Managing an HOA isn’t always easy. Without the appropriate strategy in place, even basic tasks, like maintenance requests and owner conflicts, can become difficult to keep up with. Whether you’re a brand new association looking to start out on the right foot, or an existing community that could use some guidance in this area, here are a few key ways to manage your HOA more effectively.
Address Conflicts Promptly
One of the primary functions of HOA management is conflict resolution. When people from different walks of life share a community, there are naturally going to be disagreements and misunderstandings. The quicker association management steps in to mediate and resolve the situation, the less likely it will be to escalate and worsen. To accomplish this, you should develop and implement a conflict resolution strategy that provides step-by-step guidelines for how to address issues between residents.
Establish a Reserve Fund
Homeowners’ associations use reserve funds to pay for emergency expenses and large-scale projects. While most HOAs do have some excess funds set aside, the amount is usually negligible. As such, when something unexpected occurs, the HOA has no choice but to levy a special assessment to owners to cover the shortcoming. This can impact homeowner satisfaction. To avoid this, we recommend establishing a reserve fund that is at least 30% of your total maintenance fees.
Whether it’s the landscaper, electrician, maintenance company or accountant, the people and vendors you hire to help manage your community matter. If you’re not careful about this, you could end up dealing with everything from complaints about quality to legal action. Understand that hiring right may mean paying a little more, but in doing so, you’ll end up with far fewer headaches down the road, which will ultimately save you time and money and keep residents happier.
Enforce Policies Fairly and Consistently
Issuing consequences for violations of the rules is never fun, but it’s an essential component of effective HOA management. Your policies are there to protect owners and ensure a safe and enjoyable living environment. When someone violates these policies, resist the temptation to “let it slide,” and instead enforce the appropriate penalties. To prevent frustration and discourse within the community, make sure you do this consistently and fairly to all owners.
Communicate Clearly and Regularly
Keeping residents in the loop with what’s going on within their community is essential to homeowner satisfaction. Prioritize communication and transparency between the board and HOA members. Be available to answer questions or address concerns and respond in a timely manner. Utilize the tools that are available to you, including newsletters, social media, texting and HOA management software that offers an online community portal. The more options for keeping residents informed, the better.
While no HOA will ever be perfect, the important thing is that you work toward continuous improvement. The five tips listed above should provide a foundation upon which to build solid policies and procedures that will result in happier owners and a well-run community.