While many are highly efficient and effective, there are other homeowners associations that are unable to properly manage basic tasks such as critical maintenance and resident conflicts. Most often than not, HOAs that cannot operate properly will have to deal with resident dissatisfaction. If you are a new association that wants to establish proper procedures or an older community that needs to overhaul its operations, it’s worth reading through tips for community association management to keep in mind.
In this article:
What Is Community Association Management?
Before anything else, it’s integral to first understand the definition of a community association. What is a community association? Simply put, a community association is an organization of sorts that consists of participating community members. It can be in the form of a homeowners association, a condo owners association, a cooperative, and so on.
What does a community association do? In the case of a homeowners or condo owners association, it acts as a governing body with the purpose of maintaining the common areas of a community and keeping property values high. Such associations are led by a set of volunteer members known as the board of directors or simply HOA or COA board.
Community association management is simply the act of overseeing the operations of a community association such as an HOA or COA. It involves various tasks such as accounting, financial management, homeowner communication, service request management, project management, rule creation and enforcement, and the like.
Everything to Know About Community Association Managers
What is a community association manager? A community association manager is someone who manages community associations such as HOAs and COAs. More often than not, associations that wish to seek professional help turn to a community association management company. This company then assigns a manager to each individual association to perform various community association management services.
Community Association Manager vs Property Manager
What is the difference between a community association manager and a property manager? Many people use these two terms interchangeably, but they’re totally different jobs. A community association manager handles communities such as HOAs and COAs. On the other hand, a property manager handles rental properties or units. Property managers usually serve an individual or corporate property owner, while community association managers serve an entire community.
What Are the Duties of a Community Association Manager?
Also known as an HOA manager, this person carries out day-to-day tasks to keep the association running. Usually, this involves attending board meetings, helping the board with accounting and financial management (including budget preparation), processing work orders, resolving disputes, communicating with homeowners, and even collecting dues. Other duties include but are not limited to:
- Conducting inspections for potential rule violations
- Enforcing rules and covenants
- Overseeing the maintenance of common areas and amenities
- Filing tax returns
- Preparing monthly reports
- Managing insurance
How Do You Become a Community Association Manager?
State laws can vary, so it depends on where you’re located. But, it generally involves completing a course on community association management. Some states also require you to have a community association management license.
What Makes a Good Community Association Manager?
A community association manager should display a number of qualities and skills. A manager should have great leadership skills, communication skills, and mediation skills. They should also have excellent knowledge of community associations as well as the laws that govern them. Managing a community can be stressful, but a good community association manager knows how to remain calm and professional even in the most trying situations.
Improve Community Management With These 10 HOA Tips
These HOA tips will be able to address problem areas in your association, as well as ensure that your community is able to operate smoothly and efficiently moving forward.
1. Resolve Conflicts as They Surface
It’s natural for HOA communities to have conflicts. Homeowners may disagree with the board members from time to time and neighbors might have conflicting opinions on their property boundaries.
But, by the time that HOAs intervene, the situation has already escalated and they are unable to resolve the conflict. As such, always resolve conflicts as they surface.
To improve community association management, it’s recommended to have a solid conflict resolution plan. HOAs should try to negotiate between both parties to resolve the conflict. This is to deescalate the situation and prevent more costly actions such as mediation, arbitration, or litigation. An HOA that is able to quickly resolve conflicts will have an easier time increasing their residents’ satisfaction levels.
2. Always Have a Sizeable Reserve Fund
A reserve fund is an essential part of your homeowners association finances. HOAs need these funds for large-scale projects and emergency expenses. While most HOAs do have reserve funds, the size is usually relatively low.
When there are emergencies or unexpected expenses, the HOA has no other choice but to levy a special assessment to come up with the money. This places a heavier financial burden on the homeowners.
As such, it’s vital to have a sizable reserve fund that is almost 30% of your total maintenance fees. HOAs should also conduct a reserve study every 3-5 years to ensure that their reserve fund level is sufficient.
3. Hire HOA Management Service Companies When Needed
Not all HOAs can operate properly on their own. One possible reason is that HOA board members don’t have the time or expertise to manage the community. It may also be that a community is growing too much and self-management is no longer feasible.
In such cases, it may be ideal to hire the services of an HOA management company, With years of experience and a wide range of resources, they can help HOAs manage their communities better.
4. Find the Right Vendors
Whether it is for landscaping, cleaning, or maintenance repairs, HOAs should have the right vendors available. While it is important to keep operating expenses low, you shouldn’t settle for the vendor with the lowest prices. HOAs also have to look at other aspects such as their reputation, the quality of service they provide, and how they interact with your community.
It might be better to choose a higher-priced vendor that can get the job done in one visit than a vendor who does a mediocre job that eventually has to be redone. This may be a more cost-effective approach in the long run. So, when searching for vendors, make sure to do your research to find the best ones.
5. Hire the Right People
It is rather unfortunate that many homeowners associations hire the wrong people to manage their community. You may have experienced hiring an electrician or accountant that wasn’t the right fit for your association. Or worse, you may have dealt with employees who were negligent or had criminal intent.
It’s important to interview a prospective vendor or employee before signing any contract. This is your opportunity to get to know who you might be working with and ask important questions related to the services they will be providing. Hiring the right people not only ensures cost reductions, but also efficiency in community management.
6. Reinforce Policies as Needed
While residents are required to read, understand, and comply with the HOA’s policies, there are always those that seemingly forget to follow them.
There are also some HOAs that fail to enforce their rules fairly and regularly. Both these cases can lead to homeowner conflicts and lower satisfaction levels. If there is selective enforcement or discrimination, the HOA might even end up in costly legal proceedings.
As such, in the case of policy violations — such as violence or nightly disturbances — HOAs must be able to consistently put their foot down and ensure that homeowners are adhering to the rules. This helps maintain peace and order in your community.
7. Monitor Resource Usage
Some HOAs may not be allocating their resources properly or misusing them. Wasted resources can not only increase your operating expenses, but it can also take up more of your time. This can prevent your association from operating efficiently or becoming productive. So, by monitoring resources, HOAs can ensure proper usage. They will be able to take corrective actions before it leads to costly consequences.
8. Hire a Third-Party Auditing Service
Proper financial management should be a priority for all HOAs. Any discrepancies in your finances can lead to major problems for your association. If money is always an issue, the community will have a hard time growing.
To ensure that your finances are in order, hire a third-party auditing service. They can significantly offload work for the HOA, especially during the end of the year, and ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Without having to deal with fines and legal complications, the association is able to manage itself better.
9. Place Better Signs
Place clear, concise, and effective signs such as “no parking” and “no smoking” around your residential community area. By having these reminders, residents won’t have any excuse not to comply with your community’s rules. For instance, if you are trying to curb smoking in public areas, you can set up areas where residents can use their vapor products to smoke—as the millennial generation is turning to this.
10. Be Firm With Fees
HOA fees are usually the lifeline for any association. It is what you use to fund maintenance costs, services, and other essential expenses. It can’t be avoided, though, that some residents are uncooperative with HOA fees — either in meeting deadlines or not paying enough.
An HOA that doesn’t follow up on delinquent HOA fees will be more at risk of financial hardship. Without these HOA fees, they won’t have enough money to fund amenities, services, and employee salaries. So, the community could cease to function.
As such, one of the best HOA tips for any association is to be firm with their collection strategy. You can leverage simple warnings for first-time offenders but also have stricter consequences for delinquent homeowners. Just make sure to follow your governing documents on how to deal with this issue.
Help Your Community Flourish
No HOA community can ever be perfect, but the important thing is that your association is always trying to improve — whether it’s through updating outdated procedures, being more consistent with rules, or communicating more with residents more.
Follow these HOA tips for the betterment of your community. With these 10 HOA management tips, you’ll be able to find ways to improve community association management. With better community management, you’ll also have happier residents and an association that is constantly growing.
On the other hand, you can always hire an HOA management company to do most of the work. For that, you need a reliable and complete online directory like HOA Management.
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