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Helping Homeowners Follow the Rules in Your HOA

HOA Boards often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand their job is to make and enforce rules to improve and maintain the community. On the other hand, neighbors interpret their actions as harsh and sometimes label them as controlling.

After years in the property management business we at Gulf South Property Management have found that ill will in communities often comes from two places.  The first most common problem in disgruntled communities is the unequal enforcement of rules.  Following in a close second place is a genuine lack of understanding of the rules.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Homeowners have a common desire to maintain their own property values.  Building on this commonality compliance really should be a non issue.  After all, when everyone is rowing in the same direction, the value of the community as a whole is maintained and often time improves.

If you have a problem with homeowners consistently breaking the association rules and regulations, it may be time for a deeper dive to see what you could be doing better to help homeowners follow the rules in your HOA. Here are a few things that you can improve in your community to make it as easy as possible for everyone to follow the rules.

Keep the Rules Consistent

If the rules in your association have been changing on a regular basis lately, this may be the reason that residents are having a hard time following them. If changes to the rules are necessary, it is best to make the changes slowly to give everyone the chance to adjust. Be sure rules are easily accessible either from the property management company or on your website and new rules are disseminated to the entire association.

 

Keep the Rules Simple

Rules that are too complex will be hard for the community to follow. Try looking through the rules and regulations to see if there are any that are especially complicated and see if you can simplify them to help out the homeowners.  This is especially true when managing architectural control requests.  Be clear and concise on what is and is not allowed in your community. Make architectural request forms easy to fill out and include a check list of items that must be submitted for an application to be considered complete ( i.e. set backs, diagrams, permits, paint colors etc.)

 

Improve Enforcement

If you have been lax with the rules in the past, especially if you are in a self managed community, it comes as no surprise that neighbors are not compliant.  The change will have to start with the board. Focus on consistently enforcing the rules. Consistency will cause greater compliance.

One way to manage consistent enforcement of the rules is to hire a property management company that is familiar with covenant and restriction enforcement. At Gulf South Property Management our friendly, effective approach to compliance issues has turned around neighborhoods in a matter of weeks.  After all, homeowners are “owners” and, as such, they want to protect their largest investment.

 

Practice Good Communication

Homeowners who do not know the rules will have a hard time following them. Be sure to communicate effectively by sending emails, posting notices, and sending out a newsletter. The governing documents should also be made easily available through the website, and you can keep a copy of them in the office.  Your property management company can assist in the dissemination and availability of association documents.

 

Enforce Impartially

Nothing is more frustrating to a community than rules that are irregularly or unfairly enforced. If one person experiences consequences for breaking a community rule, then everyone should be treated likewise. Treat everyone in the community the same, and you will see a rise in overall compliance.

 

Reexamine Problem Rules

It may be that a particular rule is unreasonable, written poorly in the governing documents, or altogether unnecessary. If you find that one of your rules is consistently broken by multiple residents, it may be time to examine the rule and either change it or get rid of it.

Although some infractions may be the result of unruly residents, most breaches of the governing documents can be solved by first looking at the behavior of the board. It is the board’s responsibility to set a good example for the rest of the community, and to ensure that it is encouraging correct actions through the way that it enforces rules, the way that it communicates with homeowners, and the way the rules are written. If you are having problems with dissenters, it is time to take a closer look at the management of your association.

Gulf South Property Management practices a fresh, friendly and effective approach to compliance issues. Give us a call today to see how we can help your neighborhood.

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Establishing an Effective Landscape Committee

 

Across the country more than 68 million Americans now live in subdivisions controlled by restrictive covenants.  Subdivisions subject to Covenants and Restrictions have grown out of the  need to maintain property values.  One way to maintain property values in your community is through uniformity.  Covenants and Restrictions give homeowners uniformity in the rules affecting the aesthetics and feel of your community.

Most homeowners are satisfied with the job that their association does to maintain their home’s value. However, you do not have to look far to find a disgruntled neighbor complaining about line items in the association’s budget.

Any guesses about the topic most likely to be at the center of that argument?

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SUCCESS BY COMMITTEES!

Success by committee – you may have heard the expression, but do you know how homeowners association committees can help Board members achieve success?  Let’s start with the basics, a committee definition:  an HOA committee is comprised of homeowners who analyze issues and help make recommendations to help reduce Board members’ responsibilities.

While some Board members are elected to their roles with the professional knowledge and/or previous HOA experience they need to perform successfully, others have little or no knowledge or training in community association governance.  But no matter their prior experience, they must juggle their HOA responsibilities with obligations to their families, jobs, hobbies, civic involvement and other personal interests and responsibilities.  Read more about Board Member stress and how to deal with it here.

Associations sometimes hire property management companies to handle all of their community’s day-to-day community operations and management responsibilities, under their direction.  But even when communities are professionally managed, Board members may have ongoing community issues that need to be addressed, as well as one-off issues that arise over during the year.  That’s where Advisory Committees come in – helping Board members by providing a good perspective and understanding of the topic at hand.

In addition to providing valuable assistance to the Board, committees also involve more shareholders with personal experience in the governance process, resulting in in a stronger, more involved community.  As a bonus, they provide committee members with valuable association governance, making them a hands-on training ground for new community leaders.

Effective committees can be your community’s lifeline, so if you need a helping hand, consult with a seasoned Board member or a good property management company for guidance.  We’ve also put together some basic facts and guidelines on committees to help.  Ready to position your Board for success by committee? Read on… (more…)

Improvements to Keep Association Members Happy


One way to keep homeowners happy is to let them see where their HOA dues are being spent. Transparency is the key to success in this regard. Another easy way to do this is making improvements visible to the homeowners.

Easier said than done, right? Sometimes there are hidden lighting or plumbing issues that need to be addressed by the Board of Directors, the benefit of which is not always visible to homeowners. One way to ensure homeowners know where their money is being spent throughout the year is by publishing periodic newsletters highlighting the improvements being made by the Board of Directors.

The easiest way to keep homeowners happy is to make improvements to common areas that are visible to all. These types of improvements usually include landscape improvements, increased lighting or signage or installations such as new street signs.  If you are looking to increase neighborhood satisfaction take a look at these common renovations to help your Association look its best. (more…)

Hiring the Right Property Management Company

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Whether you are planning to switch from your current property management company, or considering a management company for the first time, changes in management are not always easy. Weighing your options carefully is especially important when your Association has not had the best experience with an existing relationship.  Below are a few considerations to keep in mind when looking into management services for your HOA.
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Five Ways Hiring the Right Property Management Company Can Save Your Association Time and Money

 

At first glance, self-managing your Homeowner’s Association may sound like a good idea.

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Board Member Stress Getting You Down?

Being an HOA board member can come with a lot of stress. In addition to managing personal obligations, HOA Board members volunteer their time to preserve and maintain the aesthetics of their neighborhood, often with little to no thanks.

Stress can build when balancing family and friend obligations, work commitments, and free time. Not to mention, association related tasks such as dues collections, routine inspections, maintenance and repair requests, vendor issues, and so much more.

Talk about a lot of things to handle at once!

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National Good Neighbor Day!

In 1978 President Carter issued a Proclamation declaring September 28th National Good Neighbor Day.  National Good Neighbor Day was created as a way to celebrate and acknowledge the importance of a good neighbor.  Read more here on the history of how this day was created.

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