With the holidays being just around the corner, HOAs will soon begin the process of preparing for their ending fiscal year responsibilities. Not to mention all the responsibilities of preparing for the coming year. As an HOA continues to grow, it may be easy to lose focus on smaller tasks and projects that need to be addressed annually. However, with a lot of organization and the right team, you’ll be ready to take on the new year with no hesitation. To begin let’s start by addressing how to prepare.
How to Prepare
Before diving into a pool of projects, start by prioritizing your most important items and tasks first. Consider putting items that bring the most results and changes to the community to the front of the line. Items that are not as critical or could be considered outdated should be placed at the back of the list for further evaluation.
- Delegate teams - As an HOA, you have many teams and committees that work around the clock. For a large project such as this, a board will need to delegate and prioritize teams that make the most impact on certain items of the community. For example, your financial committee will have valuable information related to your financial budget and preparation for the coming year.
- Goals - What’s the overall goal? In a perfect world, what items would be the most important for your community to continue growing for the coming year.
- New ideas and feedback - To grow, your HOA must be open to new feedback as it relates to the current and coming year. Consider holding a community meeting for all members to express their feedback and ideas — this will help create engagement and support for all community members.
- Checklists - A checklist is one of the most important parts of creating a successful year. As a way to accomplish this, delegate a checklist for all teams involved with the project. This will ensure that all tasks are successfully completed.
- Areas of opportunity - As you evaluate each item, you may notice areas of opportunity that could potentially bring more value to the community. You may even experience feedback from team members wanting to take on more responsibility or bring a specific skill set to their team. For example, a team member working on the event committee is interested in assisting with the community's new software. As a board, consider offering opportunities for newer members to train in other areas of their team that could potentially lead to an executive role down the line.
5 Items your HOA Board Should Review Every Year
1. HOA rules and regulations
Your HOA rules and governing documents are considered to be the bread and butter of the HOA. They protect the HOA and bring value to the community.
- Governing documents - An important part of ensuring the safety of an HOA is by making sure your governing documents are regulated and accurate. Any new rules that may have been updated from the current year should reflect in the coming new year's documents. In addition, governing documents must be accessible to all necessary committees and members.
- Legislation updates - Another important part of your HOAs yearly review will be to review your communities laws and ordinances for any changes that may have occurred during the current year. Legislative changes greatly impact your HOA and should always be updated on your most recent community’s governing documents.
- Insurance policies - Considered to be one of the most overlooked items, insurance policies are often the reason why an HOA may experience financial hardships or delays in receiving financial assistance. Your HOA should inspect its insurance policies each year to ensure proper coverage.
- Policy expiration dates
- Policy limits
- Terms and conditions
2. Board members' roles
Every year, your HOA will have to re-elect new members for the coming new year. As your year ends, set time aside to evaluate each committee's roles and responsibilities — the purpose of this is to ensure that each role is maximizing its best qualities at its fullest potential.
- Depending on the HOA and its state, a board will serve until the first election, including all subsequent board members that will serve until the annual election.
- Technology - With the growth in HOA technology, many committees are experiencing a need to evaluate their HOAs' software or lack thereof. Here are just a few examples of committees that are often considered:
- Financial committee - The larger the HOA grows, the more responsibility your teams will encounter. For example, your financial committee may experience a need to reorganize and minimize multiple responsibilities, such as: creating manual invoices, distributing financial notices by mail, and collecting dues. By incorporating HOA software, communities can provide their members with more advanced forms of technology, such as mobile applications that are specific to their HOA's needs. Some benefits include: collecting dues, sending notices, notifications, community updates, and virtual security.
- Social media - Social media is a large part of why many HOAs have increased their outreach and engagement. Communities that do not utilize social media or use it minimally should consider incorporating an HOA digital software that allows members to integrate social media features. Applications such as this provide your community the ability to: expand social media platforms, schedule posts, utilize social media integrations, perform multi-function tasks, and, most importantly, increase community outreach and communication.
Another important part of reviewing your year will be to evaluate your vendor contracts and contact list. Vendors can contribute a large portion of HOA’s financial contributions. HOAs rely on their vendors to provide applicable agreements to meet the HOA’s financial and ethical needs.
- How many years have you worked with this vendor?
- Has your vendor offered any opportunity to receive discounts due to your length of business?
- Has the vendor maintained a professional relationship with the community?
- Do they put effort into making in-person visits or follow-up phone calls/emails?
- Review areas of opportunity: cost vs. profits
- Research other vendors that could potentially offer more opportunities or less costly rates.
4. Safety protocols
Safety protocols and community emergency action plans are a large part of what helps HOAs stay protected from natural disasters and catastrophes.
Disaster plans - The sole purpose of a disaster plan is for an HOA to prepare themselves for an unpredictable event such as a: tornado, hurricane, fire, flood, or any type of harsh weather conditions. It provides a thorough plan on how a community must respond if an incident or disaster occurs. At the end of each year, your HOA should evaluate your current safety protocols — this helps ensure the safety of all community members.
- HOA capacity - In the event of a natural disaster, are enough people assigned for the coming year to execute a disaster plan?
- HOA capabilities - Are there any safety protocols that may impact HOA members that are disabled, elder, visually, or speech impaired?
Inspections - Inspections are another large asset in helping prevent severe damage. It will be vital that your HOA thoroughly reviews all protocols and inspections for accuracy. Some examples may include roofs, property inspections, evacuation plans, and disaster-prep-necessities.
5. Schedules and events
As you roll into the new year, ensuring that your community agenda is up-to-date will be important. This includes all community meetings, events, deadlines, and special holidays.
- Other important events: parking restrictions, HOA out-of-office, maintenance, inspections, renovations, building closures, and voting.
Communication - To keep your community informed of any changes to events or dates, consider incorporating a proper chain of communication, such as the communication suite by TownSq. It allows users the ability to provide real-time updates regarding online announcements, engages with users through forums and polls, and, most importantly, saves time and cost.