Reviewing Your HOA Documents: Good Documents to Know

A very important task of serving on an HOA board of directors is to review items annually with other HOA board members. The best time to do this is at the end of the year or the start of a new year. It could also be done following a change in the HOA board membership.

Important association documents to be reviewed include:

Yearly Budget Reserve:

Common expenses to include when drafting the operating budget are: maintenance, taxes, utilities, insurance, and administrative costs. It’s important to review the reserve study to ensure your HOA also has enough money put away for large expenses or emergencies that may arise. Some of those emergencies may include things like flooding, roof replacement, or a broken gate. Take a look at the changes in funds over the last year, tracing whatever increase or decrease that may have occurred. Your annual budget may need to be adjusted if funds are being depleted for necessary expenses. If any money is being wasted, now would be a good time to review how the funds should be more effectively allocated, and if any homeowner assessments are necessary in the coming year.

Amenity Rules:

By reviewing the rules for use of community amenities, you can determine any changes that need to be made based on updates or homeowner requests. If you received multiple complaints about the same issue, determine if any rules can be modified to avoid recurring issues in the future.

Insurance:

Insurance policies should be reviewed on a yearly basis to see if there are any updates or changes. Determine if your rate has been increased and if any additions need to be made.

Correspondence and Violations:

Going through your homeowner directory each year will help you to keep track of any information that needs to be updated and will ensure you have the most recent contact information. Check accounts for any outstanding assessment fees or violations and determine a plan to resolve them and/or prevent any future balances that may be acquired. It will also be helpful to review violations over the past year and identify any trends, such as yard maintenance or door painting. If you notice some consistent violations, you may decide to send out a friendly reminder in the next monthly newsletter to address it or clear up any confusion among homeowners.

Vendors and Contractors:

Last, but certainly not least, is to review your list of vendors and contractors. Make sure that their insurance is up-to-date and contains all the required information.

Some other items you may want to review in your annual review meeting may include:

    1. Calendar of events and meetings – Planning meetings and events well in advance will be helpful to both you and homeowners. Even if some of the dates are tentative and to be fully determined at a later time, it is helpful to have an idea of when these events will take place. Consider holiday parties or community activities based on holidays and get homeowners on board with helping to plan and organize different events. You may also decide to include local police or fire department members, or host a charity event.
    2. Website presence – Review your community presence online and identify areas of improvement.
    3. Upgrades or maintenance – By walking the community with your fellow board members, you can see things that need to be addressed over the coming year, such as roads needing repair, dying trees, broken playground equipment, or a worn-out clubhouse. Addressing these needs as they come up, rather than making lots of changes all at once, will be a little gentler on the budget and will give you an idea of what needs to be prioritized.

 

Having a plan of action will help you to take on the new year and any transitions that may be in your HOA’s future. The key to success as an HOA board is to keep the goals of your community at the forefront and do your part to engage the homeowners in working to accomplish those goals.