Keeping assessments from constantly increasing in a homeowners association is one of the most important things an HOA board and its members can strive to do. The Association must balance keeping up with all its financial obligations and making sure fees stay as low as possible. Generally, these two feel like they work against each other.
In the natural order of things, prices seem to always be on the rise. That is just a basic fact of life. For a homeowners association it's no different. Products and services cost more and more and if you want and need those things you have to pay for them.
Depending on the association, homeowners typically take care of some of their own maintenance tasks. Or at least they hire and pay for someone to do so. The association also has to hire someone to do their tasks, like landscaping and other maintenance jobs, but pay for it out of assessment funds.
Types of Assessments
Basically there are two types of assessments in a homeowners association. Homeowners pay a monthly fee to the HOA for the basic upkeep and needs of the association. This might include landscaping, security operations, maintenance of the common areas, and other ongoing association expenses.
Every now and then a special assessment may be levied on HOA members to pay for a big expense, such as a roof on the clubhouse or large pool repairs. Low monthly HOA fees and inadequate reserve funds can also lead to a special assessment if money runs short.
Keeping Assessments From Constantly Increasing
There are many things an HOA board and community members can do to keep fees from increasing or at least keep them from rising too fast. Working together is the key to keep fees as low as possible.
An HOA board has a fiduciary responsibility to the entire community. This may be the most important part of your job as a board member.
A few things a board must do to keep fees low are:
- Make sure all fees are paid, both regular and special assessments.
- Keep tabs on association monies and make sure they're used for their intended purposes.
- Try to get the best value for services the community needs.
- Cut down on all overhead costs as much as possible.
- Everyone in the community has to pitch in and keep their homes looking nice. Following community rules is paramount here. Unkempt yards and other rule violations make the board have to take action to remedy the issues. This costs money.
- Homeowners have to be proud of their neighborhood and take care of it as much as they can. Don't allow them to trash community property at parks, pools and other common areas. Help police these areas as much as possible.
- Take care of smaller issues as they arise so larger, more expensive problems don't crop up later.
- Don't push expenses to the future. Keep fees high enough but fair enough to take care of community business now.
- Try to foster a sense of community. If everyone pitches in to do things and stays proud of their HOA community, maintenance and other costs can be held down.
It's generally a given that assessments will rise in a homeowners association. While that may be true there are many things an HOA board and community members can do to keep fees down. Working together helps hold costs down.