Handling HOA is not that easy. You have to manage and run the association in the best interest of your community. Nevertheless, having a few shortcomings is part of the process to be more aware and will serve as a lesson to the community, especially on the part of the boards.
Living in a property that is part of an HOA can be a mix of benefits. It provides a chance of changing some of the rules over your property while lessening the responsibility of maintaining it.
Not all boards and homeowners have the same background and specialties in running the association; they have different management approaches and standards. And that is not a reason for the problem to become worst.
One of the best parts of a homeowners association is the relationship between the boards and the homeowners. The relationship is also the most frustrating part when the connection is not in good shape.
The Boards is the one responsible for maintaining the healthy relationship between homeowners. Even though you cannot control the people’s feelings in your community, the best thing you can do is avoid making HOA board problems and stimulate peace within the community.
What Is An Homeowner Association HOA?
Homeowner Association or HOA is an organization of property owners in a community or condominium building regulated by rules and covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) that manage a property and common areas. HOA members are required to pay HOA fees, and when you purchase a property that is within the authority of an HOA, you will automatically become a member.
Being a member of HOA, you must follow the bylaws and house rules that your HOA implements. And by adhering to these rules, you are entitled to have protection, improvement, and maintenance of your property.
Common HOA Problems
We all know that being a member of HOA has a lot of benefits. But like most of us, it is not perfect. There are certain circumstances that you will feel that you are not getting what is in store for you.
Even the leading associations face challenges, and as a board member, you have to handle different issues that you will encounter from time to time.
We search for some of the common HOA problems and how to deal with them. Here is the list :
1. Lack of Communication
Failure to have good communication is the start of an unhealthy relationship within the community or association. HOA board should have constant participation in the daily activities and management of the association. But it does not always happen since the board members also have different personal lives; they don’t always have the time to watch what is happening within the community.
Effective communication does not always mean talking to the members all day and all night. It means to continue informing about the updates and latest announcements or changes within the HOA and finances. It also seeks feedback from the members on what needs improvement and suggests solutions to a current issue to every member.
Another way to communicate is by giving them notices and reports at the right time, sending notifications for the meeting, and making minutes and financial reports for the member to analyze. On the other hand, you should also use various communication channels so that the members feel a sense of belongingness and not keep out of the loop.
2. Inadequate Maintenance
HOA manages to maintain the entire community. The board should ensure that all the common areas are at utmost care and maintenance. If you are not satisfied with your HOA’s maintenance level, there are proper ways to address the issue. The first is to have a communicate with your HOA if they are conducting regular maintenance.
Most of the HOA ensures that they are conducting proper maintenance regularly by creating and following a schedule. They hire professionals to do the job, like exterminators, landscapers, and other maintenance companies that best suit the job. They also take into consideration the planning of the budget for the maintenance.
3. Financial Problems
Every HOA suffers from some financial problem. Some of the boards strive to the preparation of the budget and dues. Despite the challenges that your HOA is facing regarding finances, it is still the most critical aspect of the HOA, and you don’t want to keep it neglected.
However, there is always a way to fix financial issues. Setting up payment plans or hiring a collection agency is one way to solve a high delinquency rate. While having a high delinquency rate is a sign that many among your members are struggling financially. And the best way to resolve this is to adjust the budget and cut down non-essential expenses.
Reviewing past financial reports will help you prepare the budget, and you should also consider itemizing your expenses. That way will help you forecast the cost in detail, and you can have a basis for the actual projected amount.
Having transparency and communication of financial matters is essential and should be a regular practice among HOA. It is a right for every member to know where their dues are going, building trust between the boards and the residents.
4. Biased or Inconsistent Enforcement
The board is the one that should implement or enforce the rules to the entire association with consistency and equality. Being bias or selective enforcement is one of the common problems that the HOA is facing and should be fixed.
The board changes processes and specific rules from one circumstance to another and is inconsistent in enforcing the rules. Some of their neighbors did not get penalized because of their friendship. And there are circumstances that boards will break the rule for their interest.
Strict following of your governing documents or bylaws is a great way to ensure the consistency and equality of enforcements. Don’t choose a rule that you feel like enforcing, and as much as possible, avoid favoritism. And always bear in mind not to have a conflict of interest.
5. Poor Handling of Complaints
Complaints from residents are the things you cannot avoid, and it is the last thing you want to happen. But when there are complaints, you are tempted to disregard the complaints. There are many duties and responsibilities bestowed upon you as a board, complaints are the last, and you don’t want to handle as much as possible.
Putting yourself as a passionate member to bring the issue to your attention, the best way you should do is to listen. Maybe the problem needs urgent attention and needs to address as soon as possible.
If you don’t have enough time to face the problem, maybe you should use communication tools like emails and websites to gather complaints. In that way, members would feel heard and hope that the issue they raise would be addressed.
6. Lack of Member Involvement
It is a challenge for most of the association to increase member participation. Some people are shy, hesitant, and not interested in community matters. And sometimes, some members need a little encouragement to get involved.
If you want to persuade member’s involvement, organizing a social event is an excellent beginning. Organizing simple gatherings and events is one way for the members to be friendly and mingle with others. Entice members to attend a meeting by giving free food and drinks. And another way to make them involved is to encourage them to join the committee.
7. Invalid Fines
Fines are typical, especially when members violate a rule. However, fines are invalid or unjustified in some cases. In some situations, your state laws and bylaws don’t allow you to charge fines, as well as charging fines to satisfy your desire.
Adhering to your bylaws and covenant is one of your primary responsibility as a board member. Remember that if you are not in the position to charge penalties, do not impose them and if you do something against your bylaws, be ready to face complaints from the homeowners. Or even worse, will file a lawsuit against you.
8. Legislative Changes
Local, state, and federal laws can affect how you manage the homeowners association. Adapting to its changes is required from time to time. Having a background in law is a factor in adjusting to the changes quickly, but not all HOA are fortunate to have a member who has experience with legal matters.
The best way to deal with it is to hire an HOA attorney. In this way, the HOA will quickly adjust to the changes and remain in the loop. And most of all will avoid breaches.
9. Violation of Rights
Homeowners have rights, and some of the HOA rules could violate homeowner’s rights, and you must watch out for it. Like, OTARD rule in which you cannot restrict your member in installing an antenna. And to avoid violating member’s rights, you must consult an attorney.
10. Pet Problems
It is not common for an association to enforce pet restrictions. But in some ways, it can cause an issue in one way or another. And to acknowledge this issue, some HOA restricts size, breed, and how many pets a member can have.
In New York, the Fair Housing Act prohibits community associations from discriminating against individuals with a disability and their animals even if there is no pet policy rule. And some state has to restrict size, breed and pet number. In addition, some HOA requires members to keep their pets in restraining on public, and they need to clean up the waste.
11. Parking Issues
HOA also needs to deal with several parking issues. Some people abandon their cars in the common area parking lot, and some residents have bulky parking. These issues can affect the curb appeal and value of the property.
Many associations set parking rules to deal with the problems. In some circumstances, some vehicles are not allowed to exceed the hours of parking, and others are not allowing cars to park that is displeasing in the driveway, such as RVs, trailers, and commercial vehicles.
12. Changes in Technology
Many associations depend on their communication on outdated modes of communication to pass on information to their members. Association should not be hesitant to use technology to their advantage.
One form of technology that they can utilize is the website. A website can be used to supply information and stay updated on the events of the association. It can also be a way of advertising to attract potential homeowners.
And through the website, you can deal with some of the problems within the association, including lack of communication, poor handling of complaints, and lack of member involvement.
If you are dealing with a problematic HOA, you don’t have to agonize in silence. Instead, be calm and level your disposition. Talk with your HOA board politely and respectfully instead of being angry and frustrated.
When you encounter a problem, you should report and talk about it with the boards before resorting to any legal actions. However, the boards should always perform their duties and responsibilities with persistence and carefulness to avoid problems within the association.
Many issues arise when there is insufficient information and misunderstanding. Be accessible with important information and keep the entire association updated on what is happening to be involved in any activities and events in the community.
Be patient with all the shortcomings within the association and find a solution to every problem. Don’t let your association have a poor reputation; instead, cooperate with both the boards and members to work together and support one another.
Having a good reputation for your HOA means positive results. It will somewhat attract potential members, will develop a more productive and harmonious relationship in the entire community.