The holidays are coming! That means it’s time for potlucks, family get-togethers, and lots and lots of cooking. Many HOAs will be having community potlucks, giving residents a chance to show off their cooking skills and share tasty recipes with their neighbors. For anyone who wants to take part in these annual events but is worried that their cooking skills aren’t quite up to standard, there’s a new piece of technology, Drop (getdrop.com), that will help them find great recipes, prepare them to perfection, and then share them with the world. Continue reading
A recent ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida may have a big impact on how community associations go about settling debts with delinquent homeowners. This ruling found that if an association settles a check for less than the amount owed that is also accompanied by communication indicating that that check is meant to satisfy the debt in full, then the association is agreeing to accept the smaller amount as a full settlement of the debt. Obviously, HOAs (especially those in Florida) should take this ruling into account when dealing with collections of past-due assessments and fees.
While this ruling is new, it may be used as legal precedent in the future. This means that HOAs hands may be further tied in the future, preventing them from accepting partial payment from recalcitrant owners without giving up their right to take further action against them.
It also means that associations need to tread very carefully when accepting payments. Not only should they check all correspondence that accompanies partial payments of past due fees, but they should also consult with legal council to make sure that they are not setting themselves up for a future finding that they have accepted a settlement amount that they did not intend to be payment in full.
What HOAs Can Do
The first thing that HOAs should do is, obviously, not accept any payments with the statement that it is meant to be payment in full unless a settlement agreement has actually been reached. This is good practice to begin with, but in light of this recent ruling, it is even more important to reject these kinds of payments, or at least take extra measures that one party insisting the debt is now settled without further agreement does not tie the association’s hands.
Secondly, community associations should also seriously consider using a debt collection agency to handle the recovery of past due fees. While this does cost money, it will generally cost less than other legal action that might have to be taken. Additionally, contracting out to specialists in handling debts means that the settlement procedures will be handled by parties who understand the rules, saving the agency time in legal consultation and reducing the chance of costly mistakes being made.
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HOAs have long complained about how difficult it can be to collect delinquent fees that they are owed by homeowners who rent out their homes. In response, some states have taken action to allow HOAs to demand payment from the tenants of properties that have past due rent or fees, even though they are not technically the ones who have an agreement with the association.
While many HOAs are breathing a sigh of relief that they now have more avenues to recoup their losses and put pressure on delinquent accounts, these laws have also created a situation where the people being held responsible are technically innocent parties that have been put in the middle of a conflict they may have no control over. Despite this, some associations are resorting to booting residents’ cars, even those owned by tenants and not delinquent owners. Is this going too far? Continue reading
“Due diligence” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, and most people at least have a vague understanding of what it means. But many times, an HOA doesn’t actually follow through with all of the steps that make up proper due diligence. Sometimes this is out of ignorance, sometimes it’s just out of convenience, but not following through on taking all the necessary precautions before entering a contract or making a hire can have disastrous consequences.
What is Due Diligence
Due diligence is, of course, the proper investigation of a person or business before entering into a contract or partnership with them. It’s an important part of successful business operations, especially those of an HOA. Because an association’s business is managing a community where people live, making poor decisions thanks to not doing the proper amount of research can have serious effects on people’s homes and lives.
Steps for Due Diligence for HOA
So what steps should an HOA take to make sure that it is performing its proper due diligence? The following steps are some of the basic requirements:
- Don’t just hire a contractor based on a recommendation. Even if the recommendation comes from someone you believe to be trustworthy, their word is not enough ensure that a contractor is fit for the job. It is a good starting point, but it’s not the end of the process. Look into consumer reports, check that the contractor has the proper permits, and also make sure that they have experience in the job for which you are hiring them.
- If you need to hire a lawyer, find one who specializes in the area of law for the specific issue with which they will be dealing. There are a lot of areas of law, and specializing in the specific areas that a case involves will give the lawyer you hire a much greater chance of getting you a successful outcome.
- Get references from other associations or homeowners. The best way to know whether or not a lawyer, contractor, accountant, or other person your HOA is getting ready to partner with is a good match is to talk with the people they’ve worked with before. If their previous clients have nothing but horror stories or found them hard to work with, it’s best to find someone else. Remember, you don’t have to settle for the first person you find.
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While Facebook, Google+, and Twitter may be the social media sites that get the most press, LinkedIn has become an incredibly valuable online tool for businesses. The all-business social media site is geared entirely toward professional marketing and networking, and provides many tools for property management companies to grow their businesses. Continue reading
How an HOA should handle security is a very touchy issue. Which security measures should be taken, who is responsible for implementing them, and how those decisions can leave a community association vulnerable are all important matters that need to be taken up. While this post does not have all the answers, it is a starting guide for which security-related questions need to be asked first, and how to approach them. Continue reading
Sometimes an HOA feels the need to change some of its rules. These can be simple changes, like altering noise bans or facility usage hours, or they can be more severe changes that alter fundamental rules in a community’s charter. When a community finds itself in this situation, one of the most common questions is: do we need a lawyer? Continue reading
A pipe breaks in an upstairs condo, and the leak damages the roof of the downstairs unit. The downstairs tenant demands that someone pay for the damage. The upstairs tenant says it’s the HOA who should cover it. And, the HOA says that it’s not their responsibility. Who’s right? Is the damage covered by homeowners’ insurance? Should the association have to pay at all? Continue reading
Now that fall is here, it’s time to start thinking about prepping homes for winter. At first, it may seem like it’s too early, but then you realize that winter isn’t really that far away. The weather is already starting to cool, the leaves are changing color, and the harsh weather will be arriving soon. In order not to get caught off guard (and to avoid expensive repair bills), it’s time to start taking steps to prepare for the winter season.
One of the things that prospective buyers often forget to consider when they go looking for a new home is whether or not the condo or community they want to move into places restrictions on parking. Parking restrictions are some of the most common rules that HOAs adopt, and are also some of the most violated. Here’s a brief look at what some of the reasons for HOA parking restrictions are, and why they exist.
Common Parking Rules
One of the most common parking rules adopted by HOAs is placing a cap on the number of cars per home that can be parked on community grounds. The reason for this is pretty self-explanatory: many communities are suffering from a lack of parking space. Especially when it comes to condos, there may not be enough available parking spaces for each home to have more than one or two cars, and adopting a cap makes the distribution of the parking spaces that are available more equitable.
Another common parking rule that often goes along with parking space caps is limiting the use of guest spaces. Condo units that have a few extra spaces for guests often restrict the amount of time that each resident can have guests using them. Again, this is done in the name of fairness; it allows everyone who lives in the building to make use of the spots without allowing a few residents to monopolize them.
Other Parking Rules
Some other rules that are often adopted by HOAs include: not allowing residents to park overnight in driveways, restricting parking on the street, restricting the washing or repairing of cars on the property, and disallowing oversized vehicles. These types of rules are adopted both out of concerns about space, and to maintain the neighborhood’s attractiveness and cleanliness. Because the general atmosphere of its community is one of the HOA’s concerns, they will often create these sorts of rules to keep the neighborhood clean and pleasant to live in.
HOAs often adopt other types of parking rules depending on their neighborhood’s particular area and situation. What kind of parking restrictions, if any, does your neighborhood have? Do you feel that they are effective? Let us know in the comments!
Parking rules can easily be posted onto your AssociationVoice website. Click here for more information.