3 Key Differences Between an HOA and a Property Manager

If you’ve confused homeowners associations (HOA) with property managers or vice-versa, you are not alone. A lot of people think that HOAs and property managers are the same, or at least, their functions are which is why having an HOA and a property manager at the same time is sometimes frowned upon, thinking it’s a waste of time and resources. But there are key differences between the two, and really, what a property manager does is to enable the HOA to properly function and fully serve its community.

To help you better understand the differences between an HOA and a property manager, take a look at each one’s specific functions:

1. The HOA governs the community

In general, an HOA hires the services of a property manager or a property management company. Their function is to assist the HOA in its day-to-day obligations as well as in emergencies. The scope of the work or responsibility that the property manager will handle depends on what both parties have agreed upon. In other words, being the employer, the HOA has full power over the community and its rules of governance as well as the rules and regulations that every member of the HOA must adhere to are all under the jurisdiction of the HOA.

2. The property manager works behind the scenes

A homeowners association is responsible for several things, most notably, maintaining the common areas, ensuring that all members are following rules, collecting dues and taking care of the HOA’s finances, insurance coverage, emergency response, hiring contractors, and vetting tenants where applicable.

The HOA, as a governing entity, does not physically handle all these things especially since its Board of Directors comprises volunteer homeowners who also have demanding day jobs. So who functions behind these functions? The property manager.

3. The property manager may be the HOA’s “first responder” in certain situations

There are certain situations that could be easily handled by the property manager, but again, this depends on what has been agreed upon by both parties. It could be a homeowner’s concern about a job that the contractor the HOA provided, a tenant that has been remiss in payments, etc. In these kinds of situations, the property manager may function as the “face of the HOA,” in that they are first in line for contacting the HOA for concerns. In other words, the “first responder” in certain situations.

For bigger or more serious concerns, the HOA will be notified, and a meeting between the Board of the Directors and the concerned parties may ensue.

In a nutshell, the HOA has the final say in all matters concerning the community it governs.

Top 3 Qualifications of an HOA Board Member

Whether you’re considering becoming a member of your HOA’s board of directors or you’re simply wondering about eligibility for a seat on the board, it would help to know the qualifications of an HOA Board member. Specific qualifications may vary from one homeowners association to the next, but in general, these are some of the most common basic qualifications:

1. Educational background

Some homeowners associations require board members to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent and there are others that require at an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. It all depends on the HOA’s bylaws and the state’s requirements (if applicable).

Board members and officers are also required to take continuing education courses related or relevant to HOAs. These courses are generally free. There might be online courses available as well, so HOA board members can comply with the requirement despite their busy schedule.

2. Knowledge in accounting and finance

HOAs collect fees from homeowners, create a budget, and basically ensure that the collected fees are being used according to HOA regulations. As such, it’s important that each member of the board has at least a basic knowledge of accounting and finance to ensure that the HOA’s financial obligations are well-taken care of and that the money is not being squandered.

3. Good communication skills

As a member or officer of the board, it is your responsibility to ensure that your homeowners are aware of everything that goes on within the HOA and the community and that they know they can always turn to you for issues regarding the community. To make you effective in both, you need excellent communication skills. Your communication skills will also serve the HOA well as you effectively negotiate with contractors and suppliers, vet tenants, address complaints or even mediate between neighbors in disagreement over an issue.

Apart from these three, basic knowledge of computers and office applications is also required. You need computer skills to help you with documents and written communications, bookkeeping and accounting, and virtual communication applications. You also need to know how to manage the HOA’s website.

If you wish to learn more about homeowners’ associations or for professional HOA management services, we invite you to give us a call at 951-270-3700 for questions or inquiries. If you would like to request for an HOA management proposal, please click here. We look forward to helping your HOA achieve its goals.

Three Key Things to Know About Your HOA Board

If you’ve recently moved into an HOA-managed community and you’ve never had the experience of living in such a community before this, you probably have a lot of questions regarding the HOA and its board of directors. To help you stay informed, here are a few things you need to know about your HOA board:

1. Members of the board of directors are elected by the homeowners

When a seat becomes vacant, any member of the HOA may express their desire to fill the vacancy, and if they qualify, the homeowners will decide who gets the seat by popular vote. There may also be times when a board member taps a homeowner for the vacancy. But an election is still required, even if the Board recruited them.

2. Members of the board can be removed

If a board member can be removed if he or she is suspected of neglecting their fiduciary duties or have been abusing power (or found ‘guilty’ of anomalous/deceitful activities), but it will be a tedious process. First off, you need to know your HOA’s bylaws regarding the removal of board officers. Secondly, you will need enough evidence to support your request for automatic removal.

Usually, the actions taken by the board and homeowners regarding problematic officers is to let them finish their term and elect someone else for the vacancy. Sometimes, the board might elect to remove the officer from their position (president, treasurer, etc.) but not of the board. This significantly reduces their authority over HOA matters.

3. Board of Directors salary

Homeowners associations are not-for-profit organizations, and as such, working for it as a member or officer of the board of directors is voluntary. This means the board of directors shouldn’t receive a salary. There are, however, some HOAs that give their board of directors an allowance or compensation for their “volunteer work,” which completely negates the “volunteer” part of the job. Check your HOA’s bylaws about salaries or compensation (or other ‘financial assistance’) credited to the board of directors regularly.

If you wish to learn more about homeowners’ associations or for professional HOA management services, we invite you to give us a call at 951-270-3700 for questions or inquiries. If your HOA is in or around Southern California and you would like to request for an HOA management proposal, please click here. We look forward to hearing from you.

5 Steps to Take to Resolve HOA Disputes

Talk to the complainant and the party in question separately; and remember to be neutral, setting aside your personal feelings or opinions. In other words, be as objective as possible. Your goal is to get to the bottom of the issue/s and not to blame one or the other.

3. Mediate

Schedule a meeting between the complainant and the other party, and make sure that only the concerned entities will be involved in the meeting. No family members, relatives or witnesses are necessary at this time. The point of mediation is to help both parties to resolve the dispute as amicably as possible, without involving others.

4. Discuss the issue with the HOA’s Board of Directors

If the mediation didn’t work, it’s best to take up the issue with the Board. In some disputes, the Board’s intervention or action is needed to prevent the issue/s from escalating or affecting the entire community. With this step, you may need to go over your HOA’s rules and regulations to see if any were violated. You can also check the stipulation on how disputes are resolved. The point of this is to act within the legal bounds of the HOA’s jurisdiction.

5. Take legal steps

If one or both parties start harassing each other, or harassing the HOA’s Board members and staff, don’t hesitate to seek the help of your HOA’s attorney. A restraining order from the court may be necessary to maintain peace within the community and prevent acts of violence.

In all these steps, a property manager or HOA management team can ensure that everything is taken cared of according to the stipulations of the HOA rules and regulations, as well as the state’s related laws.

To learn more about So Cal Property Enterprises HOA and property management services, please feel free to call 951-270-3700 at your convenience.

California’s First Smart Community Westpark Maintenance District in Irvine

A Look at California’s First Smart Community

Are you out looking for a new home for your, shall way say, tech-savvy family? If so, California’s first smart community may interest you. Westpark Maintenance District in Irvine has the distinction of becoming California’s first smart community, using a new smart technology called COMMON SENSE™ that has been specifically developed for HOA use. San Marino Park in Irvine is the first smart community park in the state.

California’s First Smart Community

From smart homes to smart cities now come smart communities. In California alone there are more than 52,000 HOAs, and they may be the first to adopt the smart technology to create the first smart state in the country. Without getting ahead of where it can lead to, smart technology essentially opens more doors for improving homeowners’ living experiences in their communities, while improving service efficiencies among HOAs. For instance, smart technology can help community managers with the maintenance and support of common areas such as parks and swimming pools. With sensors and the system securely connected to the internet, many functions such as community lighting, irrigation, surveillance, and the like can now be monitored, automated, and controlled remotely. Aside from efficiency, the use of smart technology may also lead to greater improvements in terms of sustainability. It can result to better homes, better communities, and overall better environments for families.

For homeowners, they are also afforded convenience by the smart technology. In Westpark Maintenance District for example, residents can easily look up on their mobile phones the status of their community swimming pool, whether it’s currently occupied for swim team practice or not. They can also check the temperature of the swimming pool or report an issue to management. All this information is available on a dashboard which is updated in real-time. The San Marino Park swimming pool’s water quality is also tested every 15 minutes. The information is sent securely through the cloud and the smart system adjusts accordingly, helping it meet critical California Title 22 code regulations. The law requires commercial pools to be tested and for that information to be logged daily.

What’s Next for California’s First Smart Community?

Westpark Maintenance District is the pilot community for the smart technology and given its success, there’s no reason why other communities in California will not follow suit. As homeowners become more discerning about the modern amenities made available to them by the community and HOA, smart technology will play a bigger role in making life-enhancing living innovations a reality.

HOA Ignores Court

But Maple Park is not part of Walker Lakeshores, and so the couple took the matter to court.

It was a long battle that has cost the Pearns thousands of dollars in legal fees. In 2017, the case went to the Court of Appeals. Judge Joseph Kameem ruled that the Pearns owed WLLA only $30 for the accumulated 3-year maintenance fee ($10 per year for maintenance). The WLLA appealed the decision but later withdrew, which means that Judge Kameem’s ruling stands.

HOA ignores court ruling present time

The couple, however, received another billing from the WLLA, this time, amounting to $325 for assessment and $50 for membership. This was clearly going against court ruling.

Amelia Pearn has been documenting her legal battle in a personal blog. There, she notes that irregularities have been discovered from the WLLA. Withdrawals from the HOA funds amounting to more than $200,000 were discovered. It was found that part of the withdrawals were to pay for personal expenses like cable and electricity bills—expenses completely unrelated to HOA business.

But the Pearns weren’t the only ones the WLLA billed. Several other Maple Park homeowners received a similar bill from the Walker Lakeshores HOA. Some of them pay, some don’t; and, to the surprise of Maple Park residents, others got sued!

At So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc., our goal is to help homeowners associations perform their duties, and this includes keeping their books open. Transparency is critical to the effectiveness, reliability, and trustworthiness of an HOA. Our team comprises a select staff of well-trained, professional and highly skilled individuals, each an expert in their respective fields. We have the expertise and experience to deliver reliable and professional services in finance and accounting, collection, board education and governance, site reviews and reconstruction, and vendor selection.

If you need help with your HOA or property management, we invite you to give us a call at 951-270-3700.

California HOA Allows Residents to Close Garage Doors

 So Cal Property News: California HOA Allows Residents to Close Garage Doors

In a quiet neighborhood in Auburn, California, residents were mandated by their homeowner’s association to keep their garage doors open from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon on weekdays. The mandate took effect on January 1. Now, said California HOA allows residents to close garage doors. Less than two weeks after the regulation took effect, the Auburn Greens HOA backed down after receiving negative feedback from its members.

Homeowners associations keep the neighborhood safe

Among the responsibilities of homeowners associations, maintaining the safety of the neighborhood remains a top priority. But this seems to be the opposite for this Auburn Greens HOA. When the HOA required its members to keep their garage doors open, the main concern of the homeowners is their safety, and understandably so. With their garage doors open practically all day, their household becomes vulnerable to thieves and unlawful entry. It’s like a welcome mat for unscrupulous characters.

What inspired the mandate?

The ruling came about when the HOA discovered that one resident allowed someone to live in their garage. While this may have been against the HOA rules, the way they tried to resolve the issue clearly wasn’t in the best interest of its members, according to the opinion of the majority.

Moreover, a penalty was attached to the ruling. Anyone found to have violated the rule will be fined a whopping $200—a fine that some members were willing to pay outright for their peace of mind.

California HOA allows residents to close garage doors

Drawing the ire of its members, the HOA backed down and reversed its ruling. It was clear to the members that their HOA didn’t think the situation and solution through. A more welcome move would have been to communicate to the members their concern about allowing someone to live in the garage and gather a consensus on the best solution to deter squatting while still maintaining the safety of its members and security of the neighborhood.

When the “California HOA allows residents to close garage doors” news broke, residents finally heaved a sigh of relief. But, from this point on, its members may keep a closer watch on their HOA’s activities and decisions to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

At So Cal Property Enterprises, Inc., our goal is to help homeowners associations perform their duties while ensuring that their members’ concerns are properly addressed.

To discuss your HOA and property management needs, we invite you to give us a call at 951-270-3700.

A Beginner’s Guide to Increasing Your Home’s Value

 Increase the Value of Your Home: A Beginner’s Guide

One of the best and most effective ways to increase the value of your home is to make a few improvements to your interior and outdoor spaces. These home improvements don’t have to be expensive. You might be surprised at how a few tweaks here and there can increase the value of your home considerably. Here are a few tips that you can consider:

Give your home a thorough inspection

Inspect every area of your home; bedrooms, kitchen, toilet and bath, living room, and dining area for the interiors, and roof, exterior walls, patio, and yard for the outdoor space. First, make a list of all the things that need to repairs (roof sheets or shingles, gutters, sticky doors and/or windows, closet and cupboard doors, floors, etc.). Next, create another list for all the improvements you wish to make, like a fresh coat of paint on your interior walls, upgraded or modernized bathroom features, and such.

It would also be great if you can consult with a professional interior designer or a realtor, so you can get their professional opinion on how to increase the value of your home.

Enhance your home’s curb appeal

Your front yard is the first thing that people notice when they walk past your house. Suffice it to say that if this is unappealing, it’s most likely that people will assume that the interiors of your house will be the same. Add a few potted plants on the side of your driveway, and a couple more outside your main door might liven the place up a bit. Choose plants that are native to your state, and choose those that require little maintenance such as those that are “drought-tolerant” if you live in a particularly dry region.

If possible, you can also plant a tree if you don’t have any yet. And of course, always make sure that your lawn is trim and clean.

Make your home energy-efficient

First, check your appliances and fixtures to make sure that every piece or item is functioning properly. Next, replace old fixtures with energy-efficient ones. If you are going to replace your old appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR certification label. In a nutshell, appliances and electronics that are ENERGY STAR-certified use less than the standards required by the federal government—about 20 to 30% less.

Spruce up the place

Lastly, spruce up your place by installing new window treatments, rugs or carpeting. Wall hangings and decorative pieces on your surfaces will also add some visual interest.

These are but a few basics on how to increase the value of your property; they’re not necessarily big projects, but these simple tweaks could help you get started.


Reasons to Live in Corona, CA for Young Families and Retirees

Top 5 Reasons to Live in Corona, CA

Are you thinking of moving to California? Whether for work or retirement, California’s communities remain at the top of the list of best places to live in. However, there’s more to the Golden State than Los Angeles or San Francisco. Here are five reasons to live in Corona, CA, a city in Riverside County that offers a first-rate quality of life for its residents.

1. It’s a safe and quiet suburb – It’s hard to imagine finding a safe and quiet place in the country’s most populous state, but the truth is, such places exist. This is what makes Corona’s safe and quiet suburbs number one among the reasons to live in Corona, CA. Young families, established professionals, and retirees alike will love it here. It also has an ethnically diverse community that is made up of young and well-educated families.

2. Only an hour’s drive from downtown L.A. – Here’s another excellent proposition to live in Corona — you’re only an hour’s drive away from downtown L.A.! Number two in the reasons to live in Corona, CA: the city’s proximity from the City of Angels makes it an excellent choice when you’re looking for a more affordable residence.

3. Home to an exciting dining scene – It may be a quiet suburb, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bare and isolated place. In fact, the exciting dining scene here makes it into the list of top reasons to live in Corona, CA. If you love to eat out, you’ll surely enjoy the varied dining establishments; choose from Mexican, American, Caribbean, Asian, and Greek cuisine, among others.

4. There’s a golf course open for public play – For retirees who are looking for an activity to help keep them in shape, there’s a well-kept golf course open for public play. The Dos Lagos Golf Course boasts a picturesque backdrop of South Corona as you practice your swing on its fairways, water hazards, and sand traps. The golf course is also a popular events venue for weddings, private parties, and corporate events.

5. Many fun outdoor activities for the kids – Meanwhile, Corona has something to offer for the kids as well. If you’re looking for more reasons to live in Corona, CA, you’ll be delighted to know that the city has an indoor go-kart racing track facility, an interactive Renaissance family-friendly fair, as well as playgrounds and parks for weekend picnics. Fly a kite, go for a walk with your dog, or have a BBQ — Corona is an ideal hub for you and your family.

5 Tips on Maintaining Your Property

While maintaining your property may require a little effort, it costs far less than having repairs done—extensive ones at that if the problem has already escalated. As a property owner, you need to be on top of your property’s maintenance. If you don’t know where to begin, or which areas you need to focus on, below are five tips we’d like to share regarding maintaining your property.

1. Waterproof exterior walls, panels, roof, and windows

Water seepage is one of the most common issues often overlooked until it’s too late, usually when wallboards or panels are already showing signs of decay, or leaks have started to appear in your home’s interiors. While it is a common practice in construction to apply waterproof coating to these features, over time, the coating may have thinned out or peeled off. Regularly check for signs of water seepage (stains on the walls, surfaces that are damp or wet without being subjected to rain or water, and leaks), and apply a fresh coat of waterproofing material every two to three years.

2. Check for termite infestation on wooden slabs or boards on ceilings, floors and walls

Termites thrive on moisture and warm temperatures, two things that are often present beneath the surface of your home. Termite infestation generally remains undetected until obvious signs appear. Make sure to keep your home clean and dry, which means taking the maintenance steps mentioned above as well as checking for faucet and pipe leaks. You can also tap on the wooden walls and floors. If you notice a hollow sound when you tap, chances are termites are already there. Contact a professional pest control service immediately. Ensuring that your property is termite-free is one of the most critical factors in effectively maintaining your property.

3. Check roof shingles or sheets, and keep gutters clean and debris-free

Roof repairs are one of the most expensive repairs on a property, which is why you need to check your roofing system’s condition at least once a year, especially after a rain or snow storm. Clean the gutter regularly to remove debris like leaves and twigs to prevent it from clogging.

4. Keep your yard or garden clean

Whether you have a landscaped garden or a simple grass lawn in your front yard, your outdoor space needs as much attention as your indoor space, maybe more. An unkempt yard is not only unpleasant to look at; it could also become a breeding ground for pests and insects, or a regular hangout for rats. Maintaining your property means keeping it clean and tidy all the time.

5. Have your heating and cooling systems cleaned annually

A/C units and heating systems need to be thoroughly cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year. A poorly performing cooling or heating system will not only increase your utility bills, but it can also put your safety at risk.