Running a homeowners’ association (HOA) is no walk in the park. There’s more involved than simply collecting monthly fees from residents and hiring a landscaper to make the place look good. You’ve got to connect with residents and get them to trust you. In a way, your residents are like clients and how you interact with them matters.
An HOA is responsible for maintaining community standards, but also involves managing a complex network of people and other businesses. An HOA is responsible for every piece of equipment and all facilities located on the property. This can include equipment like community wells, which require extensive (and expensive) upkeep.
If you’re part of an HOA, or managing an existing HOA, here are six tips to keep your efforts streamlined and effective.
1. Develop A Competent Board For Your HOA
Having a board that’s easy to communicate with makes residents feel good about being part of your HOA. The more competent your board members are at what they do, the better they’ll be able to serve residents.
For instance, your board members should be familiar with the details of the documents they’re supposed to enforce and operate under. This requires taking the time to read the documents thoroughly. Everyone is busy, but there’s no excuse for ignorance.
Part of developing a competent board requires conducting board meetings properly. In many states, board meetings are required to be conducted according to parliamentary procedure.
2. Hire Expert Community Management Services
When it comes to helping an overwhelmed HOA board, community management services can go a long way. If your board has too much to tackle, hiring experts to manage the overwhelming aspects of the business is helpful.
A community management company is designed to help you manage your HOA from the bottom up. As HendersonProperties.com shares, community management services can include:
- Preparing board meeting information
- Sending notices
- Creating budgets
- Reviewing vendor contracts
- Arranging inspections
- Answering resident questions
- Performing accounting services
- Providing training to board members
- And even maintenance
3. Propose (And Enforce) Assessments Diplomatically
When your HOA is underfunded and repairs are needed, your next option is to get the funds from residents. They’ve all agreed to this prior to moving in, but it can still be a shock seeing extra fees added to their dues.
You can’t just send someone a bill after the assessment gets voted on. You need to explain to residents, in detail, what the assessment is for and why it’s important. You need their buy-in.
If you can get residents to willingly support an assessment, you’ll have no problem collecting the money. The key is to be great with people. Be on their side. Understand them and work with them.
4. Enforce All Rules Without Exception (But Make Sure They’re Fair)
HOA rules are designed to protect property values, not to give anyone a power trip over residents. Make sure the rules are in alignment with protecting property values and making the community an enjoyable place to live.
All board members should enforce the rules consistently. No favors or reprieves should be given for major violations. Minor violations are a little different. If someone is new, they’ll be quick to make a correction as long as you haven’t ignored the issue for a while.
For example, a resident might use a wine bottle for a vase on the kitchen window ledge. If your association prohibits displaying bottles in the window, ask them to take it down the moment you see it. Consistently enforcing HOA rules encourages residents to follow the rules.
5. Don’t Fine New Residents For Every Infraction
New residents aren’t going to remember every minor rule right away. They’re probably not even used to abiding by rules that govern when they can have guests and whether they can display a decorative flag.
HOA rules take time to settle into, so give new residents a break on the fines at first. Enforce the rules, but give them time to settle in before you start issuing fines.
6. Don’t Change Your Rules To Attract More Buyers
Not everyone looking to buy a home will consider property governed by an HOA. There are pros and cons to living under an HOA. There are also deal-breakers for some people, like not being able to park their car in front of their house.
That doesn’t mean you need to change your rules to appeal to everyone. However, it doesn’t hurt to revisit your rules to ensure they make sense.
For example, if you live in an area where the majority of people own RVs, you may want to ease up on allowing residents to park their RVs in the driveway. You might miss out on an excellent tenant just because they don’t want to pay $400/month to store their RV.
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