Homeowners association management can make or break a community. There’s a reason why some HOAs are known as strict, rule-driven Nazis while others are loved by the entire neighborhood!
The primary objective of an HOA is to preserve and enhance the overall property values of the neighborhood’s real estate. To that end, the HOA provides regulations and guidelines on what residents may and cannot do.
Where do property managers fit into an HOA?
It’s not uncommon to come across property managers taking the lead role in a HOA or, at the very least, sitting as a board member. A property manager may represent one or several homeowners renting out properties in a community. The HOA may also hire a property manager to help manage corporately owned areas and provide homeowners support.
When you’re in charge of an HOA—or at least a member of the board—here are a few things to keep in mind to succeed:
1) Stay balanced
Homeowner associations fail when they tend to lean too much toward one direction or the other. If every single proposed rule or bylaw is altered too often, the community will get frustrated with the constant change. Most homeowners feel that some HOAs can be quite restrictive by setting too many boundaries on what you can and can’t do with your property
On the other hand, if your entire board is too conservative, you’re going to have problems as well. When the nitty-gritty of homeownership isn’t addressed effectively, issues and conflicts can arise between the board and the homeowners, or even among homeowners themselves.
The best way to do this is to have a board with a good mix of members—seniors and young adults, businessmen and homemakers, etc. That way, every personality in the community is represented when it comes to resident demographics.
2) Maintain clear and constant communication
Your homeowners association board needs to ensure the community knows what is expected of residents, when fees are due, or what events are upcoming. And while email is a great way to do that, it’s more effective to combine email with a few other peripherals.
- Fliers or message boards at the front of the neighborhood complex will be seen daily, and residents will never fail to see them because they stand out.
- Phone calls work great, although this can be very time-intensive if there are hundreds (or thousands) of members.
- Newsletters work well, as long as they are distributed regularly.
3) Keep the big picture in mind
Sometimes it can be tempting for a board member to push something just because it benefits themselves. While that’s certainly understandable, it may not benefit the community as a whole. In fact, the majority of cases will not help everyone. You may really like that lime-green color for your house, but your neighbors (and home appraisers!) will probably disagree.
That’s a (somewhat) obvious example, but think of other regulations that will benefit the common good:
- Pet policies (exotic/dangerous pets, dogs barking, etc.)
- Vehicle policies (cars in the grass, on the street, on blocks, etc.)
- Standardization (mailboxes, weeds, grids in the house windows, etc.)
The ultimate goal of an HOA is for the entire community to be better off because the organization exists. That may, at times, conflict with your personal tastes.
4) Be pro-active
It’s easy for a homeowners association to become too “lax.” They may reach a comfortable zone where the rules and bylaws seem to work for everyone, there’s enough events to keep people from fussing about the HOA fees, the pool is clean, trash collection is regular, etc.
Strive for a little more. We live with constant changes and things can almost always be improved.
Maybe it’s getting a new slide for the playground. Perhaps you could add something to the pool area or clubhouse. If you have a lot of extra space but lack the funds for a major project, maybe it can be a neighborhood garden or a dog playpark.
The bottom line
It’s part and parcel of running a HOA to experience opposition at all times. Some members of the community will likely protest, but the majority of them will appreciate the constant move towards progress. And even those who disagree with the homeowners association management’s moves initially will come around when they realize the common benefit they will receive.