You pay your monthly or quarterly dues to your HOA and you trust that the association board has the best interest of the neighborhood in mind and is making efficient use of community members’ money…but how do you know for sure? It’s your money and your neighborhood, so why not do a little research and make sure you are getting what you pay for.
Are meetings organized? Organized meetings are essential for successful HOAs. Make sure your HOA has a posted agenda at its meetings. Some associations even require that agendas be mailed to each owner. The agenda puts the owners and residents of the community on notice as to what will be considered at the meeting. Sticking to that agenda at the meeting is important as board members and residents often bring personal and unwritten agendas to the meetings.
Is there enough communication?Communication with homeowners is vital to running an effective association. A large majority of community member complaints against HOA boards stem from the homeowners not knowing about a policy, procedure, due date, regulation or some other bit of information that could have been disseminated to them any number of ways. Make sure your HOA board sends out enough information to the community.
Is the budget balanced? A realistic budget and an establishment of reserve funds should be mandatory. It’s a common occurrence for HOA’s to fall apart because they didn’t prepare for unexpected costs. If reserve funds are not set up or the budget is exorbitant, the system will always be one major incident away from collapse. Ask the treasurer to disclose the budget so you can check it out yourself.
Is the community involved? Successful HOAs will have more involved community members. An involved community leads to a successful HOA. It’s the old chicken and egg cycle. To keep them involved, the creation of specialized committees for specific projects and goals have proven to maintain strength, longevity and participation in meeting and events. Do you have an active HOA and involved community?
Are policies enforced? Enforcement of rules, penalties and fees is crucial. This can get complicated, especially for large associations, when it comes to legal matters, liens, foreclosures and other complicated matter. An efficient board will be made up of directors who are qualified to deal with these matters or have elected to retain a community management company to handle the finances, communications, record-keeping, legal and administrative services. If residents are allowed to slide on certain code enforcement issues it can become a very slippery slope.
If your HOA is successfully accomplishing these key initiatives then your money is being well spent and you are fortunate to have others looking out for your best interest. But if not, you may want to start raising some questions, or better yet, run for a seat on your board and make sure they are as efficient as possible…remember it’s your money…and your neighborhood.
By Billy Rudolph
Corporate Communications Director