Today we honor and remember the brave men and women that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
As a recognized homeowners association, our community has a board to help our HOA run smoothly. The board consists of volunteers who execute a wide variety of tasks you may not be aware of; however, their work affects every single resident.
One of the most important things the board does is create and enforce the association rules. While some residents may not like being told what they can and can’t do, ultimately the board is looking out for the greater good. By enforcing the rules, the board is doing its best to keep property value up and conflicts down. Of course, the board wants to make sure the rules are beneficial for the majority—and hopefully all—residents. You are welcome to raise concerns about the rules at open board meetings.
Another major responsibility of the board is to collect assessments from homeowners. Collecting this money is important for the stability of the association, because the assessments pay for the common elements enjoyed by all residents. Assessments also help to replenish the reserve funds, which pay for any major repairs the association may need. The board is responsible for the association’s finances, and collecting assessments is how it ensures that the association remains solvent.
Finally, the board acts on behalf of the association by hiring managers, attorneys, contractors and other professionals who help better the association. Board members also help conceive and lead many of the projects that will improve the HOA.
While it’s a big job, board members are happy to serve the residents and make the community a great place to call home. So why not learn more about what these volunteers do by talking to your board members, attending an open board meeting or even running for a seat on the board during our next election? The more people we have looking out for our association, the stronger it will be.
Countless Americans face foreclosure when their lending institutions are unable to collect mortgage payments. In an ideal world, no one would ever face foreclosure—for any reason. But that world does not exist. Banks and other lenders foreclose on homes when owners default on their loans. Although relatively rare, association-initiated foreclosures are occasionally required to recover delinquent assessments.
It’s important to remember that homeowners choose where to live, and by choosing to live in a community like ours, they accept a legal responsibility to abide by established policies and meet their financial obligations to the association and their neighbors.
Associations rely largely—many exclusively—on homeowner assessments to pay their bills, which can include landscaping, garbage pickup, pools, street lighting and insurance. For condominiums and cooperatives, these costs include building maintenance, utilities and amenities enjoyed by all residents.
You trust our board to develop realistic annual budgets. We base our assumptions on careful cost projections and anticipated income primarily from assessments. Our budgetary obligations do not change when some owners don’t pay their fair share. Common grounds still must be maintained. Garbage must be collected. Utilities and insurance premiums must be paid.
When homeowners are delinquent, their neighbors must make up the difference or services and amenities must be curtailed. The former is an issue of fairness; the latter can lessen the appeal of the community and erode property values.
Liens and foreclosures
When an owner fails to respond to repeated attempts to collect the debt, the association can be left with little choice but to place a lien on the property. The magnitude of this decision requires an approach that is fair, reasonable and consistent and that complies with applicable laws, practices and procedures set forth in the governing documents that guide our decision-making.
We believe homeowners facing foreclosure deserve a reasonable opportunity to appeal to the leaders of the association. Knowing that people occasionally face financial hardship—a lost job, for instance—we will try to work with homeowners to bring their accounts up to date.
Nobody wants to foreclose on a home—not a mortgage banker and certainly not our association. However, the threat of foreclosure is often the only tangible leverage an association has to ensure fairness and shared responsibility. Without this option, many residents would simply choose to default on their obligation to their association and neighbors. How many Americans would pay their taxes if government had no means of enforcement?
With each additional delinquency, an association’s financial position can become increasingly precarious, a situation that is exacerbated in a depressed housing and economic climate.
Placing a lien on property, with the ability to foreclose, is typically enough to get delinquent residents to meet their financial obligations to the community—without removing the owner from his or her home. When that fails, associations turn to the final—and unfortunate—option of foreclosure.
We want you to know that we understand the magnitude of this decision and why it may occasionally be necessary.
Above all else, association leaders are responsible for sustaining the financial viability and stability of the association. As noted earlier, our budgetary obligations do not change when assessments aren’t paid. Services residents expect must be provided; the community must be maintained; bills must be paid; and our investments and property values must be protected.
Energy bills—like the temperature—always rise in the spring and summer. But don’t fret: While there are big fixes* you can incorporate to make your home more energy-efficient, there are also many inexpensive energy solutions, as well as some simple and free steps that you can take to cut down on costs and save money.
Turn it up. Set your thermostat as high as possible. Start with 78 degrees when at home and 85 degrees when away. For each degree above 72 you set the thermostat, you save between 1-3 percent. Be sure to take into consideration your health and comfort, and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Circulate air. Use fans to create cool breezes and keep the air moving in your home. Ceiling fans, in particular, can create enough air movement to make it cooler by at least four degrees. This could translate into a significantly lower monthly electric bill, as ceiling fans only use about as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb.
Shut the shades. Windows allow a lot of heat into your home. Keep drapes and shades closed during the day to keep the temperature down.
Open nights. At night, if it’s cooler outside than in, open your windows! Not only will this bring some fresh air into your home, it will give you a chance to turn off that AC. Also, be sure to close your windows in the morning to keep the cooler air in longer.
Wash and dry wisely. Run only full loads when using your dishwasher or washing machine. Whenever possible, run those appliances during off-peak hours or when your air conditioner is turned off or barely running, which typically is during the evening, to save energy. Use the clothes dryers’ moisture-sensing automatic drying setting if it has one, and clean your clothes dryers’ lint trap after each use.
Unplug. Electronics—such as TVs, DVDs, chargers, computers, printers and other devices—use electricity even when they are turned off. By unplugging these devices when you’re not using them, you only save a few watts, but they quickly add up to bigger savings over time. Use a power strip for multiple devices, and switch it off before you go to bed. Also, turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.
Plan pool time. If you have a pool, shorten the operating time if possible. Switch the pool filter and sweeper operations to off-peak hours and during nighttime if the pool has automatic cleaning settings.
*As always, be sure to consult with the association to get approval for any major renovations on your home.