Over 70 million Americans live in communities governed by homeowner’s associations (HOAs). These communities come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from neighborhoods of a few hundred people to large housing complexes with thousands of members.
There are two ways to go about starting a new HOA. The first is to hire an HOA manager or management company. The second is to self-manage the organization by enlisting the volunteer services of members.
Needless to say, HOA self-management poses some extra challenges. It also saves communities money and ensures that control remains in the hands of the homeowners. HOA founders that would like to take a self-managed approach can read on to find some helpful tips.
Make It Easy to Get Involved
Self-managing an HOA requires a good deal of voluntary homeowner buy-in, so those most interested in pushing the project through should make it as easy as possible for everyone to get involved. Using dedicated hoa website software is the best way to accomplish this goal. The right software solution will allow members to do everything from voting on essential measures to paying dues online from an easy-to-use dashboard, making it more likely that everyone will stay involved.
Recruit a Reliable Board of Directors
Although getting everyone involved helps to spread out responsibilities and increase member buy-in, self-managed HOAs typically rely on volunteer boards of directors to keep everything up and running. It just wouldn’t be practical for every person in a community of hundreds to attend each meeting and vote on every issue, so instead, HOAs typically run elections for volunteer board members.
While it’s important to respect the wishes of the community’s members when it comes to who they want to place in leadership positions, it’s still smart to encourage consideration of each candidate’s experience and qualifications when voting. Try not to let the elections turn into a popularity contest. It’s important to have residents on the board with leadership, management, and planning strengths.
Take HOA Processes Seriously
Having just one person on the board of directors with an unprofessional attitude can make it difficult to get anything done, which leaves the rest of the members feeling less than confident in their elected leaders. Make it clear what will be expected from board members during meetings, and do everything possible to ensure that all of the homeowners involved take their HOA membership seriously.
Start by setting budgets, creating communication policies, and establishing set methods for keeping financial records and meeting minutes. Creating and documenting clear policies regarding HOA governance is also helpful. Just make sure that board members set a good example by following them to the letter.
Expect Some Disputes
No matter how well a self-managed HOA’s board of directors does at fulfilling its duties, disputes between individuals and the board are bound to arise. When that happens, remember that these are not personal issues.
Keeping a professional outlook and doing whatever it takes to make sure the HOA is on track helps to mediate disputes and instill confidence in members. There should also be a detailed dispute resolution policy in place as part of the HOA’s governance structure, so don’t be afraid to reference it in explaining the board’s position
Get Started on the Right Foot
Getting a self-managed HOA off the ground can be incredibly challenging. Those who are most committed to making it happen should do everything they can to get and stay organized from the very beginning. Do some research, purchase HOA management software, and make sure all key stakeholders are on the same page to get everything started on the right foot.