The articles and videos listed within this library are gathered from outside sources and are not necessarily developed under the laws or common usage of the State of Michigan. In most cases it is generally best to consult a specialized attorney. The reference material listed is for familiarization and general knowledge only.
With the rotation of officers and directors of our member organizations there is a need of a quick reference library at the ready for those assuming those positions. The UHOA has assembled articles and postings from a variety of authors and organizations covering subjects that deal with the day-to-day operations of a homeowner association.
We suggest that officers preparing to step down suggest to their successor to review the articles listed to bring them up to speed in the operation basics for a smooth transition.
Advantages to Having an HOA
Homeowners associations (HOA) are becoming increasingly common in neighborhoods throughout the country. Complaints are often heard regarding the strictness of homeowners associations and the many rules that homeowners must follow. However, it is important to understand the many advantages that come with involvement in an HOA.
Most homeowners associations have the benefit of providing the neighborhood with numerous amenities such as tennis courts, golf courses, pools, a protective gate and many others. Furthermore, HOA fees can be used for ground maintenance, which can help maintain the appearance of the entire neighborhood. As a result, the neighborhood develops a community oriented atmosphere. The addition of amenities can substantially increase the enjoyment of living in a community.
Increase in home value.
The presence of a highly functional HOA can dramatically increase the value of homes in the neighborhood. The rules and regulations established by an HOA are designed to protect the value of each property. The primary purpose of the homeowners association is to ensure that an individual or group cannot negatively impact the market value of homes in the neighborhood. As a result, rules become a necessity. While many people may be turned off by rules and regulations, it is one of the primary reasons that homeowners associations remain popular. Without rules, homeowners would be able to act without consequences. As a result, one or a few homeowners would have the ability to negatively impact the majority.
Deters detrimental members of the community
While an HOA is responsible for enforcing rules and regulations, the mere existence of an HOA can prevent unruly behavior. Homeowners who are unable to comply with rules and regulations will be less likely to purchase a home that includes an HOA. As a result, the community will be more likely to share similar goals and values.
Overall, the advantages of having an HOA far outweigh its disadvantages. Homeowners associations hold the community to a higher standard, thereby improving the experience for everyone.
Neighborhood Association Websites
Communication and participation are two of the biggest challenges in building a strong neighborhood association. An effective website can facilitate these two things and do a whole lot more!
Leverage the Power of the Internet
The Internet has revolutionized how neighborhood associations operate. No longer do printing and distribution costs determine how often neighbors get their news. No longer is community dialogue constricted by the ability to attend a scheduled meeting. And, no longer is time-sensitive information limited by word-of-mouth communication.
If good communication and active participation are the two biggest challenges to building a strong neighborhood association, then an effective website might be the solution. For neighborhood associations, a good website can decrease costs, increase effectiveness, and enhance participation.
Basic Website Features You Will Need
How can a website do all these things? An effective website for a neighborhood association would include basic features such as: document storage for new and archival information, contact information and/or a more extensive directory, an online newsletter, an online calendar, a discussion forum, a map, and the ability to post links to other sites. Enhanced features might include the creation of private or password protected areas, the ability to create surveys, classified ads, and the ability to sell advertising on the site.
How would these features actually decrease costs, increase effectiveness, and enhance participation in a neighborhood association?
6 Features That Save Money and Increase Communication & Participation
1. Document storage is a feature the association can utilize to post information (and photos) regarding community events, ongoing projects, safety concerns, official documents, and anything else you believe to be relevant to the community. This can be accomplished by either uploading a PDF and/or using the website’s document creating tools.
2. A significant cost savings for the association would be the ability to publish, distribute, and continuously update its newsletter – at no cost! The newsletter can be created and continuously updated by either uploading a PDF and/or using the website’s document creating tools.
3. An online calendar would enable the association to post dates, times and information about meetings, events, garage sales, birthdays, road closings, etc. The calendar can be open for anyone in the community to post information, or can be restricted to selected editors.
4. A discussion forum would enable everyone in the community to voice their ideas and opinions about issues related to their community – whenever it is convenient for them! It is a place where the entire community can dialogue, share ideas, and build relationships.
5. The addition of a map on the website, with association borders clearly delineated, can help new neighbors and prospective neighbors find your neighborhood association.
6. And lastly, the ability to post links to other sites would enable other community-related groups with websites to become easily accessible to their neighbors. Groups such as local schools, the PTA, Neighborhood Watch, historic preservation, Mom’s Clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, etc.
All of these website features help to build a neighborhood association that grows stronger, more tightly knit, and more active, because everyone can access information when they need it, and participate when they have time.
The Internet has truly revolutionized how neighborhood associations communicate with their community and how the community communicates with the association and with each other. If good communication and active participation are the two biggest challenges to building and maintaining a strong neighborhood association, then the solution is an effective website.
Ready to see what a Neighborhood Association website can do for you and your association? There are new and creative and ever changing website services available to a homeowners association. The UHOA is constantly researching these services and will be pleased to share its' findings when contacted.
See Library for list of free HOA websites
What Value is a Homeowners Association?
Ever wondered why people form a homeowners association? The short answer is: “The preservation of property values”.
The homeowners association, or often referred to as an 'HOA', may be your best tool to protect the value of your home and the quality of your neighborhood. Community associations do any number of different things, such as setting and collecting the maintenance fees required to run an association, maintaining landscaping or recreation centers, organizing social events, and providing for meeting places for neighborhood functions. That being said, one of the most important functions of an association is to enforce deed restrictions and protect the value of the community assets among those being your home.
Before we go on, let's talk about, '”What are Deed Restrictions?”
Short Answer: It's the covenant, or promise, each property owner makes to all other property owners within the subdivision. They made this promise when they accepted the deed to the property, which states;
“Subject to the easements and restrictions (deed restrictions) of record”. They accepted title to the property stating they would be governed by the deed restrictions. Unfortunately, many eager buyers are not aware of this inferred promise and their attorney, or title company don't take the time to make them aware of this important document.
Long Answer: Deed restrictions are legally binding covenants, filed with real property records, usually conceived and drafted by the original property developer, which provides for the building, maintaining, and using of homes in the neighborhood. The deed restrictions control how homes look and what limits can be done to alter them within the subdivision. Traditionally, during the development phase of the subdivision the developer will assist in the formation of a HOA among the early home buyers. When the developer completes the build-out he will assign his control rights to the restrictions to the newly formed Homeowners Association and it takes over the role of enforcer of the terms and conditions of the restrictions. There are many versions of Deed Restrictions, but the main difference is whether the restrictions mandate whether membership to the association is mandatory or volunteer by the property owners. The subject of 'How to Form a Homeowners Association' will be covered in a later section.
Why do so many homeowners buy their home in a community association? Perhaps they liked the curb appeal of the house or its floor plan, but they most assuredly considered the entire neighborhood - how the house looked next door as well as down the street. Purchasers make a decision to buy into a lifestyle and surroundings which include so many things outside the home itself, encompassing everything from the subdivision entries, school system, the recreation center, to the general condition of all the other homes in the neighborhood. They purchased with an expectation that their property, and those in their community, would be protected by deed restrictions and maintained to a certain reasonable standard.
If deed restriction violations are not corrected, there can be very negative results over time. Estimates are that property values in a subdivision with an inactive association can fall as much as twenty percent due to failure to enforce restrictions. To illustrate, multiply an average home price of $200,000.00 times the number of lots in an average subdivision of 100 homes. This yields total property value of $20,000,000.00. This is the value of the assets that the association is trying to protect. If that property value is reduced by twenty percent, the homeowners in the neighborhood collectively lose $4,000,000.00. Even if home prices only lose ten percent in value due to a moderate failure to enforce deed restrictions, homeowners lose $2,000,000.00. The association, acting through its board of directors, can control the appearance of the neighborhood by taking deed restrictions seriously and by vigorously enforcing any significant infraction of those restrictions.
Here’s What HOA Residents Have to Say
Americans who live in community associations are overwhelmingly pleased with their communities, expressing strong satisfaction with the board members who govern their associations and the community managers who provide professional support.
More than seven in 10 community association residents expressed satisfaction with their community experience, according to a survey conducted by Zogby International, a leading public opinion research firm. Almost 40 percent of community association residents say they are "very pleased," with only 10 percent expressing some level of dissatisfaction. Almost 20 percent express neither point of view.
Here’s what community association residents say:
88 percent believe their governing boards strive to serve the best interests of the community.
90 percent say they are on friendly terms with their association board members, with just 4 percent indicating a negative relationship.
86 percent say they get along well with their immediate neighbors, with just 5 percent reporting a negative relationship. Of those who reported issues with neighbors, the most common problems were pets, general lifestyle, noise, and parking.
78 percent believe community association rules "protect and enhance" property values, while only one in 100 say rules harm property values. About 20 percent see no difference. 88 percent of residents who have interacted with professional community managers say the experience has been positive.
The research was sponsored by the Foundation for Community Association Research, a non-profit organization created in 1975 by Community Associations Institute (CAI). Based on telephone interviews conducted in August 2005, the survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. A summary of the results is posted at www.caionline.org/about/survey.cfm.
Additional informative articles available in the UHOA library in third column of this page.
Door-to-Door Salespeople and Political Canvassers: Why They’re Different at HOAs
In this age of Clinton, Cruz, Kasich, Sanders, and Trump (we put those in alpha order so as not to appear to favor any of them; that’s sort of the lesson of this tip), how should your HOA handle door-to-door activities—from salespeople to political canvassers?
In this week’s tip, we talk about how to handle both situations.
You can surely ban salespeople from going door to door in your community. “Yes, I think you definitely can, especially if you have a boost from your municipal ordinance where your project is located,” opines Nathaniel Abbate Jr., a partner at Makower Abbate & Associates PLLC in Farmington Hills, Mich., who represents associations. “Regulating sales—there’s no question about that.”
Of course, you need to think of how you’ll enforce a ban on door-to-door activities. “An association has the right to ask door-to-door solicitors to leave,” notes Brad van Rooyen, a partner at Home Encounter, a Tampa, Fla., company that manages community associations. “If they don’t leave, you’re going to have to call law enforcement, who won’t put that in as a priority call. Other calls will get priority.
“We’ve always advised our clients to respectfully tell door-to-door salespeople that they’re not to walk through the neighborhood,” explains van Rooyen. “If they’re handing out literature, we ask them to pass that onto the manager so we managers can notify the company that there’s no soliciting in the HOA. But most companies will disregard that request, so it’s difficult to police.
“Also if you call law enforcement, they’ll usually want the registered agent or someone with authority in the association to give them the right to get salespeople off the property,” adds van Rooyen. “We can file that form with the local police office. It’s just an affidavit, and gives them the right to trespass anybody off the association’s property.
“The problem is when the company claims it’s contacting its own customers,” states van Rooyen. “We’ve had situations where a company like Verizon has tried to solicit door to door. When we approach them, they pull out their customer list and say, ‘We’re actually visiting customers.’ Then we’re in a predicament. We can tell them they can go to those designated doors but nobody else and 9 of 10 times they’ll comply.”