By Dixie Somers
Homeowner associations were created to provide a governing body for residential developments to make decisions regarding upkeep, appearance and finances. These agencies are usually composed of residents of the community. Periodic meetings are held to ensure that members of the communities are informed of issues related to them. You can make sure you have an impact on your homeowner association decisions if you keep these tips in mind.
Attend Meetings and Encourage Others to Attend
Many of the problems found in homeowner associations result from lack of participation by residents and their failure to hold the boards accountable for their actions. This problem can lead to laxity in managing finances, creating rules that are unnecessarily restrictive and allowing domination of decisions by the most vocal homeowners in the development. Anyone who has a public administration master’s degree knows how important public input is to the outcome of these decisions. If you attend meetings regularly, you will know what matters are under discussion and can provide oversight to any decisions that are made.
Know the Limits of Homeowner Association Laws
Although homeowner associations have broad authority to organize communities, they are still subject to a larger body of laws that affect privacy, ownership of property and discrimination. Familiarize yourself with the homeowner association laws in your state, so you can help to prevent frivolous rules that negatively affect the experience of residents living in the community, which could affect the desirability of the development in the real estate market.
Educate Others on Financial Matters
Homeowner associations must produce a budget for the members of the development on an annual basis. These budgets allow the residents to understand where their association dues are being spent and whether or not sufficient reserve funds are being held for large projects to maintain the community. Research how to read these budgets and educate neighbors on the individual entries to ensure that your community has funds on hand for emergencies and other necessary projects.
Have Documentation about Problems & Solutions in Other Developments
Homeowners can make a real impact with their board members if they have specific information about how other developments have resolved their issues to stabilize their communities. In many cases, this information is available in local or community papers. However, you can also talk to board members of the developments to get a sense of the issues involved and the best ways to manage them.
Homeowner associations exist to ensure that communities are well run and are able to handle financial and other responsibilities. These associations function best when those that make the decisions have regular input from the residents of the community. In this way, accountability is always assured, and the impact of the decisions made on individuals in the community can be considered.