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Benefits of Living in an HOA-managed Community

3 Reasons to Live in an HOA-managed Community

Some people hesitate to move into a new home simply because the property is part of an HOA community. This is especially true for someone who’s never had the experience of living in an HOA-managed property in the past. There are advantages to a homeowners association that some may not know about precisely because they haven’t lived in an HOA community before.

If you’re still undecided about the condominium unit or single-family home you’ve been eyeing because it is governed by a homeowners association, it might help to know the benefits
homeowners derive from an HOA. The following advantages could help with your decision-making process:

1. There is an “authorized entity” you can readily approach for concerns regarding neighbors

Disputes and arguments between neighbors may sometimes arise, and if these occur within a neighborhood governed by an HOA, you readily have someone to assist you with the dispute/disagreement. Homeowners can approach their HOA to discuss their complaint, upon which the HOA will investigate the incident/situation, mediate, and resolve the conflict as amicably as possible.

2. Access to exclusive amenities and facilities

One of the best parts about living in an HOA community is that some provide world-class amenities and facilities for the exclusive use of the homeowners (and their guests, when applicable) alone. Such facilities, such as parks and playgrounds, swimming pools, recreation centers, fitness facilities or gyms, basketball and/or tennis courts, are built for the comfort and convenience of the homeowners.

3. You have a support system

When you move into an HOA community, you automatically get a new support system. HOAs don’t only oversee the upkeep of the community to keep property values up and maintain a certain standard of excellence; they also exist to assist homeowners, be it for personal needs or matters related to their property. There are HOAs that hold fundraisers, for instance, to help a homeowner going through medical/health challenges. There are HOAs that support pet adoption and other good causes as well.

From the above, you can see that a homeowners association benefits homeowners in ways that can greatly improve one’s quality of life.

If you’d like to learn more about HOAs and how they benefit homeowners, or read more about HOA-related posts, please feel free to browse our blog page. For news and updates on California homeowners associations, you may visit the community news page.

Responsibilities of an HOA Board and HOA Management Company

Understanding Responsibilities of an HOA Board and HOA Management Company

A homeowners association or HOA is primarily established to ensure that the homeowners and the community it serves thrive and grow. And in order to achieve this goal, by-laws and covenants are put in place. These by-laws and covenants basically establish rules and regulations that all homeowners must follow for as long as they are a part of the HOA community.

Similarly, the by-laws generally enumerate the HOA’s functions and the HOA Board’s responsibilities, including things they can and cannot do whether on behalf of the HOA or as a Board member/homeowner.

That said, the HOA Board’s primary duty is to ensure that the association is fully functional and serves the best interest of the community. This is where an HOA management company may be considered. Sometimes though, the responsibilities of the Board and the management company overlap even if they shouldn’t, which means the management team is sometimes expected to perform duties that only the Board should.

It is therefore important to clearly define responsibilities of the HOA management team in terms of their assistance to the Board.

Responsibilities of an HOA Board

  • Enforce rules and covenants
  • Create and/or amend policies
  • Intervene, investigate, and resolve disputes and arguments among homeowners
  • Investigate and resolve complaints
  • Approve or reject requests (for repair or maintenance, for example)
  • Serve as the HOA’s Architectural Review Committee for requests for architectural changes on a property
  • Make all decisions related to the HOA, homeowners, and the community in general

Responsibilities of an HOA management company

  • Assist in the HOA’s day-to-day functions
  • Handle communications between homeowners and the HOA
  • Recommend vendors, suppliers, and contractors
  • Ensure contractors and other outside services are fully insured to protect the HOA from liability
  • Sign checks on behalf of the HOA (optional, and up to a certain amount only)
  • Coordinate with the HOA for maintenance or repair requests from homeowners
  • Ensure homeowners are complying with rules and covenants, as requested by the HOA

From the above, you can see that the HOA management company’s primary role is to ease the burden of the HOA and help where and when needed, and according to “services” defined in the management contract/agreement. Decision-making and other fiduciary duties of the Board members will solely be handled by the Board itself.

Do you wish to learn more about homeowners’ associations, HOA management, property management, or other related topics? Please feel free to browse our blog page. You may also visit the community news page for more information on California homeowners’ associations.

HOA Management vs Property Management Company

Key Differences Between an HOA Management and a Property Management Company

If an HOA hires an HOA management team does it mean they also automatically oversee maintenance of the properties in the community the HOA is responsible for? Not necessarily so. A lot of people think that HOA management and property management are interchangeable terms thus mistaking an HOA manager as a property manager too and vice-versa.

Responsibilities of an HOA management company

  • Assist in the HOA’s day-to-day tasks
  • Provide relevant trainings to the Board to equip them with skills to manage various aspects of the HOA, from budget and finance to compliance, and more
  • Perform site reviews to ensure the HOA is functioning according to relevant state laws
  • Perform inspections and evaluations of various areas of the community, including common areas
  • Oversee large reconstruction projects
  • Provide 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Help the HOA manage finances and cut costs
  • Ensure homeowners’ participation in all required HOA-related matters
  • Collect fees and dues from delinquent homeowners

Responsibilities of a property management company:

  • Oversee care and maintenance of a specific piece of property (single or multi-family rental, vacation home, vacation rental, and other real estate property)

  • Ensure repairs and/or renovations are completed in a timely manner
  • Act on behalf of the property owner in terms of vetting tenants, collecting rental payments and other fees, and providing suppliers or vendors as needed or requested
  • Ensure the property is maintained and managed according to HOA regulations, if applicable
  • Handle all communications for and between owner and tenant/s

In a nutshell, the key difference between an HOA management company and a property management company is the client they serve. There are times, however, when an HOA may choose to hire a property management company to oversee corporately owned properties/areas. This is why some people mistake HOA management and property management as one and the same.

If you wish to learn more about homeowners associations, HOA management, property management, and other related topics, please feel free to browse our blog page. You may also visit the community news page for more information on California homeowners associations.

Should an HOA Hire a Property Manager?

Top 3 Reasons an HOA Should Hire a Property Manager

A property manager oversees the care and maintenance of a specific property, including vetting tenants and ensuring renters follow regulations stipulated in the lease contract, if they were hired to oversee rental properties. Other than rental properties, a property manager may also be hired to oversee the general upkeep of a piece of property like a vacation or second home. What then, is the role of a property manager in a homeowners association?

Reasons why an HOA should consider hiring a property manager

An HOA is responsible for the community it serves, which covers both the homeowners and common areas. The HOA may be tasked to oversee corporate-owned properties or areas as well. This might not seem such a difficult task but when you break down these tasks into small details, that’s when responsibilities become overwhelming. This is where a property manager may come into play. Below are a few reasons why HOAs should consider hiring a licensed and experienced property manager:

1. Oversee care and maintenance of corporate-owned areas

Within an HOA-managed community, there could be several corporate or developer owned areas, which they need to oversee on top of performing their duties and responsibilities. A property manager can take over the responsibility of maintaining these corporately owned areas or properties to ensure they are always in the best shape and ready for use according to the owner’s discretion.

2. Contact vendors for repairs

Property managers usually have a good relationship with several vendors and suppliers, which makes it easy for them to contact specific services for repairs or parts replacements for the common areas they manage. Sometimes, repairs are delayed because the HOA is overwhelmed with tasks that demand equal attention. A property manager can prevent such delays and make sure common areas are functioning as they should and always available for use.

3. Assist the HOA Board

Last but not the least, an HOA should consider hiring a property manager because they ease the Board’s workload. By taking care of the common areas and everything associated with their upkeep, the Board can focus on other important tasks and still have enough time to also focus on their personal lives.

If you wish to learn more about HOAs and other related topics, please feel free to browse our blog page. You may also visit the community news page for more information on California homeowners associations.

Amending an HOA’s covenants and bylaws

First off, covenants, conditions, and restrictions or CC&Rs aren’t the same as bylaws, although a lot of people confuse the two as being one and the same. To clarify, CC&Rs are the rules and regulations that the HOA and homeowners must follow. These documents define the obligations of the homeowners association towards its members, and the members’ rights and responsibilities as part of the HOA.

Bylaws, on the other hand, basically cover the community as an entity and under this, you can find regulations concerning the HOA’s Board of Directors from the number of directors that can be on the Board to qualifications of homeowners who can serve on the Board.

The process of amending bylaws and covenants should be initiated by the Board of the Directors or any of its members. Here are a few things homeowners should know about making changes on the covenants and/or bylaws:

1. The purpose should be clearly communicated

First of all, covenants and bylaws shouldn’t be amended on a whim. There should be a clear purpose for it, and this purpose should serve the greater good of the community and the homeowners. Secondly, such undertaking should be shared to the homeowners. It will not do the HOA good if the homeowners learn about this through hearsay or worse, after the changes have been made and implementation of the changes is already underway.

Homeowners associations should also be transparent about their actions and activities.

2. Changes are usually undertaken to amend outdated laws

There are several reasons why an HOA Board may decide to amend its covenants or bylaws, but usually, it’s because some stipulations have become outdated or federal/state laws have changed and these must be applied to the HOA’s existing CC&Rs and/or bylaws.

There are also instances when covenants were amended because of an issue raised by majority of the homeowners. Issues may include lifting of restrictions on exterior paint or landscaping, or other such limitations.

3. Covenants have expired

Covenants have an expiration date although some HOAs may have overlooked this little bit of fact because the validity of HOA covenants is usually 30 years. If a board member is interested in amending the HOA’s covenants, they should look into the covenant’s expiration date; and if a homeowner wishes to check if an HOA’s restriction is valid, they should likewise research on their HOA’s covenant expiry.

For more on HOA CC&Rs and bylaws, you may visit our community news page.

Understanding HOA Dissolution: What Every Homeowner Should Know

There are various reasons why a homeowners association may get dissolved, and the process to start its dissolution may be initiated by either the Board itself, one its members, or by a homeowner. In general, a homeowners association or HOA is established to look after the welfare of its homeowners and oversee the upkeep and safety of the community. So why would anyone within that community ever want it dissolved?

Here’s what every homeowner should know about HOA dissolution:

1. It’s a process that should abide by federal laws and HOA covenants

Understand that dissolving an HOA is a long and tedious process, which means that if the Board initiated the move, they are likely aware that dissolution could take time. They should also be aware that such an act should be done within the legal bounds of federal laws as well as the HOA’s own covenants and by-laws.

If any homeowner is against the dissolution of the HOA, this is the time to research their rights as a member of the community. It is likewise advised they seek the assistance of a licensed attorney.

2. Dissolution must be voted on by the community

Unless the dissolution was ordered by the state for whatever legal reason, dissolving a homeowners association requires the participation of the homeowners. In general, the vote to dissolve should comprise at least 80% of the community. When the ballot to vote for its dissolution has been approved by the Board, it is important that every homeowner participate because the result will directly affect them.

3. When approved, the Board should clearly communicate succeeding steps

If the dissolution has been approved, the Board must clearly communicate to the homeowners the steps they will undertake for the smooth transition. This means they must present to the homeowner documents stating where the common funds are and how they will be used, what happens to the common areas and who will oversee their maintenance, and other such important matters.

Homeowners should also find out if the dissolution of the HOA means the community will no longer be under the jurisdiction of any HOA or if a new one will be formed.

If you wish to learn more about homeowners associations, please feel free to browse our blog page. You may also visit the community news page for more information on California homeowners associations, from covenants and by-laws to HOA management and more.

4 Skills Every Board Member Needs

The success of a homeowners association (HOA) depends on the HOA board’s ability to manage its community. In other words, for a community to thrive, the HOA board members must possess the skills that’ll allow them to improve the quality of life in the community.

While there are currently no state laws governing who can or can’t become an HOA board member, many HOAs have bylaws requiring candidates to possess certain skills before they can be eligible for a seat on the board. With that in mind, here are 4 skills you’ll need if you want to become an HOA board member.

1. Communication

Serving on the board means being in constant communication with fellow board members, the HOA manager, community members, and vendors. Therefore, it’s essential to have strong interpersonal skills if you want to become a board member. This includes being proficient in both written and oral communication.

2. Computer proficiency

The use of computers allows for the efficient management of the community. As you’ll be writing emails, attending or hosting online meetups, and using the internet to access important information, strong computer skills are a must for a board member. Knowing how to take advantage of available technology will also let you to automate tasks and receive updates on essential details such as the collection of fees.

3. Management

Strong management skills will allow you to juggle a variety of responsibilities, from the filing of yearly taxes to the enforcement of rules. To ensure the HOA runs smoothly, you’ll also have to delegate tasks, follow administrative procedures, and manage important documents.

4. Bookkeeping and accounting knowhow

One of the most important responsibilities of the HOA board is the handling of the HOA’s finances. Expect to plan the annual budget, calculate HOA fees, stay updated on vendor payments, record all pertinent transactions, and produce financial statements to show your HOA’s fiscal condition. For these reasons, bookkeeping and accounting knowledge will serve an HOA board member extremely well.

Because all the above skills require high levels of technical expertise, many associations require a candidate for the board to have a high school diploma at the minimum. Larger HOAs may only accept college graduates.

There are also HOAs that will accept you as a board member if you’re a graduate of a local HOA management course. Make sure to take advantage of such courses, as they’re often offered by HOA agencies for free.

If you’d like more information about HOAs and HOA boards, kindly contact us through our corporate website, or give us a call at (888) 828-9444.

4 Qualifications You Need to Serve on an HOA Board

The benefits of becoming a board member of a homeowners association (HOA) are numerous. You can develop rules and regulations that improve the quality of life in the community. You can organize events that bring people together and enhance their sense of camaraderie. You can even make new friends and learn important skills that’ll help you in every aspect of your life. It’s for these reasons it’s a good idea for an HOA member to consider becoming a member of its board.

Of course, to ensure the HOA board remains competent, there are specific criteria you must meet before you can become eligible as a candidate for board membership. We list some of them below.

1. HOA membership

Because you must be a part of the community to help it, you have to be a member of the HOA if you want to join its board. In contrast to someone living outside the community, an HOA member will have a good idea of the community’s strengths and where it needs improvement the most.

2. No delinquencies or violations

A community member who pays all their association dues in a timely manner and takes great care not to violate any governing documents is someone who respects the importance of rules and regulations. As such, they make great candidates for board membership.

3. No legal troubles

Anyone currently or persistently involved in legal disputes against members of the community or the HOA board won’t be seen as responsible or trustworthy enough to handle the duties of a board member. Similarly, convicted felons will very likely be denied a seat on the board. It’s essential to have a clean record if you aim to be in a position where the betterment of the community and the enforcement of laws will be your major concerns.

4. No familial relationship with other board members

In the interest of fairness, many HOAs require candidates must not have familial ties with any of the serving board members. Being a co-owner with a board member may also be seen as an issue.

While there are currently no laws stating who can become an HOA board member, many HOA bylaws make the above qualifications a requirement for those serving on the board. Thus, having said qualifications will significantly improve your chances of becoming an HOA board member.

If you’d like to know more about HOAs and HOA boards, please contact us through our corporate website, or give us a call at (888) 828-9444.

5 Types of Noise Complaints You Can Make to Your HOA Board<

While there are many benefits to being part of a homeowners association (HOA), it could also mean living near people who produce a lot of noise. Excess noise can grow into a nuisance that impedes on your right to enjoy peace and quiet. It could even harm your mental health.

Thankfully, many HOAs have rules protecting homeowners from troublesome noise levels. Below are some examples of noise issues you can complain to your HOA board about.

1. Loud music

A neighbor who plays their favorite music at unreasonable volumes can be a source of great irritation. This is especially true when the music is blasted in the wee hours, when people are trying to get to sleep or are already sleeping.

The type of music can also be a problem. For instance, music containing profanities or other adult content can be an issue for families with small children.

2. Parties

Parties can be a lot of fun. But for the uninvited, they can be a major headache. Boisterous partygoers will sing, shout, and play loud music. They may even create all sorts of trouble unrelated to noise. It’s a good thing many HOAs have regulations against offensively loud gatherings.

3. Rambunctious dogs

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they can also be an inconvenience to neighbors. Dogs may bark at the sight of people and other animals or even join a chorus of howling. It’s much worse when they do these things early in the morning or late at night.

If you’re the owner of such dogs, it’s a good idea to have them undergo training so they’re easier to control and less likely to bark at everything.

4. Noisy vehicles

If your neighbor is a motorhead, chances are you’ve already been treated to the thunderous roar of a car engine. It’s not the most pleasant sound. As such, you have every right to complain about it.

5. Domestic disputes

This is perhaps one of the most serious types of complaints you can make to your HOA. If the people in the house next door are constantly fighting, telling your HOA board about them may prevent something worse from happening in the future, such as violence.

In most cases, matters can be solved privately by approaching your neighbor and asking them to reduce their noise levels. If you fear for your own safety, however, such as in point #5, it’s better to send the HOA board a letter of complaint or to approach them directly. You may also collaborate with fellow complainants to deliver your message to the board as a group.

If you’d like to know more about HOA noise regulations, please contact us through our corporate website, or give us a call at (888) 828-9444.

Top 3 Common Issues Homeowners Have with Their HOA

While homeowners association are established to benefit both the homeowners and the community, there are things that HOAs do that homeowners don’t agree with and vise-versa. When an HOA determines that a homeowner’s actions have violated certain stipulations in their CC&Rs, bylaws or other rules and regulations, the HOA immediately calls the attention of the homeowner. Often, there is a corresponding fine or penalty. But what about the homeowners? What can they do if they have an issue with their HOA?

First, here are some of the issues homeowners commonly complain about their HOA:

1. Increasing membership fees/dues

The HOA subsists on membership dues and other fees they may collect from the homeowners from time to time. As such, they may choose to increase HOA dues at any given time, as long as it is implemented in accordance with the HOA’s bylaws. There are times, however, when an HOA increases membership dues or charges additional fees to cover repairs (which they can actually do) without warning.

If these are within the HOA’s bylaws and deeds, there’s not much a homeowner can do except comply. However, if the majority of the homeowners agree that these are additional financial burdens they cannot shoulder, they can collectively appeal to the HOA.

2. Selective Enforcement

After fees, selective enforcement is the second most common issue homeowners have with their HOA. In a nutshell, selective enforcement means the HOA isn’t fair in its enforcement of the terms covered in the CC&Rs or bylaws and deeds. To put it another way, the HOA is playing favorites; choosing who should strictly follow the regulations and for whom they can bend the rules.

A homeowner may call the attention of the HOA board to this observation in writing first, and then a scheduled discussion after. The homeowner must have solid proof to back their claim/s, so the HOA board can take the necessary action.

3. Harassing with fines

Sometimes, HOAs charge a fine for something as unreasonable as the car parked too closely to the curb or a trampoline with an unsightly color. If the homeowner refuses to pay, they can expect to be bombarded with reminders in the mail and messages in their machine. If your HOA is harassing you to pay a fine for what you believe is an unreasonable demand, check the bylaws to see if it is within the HOA’s legal rights.

But whether or not the demand is unreasonable, the HOA should never harass the homeowner for payment. You may seek the advice of a lawyer if the harassment continues after you’ve called their attention to it.