top of page
Modern Neighborhood

Board Newsletter | Issue 5

A Partnership That Works

A Partnership that Works
Building a Strong Board/Manager Relationship

Female hands holding 2 pieces of the puz

Every community that Advance HOA Management manages has its own unique set of characteristics, goals, challenges, needs, and responsibilities.  It’s important that we be flexible in our service delivery, while at the same time enforcing a foundation that supports all communities, regardless of size and scope.  Although Advance HOA Management has a Team of individuals who support your community, we understand that the Community Manager is a key component to our service to you as a Board and to your community.  The relationship between the Community Manager and the Board matters.  Paramount in building this relationship is understanding the challenges both the Community Manager and the Board each face.

 

Board Members carry a heavy burden as volunteers. 

  • You are elected by your neighbors/peers.

  • You have the responsibility to conduct the affairs of a corporation with thousands, if not millions of dollars of assets.

  • You are required to make decisions that impact your neighbors who you see every day.

  • You make big decisions related to finances, repairs, capital improvements, and use of property.

  • You are asked to be a leader that maintains the value of your home and your community’s home.

  • You are asked to navigate owners and neighbors with differing opinions and goals to uphold community harmony.

  • You navigate challenges brought on by social media.

 

Community Managers work at the pleasure and direction of the boards they serve in supporting their respective communities.  

  • They manage the day-to-day for a portfolio of communities with varying individuals, backgrounds, and expectations. 

  • They must serve as advocates to the homeowners.

  • They are expected to be experts in many fields.

  • They manage governance aspects.

  • They interact daily with vendors.

  • They monitor invoices, prepare budgets, and navigate financial reports.

  • They must be familiar with a mountain of State Laws.

  • They utilize a variety of technologies.

  • They navigate challenges brought on by social media.

  • They respond to building and facility emergencies.

  • They solve problems.

  • They report to as many as 32 board member bosses.

 

Both the Manager and the Board work in service to the Association.  Building a relationship based on Partnership is key in keeping your community on track and moving forward.  To help support the Board/Community Manager relationship and your respective roles, Advance HOA Management has prepared a few strategies to help keep the relationship strong, supportive, and productive.

 

  • Establishing a board liaison, typically the Board president, can lead to clear direction and more efficient execution on action items. A board liaison is a board member who serves as a direct point of contact between the board of directors and the community manager.

  • Strong communication processes between the manager and the board are the foundation for trust and progress. 

    • Discuss responsiveness and communication expectations.  The Community Manger may not be able to respond to the Board immediately, so align on what will work. 

    • The Community Manager should provide an action list following a board meeting.  If this is not happening, request that this occurs.

    • Set a standing meeting at least monthly between the Community Manager and the board liaison to review such topics as upcoming agenda items, status of projects, homeowner requests or challenges, and upcoming contract renewals.

    • The Community Manager should notify the Board of any absences beyond one day.

  • Review and develop the community’s annual plan together.

    • The Board should review the Annual Calendar at every board meeting and ensure items are occurring as outlined.

    • Work together to develop communication with the membership, at least monthly.  One way to make sure this happens is to add Membership Communication to the Board agenda and discuss what items would be of value to the community members.  If you do not meet monthly, then set up a time once a month to have a quick huddle on what items to communicate to the membership.  If you already have a newsletter in the mix, great!

  • Visit the community website at least monthly to review activity.  If you notice that the last set of minutes have not been posted, alert the manager. Community Managers are human and can miss things, so your support is appreciated.

  

As a Board member, please know that if you are frustrated or believe you need more guidance, or are not happy with the assigned Community Manager’s performance, contact a senior leader within the organization immediately.  The sooner we are made aware of any issues, the less likely the issues become big problems.  Respecting each other’s roles and setting expectations while working collaboratively can address the challenges faced by Boards and Community Managers. Through clear communication, effective delegation, and strategic partnership, we can navigate the complexities of association management, ensuring a well-run community. This can help to reduce board and manager burn-out and improve homeowner satisfaction.

 

Seasonal Planning

Seasonal Planning 

Is your Community Ready for Spring and Summer?

Grass Close Up

Spring is in the air and your community is likely ramping up for busy spring and summer seasons.  Work with your Community Manager to ensure these major items are good to go.   Before you know it, we will be working on budgets and planning for fall and winter! 

 

1.  If you have a pool and/or clubhouse, are you good to go?  Here are items you want to make sure are in place.

  • Opening date is set.

  • Pool Contract is executed.

  • A date is set with pool contractor three weeks before pool opening to make sure it will be operational.

  • Chairs, tables, etc. are in good condition and scheduled to be placed.

  • Access to the facility and management knows the process for distributing keys, codes, etc.

  • Pool rules are reviewed and posted.

  • A/C units, boilers have been serviced.

  • Cleaning services are set up.

  • Pool rules, opening dates, access are sent to the community.

2.  Irrigation turn-on/maintenance

  • As soon as a date has been set for turn-on (weather permitting), schedule a walk-through with the landscape contractor.  In attendance should be the manager and a board and/or committee member, as applicable.

  • Bring the contract with you to the walk-through.  Go through the scope of work and make sure you know who the main point of contact will be for irrigation and maintenance issues.

  • Verify backflow inspections have taken place or are scheduled.

  • Communicate to the membership the anticipated irrigation turn-on date.

 

3.  Playgrounds

  • Make sure all playgrounds have been inspected and are repaired.

 

4.  Capital Projects

  • Most projects take place in the summer.  Are things lined up?  This includes tree replacements and trimming, asphalt repairs, paint projects, roofs, concrete repairs and replacement.

  • Make sure your community knows when projects are tentatively scheduled and communicate throughout the project.

 

5.  Membership Communication

Whether an eblast or a newsletter, below are some suggested topics to communicate to your membership.

  • Pool/facility rules and access.

  • How to schedule the clubhouse.

  • Landscaping maintenance schedule.

  • Handling of pet waste.

  • Parking rules.

  • Enforcement expectations (yard maintenance, trash cans, balcony maintenance, noise regulations, etc.).

  • Reminder for architectural (design) review applications and expectation for response time.

  • Board meeting dates.

  • Upcoming projects.

  • Who to contact for HOA related services issues.

 

You do so much for your communities, and we are privileged to partner with you in making it all happen.

The Architectual Review

The Architectural Review Process
Are You Prepared for Architectural Reviews?     

Finishing Touches

As you have likely experienced, architectural reviews ramp up in the spring and summer and so do homeowner frustrations related to submitting applications, denials, and requests for more information.   Most communities have an Architectural Review Committee (ARC).  The ARC is typically a group of volunteers, which may include board members, who are responsible for reviewing and approving all exterior changes to homes.  

 

For planned communities, ARCs usually handle requests such as,

  • Placement, design, and height specifications for structures

  • Landscaping modifications or improvements

  • Exterior paint colors and finishes

  • Materials used for roofing

  • Fences

  • Satellite dishes

  • Solar panels

  • Electric vehicle charging stations

 

For condominiums, they handle requests such as,

  • Modifications to interior flooring such as hardwood installations

  • Changes to plumbing or electrical design

  • Balcony items, including flooring, furniture, and plants

  • Window covers, tints, and design

  • Placement of satellite dishes

  • Electric vehicle charging stations

The ARC’s authority is outlined in the community Declaration and the ARC is in place to maintain the overall aesthetic and architectural integrity of the community.  Their job is not always easy and no matter how hard the ARC members try, ARCs can be perceived as being subjective in their decisions.  So, how can we get your ARC off to a good start? 

 

Form an Effective Committee

 

Typically, the formation begins with a request from the board for volunteers.  The committee members should ideally bring a variety of backgrounds and experiences, such as landscaping designers, architects, and contractors.  Once formed, it is recommended to develop an ARC Charter that outlines its authority (look to the Declaration), purpose, terms, and procedures.   Some ARCs have tremendous authority, while others must report to the Board.  Again, look to the Declaration when establishing the ARC and its responsibilities.  The committee members should understand what is included in the ARC Charter.  Communicate to the community the ARC’s role, authority and purpose.  This will help the homeowners better understand why an ARC exists and why it’s so important. 

Establish an Efficient ARC Process

 

  • Educate Owners: How do owners apply for approval?  Do they know what to submit for approval?  It’s essential that the ARC frequently communicates its guidelines and procedures to the community.  By providing clear communication, homeowners will have a better understanding of what is required to get their projects approved.  

  • Leverage Technology: All ARCs managed by Advance HOA Management are strongly encouraged to utilize the online ARC portal on CommunityLink for review, approval, and tracking.  This portal allows more flexibility for the committee, allows for a quicker turnaround time for the owners, and provides the owners and the association with an electronic record of the application and response. If the committee prefers to meet, ensure meetings are frequent and consistently scheduled to allow efficient decision-making.

Consider these Best Practices

 

  1. Communicate the architectural review function and process on a regular basis.

  2. Provide a timely response.  Owners are anxious to start their projects.

  3. Explain why an application is being denied and what items are needed to resubmit the application.

  4. If it is immediately clear that an application is incomplete, inform the homeowner as quickly as possible that the application is not able to be considered, and outline what is needed.

  5. When necessary, go to the property and meet with the homeowner if their request seems to be outside the guidelines.  Oftentimes, lot shapes and slopes may not allow for a certain requirement and a variance may be in order.

  6. Make sure the guidelines are up to date and in compliance with statute and public policy (i.e. satellite dishes, signage).  Review and refresh your guidelines every few years to clarify and modify to ensure compliance. Recent legislation to understand includes:

    1. HB21-1310: HOA Regulation of Flags and Signs

    2. SB23-178: Water-wise Landscaping In Homeowners' Association Communities

  7. Allow for an appeal process. 

  8. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  What may look presentable to a homeowner may be unacceptable to the ARC.  Stick to the guidelines, be objective, fair, and consistent.

Architectural Review is a critical function for any community.   The ARC helps keep the community aesthetically pleasing and maintains property values.  Help your ARC and community members understand the benefits, not the burdens, to a successful architectural review function and process.

 

Governance Basics

Governance Basics
Resolutions

Image by Carrie Allen www.carrieallen.com

A resolution is a motion that follows a set format and is formally adopted by the board of directors.  Resolutions may enact rules and regulations or formalize other types of board decisions.  There are several benefits to using the resolution process to adopt rules as opposed to using the simpler process of making motions, to include:

 

  • Provides a thorough, deliberate approach to making rules

  • Provides for consistency in making and wording rules

  • Provides a formal record of all rules made

  • Protects owners from arbitrary board actions

  • Protects the community from charges that could result in inoperable rules

 

There are four types of resolutions:

 

  1. Policy Resolutions:  Affect owners’ rights and obligations (i.e., rules for use of common areas and recreational facilities, architectural guidelines, enforcement policy, collection policy). Policy resolutions must be submitted to Advance HOA Management escrow as part of the disclosure and/or welcome process.

  2. Administrative Resolutions:  Address the internal operations of the community association (i.e., petty cash, credit card assignment).

  3. Special Resolutions:  Stating board decisions that apply a policy or rule to an individual situation (i.e., decision about an alleged rule violation, or authorization of a lawsuit).  Be specific with this type of resolution.

  4. General Resolutions:  These are resolutions which involve routine events (i.e., adoption of annul budget).

 

The power of the board to enact rules and regulations is generally defined in the declaration and/or the bylaws.  Sometimes, the board’s right to enact rules is limited by the requirement that the members approve the rules.  A resolution cannot conflict with or override requirements in a statute or document higher in the hierarchy of governing documents. 

 

Each resolution should state the source of the board’s authority to act on the issue, a reference to a provision of the governing documents, a statement of the purpose of the resolution, and sufficient details to enable those reading the resolution to understand the purpose and meaning of the resolution.

 

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT POLICY RESOLUTIONS BE REVIEWED BY THE ASSOCIATION’S LEGAL COUNSEL. 

Information contained in this newsletter is general in nature for the purpose of education and is not intended as legal advice.
bottom of page