Tips for Effective Condo and HOA Boards


Many difficult situations can be resolved before

they go too far, or can be prevented in the first place

Owners, Condo and HOA Board members and association managers all have obligations to their community associations. When the parties don’t do what they should, the association is vulnerable to loss and liability.

Legal action is an option, but not the only one. Many difficult situations can be resolved before they get that far or prevented in the first place.

Owners who don’t pay assessments.

  • Communicate frequently to owners when their assessments are due and why they are necessary.  Not everyone understands that lack of funds is directly correlated to the inability to increase the amount of landscaping on the property.
  • Association Board members should adopt a collection resolution that details the association’s policies and procedures.  The resolution should include information about when assessments are due, when late fees are applied and how they are calculated, and the legal consequences of nonpayment.
  • The Collection Resolution also protects the board if you go to court.   When an owner complains to a judge, you can show in black and white, this is our policy and this is how we handle these cases.  The important thing is to have an established policy, communicate it well and apply it to everyone.
  • If owners are struggling financially, refer them to outside resources such as real estate agents who specialize in short sales, housing agencies and credit counselors

Owners who don’t follow the rules.

  • Review your rules to make sure they are sensible and reasonable, include a section on fines and penalties, and periodically distribute them to the owners or add to the association’s website.
  • Newsletters are a great tool for giving friendly reminders.
  • Owners who feel they belong to a community are more likely to pay their dues, abide by the rules, attend meetings and volunteer for tasks
  • Events and activities such as yard sales, movie nights, pool parties and barbecues can help build community.  When people have pride in their community, they want to do the right thing

Board members who aren’t watching the finances.

  • It’s not enough to elect a treasurer;  EVERY Board member is responsible for every action of the board
  • Set up controls to reduce opportunities for fraud and negligence
  • Keep bank signatures current. Review invoices before making payments.   Segregate financial/accounting duties to reduce risk.  As an example, the person who writes the check shouldn’t be the person who signs it.
  • Homeowners can ask tough questions, request records, lobby for a financial audit and run for the board at the next election.
  • Some governing documents offer guidance for removing board members.

Property managers who don’t perform.

  • Review the management contract, which should spell out the manager’s duties. If you have complaints such as the manager not generating specific reports or visiting the property often enough, make sure these tasks were in the contract to begin with.
  • If there is something special that the board wants the manager to do, include it in the contract.  The management company can’t follow your orders if you don’t communicate it to them.
  • If the manager violates the contract, try to talk out the differences in a nonconfrontational manner. If that doesn’t bring about changes, go to the head of the company the manager works for.
  • You can request a community manager change. Don’t give up on the management company as a whole if someone else can serve your needs better.

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