation, which is essential for attracting new homeowners and ensuring its longevity as an association.  
  • Liability Avoidance: Risk management helps decrease the legal liabilities of the HOA and ensure its long-term financial stability.

 

Community Risk Management Strategies You Need to Know

In this section, you’ll learn about the risk management strategies that HOAs can implement to avoid potential significant losses.

 

Risk Control

Risk control focuses on avoiding or reducing risks. It is the best strategy for risk management, as well as the least expensive. There are two types of risk control:

  • Risk Avoidance — With risk avoidance, HOAs will eliminate all the activities or events that can potentially lead to losses.
  • Risk Reduction — Since not all risks can be avoided or eliminated (such as natural disasters), the goal of risk reduction is to lower the probability or magnitude of losses. For example, having a disaster management plan can keep both infrastructures and homeowners safe in case of an emergency.

 

Risk Financing

Meanwhile, in risk financing, HOAs will find ways to cover losses should they happen or occur. There are three different types of risk financing:

  • Risk Retention — Here, the HOA chooses to retain the risks and uses the association’s money to pay for the resulting losses. It could be because insurance cannot be purchased or is too expensive. Another reason is that it is more cost-effective for the HOA to pay for the loss. A common example of risk retention is HOA insurance deductibles.
  • Noninsurance Risk Transfer — HOAs transfer the risk to a third party, which is usually an insurance company. Common techniques for this strategy include holding harmless agreements, indemnity clauses, hedging, HOA insurance requirements, or provisions in contracts.

 

Risk Management and HOA Insurance

HOA insurance is a major component of your risk management program. HOAs pay premiums to their insurance service provider, who will then cover payments for a potentially significant loss. Insurance companies can cover these costs because they pool all the premiums they receive from clients. Since not all clients will experience loss, insurance companies will use their resources for those that do.

When obtaining insurance, HOAs must ensure that they have comprehensive coverage. This is to ensure that your association is covered for all potential risks or losses. The insurance policy for the HOA may also depend on what is stipulated in your governing documents, as well as federal, state, and local laws regarding HOA insurance.

Nevertheless, your insurance policy should include the essentials, namely: commercial general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, HOA board insurance, crime and fidelity insurance, natural disaster insurance, umbrella insurance, and non-owned auto insurance.

 

How to Perform Risk Management for Associations  

Now that you know the basics and importance of risk management for condo associations and homeowner associations, it’s time to discuss the essential steps of creating a risk management plan.

 

1. Identify the Risks

Risk management is all about preparing for potential risks — both obvious and expected. If you want to be prepared, you must identify all the possible risks for your HOA. This may include safety and security risks, environmental risks, violent acts, and natural disasters. You also need to consider what the potential consequences are for each risk.

 

2. Evaluate the Risks

After identifying all the possible risks, HOAs must evaluate each one. Analyze one risk and a time and determine the likelihood of that risk happening. This step is crucial because you’ll be able to determine the biggest risks to the HOA. By attaching a monetary value to each risk, the HOA will also be able to determine which risks need to be prioritized.

 

3. Develop and Implement Risk Management Strategies

Not all risks are the same. As such, the appropriate risk management strategies will also vary. HOAs must identify the best strategies for each risk and implement them as soon as possible.

You may choose to eliminate activities or services that create certain risks. Meanwhile, you’ll want to obtain adequate insurance coverage for risks that you cannot avoid or mitigate.

It’s important to have these protections in place to prevent significant losses for your HOA. In addition, the board members must educate homeowners about these risk management strategies and the importance of complying with them.

Homeowners should know about the HOA’s insurance policies so that they can adjust their own insurance policies for their homes. This is the best way to minimize the insurance gap and prevent losses for the community.

 

4. Monitor and Improve HOA Risk Management

Having risk management strategies in place is not enough; HOAs must also regularly monitor them. This is to ensure that risk management policies are in place at any given time and that the association is adequately covered for any potential loss.

Through regular monitoring, the HOA can also determine if there are changes or improvements that need to be made. Ideally, you should conduct a comprehensive review of risk management strategies at least once a year.

 

Guiding You Through Proper Risk Management for HOAs

hoa risk mitigationRisk management requires a lot of preparation. You need to be able to identify potential risks and find the best strategies to eliminate or prevent significant losses.

This risk management for HOA guide is enough to get you started on your risk management plan. The more prepared an association is, the fewer losses the board will have to deal with.

As a result, the association can maintain its financial stability and promote the best interests of the entire community.

Developing an HOA risk management plan requires time, effort, and expertise. If your board needs help with evaluating and mitigating risks, consider the benefits of hiring an HOA management company. Feel free to browse the HOA Management online directory to find the best HOA management companies and vendor services in your area!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


Why Accrual Accounting For HOAs Is The Best Accounting Method

HOA accounting is perhaps one of the most demanding facets of managing a homeowners association. Yet, it also remains integral to the smooth operations of any community.

 

Understanding HOA Accounting Methods

Also known as the basis of accounting, the accounting methods dictate the timing at which you record your association’s financial transactions. There are three accounting methods to choose from — Cash Accounting, Accrual Accounting, and Modified Accrual Accounting.

Choosing which basis of accounting to use is the first step towards better financial management. Accrual Accounting is generally regarded as the best accounting method, though the method you select will depend on what state laws and your governing documents say. For instance, California Civil Code Section 5300 mandates the use of the Accrual Basis of Accounting when creating a pro forma budget.

To better understand how each accounting method works, let’s break them down one by one below.

 

Cash Accounting Method

Using the Cash Basis of Accounting, you must record income and expenses upon the exchange of money. This means you will only record income once you actually receive the payment as opposed to when you earn it.

This accounting method frequently uses Cash as an accounting entry, increasing when you receive income. It does not, however, use account titles such as Prepaid Assessments or Assessments Receivable. Again, this is due to the nature of the method wherein you only report income once you receive cash.

Similarly, you will only record expenses once you actually pay for them as opposed to when you incur them. As such, the Cash account decreases. Using this method, you will not use any payable account titles such as Accounts Payable or Notes Payable.

It is worth noting that the Cash Accounting method does not conform to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

 

Accrual Accounting Method

accrual accounting | hoa accounting best practicesWhat is Accrual Accounting? Using the Accrual Accounting method, you must record revenue upon earning it and expenses upon you incurring them. For instance, when you would record the Assessments Receivable account on the Balance Sheet when assessments become due. Once you receive the payments, the Cash account will increase and the Assessments Receivable account will decrease.

The same goes for your association’s expenses. When you incur an expense, you record the Accounts Payable account on the Balance Sheet. Once you pay for this expense and money changes hands, both the Cash account and the Accounts Payable account will decrease.

Interestingly, the Accrual Accounting method is the only method that conforms with GAAP. In addition to the standard financial statements, the Accrual Accounting method should also generate two additional reports:

  • Aged Assessments Receivable. This report shows you detailed information on assessments owed by homeowners to the association. It indicates the names of the members who owe money to the HOA, how much they owe, and how long their debts have remained unpaid. The last part is usually separated into four categories: current, over 30 days, over 60 days, and over 90 days.
  • Prepaid Assessments. This report shows you detailed information on assessments paid in advance by homeowners to the association. It indicates the names of the member who have paid ahead of time as well as the amount they paid.

 

Modified Accrual Accounting Method

The Modified Accrual Basis of Accounting, also known as the Modified Cash Basis, uses an amalgamation of the Accrual and Cash methods. Using the Modified Accrual method, the timing for income recording follows the Accrual Basis and the timing for expense recording follows the Cash Basis.

 

Why Accrual Accounting for HOAs Is the Best

Accrual Accounting for HOA communities is considered by most experts to be the best basis of accounting. This is because the Accrual method gives you a more accurate picture of your financial situation. Since you report income and expenses as they occur instead of when money moves, you immediately know how much money you have.

In contrast, the Cash Basis might lead you to draw inaccurate conclusions about the state of your HOA finances. Because you don’t record expenses as you incur them, you might end up spending more money than you actually have.

You can also generate more accurate financial statements when you use the Accrual method. Even though you can create reports for Prepaid Assessments, Assessments Receivables, and Accounts Payables using the Cash Basis, you have no way of confirming their accuracy because no such accounts appear on the Balance Sheet.

 

What Are HOA Financial Statements?

Financial statements are written records of the association’s financial transactions. They reveal the financial position of your HOA community. Generally, there are five financial statements HOAs should prepare — Balance Sheet, Income Statement, General Ledger, Cash Disbursements Ledger, and Accounts Payable Report.

How do I find HOA financial statements? HOAs should make association records available to all homeowners as stipulated in state laws and your governing documents. You will usually find the proper procedure on how to request copies of your HOA financial statements within your bylaws or CC&Rs.

At the very least, homeowners should be able to review the association’s Balance Sheet and Income Statement, along with a statement of their account and the year’s budget. Though, you should remember that board members have a responsibility to keep homeowner information private. That means restricting access to more sensitive records such as delinquency reports and bank statements.

 

Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet provides you with a look at your association’s financial health. It indicates your association’s net worth by subtracting your HOA’s liabilities from your assets. It also displays how much money the HOA has in its bank accounts.

As its name indicates, the Balance Sheet should always balance out. In other words, your liabilities plus equity should be equal to your total assets. Always keep the following equation in mind:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

 

Income Statement

Also known as the Statement of Income and Expense, the Income Statement shows you the association’s revenue and expenses for the period (usually a month or a year). It deducts your total expenses from your total revenue to arrive at a net profit or loss.

This report also compares your actual expenses with your budgeted expenses. Furthermore, it covers year-to-date amounts. Using the Income Statement, you can evaluate your month’s or year’s performance in fiscal terms. You will know how much you are spending on a given expense which will allow you to make a decision on whether or not to cut back on it the following period.

 

General Ledger

Your General Ledger consists of all the association’s financial transactions. It acts as the basis from which all other reports are created and verified.

For General Ledger bookkeeping, you must record every transaction in numerical order — according to how you ranked them in your Chart of Accounts — and based on the date of occurrence. Every entry must consist of a debit and a credit account, with the total debit amount equaling the total credit amount. This is one of the most important homeowners association accounting rules.

 

Cash Disbursements Ledger

Known to some as a Check Register, the Cash Disbursements Ledger consists of all the checks that have been written. This report should include all pertinent information such as:

  • The date the check was written;
  • To whom the check was made out;
  • The check number;
  • The invoice number (if applicable);
  • A Chart of Account number; and,
  • A description of the expense.

The Cash Disbursements Ledger is not limited to checks issued by the association, though. You can also record transactions made in cash to keep track of the cash outflow of your HOA.

 

Accounts Payable Report

The Accounts Payable Report lists all of your association’s unpaid expenses. This report lets you know how much you owe, to whom you owe money, and any applicable due dates. With this report, you can determine what your expense obligations are for the period and manage your money more wisely.

 

What Is an HOA Audit?

An HOA audit is basically a review of your previous year’s financials. It is a necessary step in accounting for HOA communities and provides you with insight on how to prepare for the following year.

How often should an HOA be audited? To know how often to audit your HOA, you must first look at the laws in your state. Most states require associations to conduct an audit or review at least once a year. Some HOA governing documents say the same, while others only require it once every few years.

Even if no such requirements apply to your association, it is one of the HOA accounting best practices to perform an audit or review on an annual basis. In doing so, you can get a better grasp of your financial condition and make more informed decisions.

Keep in mind that you should never perform audits or reviews internally. You must always hire a third party, typically a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), so as to get an outsider’s perspective.

 

Tax Accounting for Homeowners Associations

Tax Accounting | accounting for hoas

Homeowners associations, while non-profit, are still recognized as corporations by the federal government. As such, you should know how to prepare for tax season.

In general, there are two forms HOAs can use when filing taxes: Form 1120 and Form 1120-H.

  • Form 1120. Using this form, all of your association’s net income is subject to taxation. Filling out this form usually takes more time and effort, though it has a lower tax rate of 15 percent for the first $50,000 of your net income.
  • Form 1120-H. This tax form is specifically designed for HOAs. It is easier to fill out, though there are some pre-requisites to qualify for this form. For one thing, 60 percent of your revenue must come from members. Additionally, 90 percent of your expenses should be for operations and maintenance. Plus, 85 percent of the units in your community must be residential.

 

Finding Help With Accounting

Ideally, you would have at least one member on your board who is familiar with HOA accounting. But, the truth is that many HOA boards lack the knowledge or time to manage accounting duties. Here are some alternatives to taking the DIY approach:

  • Assemble an Accounting Team. A skilled HOA management accounting team can handle all accounting-related tasks that come with running a community. This includes collecting assessments, bookkeeping, creating financial statements, and preparing tax returns.
  • Use HOA Accounting Software. If you don’t want to hire accounting employees, accounting software can fill that void. There is a lot of accounting software available for HOA use today. All you need to do is input your transactions and let the computer do the rest.
  • Hire a Professional. Of course, you can always outsource accounting tasks to a CPA or HOA management firm. There are plenty of companies that provide HOA accounting services in addition to things like dues collection, violation enforcement, vendor management, and the like.

 

A Necessary Evil

HOA accounting is definitely one of the more difficult, not to mention boring, tasks that come with association management. But, since it plays a key role in the success of your community, it is unavoidable. Proficiency in the subject is not necessarily essential, though you do need someone who can help you navigate its complexities.

Find an HOA management company that can shoulder most of the burden of accounting. Start your search today using our online directory, which you can use to filter companies according to your area.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


What’s The Right HOA Board Meeting Protocol?

HOA board meetings can dictate the pace of your community management. Knowing how to run an HOA board meeting, and run it well, can make such a huge impact on your HOA decisions. So, take the time and prep up your HOA board meeting agenda with care. Having a productive HOA board meeting can really set the tone for the rest of your association projects. In this guide, we’ll look at some tips for the right HOA board meeting protocol.

 

How to Follow Correct HOA Board Meeting Protocol

What’s the secret to successful HOA board meetings? Is it the venue? Should you spend more time doing meetings? A good venue and enough time to hold the meeting certainly helps. But, the secret to smooth, effective HOA board meetings is following the proper procedures.

That is, you need to spend time preparing for HOA board meetings. So, you can save time during the meeting itself. Odd how that works, yes? But, when it comes down to it, successful HOA board meetings are not necessarily the ones that go on for hours. Oftentimes, it’s in the shorter HOA board meetings that the decisive votes are cast.

When you dedicate time to careful board meeting preparation, the benefits can really add up. Your homeowners association board members, who in most cases are volunteers that donate their time to the cause, will certainly appreciate it. By having short, successful HOA board meetings, you’re showing them that you care about their time.

Being prepared means less time fumbling about finding the information you need. It also gives each member more time to voice out their opinions. That’s how being organized leads to snappier decisions, to the appreciation of everyone who attends.

Here are some tips on how to run a homeowners association meeting successfully:

 

1. Follow Your Governing Documents

Perhaps the most important HOA board meeting protocol is to follow your governing documents to the letter. Your bylaws and CC&Rs will tell you how many board meetings you need to hold and how often you need to hold them. Sometimes, state laws will also come into play.

Typically, smaller associations don’t need to meet as frequently as larger ones. Boards for small HOAs might get away with only holding meetings on a quarterly basis. In contrast, large HOAs may need to meet on a monthly basis.

 

2. Establish a Quorum

how to run a homeowners association meetingA quorum is the minimum number of members required to be present at a meeting to conduct association business. It’s an important pre-requisite, the absence of which can render your meeting ineffective and futile.

The HOA meeting requirements for a quorum can vary from association to association. Some HOAs need a percentage of the membership, while others require a specific number of members. Make sure to check your governing documents to know your quorum requirements.

 

3. Study Your Agenda, Then Organize, Organize, Organize

Even if you are not presenting during the meeting, preparation is a normal part of HOA board meeting protocol. A well-organized agenda is a key to having successful HOA board meetings. Having a meeting agenda that’s well put together is right up there with attendance in terms of importance.

Without attendance quorum, the group can’t take decisive action. And without an organized agenda, the group wastes time and energy getting to the voting points as well.

So put together the agenda for the next meeting, and study it. First, make sure it’s complete. The list of items that should go into your agenda should be mentioned in the governing documents for your HOA. Your state laws may have a say on it as well. So, it’s never a bad idea to check them first for any updates that may come up.

Do you have all the old business to be taken up? How about the new business – preferably listed in order of priority? Committee reports need to be added in as well, and you need to make sure you get every report. It helps to have a review of the action items from the previous meeting as well, just to keep everyone on the same page.

Then, make sure to cover the important presentations. There’s a report from the treasurer on the financials over the past month or quarter. Any new contracts with vendors? Make sure to go over them as well. Let’s not forget the open forum for homeowners, too.

 

4. Keep It Simple and to the Point

So now you’ve got an exhaustive list of every issue that can be brought up. You’ve now made sure that you haven’t missed anything. So, now’s the time to prioritize. Keep the agenda brief, and focused on the most urgent items, if possible. A short but relevant list of agenda items will keep the group focused on the important issues.

It helps to orient your agenda towards the people actually attending the meeting. Is it a board of directors meeting? Then you’ll need to prioritize items that will call for a vote. Check your HOA bylaws if it has a set of guidelines for agenda items. More often than not, some of your agenda items should be handled another time.

How simple and short should your meeting be? For your typical number of HOA board members, aim for an hour. Larger groups may need a slightly longer running time, so consider ninety (90) minutes for them, with thirty (30) minutes for your executive session.

 

5. Make an Agenda Schedule and Stick to It

You have studied your agenda items, right? Then you have a good idea of the time budget you need to allocate for each of them. Time management is key to successful HOA board meetings, so don’t hesitate to stick to your guns. If it’s an item with 10 minutes allocated to it, then 10 minutes is what it should get. If you’re involved in the discussion itself, then have someone keep time for you.

Your HOA guidelines should provide you with options on how to table an agenda item if the group cannot wrap it up. Be familiar with those, and use them judiciously. Just make sure that everyone knows the agenda schedule as well. So, that way, everyone is on the same pace as the meeting proceeds.

If your agenda includes an open forum for HOA homeowners, make sure to carefully limit their speaking time as well. It’s likely that your HOA members have more things to say than you have time for. So, to make sure that you get the opinions from everyone, have them submit their questions before the forum. It will help your HOA board save time by having answers ready, so they can address these questions in a timely manner.

 

6. Keep Reminding Everyone About HOA Board Meeting Rules

Board meetings are all about organized discussion, and HOA meeting rules establish that. So, remember that not everyone may not be as familiar with them as you are. Take the time to go over the rules every now and then. It will help save you trouble later on.

Make sure to neatly wrap up the meeting, too, by providing a short overview of the discussion. So, try to make time after the meeting to review action items, especially the ones you have just voted on. A bit of extra effort now to keep everyone on the same page will save your board from possible disagreements later on.

 

7. Remember to Take Minutes

how to run an hoa board meetingMost state laws and governing documents require board members to take minutes of the meeting. These HOA board meeting minutes are then made available to all homeowners. Though, minutes of the executive session must remain private.

When should HOA meeting minutes be distributed? It depends on what your governing documents and state laws have to say about it. In California, for one, board meeting minutes must be available to all members within 30 days of the meeting.

Some HOA boards choose to record meetings and then transcribe them later on. Of course, this raises the question, “Is it legal to record an HOA meeting?” Board members can decide to record meetings and prohibit other members from doing so.

If you intend to record a board meeting, though, make sure everyone knows about it. It’s also a good idea to destroy the recording after transcribing the minutes. This way, you can avoid any potential liability as a result of the recording’s existence.

What should be included in HOA board minutes? Your meeting minutes should include agenda items, discussions, actions, and motions that were taken. Refrain from including personal comments or opinions. The minutes also don’t need to include discussions verbatim. It’s not a script.

 

Understanding Open Board Meetings and Executive Sessions

Can HOA board members meet in private? Board meetings are typically held in open sessions, with members invited to attend. But, board members can also meet in private sessions, called executive sessions, to discuss confidential topics such as legal issues, personnel issues, and disciplinary items. Such sessions take place either before or after the open session.

 

Make Successful HOA Board Meetings A Routine

Successful meetings can be the norm and not the exception provided you follow proper HOA board meeting protocol. A bit of extra work now in preparing and timing your agenda items will save you a lot of effort later on. More importantly, it will make sure that your HOA board can decisively act on action items as a cohesive team. Now that’s the secret for a successful association.

Running board meetings is usually the HOA president’s job, but everyone needs a little help sometimes. If you’re having trouble managing meetings and other tasks, perhaps it is time to hire an HOA management company. In that case, start your search using our helpful online directory.

 

RELATED ARTICLES: