Whether you run a community association for condominium owners, homeowners, or commercial owners, it’s vital to know how to keep within the bounds of both your agreements and the various laws that pertain to your organization. There are various fields of law at play here, including real estate, corporate governance, contract writing, and more.
To successfully manage your community association, consider these five tips.
1. Be Clear on Restrictions and Requirements
First, be absolutely clear on the restrictions and requirements in your association. Property owners should be well aware of the responsibilities and requirements they’ll have to fulfill, the restrictions they’ll have to honor, and the rights they have under your agreement.
Owner rights and responsibilities should all be clearly outlined in the declarations of your agreement. Furthermore, you may want to educate them on a routine basis on the requirements that pertain to them. Doing so can help improve compliance with the rules of your association and reduce the odds of a drawn out dispute.
2. Mind Your Neighbors
Second, keep your neighbors in mind when planning or approving projects. Your board of directors needs to respect the rights of nearby neighborhoods, commercial establishments, and so forth. This is especially important—and complex—in mixed residential and commercial communities where even changing exterior lighting or signage could impact property owners in your area.
3. Respect Owners’ Rights
Just as important as your neighbors are the association’s members themselves. Your property owners have specific rights that should be outlined in your agreement, and you must honor those rights. Any changes made to the rights and privileges allowed under your agreement must be approved by the owners, as do many actions that would impact them.
4. Follow Due Process
In all matters pertaining to projects, improvements, enforcement, collections, and so forth, it is absolutely vital to follow due process. For instance, if a homeowner in an HOA violates certain rules or fails to get approval for certain improvements to the property, it is typically better to work with them to reinstate compliance rather than simply punish them. That, and they’ll typically have rights under the contract that must be respected in these instances.
Remember that no one is likely to know all the rules, so mistakes are bound to happen. As such, it’s preferable to work to resolve issues amicably than immediately slap owners with penalties.
5. Rely on Professional Guidance
Running a community association involves numerous professional fields and legal practices, many of which will be foreign to your decision makers. Board members are best off relying on the expertise of industry professionals, including attorneys, experienced property managers, contractors, and so on. For example, if a condominium owner requests permission to make adjustments to their condo, a general contractor or architect could give input on whether that request is safe to approve.
Matters of governance, contract negotiations, enforcement, permissions, and easements are legal areas that are almost certainly beyond your board members. In these matters, you’ll need an attorney who can provide expert input as well as professional services. By relying on their expertise, you’ll minimize the liabilities that come with managing a community association and maintain a healthy relationship with your property owners, neighbors, and the community as a whole.