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Changing locks is fundamentally about protecting the safety of a residence and its inhabitants. However, changing locks is seen as a hassle, which is why many property managers fall behind on performing the task. It can also become expensive, with each lock replacement running about $150 when done correctly by a certified locksmith.

As a property manager, you may have the best intentions with your key management process to minimize the risk of using mechanical keys, but fundamentally, a mechanical key is only as safe as its weakest link. The truth is that tenants, maintenance staff, outside vendors, prospective residents, and even owners all have the ability to make duplicate keys for friends, neighbors, or relatives who are considered to be trustworthy (or, unfortunately, who may knowingly have bad intentions).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, compared to owned homes, the risk of burglary is higher for rental properties in nearly every category. As a property manager, working with renters to ensure their safety is paramount to the success of your business. To maintain this safety, you should change the locks after each tenant moves out. Other less savory situations that necessitate changing or rekeying locks are eviction or abandonment. (Laws vary by state, but in most cases, you must get an eviction judgment from a court before locking out a resident.)

Hopefully, you′ll never have to deal with unsavory situations, but just to cover all of our bases, below is a list of situations when changing locks helps maintain security:

1. When a Key Is Lost

It might seem overkill to change the locks after a renter loses just one key, but it′s a small price to pay to guarantee peace of mind for the manager, the owner and the tenant. While it′s unlikely the lost key will end up in the wrong hands, in the off chance that it does, it could spell disaster for all. When you′re dealing with prospective renters, letting them know that you take this extra security measure seriously can be a differentiator that demonstrates your commitment to safety.

2. When a Property Turns Over

In some states, changing locks between tenants might be a requirement, so you should look up the legality to be sure. Tenants might also want to exercise their right to privacy and change the locks themselves. Know, however, that this right is not absolute, and a landlord or property manager needs keys so they can make necessary repairs or investigate a suspected emergency such as a fire or flooding.

3. When a Vendor Is Finished Working on the Property

Especially if you′ve just started using a new vendor or if you′ve had disagreements with one in the past, it′s important to recognize that vendors could have copies of your keys that you′re unaware of. When work is completed, hiring an independent locksmith to change your locks helps maintain a high degree of security. It′s also a good idea to be on-site to let vendors in and out of a building while you build a relationship with them instead of leaving a key in a lockbox and allowing all contractors to access it.

According to statistics from the FBI, 73.2 percent of all burglaries are committed on residential properties. When a tenant moves into a property, unless the locks are brand-new, it′s impossible for them to know who has made copies over the years and can access the unit at any time. Just one safety mistake has the potential to result in break-ins, theft, and, in the worst-case scenario, the irreparable loss of human life.

A great way for property managers to stay on top of security measures is by using smart home technologies, including smart locks and exterior cameras. Smart locks with access codes can log who enters a property and the time of entry, preventing landlords from having to have locks rekeyed for new tenants or vendors. Exterior cameras can record clips at unoccupied properties (as well as be an asset to tenants for self-monitored security when they move in).

Ultimately, safety is one of the most critical considerations when renters are selecting their next home or choosing to remain in their current one. Tenants are fully justified in wanting to feel safe where they live, and a survey conducted by Schlage found that 63 percent of respondents expressed a willingness to move out of a rental home because of poor security measures. For property managers, safety isn′t just a detail — it′s a core part of the business.

Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com and the leader in smart home automation solutions for long-term and short-term rental properties. Outside of having a lifelong passion for technology, Mr. Miller has almost 10 years of professional experience with B2B and B2C IoT/Home Automation technology, having previously led global sales and business development for Wemo, Belkin′s home automation business unit, and launched Mobile Link, a cellular-based internet connectivity service for generators, at Generac Power Systems.

The post To Change or Not to Change? A Lock Legality Guide for Property Managers appeared first on APM.

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When I was a landlord, I liked to do a little extra for new tenants moving in. I’d leave a roll of paper towels and some soap and toilet paper in the bathroom. I know what you’re thinking: “Very impressive.”

If you are willing take it beyond my pitiful attempts to welcome your tenants, you certainly should. In fact, a tenant welcome package is an easy way for landlords to put their best foot forward with new residents and impress them from the start.

After all, tenants are like any other customer using a service. They appreciate companies (or landlords) who go the extra mile, they can help you reach new potential customers through word-of-mouth, and they can become repeat customers by signing a new lease every year.

For landlords, a solid tenant welcome package means providing niceties–along with useful information.

Now, when I say welcome package, I don’t necessarily mean everything you provide fits into a lovely little gift basket tied up with a bow. Some items will, but others are just little gestures you leave around the apartment that demonstrate some forethought. All of them will include valuable information that will get them started in their new home and show them that you understand what it’s like to be a new tenant.

There are three levels of tenant welcome package you can go for and I have suggestions for each.

The Basic Welcome Package

Your basic tenant welcome package is more like a tenant welcome letter with a lot of common, move-in information. It will include everything a new renter needs to get settled. If your property manager offers an online tenant, portal you can work with them to provide information about the property that will best serve newcomers.

  • Emergency and maintenance contact information: Make sure your tenants know who to contact for everyday maintenance and emergencies. Have the numbers printed on a magnet to stick on the fridge. In fact, your state may require you to visibly display the property manager contact info in the vestibule of the apartment or building.
  • Rent payment information: Do you have a dropbox for checks? An ePay option via a tenant portal where tenants can make payments electronically? Make sure tenants have the right information so they never miss a payment.
  • Trash disposal, laundry and mailbox information: The three questions I always got: Where do I put the trash? How does the laundry work? Where are the mailboxes? It’s not always straightforward. Save your tenants the headache by making it clear from the get-go.
  • Parking information: If your building offers parking, make sure tenants know which space is theirs, or where they can park in general. Spell out guidelines on guest parking, as well–and be sure that they are enforced.
  • List of utility companies with contact information:Who provides cable? What’s the name of the electricity company? Gas company? Providing a list of companies with their websites and phone numbers will be extremely useful.
  • Map or list of grocery stores, post offices, etc.: I also fielded a lot of questions about grocery stores, public transportation and the like. They could have Googled those things, but as a local I could point them to the best grocery store or easiest bus route etc.

Put together all of this information in a nice folder or binder. Your tenant will appreciate having all of this useful information up front.

The Middle-of-the-Road Option

If you want to upgrade your tenant welcome package, you can include the binder along with some items to get your tenant started.

  • Laundry money: Doing laundry in a new place is always intimidating. This is especially true if your laundry machines only take those cards you load money on. Give them a card with enough credit to do a load or two along with some tips on how to best use their specific model if it isn’t self-explanatory.
  • A supply of toilet paper and soap: Very rarely do tenants have these ready to go when they move in (and having toilet paper means they won’t try to use something else that will clog the toilet).
  • A shower curtain liner: No doubt your tenants will want to shower after a long day of moving and unpacking. It would be a nice gesture to have the shower ready to go for them.
  • Some basic cleaning supplies: Instead of filling a gift basket with fruit or candy, why not fill it with cleaning supplies? Include sponges, wipes, dish detergent and paper towels. Not much glamour in it, but incredibly helpful.

The Deluxe Model

If you want to make your tenants really feel welcome, you can put together a more upscale package. Taking the tenant experience a step further, it is also advantageous to think of your property the same way as a short-term Airbnb owner might. You could provide a local guidebook, for example, with your favorite parks, restaurants, gyms and other hidden gems nearby. If you do it right, you are offering a premium experience for new tenants to quickly get to know the neighborhood and feel amazing about moving into their new home.

  • Gift cards to restaurants: Finding dinner after moving is just one more thing for your tenants to deal with. Take the pressure off by including a gift card to a local restaurant. Strike up a deal with a local place to donate gift cards. You get a nice gift for your tenants, your tenants get a free meal, and the restaurant gets free advertising. It’s a win, win–and win!
  • Little activities for kids: Include things like coloring books and crayons or puzzles to keep small children occupied (at least for a bit) while their parents unpack.
  • Treats or toys for pets: Pets tend to get underfoot, and they usually have to be confined to a single room. They’ll feel a lot better about that if they have a new toy or some treats.
  • Basic groceries for breakfast the next day (milk, cereal, coffee, tea): You could also put some basic breakfast foods in the fridge or in a posh gift basket. A quart of milk, some cereal and some orange juice will keep tenants from having to seek out breakfast first thing in the morning. If you want to get a little fancier, put a dozen eggs and some coffee or tea.
  • Local Specialties: This one is particularly good for tenants moving in from out of town. Leave them a gift basket full of goodies made locally. You could include a locally-made wine, coupons to area attractions, candies or artisan crafts. If it’s summer, you could go down to your local farmer’s market and pick up some specialty items.
  • The Spa Treatment: This one is a little tricky, since it involves scents and skincare, but if you do it right, you can pull it off. Put together a gift basket of bath treatments. No doubt your new tenants’ muscles will be sore after moving. A nice bath with scented epsom salt, a bath bomb, a nice candle and a loofah would really make them feel welcome.

Items to Avoid

When it comes to a tenant gift basket, your imagination and your budget are the limit. There are, however, a few things I wouldn’t recommend including.

  • Plants: I’ve seen a few blogs recommend a plant, but I would advise against that. You never know what kind of allergies your tenants have. If they have pets or small children, that plant could become a choking or poison hazard.
  • Baked goods: Who doesn’t love a shot of sugar to keep up the move-in energy? But again, you never know what kinds of allergies your tenants have.
  • Area worship information: It seems like a good gesture, especially if you’re religious yourself, but you don’t want to be presumptuous. Even if you include all area houses of worship, a tenant who doesn’t subscribe to any religion could feel uncomfortable.

Move-in day is a flurry of activity for tenants and a huge source of stress. Even the most basic tenant welcome package can help alleviate that stress. Answering their questions right off the bat will show them that you understand. Making your welcome package even more special with extra gifts will show them you really care about them as people, not just as a source of income. With a stellar welcome package, you’ll make it feel like home from the moment they step through the door.

The post Welcome Your New Tenant to Feel at Home appeared first on APM.

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My new tenant says she has severe allergic reactions to cats. The previous tenant had two cats, but they weren’t a problem then. My new tenant is insisting I need to do a cleanup, since she’s essentially disabled because of asthma and her allergies. Is this a requirement?

Allan, Santa Barbara, California

You probably need to get some professional cleaners in there, pronto. Pardon the pun, but with some people, pet allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Pet allergies are known contributors to chronic asthma. If her allergies are severe and cause asthma attacks or anaphylactic reactions, it could very well rise to the level of a disability, and under the Fair Housing Act, your tenant is probably entitled to reasonable accommodation under the law.

First, some background: Asthma is not just an inconvenience, and it’s not as simple as telling her to keep her inhaler with her in her own home. Asthma is a potentially lethal disease that was attributed to the deaths of 3,518 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Furthermore, while it’s rare, exposure to pet proteins (dander, saliva, urine, etc.) can cause a full-blown and potentially lethal anaphylactic reaction in severely allergic individuals. For them, it can be as lethal as allergic reactions to peanuts or bee stings.

Under the Fair Housing Act, an individual is considered disabled (and thus entitled to reasonable accommodation in housing) if a medical issue “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” If the allergies inhibit going to work or school, or basic functions as breathing, it’s likely going to qualify under the FHA. That triggers an obligation for a reasonable accommodation on the part of the landlord. This isn’t just a theoretical opinion: In 2008, when Congress expanded the definition of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, asthma was among the conditions specifically identified as qualifying under the new broader definition of disability.

Note that not every ordinary allergy is going to meet the FHA standard. If the worst reaction the tenant experiences is a case of the sniffles, it may not amount to a disability. The threshold distinction is generally whether the allergies force the tenant to reach for a Kleenex, or seek medical attention.

In some cases, reasonable accommodation may mean letting the tenant move into another similar unit. If this is not possible, you may have to take other measures.

Chances are, you’ll need to get some professional cleaners in the unit, and treat it like a mold infestation. While this is not a complicated procedure for pet dander (which is less stubborn than mold and fortunately doesn’t replicate like mold does), the equipment and skill needed is usually beyond the ability of most tenants and individual landlords, for that matter.

If the apartment was furnished, you might need to get rid of the old furniture that was exposed to cats in any case. You’ll probably want to remove the carpeting, if any, and get the HVAC ducts professionally cleaned. If the HVAC system connects multiple units, and there’s another cat living in one of the other units, you may have a more widespread problem. We’ve seen some instances where a landlord closes off one unit from a shared HVAC system, cleans the vents, and allowed the tenant to install his own air conditioning or heating unit. This may or may not be feasible in your area.

Do your tenants share washers and dryers? It may make sense to designate one or more shared washer-dryer combos as “pet free.” You may also allow the tenants to install their own washer and dryer in the dwelling, if there is space and available hookups. This could be at their own expense unless you plan on keeping the appliances after they move out. It’s unlikely paying for it yourself would be required as a “reasonable” accommodation, but granting an exception to usual rules usually qualifies as a “reasonable” accommodation.

Other possible measures include:

  • Upgrading to High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filters on HVAC units and any other filters you have installed.
  • Installing or providing an active air filter
  • Replacing drapes with blinds
  • Removing carpeting altogether
  • Renting or buying a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Some excellent choices include the Electrolux UltraOne Deluxe Canister Vacuum EL7085ADXor the Miele Complete C3 Kona Canister Vacuum.
  • Springing for a professional carpet cleaner. Tell them the situation. The downside is that if the allergy and the dander issue is severe, this may not be enough.

“Reasonable” versus “unreasonable” accommodation

This can get tricky very fast, and is the subject of a lot of litigation. The law doesn’t require you to do anything “unreasonable” to accommodate a pet allergy, or anything else, for that matter. But what’s reasonable for the owners of a 200-apartment complex might not be reasonable for a small landlord with five rental units. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a reasonable accommodation is a “change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common-use spaces.”

Note: The FHA reasonable accommodation requirements do not apply to owner-occupied buildings that have four units or fewer. So if you live in a quad and rent out the other three, you aren’t obligated by this law, though it may make sense to release this tenant from her lease if you can’t work something out.

If you own an apartment building and you’ve already designated it as pet friendly, and you already have other pet owners living in the unit, there’s no obligation on your part to ban pets from the building altogether. That would not be a “reasonable” accommodation. And while the landlords have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to those with pet allergies, that obligation doesn’t extend to other tenants!

Moreover, landlords are not required to fundamentally change the nature of their operations in order to accommodate an individual with a disability. Changing an apartment building or condominium from a pet-friendly to a no-pets facility would be changing the fundamental nature of the housing development/apartment complex, and would take too long to accomplish to be useful in this case.

Beware of bad advice online

One non-starter: Taking it upon yourself to decide that pet allergies are not disabilities, or denying reasonable accommodations claiming that the tenant should have caught it upon the inspection. I’ve seen landlords give this advice to others on online bulletin boards, and it’s not recommended. Most of these landlords are not MDs, and even if they are, they have not examined their tenants. It is not within the landlord’s expertise to determine whether an allergy or any other condition rises to the level of a disability under the Fair Housing Act. You can, however, request verification of the disability and the necessary accommodations from the tenants’ physician.

In any case, be sure to go over your specific situation with an experienced attorney familiar with landlord-tenant law in your state.

The post Q&A: Tenant with Severe Cat Allergies appeared first on APM.

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Determining the appropriate insurance for an association property–whether it’s owner-occupied or rented out–often involves a lengthy review process with many facets that require your attention. One overlooked detail can cost your community association board thousands of dollars and lead to multiple unhappy stakeholders.

What Kind of Insurance Does a Homeowners Association Need? The Basics of Insuring a Homeowners Association

The first step: Board members should consult their association’s own declaration and other governing documents. If the original documents were drafted properly, they should clearly define the areas of responsibility when it comes to providing insurance coverage for individual unit owners and the association as a whole. In most cases, the association will be responsible for covering common areas; commonly-owned property, including most building exteriors, roofs, etc.; and common liability exposures. So the master property insurance policy will provide protection against liability that may apply to the association as a whole, but not to individual association members/unit owners.

The original documents may also define the type of insurance coverage the association must maintain on the property. Some founding documents, for example, may specify that the association must maintain replacement cost insurance coverage for common areas and all assets under its purview. This is critical, because many insurance policies only provide fair value coverage for insured assets.

The difference? Potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the event of catastrophic damage from tornados, sinkholes, or hurricanes. Here’s why:

  • If you have a replacement cost insurance policy, the insurance company will reimburse you (minus your deductible) with the amount of money it will take to replace lost or destroyed assets with a comparable, brand-new item. If a fire destroys a building that will cost $200,000 to rebuild, the carrier will cut you a check for $200,000, minus the deductible that you selected.
  • If your association owns a fair market value policy, they will not only subtract your deductible from the settlement; they’ll also subtract depreciation. That is, the older the asset, the less the carrier will pay you for it. In many cases, with older assets, your association may only receive a fraction of what it will take to make you whole.

Sure, you will have saved a bit of money on premiums for a while–but that’s going to be cold comfort when you have to slap your owners with a massive special assessment to make up the difference after a big storm causes major damage to your roofs.

What Kind of Insurance Does a Homeowners Association Need? Key Exceptions to Your Association’s Insurance Policy

Amateurs know the rules; professionals know the exceptions. That’s true for insurance as much as for anything else. Any property insurance document is going to contain some exceptions to coverage. Boards should look carefully at the exceptions for each insurance policy and consider additional coverage to make up the gaps.

For example, Florida associations need to look carefully at exposures to sinkholes and hurricanes, while California board members should be looking into earthquake coverage–neither of which are normally covered by basic insurance policies. Everyone should consider groundwater flood insurance coverage and mold coverage.

What Kind of Insurance Does a Homeowners Association Need? Policy Coordination for Homeowners Associations

It’s important for boards of directors to do their utmost to ensure proper coordination between the association’s master insurance policy and the individual homeowners’ insurance policies. In the condominium context, the starting point for proper individual insurance policies for owners living in the unit to own is the HO-6 form. These essentially provide insurance coverage from the walls in, and are designed to work seamlessly with association master insurance policies, so that there is a minimum of uncertainty as to whose insurance covers what in specific circumstances.

That said, sometimes there is some confusion, and accidental gaps in coverage can arise. For example, not every association master policy will cover things like appliances or interior walls, especially if there have been improvements or upgrades made since the unit was first sold to the original owner. If a condo owner does not procure insurance that covers these interior items, they could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Some carriers may offer a beefed-up version of condo owner’s insurance, HO 17-32. It differs from HO-6 coverage in that it provides all-risk coverage, rather than coverage only against named perils.

Note that the basic, bare-bones HO-6 policy only includes structural coverage (Coverage A) of $1000. In practice, this is usually not enough. Consider amending your CC&Rs to require a more appropriate level of structural coverage. The same goes for assessment coverage: Suppose that a unit owner negligently starts a kitchen fire that causes $25,000 in damage to common areas. The association may levy a special assessment against that individual unit owner, but be unable to collect because the basic HO-6 policy only provides $1000 in assessment coverage.

This aspect of insurance planning can quickly get very complex and situation-dependent. We recommend reading this piece from the International Risk Management Institute for further information, and consult with a qualified legal and insurance professional with specific experience in condominiums in your state.

Those renting out their units should get a landlord insurance policy, such as those modeled on form HO 17-33.

Note: It’s a good idea for associations require unit owners to own an appropriate homeowner’s or landlord’s insurance policy. State laws often don’t require homeowners to maintain any specific coverage at all, so your association CC&Rs will have to explicitly state it.

What Kind of Insurance Does a Homeowners Association Need? Directors & Officers Liability Insurance

If governing documents specify that the board must maintain a specific level of coverage–such as full replacement value coverage–and the board doesn’t, that could result in lawsuits against individual board members.

For this reason, one of the first actions that board members should take is to ensure that the association maintains adequate directors’ and officers’ liability coverage, or D&O insurance. This insurance functions just like malpractice insurance does for doctors: Few individual board members have enough personal wealth to make good on the costs of a major mix-up by the board of a large condo or homeowners association. If a board member, or the board as a whole, makes a mistake specifically related to board of directors’ duties and responsibilities, the insurance coverage protects the owners as well as the board members. The insurance company stands ready to pay off any liabilities that the board may incur as a result of mistakes, misjudgments, oversights, errors, and omissions.

Additional Insurance Coverage for Community Associations to Consider

Employment practices liability provides protection against claims arising from employee discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, faulty benefits administration, wage and hour law complaints, and the like. Remember that the harassment or other misbehavior doesn’t have to come from a manager or director to constitute a potential claim. Any employee could harass any other employee, and an owner or renter could spark a complaint as well.

Fidelity insurance protects the association against the risk of fraud or embezzlement by an insider or someone otherwise in control of association funds. An association’s policy limits should cover what you have in your reserve accounts, plus a few months of accounts receivable, such as incoming dues.

Host liquor liability insurance provides protection if someone holds a social event in a common area and serves alcohol, which exposes your association to risk. If someone gets in a car and causes a DUI-related accident, host liquor liability coverage can protect your association from getting sued.

The bottom line: Insurance considerations for homeowners associations are complicated, and there’s a lot of money at stake. A hole in coverage can cause financial ruin to an individual board member if the board neglects director’s and officer’s insurance; and to individual owners and the association as a whole if insurance matters are neglected, and the association has to make a big assessment against members who should have had more coverage.

The post What Community Association Directors Need to Know About Property Insurance appeared first on APM.

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Real talk: No board member has ever wished that association board meetings could last longer.

After all, every board member is a volunteer who’s sacrificing their free time to make your community a better place to live. The less time they have to spend in meetings, the happier they’ll be–and the easier it’ll be to recruit new board members!

So, how can you keep meetings short and sweet, while still accomplishing everything on your to-do list? Here are 5 secrets to running more efficient association board meetings.

Tips for Shorter Association Board Meetings: #1 Set a Strict Schedule

A basic agenda should allot time for the following things: Reviewing old business; discussing new business; making any necessary decisions; assigning action items; then opening things up to homeowners.

Tips for Shorter Association Board Meetings: #2 Send Out the Agenda

To cut down on the amount of time you spend in association board meetings, it’s critical to distribute your agenda prior to each meeting. Keep in mind that each board member needs to commit to reviewing it beforehand in order for this strategy to have an impact.

Tips for Shorter Association Board Meetings: #3 Stick to a Time Limit

Give each agenda item a time limit, and do your best to keep discussions within these constraints. If a conversation that doesn’t concern the entire group is derailing the meeting, encourage participants to continue the discussion on their own time. Likewise, if a discussion isn’t progressing, table the matter for the night and move on.

Tips for Shorter Association Board Meetings: #4 Restrict Agenda Items

Decide as a group that agenda items should fit into one of three categories: Directed discussion, appointed action, and meaningful motions. Everything else can be handled elsewhere.

Tips for Shorter Association Board Meetings: #5 Decide on Action Items

As you wrap up each discussion item, review which actions each involved board member needs to take in order to move forward. This way, everyone’s clear on what the next steps will be, who’s responsible for what, and what a successful resolution will look like.

Last, consider hiring a property manager. From managing administrative tasks to maintaining your community, they’ll take a number of time-consuming responsibilities off your plate. When you’re ready to start your search, All Property Management will be here to help.

P.S. Liked this post? We bet you’ll like this one, too! 10 Traits of an Effective HOA Board Member

The post 5 Secrets to Shorter Association Board Meetings appeared first on APM.

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Apathy is a rampant problem in community associations; but by taking the right actions, board members can spark homeowner interest. Educating homeowners from the moment they move in about the benefits of living in a community association is ideal, because once homeowners fully understand the impact an association can have on their property value, they become motivated to protect their investment. However, you can still convey this concept to existing homeowners and inspire them to get involved as well.

At your next board meeting, discuss how you can implement these tactics and motivate homeowners to become active participants in the community as a result.

How to Get Homeowners Involved in Your Community Association Tip #1: Host a Local Realtor Event

Host a local realtor event with networking, a community tour, and a presentation that explains the benefits of community association living to prospective buyers. Realtors will often welcome assistance if it helps them to close a sale, and many times they themselves may not be fully aware of all of the benefits of living in a homeowners association. Hosting an event like this not only leaves realtors with a positive impression of the community; it increases the likelihood that they’ll pass this information on to their clients, helping homebuyers understand the association’s value before they’re even homeowners.

How to Get Homeowners Involved in Your Community Association Tip #2: Educate New Homeowners

Welcome all new homeowners by educating them about the community. Form a welcome committee that will send new homeowners written materials about the community, its value, and their role in it. If possible, have a person on the committee stop by their home to pass on the information in person. These new owners are typically excited about their new purchase, and it’s the perfect time to get them excited about the community.

How to Get Homeowners Involved in Your Community Association Tip #3: Hold Quarterly Meetings

Consider holding quarterly informational meetings for all homeowners. This is an effective way to reach existing homeowners that didn’t go through the welcoming process that new homeowners did. Informational meetings provide a venue for homeowners, the board, and the association manager to transparently interact more easily than would be possible with only an annual meeting on the schedule. They’re also an opportunity to inform the community of upcoming changes, promote events, solicit ideas, and recognize volunteers.

How to Get Homeowners Involved in Your Community Association Tip #4: Create Committees

Oftentimes, homeowners want to serve the community, but they don’t want to be a board member. For these homeowners, committees are the answer. Factors to consider include the types of committees that would be beneficial to the community, the goals for each committee, how they can meet these goals, how they can report progress, and the budget they’d have to work with. It is also important to gather input from the homeowners as to the type of committees they’re interested in. After working out the details, the board can launch the committees at the annual meeting by giving information about each one and opening them up for homeowner sign-ups.

Committees that your community could consider include:

  • Welcome committee
  • Social committee
  • Architectural control committee
  • Landscape committee
  • Neighborhood watch committee
  • Finance and budget committee

How to Get Homeowners Involved in Your Community Association Tip #5: Recognize Volunteers & Participation

Thank homeowners for their comments and questions, even if they’re tough to answer. It shows that they’re proactively interested in the community. In addition, be sure to recognize volunteers repeatedly with enthusiasm and praise for their commitment to the community. Do this publicly at every quarterly informational meeting, and especially at the annual meeting, by highlighting their achievements and asking for a round of applause. This shows other homeowners that getting involved makes a real difference and that they’re regularly recognized for those efforts.

All of these items are focused on educating homeowners, giving them opportunities to get involved on their own terms, and helping them get to know each other so that they begin to feel part of something great. The work put in by the board and the association manager to generate a more active and involved homeowner base will pay off in the long run by creating a greater sense of community.

Wendy Murray is an experienced community association industry professional, having served on the executive team for three Associa branches as well as community association councils. She has also served on an HOA Board of Directors for more than 12 years, as well as other industry-related boards. Wendy is an experienced mediator and holds a Florida CAM license as well as the CMCA and AMS accreditations. She is a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) graduate via FEMA in 2004 and completed the Professional Development Series under FEMA in 2006. If you liked this post, you can read more of Wendy’s writing on Associa’s Living Better Blog.

The post 5 Ways to Motivate Homeowners to Become Active Participants in Their Community Association appeared first on APM.

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