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Drainage Problems In HOA: What To Do?

Whether it’s due to rain, snow, or simply improper sewage systems, drainage problems in HOA communities are not unheard of. In fact, they can be fairly common in low-lying or poorly constructed neighborhoods. What do you do when it happens? Let’s find out.


The Impact of Drainage Problems in HOA Communities

Drainage problems in HOA communities can have a significant impact on community living and property. The following are the most common consequences of improper drainage:

  • Poor Aesthetics. Improper drainage can lead to unsightly standing water in the community’s yards and common areas. They can be unappealing to onlookers which can reduce the HOA’s property values.
  • Pest Infestations. Standing water is a breeding ground for pests like mosquitoes. As a result, homeowners may suffer from infestations and pest-related illnesses.
  • Water Quality Problems. Poorly managed stormwater runoff can carry pollutants like trash, oil, and sediment that can lead to poor water quality in local resources.
  • Erosion. Improper drainage can cause soil erosion which is bad for the environment. Moreover, it can compromise the structural integrity of nearby infrastructure such as homes, roads, and sidewalks.
  • Flooding. Insufficient or poor drainage can cause flooding, leading to property damage for the HOA and its residents. It can also be inconvenient as flooding prevents people from freely entering and leaving certain areas.


Common Causes of Drainage Problems and How to Fix Them

There are several causes of drainage issues in homeowners association communities. Here are the most common causes to watch out for.


1. Blocked or Clogged Basins

Blocked or Clogged BasinsPoor drainage in HOA communities can result from something as simple as clogged drains. Remember to check the catch basins and storm drains in the HOA’s private roads. Make sure they’re unobstructed to keep the stormwater away.

Clean up all the vegetation, debris, and trash around the area. If the community is large, consider adding public trash cans so community members can dispose of their garbage properly.

If your community has problems with clogged drains, it’s likely a result of poor maintenance. The community should allot enough money to clean the streets and remove debris from drainage systems. It’s a relatively simple solution, but it works wonders for fixing drainage problems in HOA communities.


2. Improper Slopes

Proper slopes in driveways and roads can cause chronic flooding in HOA communities. This is a design problem related to the developer’s original construction. For example, if the streets were paved higher than the ends of driveways, the developer didn’t consider stormwater drainage. It could also be a landscaping issue if landscapers don’t consider the drainage system.

You’ll know there’s an improper slope in the community if water pools only in certain parts of common areas or homeowner yards. In some cases, homeowners associations can fix this by repaving the streets. However, severe cases may require the help of an HOA contractor, such as a design engineer. The engineer will assess the issue and recommend ways to enhance the drainage system to accommodate the design flaws.


3. Improper Landscape Grading

A stormwater drainage problem in HOA communities can be caused by improper grading. Grassy areas and other landscaping must be graded properly to facilitate the drainage of stormwater. Otherwise, it can lead to flooding and other issues. After it rains, consider observing any low-lying landscapes to see whether there is ponding or areas of standing water. This indicates a drainage problem that could be caused by improper grading.

Fortunately, HOA drainage problems like these are easy to remedy. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as reworking the areas to add a stormwater management solution. For example, the HOA could add a grassed swale or mulch to the landscaped bed areas to drain the stormwater.

Adding a grassed swale creates a channel where the water can collect and drain out. Often, these contain vegetation made to guard against soil erosion. Meanwhile, mulching is great for compacted soil. It boosts the soil’s ability to absorb water and prevent it from collecting on the surface.


4. Lack of Stormwater System Maintenance

Lack of Stormwater System MaintenanceSome HOAs may have a stormwater management system that hasn’t worked well. This is often due to the lack of maintenance and regular inspections.

HOA board members should stay on top of routine inspections to quickly identify problems before they start. Doing so also prevents sidewalks, roads, driveways, and landscaping damage that could lead to more maintenance work.

Stormwater system maintenance is especially important before the rainy season. Otherwise, the community may have problems with ponding and even flooding. This could lead to devastating damage to the community’s common areas. It could also damage individual homes, leading to homeowner frustration and dissatisfaction.

How do you mitigate this? Firstly, the HOA board should install an effective stormwater management solution if the community doesn’t already have one. If they do, the board should take charge of the following maintenance responsibilities to keep their stormwater management system in check:

  • Common area and easement inspections
  • Debris removal and cleaning in catch basins and drains
  • Creating slopes in open lawns for proper drainage
  • Restoring eroded or compacted soil
  • Repair of damaged or cracked concrete

Referring to the community’s original site plan and the CC&R’s maintenance guidelines might be helpful. Past drainage reports can also help the association pinpoint potential problem areas within the community. If the board can no longer access these documents, they can hire a drainage engineer to fix the community’s stormwater drainage system.


Additional Stormwater Management Tips

What stormwater management solutions can HOAs use to prevent drainage problems? Here are some long-term projects communities can undertake to manage stormwater runoff better.

  • Green Roofs. HOAs can cover roofs with vegetation to reduce the flow of rainwater and delay the rate at which it flows down.
  • Permeable Pavements. HOAs can use permeable materials for surfaces like walkways and roads to allow stormwater to seep into the soil. Instead of using concrete or asphalt, consider using porous asphalt, grid pavers, and pervious concrete.
  • Rain Gardens. HOAs can install rain gardens that facilitate runoff to ponds in specific areas, allowing the water to filter through the plants and soil.
  • Vegetated or Dry Swales. HOAs can use vegetated drainage paths to transport stormwater, slow runoff, facilitate infiltration, and filter pollutants.
  • Constructed Wetlands. HOAs can create constructed wetlands to collect and filter stormwater.


Stay on Top of Stormwater Management

Many things can cause drainage problems in HOA communities. HOA boards need to stay alert and prevent any issues from arising. Otherwise, the community’s residents might think the board is not properly maintaining the community’s common areas. This could lead to conflict and even legal or financial liability when the damage is extensive enough.

Condo Manager is a convenient HOA management software that can assist HOA management companies and self-managed associations. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to book a free demo!



Neighbors Tree Disputes: Who’s Right Or Wrong?

What should homeowners do if a neighbors tree is overhanging, encroaching, or has caused property damage? Let’s explore how neighborhood trees can cause conflict and what to do about them.


Neighbors Tree Disputes in HOAs

Many homeowners plant trees on their property to beautify their yard’s landscaping. Some even plant trees for privacy from neighbors. However, as people do, trees do not follow the governing documents or encroachment laws. They grow tall and wide and do not obey property lines. This is why conflict regarding trees is one of the most common sources of disputes in HOA communities.


Property Encroachment

Often, HOA neighbor’s tree disputes involve property encroachment. It’s not uncommon to find overhanging tree branches in the HOA community. This can be a nuisance for neighbors whose view from the front yard might be blocked. Tree overhangs can also pose a security risk, as trespassers can use the overhangs to climb over fences. Overhanging branches can also cause a mess as tree leaves and fruits may fall onto the neighbor’s property.

Encroachment issues may also involve tree roots or the way the tree grows. Let’s say the tree’s trunk or roots grow into the neighbor’s yard or property. Who owns the tree? Moreover, who has the right to eat its fruits and is responsible for tree trimming and maintenance? These can be tricky to navigate as it may vary between states and communities.


Property Damage

HOA tree lawA neighbors tree can also cause damage and it can be hard to know who to hold responsible. There are many instances wherein these accidents are deemed as “Acts of God.”

In these cases, the property owner is responsible for repairs and maintenance, even if the tree isn’t theirs. The same applies to homeowners associations. If the HOA’s sidewalks or common elements are damaged by homeowner trees, the HOA is often responsible if it is an act of God.

However, there are times when the tree owner is responsible for property damage. This often happens when the tree owners can’t properly care for the tree to prevent it from causing harm. It also applies when the tree owner knows that their tree poses a threat yet does nothing to remove or prune the tree.


The First Question to Ask: Who Owns the Tree?

Before identifying who is liable for various tree-related issues, it’s important to establish who owns the tree. This can shed much light on who may be held responsible for damages, encroachment, or upkeep. It also determines who can prune or cut the tree down.

As such, reviewing the community’s plat or map to determine property lines is essential. If a tree resides on the HOA property, the tree will likely belong to the HOA. Meanwhile, if a tree resides on a resident’s property, the resident is responsible for the tree. This usually applies regardless of who planted the tree in the first place.

Apart from this, the state’s tree law often determines ownership. For instance, California determines ownership based on where the tree trunk stands. If the tree trunk stands wholly on a neighbor’s property, then the neighbor owns the tree.

However, if the tree trunk stands partly on the land of two or more properties, it’s usually deemed a boundary tree. In many cases, all the property owners jointly own the tree. Hence, they are all responsible for caring for the tree. Moreover, if the tree is healthy, no one property owner can remove the tree without the permission of the other owners.

It’s also important to note that, depending on state law, tree roots typically do not determine ownership. Even if the tree’s roots grow well into a resident’s yard, that resident still does not own the tree. Ownership determines where the tree trunk stands, not where the roots grow.

Finally, it’s also crucial to review the governing documents. Special provisions may outline who is responsible for tree maintenance, trimming, and property damage. The HOA may also have a tree policy that the board and the other residents must follow.


How to Deal With Neighbors Tree Disputes

What can homeowners and HOAs do when it comes to tree disputes? Let’s address the most common questions and concerns homeowners have.


overhanging tree branches in HOA communityCan I Trim a Neighbor’s Trees Overhanging My Property?

In many states, homeowners can trim limbs and branches that exceed property lines. However, homeowners have to trim only up to the boundary. They cannot go onto their neighbor’s property to trim the tree.

Moreover, it’s never a good idea to destroy the neighbor’s tree. This is because harming the tree will likely lead to liability and monetary penalties.


Can I Eat the Fruit From the Neighbor’s Tree if It Overhangs My Yard?

It depends on the state. Fruits belong to the tree owner, so it’s best not to pick fruits if the tree does not belong to you. However, state laws and courts are divided on whether or not homeowners can eat their neighbor’s fallen fruit. It’s best to check local laws and ordinances before eating the fruit. Otherwise, you may incur penalties.


Who Is Responsible if the Neighbor’s Tree Damaged My Property?

“A neighbor’s tree damaged my fence, what do I do? What are my options if the neighbor’s tree damaged my house?” In these cases, it depends on what caused the damage. The court will likely turn to the reasonable care standard if the tree fell due to a storm or natural disaster.

This means that if the neighbor took reasonable care of the tree and maintained it properly, the neighbor is likely not responsible for the damage. It may be deemed an “act of God.” In this case, the property owner is responsible for repairing the fence or the home. However, if the neighbor did not properly maintain the tree or knew its branches were a threat, they may be liable for the damages.

Apart from natural disasters, growing tree branches and roots can also cause damage. In most cases, the homeowner cannot sue the neighbor for the roots or branches. Hence, trimming the tree’s branches and roots is the safest option to avoid potential damage.

On the other hand, some states do allow homeowners to sue if certain conditions are met. For example, some states allow lawsuits if the invading branches or roots cause serious harm to the homeowner’s property. They may also be able to sue if the encroaching tree is planted and not “wild.” Regardless, it’s best to check state law to verify what you can do if the neighbor’s tree branches or roots cause property damage.


What Can I Do if the Neighbor’s Tree Looks Like It Will Fall on My House?

Homeowners are responsible for making reasonable inspections and taking care of trees to ensure safety. If the neighbor does not remove or cut the tree and it causes damage, the neighbor may be liable for it. Make sure to speak to the neighbor about the potential threat. If you do, the law may be able to protect you.

Apart from this, you can call your municipality, as most city ordinances forbid homeowners from maintaining dangerous conditions, including dangerous trees, on their property. The municipality may remove the tree or order the neighbor to remove the tree.

Dangerous trees may also pose a threat to utility companies. If the tree threatens the utility company’s equipment or is a fire hazard, the utility company may help you remove the tree.

Finally, you can file a nuisance claim as the tree may interfere with the use and enjoyment of your property. If the court thinks the tree is a nuisance, they may order the neighbor to remove or prune it. You must file a lawsuit in regular court, but be ready to present evidence that the tree is hazardous.


Can I Be Compensated if a Neighbor Killed My Tree?

Yes. Those who hurt, remove, or cut down trees without the owner’s permission are often liable to the owner. The tree owner may ask for compensation or file a lawsuit to enforce that right.


Do I Have a Good Nuisance Claim if the Neighbor’s Tree Leaves Blow Into My Yard?

No. Leaves are often considered natural products. Hence, the homeowner cannot file a legal claim against their neighbor even if they damage the property by clogging pipes or gutters.


Do I Have to Trim My Tree if the Neighbors Complain About Its Height?

hoa neighbor's tree disputesIt’s best to talk to your neighbors to understand how much trimming would be enough. If they’re not asking for too much, and trimming doesn’t affect the tree’s health or aesthetics, it’s best to consider trimming it.

This can help you avoid conflict with your neighbor and maintain a peaceful community. They may even agree to cover or split the cost of tree trimming. However, hire a professional neighborhood tree service to do the job. A neighbor tree service can ensure the tree is trimmed without affecting its health or visual appeal.

On the other hand, if you do not want to trim the tree, it’s important to review local tree ordinances. Let’s say the tree is hazardous to your neighbor as its branches dangerously overhang their property. You may violate a local ordinance by not trimming the tree in this case.

Apart from this, some laws may impose height limits, view ordinances, or property line limits. Make sure your refusal does not violate any local laws. Otherwise, you may find yourself in court over the tree dispute. It’s also important to check the HOA’s governing documents. The community might have restrictions regarding tree heights or rules about tree trimming that you need to follow.


Navigating Tree Disputes

Trees are often a point of tension within private communities. That’s why communities need to know how to deal with disputes involving a neighbors tree. They must understand how ownership works, what they’re responsible for, and what they cannot do.

Are you in need of reliable HOA management software? Condo Manager offers the best tools for self-managed communities and HOA management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or reach out to us online to book a demo!



HOA Sidewalk Maintenance: Whose Responsibility Is It?

HOA sidewalk maintenance is often a topic of debate in planned communities. But, who is really responsible for sidewalks? Is it the HOA, the homeowner, or the city? Let’s find out.


Who Is Responsible for HOA Sidewalk Maintenance?

Is the sidewalk in front of your house your property? If not, is HOA responsible for sidewalks or is the city responsible for sidewalk repair and maintenance? Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to this because it varies depending on the circumstances. In fact, HOA sidewalk repair and maintenance can even be shared responsibilities in some communities.

How do you know who repairs sidewalks in a homeowners association? The first thing to do is to check state law and local legislation. In large cities, the city is typically responsible for HOA sidewalk maintenance when they’re located on public roads. Meanwhile, if the road or sidewalk is private and located in a small town or suburb, it’s usually not the city’s responsibility.

In fact, some states have concretized this. For example, in the case of Qian vs. Toll Brothers, Inc., the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that private sidewalks are the association’s responsibility because they’re part of the common areas.


Check the Governing Documents

If the city is not responsible for HOA sidewalk maintenance, then the burden falls on either the HOA or the homeowner. To verify which of them holds responsibility, it’s imperative to check the governing documents. More specifically, homeowners and board members should check the community plat or map.

The governing documents may consider sidewalks as part of the community’s common areas. In that case, the association is responsible for the HOA sidewalk maintenance. The board needs to hire vendors for cleaning and snow removal to ensure they’re in good shape.

On the other hand, if the community plat considers sidewalks part of the owner’s separate interest, then the homeowner is in charge of maintaining them. They will need to hire vendors separately or maintain the sidewalks themselves.


Cause of Damage and Special Cases

hoa sidewalk repairSometimes, the lines may blur if someone else is directly or indirectly responsible for the damage caused to the sidewalk. For example, let’s say a homeowner planted a tree that damaged the sidewalk as its roots grew.

The sidewalk is considered part of the common areas and is the HOA’s responsibility. However, is the HOA still responsible when the homeowner was the one who planted the tree?

It also depends, again, on state law and the governing documents. Either of these may specifically address damage to HOA or a neighbor’s property. If they don’t, the outcome could change based on many different variables.

For instance, if the homeowner planted the tree on private property, the HOA may have grounds to pass the burden of responsibility to the homeowner. However, if the homeowner planted it in a common area with the board’s approval, it may remain the HOA’s responsibility.

On the other hand, it may not always be that simple. If the HOA left the tree alone for a long time without taking action against the homeowner, the resident may have a defense against the HOA. They could say the HOA sat on their rights for too long and that the homeowner has been prejudiced.

In the end, it will be on a case-to-case basis. If things are unclear, it’s best to consult with an attorney who specializes in these issues.


Why Is Clarifying Responsibilities Necessary?

It’s always important for homeowners and board members to clarify maintenance responsibilities in any community. Leaving it ambiguous could cause disputes in the HOA down the road. Moreover, if the residents think the HOA is responsible when it isn’t (or vice versa), the sidewalks can fall into disrepair. This could affect the community’s curb appeal and even compromise safety.

In addition, it’s best to clarify responsibilities to avoid legal liability. For example, let’s say it often snows in the community. An HOA responsible for sidewalks should maintain it regularly. But if the board is misinformed and believes it is the homeowners’ responsibility, they may face legal liability if someone slips and falls.

The same is true in the reverse. If the homeowners are unaware of their responsibility, they may face a surprise lawsuit if an accident happens. They may blame the HOA without knowing they are, indeed, the ones responsible. This could lead to conflict and multiple lawsuits that could have been avoided.


Maintaining HOA Sidewalks

If the responsibility falls on the HOA, it’s best to stay on top of sidewalk maintenance. As long as the homeowners association does its duty, it shouldn’t face too much liability if someone has an accident. Maintaining the sidewalks will also keep the homeowners happy.

What can the association do to maintain the sidewalks? Firstly, the board will have to inspect the community’s sidewalks for any cracks, damages, or landscaping issues. They need to address these problems as soon as possible to avoid accidents.

Afterward, the HOA must be proactive and schedule regular maintenance activities. They can hire cleaning services or snow removal vendors to regularly maintain the sidewalks. Moreover, they need to set aside a budget for sidewalk maintenance and adjust the assessments accordingly.

On the other hand, if the responsibility is on the homeowners or it is shared, the HOA should clearly communicate this with the community. The board should send reminders to the homeowners and work closely with them to keep the sidewalks in good shape.


Creating a Safe and Harmonious Community

hoa responsible for sidewalksHOA sidewalk maintenance is often a source of conflict in common interest communities. However, HOAs can easily prevent fights from breaking out if they clarify who is responsible for what. This way, everyone is on the same page and knows what their responsibilities are.

Are you an HOA management company or a self-managed homeowners association having trouble with community management? Condo Manager is your key to success. Our HOA management software has all the necessary tools you need to manage a planned community. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to learn more!



How To Remove An HOA Board Member Or Officer?

How do you remove an HOA board member? Homeowners might ask this question when board members aren’t fulfilling their duties. While the process may be challenging, it’s not impossible.


Can an HOA Board Member Be Removed?

At first, removing an HOA board member may seem out of the question, especially since the community elected them. However, it may be possible depending on the reason. The governing documents and state law may outline various acceptable grounds for removing HOA officers.

Many governing documents will allow the community members to remove a board member if they fail to meet certain requirements. For example, if someone doesn’t attend the required number of board meetings, the governing documents may allow the community to remove them. However, removal usually requires approval from a majority of the members. At times, it may require approval from all of the members. Hence, it may be difficult to proceed without support.

Also, state law may allow the community to remove HOA board members or officers under certain conditions. For instance, Florida law states that board members are automatically removed from their position if they’re convicted felons or charged with theft or embezzlement of community funds. They’re also automatically disqualified if they’re delinquent in paying HOA fees.

In some states, the community members can even remove a board member without cause. The law will usually allow this if the HOA meets membership approval requirements. However, checking the governing documents and state laws applicable to your HOA before proceeding is best.


Who Can Remove an HOA Board Member?

If state law and the governing documents allow, the community members can often remove HOA board members. But who else can remove HOA board members aside from the membership? Can an HOA board remove a board member?

It depends. If the HOA Bylaws or Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) allow it, the rest of the board can remove a board member. They will often do so by a majority vote of the remaining directors. The conditions for removal will, again, depend on state law and the governing documents. However, most HOAs only allow the board to remove officers from their positions.

Apart from this, the court can also remove directors. This usually happens as a response to the director’s dishonest or fraudulent actions within the HOA. Depending on state law, they may also be able to remove the board member if they’re convicted or declared to be of unsound mind.

Finally, if the developer or a designator appoints a director, they can often be removed by the person who appointed them.


When Can You Not Remove an HOA Board Member?

There are instances wherein communities cannot remove an HOA board member. For example, the community members might not recall the HOA board member the developer appointed. Community members are also not allowed to remove board members appointed by the court. Usually, only the one who designated them can remove the HOA board officer.


How to Remove an HOA Board Member

Is one of the board members in your HOA community unqualified, negligent, confrontational, or causing more harm than good? Depending on the situation, removing the board member from their position may be wise. If this is what you must do, here’s what you must know about removing a board member from an HOA.


1. Check State Law and the Governing Documents

Removing HOA board members is a serious action, and homeowners must proceed cautiously. It’s best to consult the governing documents first, as there may be a specific procedure homeowners must follow. Homeowners should also check applicable state laws to avoid potential violations and penalties.

When in doubt, you can ask a lawyer specializing in homeowners associations. They should be able to help you understand the proper grounds for removal and identify the next steps.


removing an hoa board member2. Express Your Concern

Homeowners should voice their concerns about the board members before proceeding with the removal. Consider attending a board meeting or writing a letter to the HOA board.

How do I write a letter to remove a board member? First, it’s wise to gather support from fellow homeowners by obtaining signatures for a petition. Make sure to include these signatures in the letter you submit. Also, remember to include the reasons for removal as required by state law or the governing documents.


3. Allow the Director to Respond

The director in question should have an opportunity to respond. They may respond by holding a hearing or simply choosing to resign. The board must notify the homeowners properly if the HOA pushes through with a hearing. During the hearing, the board member can be heard and defend themselves.


3. Hold a Special Meeting

If the board member is to be removed, homeowners usually need to conduct a special meeting to address the removal. The governing documents should outline how homeowners can hold a special meeting and what notices are necessary. They may also indicate how many votes the HOA needs for the motion to pass.


grounds for removal of hoa officers4. Replace the Director

After voting, the homeowners should have a plan to elect a replacement board member. This prevents the HOA from having any vacant positions. Consult the governing documents to ensure you follow the community’s election procedures.


Difficult, But Sometimes Necessary

HOA board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the community’s best interest. However, not all board members align themselves with the HOA’s goals. Some are antagonistic, self-serving, negligent, or even downright dishonest. If peaceful resolutions fail, the community may need to remove an HOA board member.

Whether you’re a self-managed HOA or an HOA management company, it can be hard to oversee a community without the right tools. That’s where HOA management software like Condo Manager can come in. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to book a demo!



Should You Or Should You Not Have An HOA Pool Lifeguard?

Is hiring an HOA pool lifeguard necessary for safety? Homeowners associations must act in the residents’ best interest. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean every community with a pool needs one. HOAs must consider several factors before they hire an HOA pool lifeguard.


Should You Hire an HOA Pool Lifeguard?

Do HOA pools have to have lifeguards? It often depends on the specific circumstances of the community. A dedicated lifeguard has its pros and cons. Before your community rushes to make a decision, consider these factors first.


1. Safety

Drowning is always a big problem when it comes to communities with pools. After all, it’s one of the leading causes of death for young children. That’s why it may be wise for communities with families to hire an HOA pool lifeguard.

A lifeguard can patrol the perimeter, prevent accidents, and save swimmers in case of an emergency. This protects the members from drowning. It also shields the HOA from liability.


2. Training and Certification

An HOA pool lifeguard has to have proper training and certification. Don’t hire someone who claims to be a lifeguard without the proper credentials. Otherwise, you may face liability down the road if a problem arises.

If you’re hiring lifeguards through a vendor, ask the vendor for the lifeguard’s certification. The same is true if you choose to employ an independent lifeguard.


3. Insurance

It’s best to hire a lifeguard with proper insurance coverage. This can keep the homeowners association from encountering legal trouble if something happens.

Often, vendors that provide lifeguards do have insurance coverage. If you hire through a vendor, chances are they’ll be able to give you indemnification when issues occur. However, if you choose to hire independent lifeguards, seek separate lifeguard insurance. It may cost more, but it’ll save you from trouble later on.


4. Cost

Hiring an HOA pool lifeguard may be the best option in some cases. However, certified lifeguards are often quite expensive. This could raise the community’s assessments and increase the residents’ financial burden.

Professionally trained lifeguards for HOAs are also not always available. They may be quite hard to find. Even if you do find one, chances are they charge a high price. You might even be tempted to hire an uncertified lifeguard instead.

When in doubt, only hire a lifeguard if the budget can accommodate it. Don’t hire someone untrained or uncertified, as that could cause more problems down the road. Furthermore, remember to factor in not only the cost of the lifeguard’s compensation but also the cost of insurance, if any.


5. Liability

hoa pool attendantAn HOA pool lifeguard is supposed to save swimmers when they drown. However, if the lifeguard doesn’t have the right training or skills to do so, they might fail at this very task. The HOA may face liability if it hires a lifeguard with no certification. That’s why it’s important to hire someone with training.

Moreover, it’s best to consult with an HOA attorney about potential risks involving lifeguards. Does your association need to hire one? Or is it best to forego the lifeguard? Some residents may take legal action if an accident happens. Consult with your attorney to ensure the HOA is prepared for potential lawsuits.


6. Size of Community

If your HOA consists of only a few homes, a lifeguard may be unnecessary. Smaller communities are often easier to manage and pose fewer safety risks. However, if your HOA has a large population, it may be worth considering. Larger communities are more difficult to manage. It’s not easy to ensure the safety of all residents without one.


7. Legal Requirements

Some states may require the presence of lifeguards under certain conditions. Review the relevant local and state laws with your attorney to ensure compliance. You don’t want to get into legal trouble because you didn’t hire a lifeguard when you were supposed to.

Moreover, remember to review the community’s governing documents. If the CC&Rs or Bylaws require a lifeguard, the HOA board must hire one.


8. Enforcement of Pool Rules

Most communities will have pool rules. These could include implementing pool hours, age restrictions, and rules on swimming alone. However, enforcing these rules is difficult as the board members aren’t always stationed around the pool.

This is where an HOA pool lifeguard can come in handy. These lifeguards can serve as authority figures who can enforce these rules. The residents are less likely to commit violations when someone is watching.


What if the HOA Cannot Afford a Lifeguard?

If the association can’t afford to hire a lifeguard, there are alternative measures the board can take to ensure safety.


1. Hire a Pool Attendant

The board may consider hiring an HOA pool attendant instead of a lifeguard. These attendants may not have the right training to jump in and save lives when someone drowns. However, they can keep an eye on pool activities and keep it clean.

With a pool attendant, residents and their guests can easily find what they need. They know who to turn to when they have questions. Moreover, the pool attendant can enforce the pool rules in place of the lifeguard.


2. Post Clear Signs

Most state laws and governing documents require the HOA to post clear signs around pools. These can include signs indicating pool rules and usage hours. Post them in a visible spot and make them easy to read. This can keep the HOA from facing liability later on.

These requirements may be in place whether or not you have a lifeguard. However, signs become even more vital when there’s no lifeguard. Apart from posting the pool rules, post signs indicating no lifeguard is on duty.


3. Put Flotation Devices Nearby

It’s best to put flotation devices near the water. This can help save the life of a swimmer in case of emergencies. It can make a huge difference in terms of pool safety.


4. Tighten Security

do hoa pools have to have lifeguardsConsider adding lockable gates around the area if your HOA has a pool. This can help the board better regulate pool hours. Make sure to lock the gates during hours when the pool cannot be used. Also, remember to lock the gates when it’s not safe to use the pool, such as during the winter or when there’s an impending thunderstorm or natural disaster.

Alternatively, the HOA can also provide keys or passcodes to gain access to the pool. The HOA can limit the number of people a passcode allows inside the pool area. This can help tighten security and ensure safety.


5. Provide Waivers

Residents should sign waivers annually to ensure they understand the risks of swimming in an unattended HOA pool. This can help the HOA avoid liability if they choose not to hire a lifeguard. Residents may also be more cautious knowing they signed a waiver beforehand.


A Careful Decision

The choice to hire or not can come with its pros and cons — and both can lead to liability in some cases. That’s why homeowners associations must carefully consider all these factors before hiring an HOA pool lifeguard.

Condo Manager is an industry-leading HOA management software that can help both management companies and self-managed communities. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to book a demo!



HOA Disaster Management: Preparing For The Worst

HOA disaster management is a vital part of running a community. The board has to create an emergency plan in case natural disasters or calamities strike. Doing so can help the community navigate the aftermath and quickly get back on its feet.


How to Create an HOA Disaster Management Plan

Natural disasters come and go every year. They can come in small calamities like thunderstorms or larger ones like tornadoes and blazing wildfires.

The most common ones in the United States come in the form of severe thunderstorms. However, certain parts of the country are more prone to specific disasters than others. For example, Alaska has seen the strongest earthquakes from the 1970s to the early 2000s.

Regardless of which calamities are more likely to hit your location, they are nearly impossible to prevent. Nonetheless, there are ways HOAs can prepare for them. Here’s how to prepare for natural disasters in HOA communities and what to do when they strike.


1. Identify Potential Disasters

Part of your HOA emergency preparedness plan should be identifying potential disasters. This means assessing what kind of emergencies will likely impact your community based on location.

For instance, if the HOA is located in a wildfire-prone area, the community must specifically have an HOA disaster management plan for wildfires. Meanwhile, locations prone to hurricanes should have an HOA hurricane preparedness plan.

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean homeowners associations should not create plans for rarer disasters. They should still plan for threats that are less common but still possible. For example, HOAs should also prepare for pandemics or terrorist attacks. While these disasters don’t always happen, the community won’t be left completely vulnerable in case they do.


2. Consider the Community’s Age and Languages

Some communities primarily comprise young families, while others have more elderly members. Remember to consider the age and demographic of the community members and factor them into the community disaster plan. For example, if the community mostly comprises older people, it’s best to think about mobility and accessibility issues.

Apart from this, it’s vital to consider the languages the community speaks. If the community is diverse, the HOA should consider publishing the HOA disaster management plan in different languages.


3. Create an Emergency Plan

Emergency Response PlanOnce the community has identified the potential threats, the HOA board should create various disaster emergency plans. It should contain all the necessary plans, including evacuation, recovery, and insurance policies.

Moreover, the board members should clearly outline their responsibilities during the emergency. This will allow all the residents to understand the board’s role during a disaster. It should also help the community understand what to do before, during, and after the calamity.


4. Communicate the Plan to the Members

The community members must be aware of the HOA’s disaster management plan. Otherwise, the residents may not know what to do during an emergency.

To do this, the board should organize meetings to educate the members. They should also disseminate the information through the HOA website and newsletter. They can also send them emergency plans through email or post them on social media.

Additionally, larger communities with ample funds may consider using electronic emergency alert systems. These systems can send emergency texts and emails to residents about emergencies. This keeps residents informed of emergencies as they happen. Just make sure to keep the contact list updated.


5. Inspect the HOA

Disasters might not be preventable, but the degree of property damage can be mitigated. The HOA must regularly inspect the association’s equipment and common areas to ensure they’re in proper working condition. Doing so can minimize injury and further damage.

Moreover, doing this due diligence allows the HOA to reduce legal liability. Many homeowners file lawsuits against their homeowners association on the grounds of negligence. However, they may be unable to accuse the HOA if the board regularly conducts community inspections.


6. Plan for Repairs

Natural disasters bring damage to community common areas and equipment. The HOA must be prepared to shoulder the cost of repairs, reconstruction, and replacements. The board must conduct a proper reserve study and ensure the reserves are well funded. This reduces the community’s financial burden and limits unwanted special assessments.


7. Build a Budget

disaster fundsEmergencies cost a lot in repairs and replacement projects. Therefore, the board should set aside funds as part of the community budget to account for potential disasters. Moreover, the board should answer a few key questions related to budgeting, including:

  • When should the HOA provide financial assistance to its members?
  • Do the HOA fees cover community amenity repairs and replacements?
  • What is the repair and replacement process after a disaster?
  • How will the HOA earn enough money to cover the emergency budget?
  • Which items should the HOA prioritize during an emergency?


What to Include in an HOA Emergency Plan

An HOA disaster management plan can be difficult to create. There are too many things to prepare for and write down. However, there are some key issues that every HOA must address and include in their emergency plan.


1. Emergency Contact List

Every homeowners association should have a list of contacts for emergencies. This helps the residents know who to call during certain situations. Consider including the following:

  • HOA point persons, including the HOA manager, board members, and maintenance staff
  • Local authorities
  • Nearby medical facilities
  • CERTs or community emergency response teams
  • Vendors
  • HOA attorneys or law firm representatives
  • Insurance agents
  • Homeowner emergency contact information

Make sure to include their mobile and landline numbers. The HOA should also include alternative communication methods if there is no reception during the emergency. For instance, the board can also include information about communicating with handheld radios.


2. Area Maps

The residents of an HOA should know where to head in case of emergency. Thus, including a map of the area and highlighting designated meeting places is vital.

The board can also consult local authorities to identify the safest meeting places. Moreover, the HOA should include where to find shut-off points for electricity, water, and gas to prevent further injury and destruction.


3. Evacuation Plan

Each HOA disaster management plan must include an evacuation plan. It should include specific directions and conditions wherein an evacuation is necessary. The plan should include nearby shelters, stores, and generator-powered gas stations. Moreover, they should outline how HOA members will be accounted for.


4. Recovery and Response Plans

Recovery and Response PlansOnce it’s safe, the HOA should assess the damage to the community as soon as possible. As such, the community must plan how to recover and rebuild the neighborhood.

The HOA must have plans for displaced residents. Moreover, it must indicate when and how residents can enter damaged homes to salvage their valuables. The HOA must also outline the professional inspections required for residents to return home.

Finally, the association must have arrangements with partner engineers, contractors, vendors, and architects to help the community rebuild. They should also be in contact with a professional debris management company to clear scattered objects.


5. Insurance Policies

Any responsible HOA board will have the proper insurance policies to help the community rebuild after a disaster. This reduces the community’s financial burden when the HOA needs major repairs.

Remember to check the community’s insurance policies and ensure they’re updated. Keep a copy of them securely or reproduce them digitally for safekeeping. Moreover, remember to write down the claiming process so the HOA can file insurance claims quickly.


Don’t Neglect Emergency Planning

Calamities can strike at any time. They do not care about what an HOA is going through physically or financially. Hence, it’s best to stay prepared and draft an HOA disaster management plan before things get ugly.

It can be hard for the board to prepare for disasters and juggle community responsibilities. Why not consider HOA management software like Condo Manager to lift some of the burden? Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to schedule a demo!



How To Choose The Right HOA Contractors To Deal With

Choosing the right HOA contractors is essential to community success. It could make or break the community’s curb appeal and lead to financial losses. How can HOAs pick the right HOA contractor? Let’s find out.


Choosing Good HOA Contractors

Choosing the right contractor can be challenging, especially if the association doesn’t already have a working relationship with reliable vendors. Picking the wrong one can put stress on the board and homeowners. Moreover, it wastes the HOA’s money and may result in liability.

Is your HOA hiring contractors? If so, what should the board members do to ensure they choose the right ones? Here are some steps the association should take.


1. Check the Governing Documents

The governing documents should contain HOA contractor guidelines to help the board understand what vendors they must hire. These documents should outline the association’s maintenance responsibilities and the services it must provide.

If the board is having trouble understanding the intent of the governing documents, they can also seek help from an HOA management company or HOA attorney. These professionals can help ensure they fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to the community.


Allot a Budget for the Contractor2. Allot a Budget for the Contractor

One of the most important parts of hiring contractors for your HOA is setting the right budget. The board must do its best to protect the community’s interest.

To avoid overspending, the board members should allot a concrete budget for the HOA contractors they will hire. The budget must be high enough to hire a reliable contractor without breaking the bank.


3. Get Quotes from Many HOA Contractors

Signing an HOA contractor agreement with the first vendor you find is usually a bad idea. That’s because the first contractor isn’t always the best choice. The board members should obtain quotes from at least three contractors before signing a contract. Consider getting referrals from friends, fellow homeowners, or HOA management companies.

Afterward, the board should send a request for proposal (RFP) to each contractor. The RFP should contain the HOA’s expectations from the vendor. Once the HOA receives the quotations, the board can evaluate them based on price, service inclusions, and quality. They can also interview each contractor’s representative to understand what they’ll get from the deal.


4. Check References

Consider it a red flag if a contractor refuses to provide references. However, if the contractor does give references, the board should diligently call or meet with these former clients to ask about their experiences. This should help the board gauge whether or not the contractor delivers good service.

If the board wants to be sure, they can also ask the contractor to provide addresses of similar projects nearby. Ideally, the projects should be ongoing or just recently completed. The board can visit these sites and speak with each neighborhood’s HOA members to evaluate the contractor if possible.


5. Verify Licenses, Credentials, and Insurance

It’s not enough for contractors to provide good service. They should also have the right licenses and credentials required by the industry. The contractor should also have proper general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

For some, an HOA using unlicensed contractors might be a non-issue. However, doing so puts the HOA at risk of lawsuits if there are injuries or property damage during the project. While the HOA’s insurance policy might cover the association, it’s best to pass the cost onto the contractor and their insurance company.


6. Verify Subcontractor Bonding

Some HOA contractors might hire subcontractors to fulfill certain parts of the job. If this is the case, the homeowners association should make sure the contractor is bonded. This means the subcontractor will be subject to the same requirements as the main contractor.


Create a Written Contract7. Create a Written Contract

Hiring contractors based on verbal agreements may be tempting, but it’s generally not wise. Written contracts will protect the HOA as they outline the agreement’s various terms, prices, and payment methods.

Moreover, it’s best to establish a clear scope of work in the contract to avoid misunderstandings. This lets both parties completely understand what will be done and how much it will cost. The parties can also establish the pricing in case of extra services performed.


8. Negotiate the Price

Negotiating a contract can be difficult. However, it’s a good idea to try, as negotiating the price can save a lot of money down the road. The board shouldn’t hesitate to ask for discounts or about bulk pricing. This is especially true if the community is large and requires continuous work from the contractor.


9. Final Review

Before signing the contract, make sure to go through the terms with an experienced HOA attorney. They can help spot loopholes or other potential problems in the contract terms. Once everything seems ironed out, it’s time to sign the agreement.


10. Communicate Regularly

Most homeowners associations might think the process stops at the contract signing. However, it’s crucial to continue communicating with the contractor during the course of the project. This ensures that the community is kept informed of the project’s progress.

Moreover, continuing communication will allow the HOA to gauge the contractor is responsiveness. Do they answer the HOA’s questions or respond to concerns? How is their customer service? Good contractors stay responsive even after the contract signing.

If they become unresponsive or uncommunicative, it may eventually pose problems for the association. As a result, the HOA can re-evaluate its relationship with the contractor and find a new one, if necessary.


Hiring HOA Contractors the Right Way

If the HOA board is the community’s brain, HOA contractors are the internal organs. They keep the community well-maintained and functioning properly. That’s why HOAS need to choose the right ones to work with carefully.

Homeowners associations work with many contractors to run the community. This can be confusing, especially for large communities with more projects. A reliable program like Condo Manager can help if your community is having trouble. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to request a demo!



Crime Prevention In HOAs: Keeping The Neighborhood Safe

Crime prevention in HOA communities should be a top priority for the board members. Otherwise, the community’s residents won’t feel safe even in their own neighborhood. This can significantly impair an HOA’s ability to attract new buyers and maintain property values.


10 Tips for Crime Prevention in HOA Communities

Whether it’s something major like theft or something minor like vandalism, the homeowners association should take measures to prevent any kind of crime. Not only will repeated crime necessitate more insurance policies and coverage, but it may also damage the community’s overall well-being.

Thankfully, several ways to prevent crime in an HOA community exist. Here are some HOA crime prevention tips to keep in mind.


1. Encourage Neighborliness

The United States is generally known for being a neighborly nation. However, not everyone is neighborly. Many may not even want to get to know their fellow community members. Even if you live in the most neighborly cities in America, encouraging neighborliness is helpful for crime prevention in HOA communities.

That’s because when everyone knows everyone else, they’re less likely to commit crimes against them. They can also more easily ask for help from their neighbors. Friendly neighbors might help others collect their mail while they’re away. This can prevent potential theft or other misdeeds.

To encourage neighborliness, consider conducting more community events. For example, the HOA can host Thanksgiving activities during the holidays. They can also host a simple BBQ with all the community members.


2. Keep the HOA Clean

It might not seem like an intuitive part of HOA security, but keeping the community clean can help. This is because potential offenders might target more run-down neighborhoods. After all, unruly or unkempt parks and landscapes allow them to hide. Make sure to plant thorny shrubs around the perimeter. It can also help to trim overgrown hedges and trees to eliminate points of entry.


Install Adequate Lighting3. Install Adequate Lighting

Criminals love to hide and do their business in the dark. They can’t get caught that way. Thus, HOA needs to install enough lighting fixtures around the common areas. Moreover, they should encourage the community residents to keep their porch lights on during the night. The board should communicate how important this is in keeping their community safe.


4. Lock the Gates

Gated communities should always keep the gates locked when not in use. Even if leaving them open is more convenient, it’s not safe. It might also help to hire security guards to man the gates or any other entry or exit points.

Remember to remind the community members to lock their homes, gates, and garages. They should also lock their cars and keep the windows closed if they habitually keep them unlocked for easy access. Living in a gated community might feel safer, but it’s never a guarantee that there won’t be criminal activity.


Install Alarm Systems and CCTVs5. Install Alarm Systems and CCTVs

Burglars and other criminals are less likely to target homes within the HOA if it has alarm systems. Consider investing in good-quality ones that can be installed around the neighborhood. If the homeowners association has the budget, they can also consider installing CCTVs to monitor public spaces.


6. Educate the Members to Coordinate With Local Law Enforcement

Every homeowners association has a certain responsibility to keep the community secure. However, nothing beats having proactive community residents fighting crime alongside the HOA. No, this doesn’t mean the residents should join the police force to keep the community safe.

However, it means that the HOA should educate the residents to work with local law enforcement. Remind them to report any activity that seems suspicious or out of place. Even if the act seems minor, it could save a life or property.

Moreover, the HOA should give all residents with emergency and non-emergency phone numbers to call in sticky situations. The board can also partner with local law enforcement to host crime prevention activities if possible. For example, they can create a seminar discussing police tips for HOA security.


Create a Neighborhood Watch7. Create a Neighborhood Watch

Passive forms of security might be helpful enough for many communities. However, if the HOA wants even better security, they can organize a neighborhood watch. Doing so can bring the community together as they plan and organize how to make it much safer. It can also deter potential offenders as they know the homeowners themselves are on alert.


8. Be Well-Informed of News and Trends

Crime prevention in HOA communities can be made much easier if the board stays informed of current trends and crime news. Remember to pay extra attention to what’s happening locally.

Perhaps there’s a trend of thieves stealing packages from porches going around the greater area. Ensure that the members are educated on keeping themselves and their property safe. Furthermore, there’s more traffic and visitors during certain times of the year. It’s best to enact specific security protocols or rules to keep the neighborhood safe in these cases.


9. Enforce the Rules

HOA rule enforcementIt’s the board’s responsibility to enforce the HOA rules. This may be difficult to do all the time, especially for large communities. Nonetheless, it’s not enough to assume people will follow the rules given by the homeowners association. The board should proactively check for any potential violations.

Doing this not only promotes harmony but also ensures the community’s safety. After all, many of the community’s rules exist to promote safety and security. For instance, rules regarding pool hours might seem strict to some, but they can prevent potential accidents and reduce liability.


10. Create Safety Protocols for Vacations

Many residents go on vacation and leave their homes unattended. However, empty homes are vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and damage. That’s why many robberies happen during the holidays or vacation seasons.

When vacation season approaches, it’s crucial for HOAs to create safety protocols for homeowners to follow. Educate the residents to watch for signs that their neighbors are on vacation. Please encourage them to keep a lookout and pick up their mail while the neighbors are out.

If possible, neighbors can also park their cars on the driveway of the residents who are on vacation. This can make the house look occupied even when nobody’s there.


Keeping the Neighborhood Safe

Crime prevention in HOA communities is vital to maintaining property values and keeping the residents happy. Nobody wants to live in an unsafe and insecure environment, after all. The HOA board should take the necessary steps to keep the neighborhood safe to the best of their ability.

Managing a homeowners association can be tough to do alone. However, with an HOA management software like Condo Manager, it can become an absolute breeze. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for more information!



What Is Encroachment In HOA Communities? How To Resolve This Issue?

It’s not uncommon to find issues involving encroachment in HOA communities. The homeowners or even the HOA may encroach on another homeowner’s property. When this happens, it’s important for HOAs to know how to handle the situation.


What Is Encroachment in HOA Communities?

Encroachment in HOA communities happens when someone goes onto another person’s property without consent. This can happen when a person steps foot on someone else’s property without permission. However, in HOAs, it often happens when a homeowner’s home or belongings cross the boundary lines onto a neighbor’s property.

Usually, encroachment of land by neighbor happens when a homeowner’s fence, garden, patio, roof overhang, or landscaping crosses property boundaries. It often also occurs when vegetation from one property begins to grow on or cross into another property.

One of the most common HOA encroachment issues involves encroaching trees. That’s because trees can fall onto a neighbor’s property when they become unsteady. A homeowner’s tree branches may also hang over property that is not theirs. These become especially problematic when they interfere with the neighbor’s use of property.


Easements: Acceptable Encroachments

There are times when minor encroachments are permitted in HOA communities. When a homeowner or the HOA has the legal right to cross property lines or make limited use of someone else’s property, it’s called an easement.

The community’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) often contain an HOA encroachment policy to address these easements. For example, a property owner’s overhanging roof may be allowed to encroach on neighbor or association property if the homeowner’s wall sits on the property line.

Other common examples of permissible encroachment include allowance for community members to plant gardens in the HOA’s common areas. If the governing documents allow this, homeowners cannot be penalized for the act.


HOA Common Area Encroachment

Encroachment issues happen not just between homeowners. At times, some homeowners may even encroach onto common areas. While there may be easements for these types of encroachments, this is not always the case.

Moreover, how much common area encroachment is acceptable will vary from HOA to HOA. They may also differ when it comes to obtaining permission.

For example, some communities may allow homeowners to plant gardens in common areas as long as they obtain permission. They can submit a request to the HOA board to do so. The board may allow the action under certain conditions. Meanwhile, other communities are stricter and do not allow this, even if the homeowner asks for permission from the HOA board.


How to Handle Property Encroachment

Homeowners associations may be at a loss when these issues arise. The board members and homeowners may not always know what to do about encroachment. How do you resolve an encroachment issue in your community? Here are some basic guidelines to follow.


1. Review the Property Boundaries

The first step to resolving encroachments is to review the property boundaries. Those on the receiving end of the encroachment should do this to verify whether or not the encroachment exists. Otherwise, they may be wasting time engaging in a conflict with their neighbor, who indeed had the right to use said property.

Apart from those affected by the encroachment, HOAs should encourage everyone in the community to review their property boundaries. The board should also remind them of the HOA’s rules and regulations regarding encroachments. To avoid any mishaps, the board can tell the homeowners to put everything in writing before starting any home improvement projects.


2. Never Take Matters Into Your Own Hands

Homeowners who face encroachment should never take matters into their own hands. For example, a neighbor’s tree may be encroaching on your property. In these cases, it’s best not to cut off the tree’s branches or limbs without first talking to the neighbor.

This can result in legal liability. The person who cut off the tree’s limbs may need to pay damages and even attorney’s fees. In fact, certain states even have laws that address this specific issue. For example, the Code of Alabama imposes fines on those who cut certain trees on property not their own.


3. Engage in Informal Discussion

how to handle property encroachmentWhen it comes to resolving encroachment in HOA communities, the best place to start is by engaging in informal discussions. The affected party should approach the encroacher. They may simply be unaware of the encroachment and can quickly resolve the issue.

In many cases, simply talking to the other party settles the problem. The parties can often come to an agreement themselves without involving anyone else. For example, the person affected may choose to provide written permission or even sell part of the property to the other party. Regardless of the resolution, informal discussions help both parties avoid unnecessary conflict or a lengthy and expensive legal battle.


4. Use the HOA’s Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

If the matter cannot be resolved between the two homeowners, they can use the HOA’s dispute resolution mechanisms. Many homeowners associations outline a dispute resolution process in their governing documents. These often involve letting the homeowners submit a written complaint to the HOA board. The board will then review the issue at hand and help the neighbors resolve the issue.

If internal dispute resolution does not work, the HOA board may also use mediation or arbitration. This allows the homeowners to resolve the dispute without going to court. These methods allow a neutral third party to act as an intermediary between the affected parties.


5. Legal Action

As a last resort, homeowners may take legal action to resolve the encroachment issue. The court can decide for the parties and force compliance. However, this process can be lengthy and costly for the parties involved.


Common Encroachment Resolutions

When the board intervenes in encroachment issues, they often resolve the problem in a few different ways. The most common resolution they use is to ask the homeowner to remove the encroachment. They may issue a violation notice and ask the homeowner to comply.

After giving notice and holding a hearing, the offending homeowner may also face HOA fines. Some homeowners associations also remove the encroachment themselves and send the bill to the offending homeowner.


A Fine Line

There is a fine line between property boundaries in homeowners associations. Not all homeowners are aware of these boundary lines, and even when they are, they may still intentionally try to encroach on other people’s property. Regardless of whether the act was intentional, the board should always address encroachment in HOA communities reasonably.

Managing violations related to encroachment can be hard for homeowners associations. With HOA management software like Condo Manager, handling these issues becomes much less of a problem. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to find out more!



HOA Disputes: What’s The Proper Way To Handle These?

HOA disputes are a common occurrence in planned communities. Neighbors will often butt heads over many different things. Sometimes, homeowners will even fight with the HOA board members. HOAS need to know how to handle these disputes the right way.


Internal Process: HOA Dispute Resolution Policy

In many communities, the governing documents, such as the bylaws, CC&Rs, and rules and regulations, may outline procedures for an HOA’s internal process for disputes. For example, the method may include an informal meeting between the homeowner and the HOA board. In HOA neighbor disputes, the board often acts as an intermediary.

In addition, some states have legislation that includes processes to resolve an HOA dispute. For instance, California’s Civil Code Section 5930 contains anti-lawsuit legislation. It requires HOAs and their members to undergo alternative dispute resolution measures before engaging in litigation. Indiana also has a new HOA statute, HEA 1286, that requires homeowners and HOAs to pursue a formal grievance process. The parties can only file lawsuits if the formal process is unsuccessful. When these provisions exist, HOAs must include them in their internal policy for resolving HOA disputes.

Unfortunately, not all governing documents and HOAs have internal dispute resolution policies. In such cases, adopting one in case conflict arises would be better. Here is a general HOA dispute resolution guideline communities can adopt.


1. Receiving Complaints or Appeals for Dispute Resolution

The process often begins when the board receives a written request for dispute resolution or HOA intervention. If the board receives a verbal complaint, they may choose to document it to keep a record of all the events. HOA board members can also require the members to submit requests in writing to formalize the process and ensure a record of all disputes.


2. Finding the Facts

HOA ArbitrationThe HOA board should assign someone to investigate the complaints received. This person may be a board member or other volunteer. If the dispute is between a homeowner and the HOA board, the person assigned should be a neutral third party to avoid conflicts of interest. They can appoint the HOA manager or even the homeowner association attorney.

Regardless, this person’s job will be gathering information about the dispute. It should be done promptly so the issue resolves quickly. The person in charge can do this by interviewing the two parties involved in the dispute. They can also collect information from other sources like event witnesses or CCTV footage, if necessary. Moreover, they should document and sort all the files so the board can review them properly.


3. Deciding Whether to Intervene

The board should arrange a meeting where the person appointed will present all the information they acquired. During the meeting, the board can decide whether it needs formal intervention from the HOA. A lawyer for HOA dispute resolution can also attend to provide legal counsel.

After the review, the board will provide a written notice of their decision. For example, they may write a violation notice to the offending homeowner. This notice may include a warning, fines, or restrictions of rights and privileges.

The decision may be left to a neutral third party if the dispute is between the board and a homeowner. Again, this can be the HOA dispute attorney or HOA management company. This person can offer an unbiased resolution that considers both sides. Likewise, they can write this at the end of the meeting.


4. Negotiation

Some HOA disputes need more careful attention. In these cases, the board can meet with the parties involved to hear all sides of the story. They can also present any remedies they might consider to the affected homeowners.

The board needs to remain neutral and objective during these negotiations. The goal must be to resolve the dispute. Ideally, all parties will agree at the end, which the board will put into writing. The neighbors can sign this agreement to acknowledge their consent.


Alternative Dispute Resolution

Homeowners association disputes may not always end with a simple negotiation. When the internal process fails, it may be time to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This allows the HOA to resolve an issue with outside help.


hoa MediationMediation

The first ADR the association can consider is mediation. This involves a third party that listens to both sides of the story. They will mediate, assisting both parties in finding a compromise. However, the mediator cannot force either side to resolve the dispute. The parties must come to a resolution together.



In arbitration, the third party also listens to both sides of the story. They can review the arguments and evidence either side presents. However, unlike mediation, the arbiter decides how to resolve the dispute. If the arbitration is mandatory, the arbiter’s decision is often final. The parties cannot take the dispute further and file a lawsuit just because they dislike the decision.


Dispute Resolution via Litigation

ADR mechanisms exist to prevent HOA disputes from escalating and being brought to court. However, there are times when this does happen within the HOA community. Homeowners may sue their neighbors, or the litigation may be between the homeowners and the HOA board.

In these cases, the court examines the evidence and decides the resolution. They may order specific performance so the homeowner will abide by the rule laid out. The court may also impose injunctions wherein the HOA cannot engage in a specific activity.

While litigation may be effective at resolving disputes once and for all, they are generally not ideal for anyone involved. That’s because lawsuits are long, tiring, and expensive. Hence, litigation must be a last resort for resolving HOA disputes.


Promoting Community Harmony

HOA disputes are inevitable in many homeowners association communities. Wherever people gather, there will always be disagreements and conflicts. It’s up to the HOA to resolve these disputes fairly and in a timely manner. The board should always prioritize community harmony, justice, and peace.

HOA disputes arise for several reasons, including mismanagement of the community. That’s why homeowners associations can benefit from using dedicated HOA management software like Condo Manager. Contact us online or call us now at (800) 626-1267 to find out more!