Homeowner Associations (HOAs) and Condo Owner Associations (COAs) are essentially the same thing.
Both of these organizations are responsible for collecting dues from people who purchase properties within the association and using the money to help maintain the community. They also enforce rules and regulations set for the community to uphold a certain standard of living.
HOA and COA boards have to deal with a wide range of common HOA problems, from financial issues to neighbor conflicts, so it’s important for board members to know how to deal with them to avoid bigger issues.
1. Financial problems (running out of money)
One of the most common reasons for COA/HOA complaints is the way members’ dues are being utilized.
It’s important to follow HOA budget best practices to avoid running out of money and ensure that homeowners’ dues are being used effectively to maintain and improve the community for all. Try to look for ways to save on HOA budget expenses without compromising on services or the quality of them.
One of the most important best practices to implement in order to ensure your COA or HOA doesn’t run out of money is creating a reserve fund. This fund should hold enough to cover unexpected expenses as they arise.
To avoid complaints, make sure you always communicate clearly to COA/HOA members clearly and transparently regarding the use of their funds.
This includes keeping regular financial reports and audits updated and releasing them annually, as well as making them available by request.
2. Maintaining property value
One of the responsibilities of a COA/HOA board is to maintain the property values of homes within the association.
This means maintaining common areas within the community to a high standard and enforcing rules and regulations that govern what people can and can’t do to their homes in terms of maintenance, repairs, and renovations.
One way to make maintaining property values easier is to engage with community members to stress the importance of following maintenance guidelines and other rules for everyone.
Collective efforts to keep the community looking good and functioning smoothly will make everyone’s properties worth more in the long run.
3. Common areas
HOA common area rules are another subject that can generate HOA complaints, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many COAs/HOAs to change and update their rules for everyone’s safety.
Make sure that all rules and regulations regarding the usage of shared facilities, like pools and rec centers, are clearly communicated to residents and posted visibly in these common areas.
For example, if there is any type of special reservation process or a new hygiene protocol, this should be made very clear to community members to avoid confusion and conflict.
Issues regarding pet noise and pet waste are another source of HOA problems. While pets can be an important part of communities, they can also cause conflict, especially if community members are not following guidelines regarding the keeping of pets.
To avoid these types of issues, make sure to communicate clearly and consistently about how COA/HOA community members should be taking care of their pets, especially when it comes to managing noise and picking up pet waste from common areas.
If pet waste is a constant issue in your community, consider hiring a company that specializes in pet waste cleanup to keep common spaces clean.
5. Poor maintenance and neglecting to fix ongoing problems
As we’ve already mentioned, maintenance is one of the biggest responsibilities of COA/HOA boards.
If you are not adequately maintaining common areas, including landscaping outdoor spaces, it can lead to all kinds of issues that are sure to result in complaints.
To ensure good maintenance of your community, create a maintenance schedule and stick to it. Hire the right professionals to handle maintenance, including landscapers, pest control companies, plumbers, and any other types of contractors required.
Be sure to factor these maintenance costs into your HOA budget to ensure that dues cover them and avoid lapses in repairs of problems.
6. Neighbor conflicts
From time to time, neighbors within your community may get into disputes. These can happen because of noise, pet waste, and for a variety of other reasons.
In many of these situations, the residents may seek help from the COA/HOA board to resolve such disputes.
If so, it’s important for you to be able to clarify what is and isn’t a violation of community standards by referring to the association’s governing documents. That way, you can mediate such disputes to resolve them before they get any bigger.
7. HOA board being too aggressive with rules and fines
Imposing fines is a normal way to enforce rules and regulations, but make sure not to go overboard.
Make sure you are only imposing fines for specific violations that your community’s governing documents specify they are allowed for.
If you use fines aggressively for every little violation, community residents can be upset and, in some cases, they may even bring a lawsuit against the board.
Also, it’s important to be very consistent with fines. In other words, don’t give one resident a warning and one resident a fine for the same violation.
8. Lack of communication
Open and transparent HOA communications are one of your biggest tools to avoid issues within your community.
Send out monthly communications to all residents updating them on any changes to policies and providing general information about what’s going on in the HOA/COA community.
Also, ensure that all association members know how to communicate with the board to ask questions or make requests.
9. Disagreements about parking
Community residents parking vehicles for long periods of time in common areas or leaving unsightly vehicles in their parking spots can be a point of contention among neighbors.
To avoid these types of HOA issues, implement guidelines to address parking within the community.
For example, specify that residents may only park vehicles in common areas for a set number of hours and that certain types of vehicles, like RVs and trailers, cannot be parked in driveways/parking spots.
These types of rules will help keep the curb appeal of homeowners’ properties up and avoid overcrowding of common parking areas.