There's always work to be done, especially in a homeowners association. It’s crucial that an HOA Board plan for general, ongoing maintenance and upkeep. This is important in order to keep the Association a safe place to live and keep it an appealing place to live. Members don’t want to live in a run-down neighborhood and potential buyers won’t give an Association a second look if it’s unkempt, dirty or in disrepair.
What is an HOA board supposed to do if there is a lot of maintenance that needs to be done in the community all at once, but the projects weren't planned for? The clubhouse needs a new roof, the sidewalks are cracked, the community pool needs a new pump, and there’s fencing that needs to be replaced!
Maybe the HOA board members in your homeowners association applied for a loan, but that didn’t work out. Then they toyed with the idea of raising assessments, but that didn’t seem like a viable long-term solution. Even a special assessment was considered, but it was decided that would just make homeowners angry and wouldn’t really solve the issue at hand.
What should a responsible HOA board do in this situation?
First and foremost, the Board needs to acknowledge the problem and commit to finding a solution, without pointing fingers, procrastinating, or ignoring the issues altogether. Start by doing the following:
1. Assess the current situation
Does your Association have a reserve budget? Are the current maintenance projects line items within the reserve budget? When was the last time a reserve study was done? Ignorance is not an excuse. The Board needs to know the answers to those three questions in order to move forward and make reasonable business decisions.
2. Bring in an expert
Many HOA boards won’t know where to begin or have the time to figure it out. If there's no way to pay for the maintenance that needs to be done, and no plan in place to figure out how to do so, it’s time to bring in a trustworthy HOA manager and a reserve specialist to help if you want it to be done right.
3. Make a plan
A reserve specialist will update your reserve study and give you an accurate account of what needs to be done, how much it will cost, and the steps to take to build up your reserves. For example, putting together a 4 to 5 year plan, developing a budget, building in contingencies, and tracking the progress year to year. An HOA manager can help facilitate the process and follow the proper protocols to disclose specific information, answer questions, and keep members informed.
It won’t be easy in the beginning and unfavorable decisions – like the possibility of raising assessments – will need to be made, but the plan should be to get to a place where each reserve item is fully funded. When an HOA board takes responsibility to do this, it's fulfilling its duty to enhance, protect and maintain the homeowners association with the best interest of current and future members in mind.