HOAs are great for ensuring the properties in your community maintain value, for providing residents with shared amenities, and fostering a sense of community among residents. But managing property values requires restrictions on the projects that can be carried out on the aesthetic features of a property—even if those changes are sometimes necessary for the owner to access parts of the association.
Whenever people gather into communities, it’s guaranteed that conflict will arise at some point. It may not be for anything severe, but simply a difference of opinion that brings it about. However, the thing to keep in mind is that no matter what caused the conflict to start, it’s necessary to deal with it in a way that’s constructive and maintains harmony within the association.
People choose to purchase a property in a community association for a variety of reasons, and such a decision has benefits and drawbacks like any other, big or small. If you do decide to purchase a property in a community association, you’ll automatically find yourself a member, and therefore subject to the same rules and regulations that everyone else in the community abides by.
Keeping residents in a Community Association safe isn’t just the considerate and responsible thing for a board to do — in many cases, it’s often required by law, whether at a federal or local level. One of the best ways to ensure that a board is both law-abiding and protective of all residents and property is by conducting a thorough safety inspection of both building components and any outside vendors that the Association relies upon for services. Rather than making these inspections a one-off behavior, the board should aim to keep a regular schedule of safety inspections, which can be advantageous in keeping property values up, reducing the risk of liability litigation, and catching any issues before they become more costly or dangerous.
Although it may seem as though many of the laws surrounding Community Association management are set in stone, there are cases moving through the courts every day that can have a significant effect on the way Associations conduct themselves. Here is a brief roundup of some of the more notable cases from the past few months.
Of all of the things that a Community Association board is responsible for within the Association, managing the community’s funds is one of the most important tasks. Proper money management helps cover vital projects, fosters ongoing relationships with key vendors, and otherwise ensures that the community has access to all the resources needed to run smoothly and successfully. Oftentimes, however, balancing the books is easier said than done. Everything from emergency maintenance projects to improper board member behaviors can threaten the financial health of the community.
Thankfully, keeping an Association out of the red is much easier with a proper HOA budget in place. Here are a couple tips to ensure that your budget is working hard for your community — and protecting the board from any financial lawsuit claims.
Social media has increasingly become the primary way that people stay connected — no matter where in the world they are. Everyone from individual influencers to large international brands use these channels to better relate to their audiences, and Community Associations can reap much of the same benefits from a similar strategy. Rather than simply trying to sell a product or service, however, Associations must view their social media presence as a tool for increasing community engagement and keeping residents better informed of important community business. Although this may seem like a heavy lift, there are a number of guidelines and best practices that can make navigating the ever-shifting social landscape a bit easier on an Association.
In an ideal world, the Board of Trustees would be a strong but fair force in a Community Association, ensuring that all residents are content at all times and that every aspect of the Association functions smoothly. In reality, things can be a lot more complicated. Everything from troublemaking residents to financial issues can cause discord in the community and leave board members feeling as though they’re unable to serve homeowners to the best of their ability.
Association board members walk a fine line when it comes to power and authority. While the board is responsible for advancing the collective best interest of the community as a whole, they must also balance this collective need against the needs and concerns of individual residents, as well. Residents who agree to Association living must understand this balance and recognize that they won’t necessarily have the freedom to, say, decorate their yard with excessive signage and kooky art or have loud, raucous parties whenever they want to with no consequences.
Although some Associations don’t implement term limits on Community Association board members, the board does experience turnover. Whether it be a board member who moves out of the community or simply steps down to better focus on responsibilities outside the Association, board vacancies are a reality of community living. However, a fully staffed, functioning board is vital to serve the best interests of the entire Association. But within an entire community of possible candidates, it can be difficult to know which ones are both interested in serving on the board and capable of increasing the Association’s ability to succeed.
From rowdy neighbors to malfunctioning utilities, every community faces problems at one time or another. However, living in an Association comes with its own set of unique issues. Although it can feel as though these concerns are simply part of community living, that doesn’t mean that the Board of Trustees is powerless to enact any effective solutions. The distinctive problems within an Association will require some equally distinctive solutions, but developing the strategies to overcome these issues will result in a strong, smoothly functioning Association.
The approaching frigid weather and holiday season provide a perfect invitation to get out of the house and take a trip — whether to the coziness of a ski resort or the warmth of distant sand and surf. But when the residents of your Association leave their community behind, all of the empty homes can cause a substantial risk to the overall safety of your community. While Association members certainly should not be expected to abandon their vacation plans in the name of community safety, there are some steps vacationing community members can take to ensure that your Association cuts down on crime, accidents, and everything in between.
Every Association is a little different, but all have one thing in common: In order to be truly successful, every Association must foster robust communication between residents and the Board of Trustees. Although busy schedules and other responsibilities make it difficult for the entire Association to come together for board meetings — no matter how effective they might be — Associations have other means for keeping the community connected, such as through an electronic newsletter. Whether your goal is to bust the myth that board members operate in secret or simply to bring your community closer together, an e-newsletter is a relatively easy yet effective way to keep the lines of communication open.
Some believe that Association living is relatively idyllic due to the heightened sense of community and camaraderie in some Associations. However, the reality is that Community Associations are just as likely to face legal issues as other organizations are — regardless of whether or not the Association and its board members are actually at fault. Thoroughly understanding legal action in an Association will help the Board of Trustees feel more prepared to handle any lawsuits should they arise.
Insurance is a necessary protection for many different aspects of our lives. From our cars to our health, insurance is there to mitigate the potential financial damage caused by the unpredictability of life — unpredictability that Community Associations are not immune to. But even though Associations are made up of residences, these special organizations require insurance protections that go beyond the typical homeowner’s insurance.
The Board of Trustees in any Association is tasked with the awesome responsibility of balancing budgets, handling emergency situations, keeping detailed records, and generally making sure that the various elements of the Association are functioning smoothly — all while maintaining the core values of the community and keeping residents happy. Making sure the Community Association is operational and ensuring all residents are content usually go hand-in-hand, thanks to the Association rules enacted by the board. But sensible, important Association rules don’t just write themselves. In order for the Association and its residents to flourish, the Board of Trustees first needs to draft the rules that will encourage them to do so, minimizing conflict along the way.
More and more bits and pieces of everyday living are moving onto the internet, so it was only a matter of time before life in homeowner associations and community associations moved online, too. While some associations have voiced concerns over the legal implications of moving their financial operations to the web, experts in community living have agreed that a website that limits its users’ ability to post and provides different levels of access to different community members can provide a wealth of other benefits. Creating a digital space for the members of your Association — whether to catch up on what they missed at the last community meeting or download some vital information on a major construction project in the community — is a simple way to connect community members with the board, other community members, and the outside world at large.
Board meetings don’t always go as planned. From neighborhood squabbles to long-winded speeches, there are a lot of things that can derail an otherwise successful meeting. Additionally, diving into a meeting without a clear plan and focused goals makes it hard to be productive. Fortunately, there are concrete steps that the Board of Trustees can take to ensure that board meetings run smoothly and successfully while still covering all the necessary information. Here’s how to revitalize board meetings to maximize the productivity of every single one.
There are many perks to HOA living — increased security, protected property values, and a sense of neighborhood pride, just to name a few. And in some Community Associations, the perks go beyond the intangible and actually include physical benefits, like common spaces. These common spaces are areas that every member of the community can enjoy on their own time.
Property management companies can ease the burden of everything from finance management to administrative services to property maintenance — if you are able to find a good one. Finding an experienced, reliable, and affordable property management company is no easy feat for an already busy HOA board, but the benefits can make that search worthwhile.