Put Your HOA to the Wellness Test

Private Property South Africa

If you live in a residential estate, it’s essential to assess the health of your homeowners’ association (HOA) from time to time, in order to protect your property investment and ensure that you will continue to enjoy the security and lifestyle benefits that made you choose the estate in the first place. That’s the word from Jeff Gilmour president of the Association of Residential Communities (ARC), which is focused on assisting HOAs and bodies corporate to run estates, cluster developments and townhouse complexes more efficiently. “Although most HOA’s are run by a voluntary board of directors,” he says, “every homeowner in the estate is actually a member and has the right to be informed about board decisions regarding the running of the estate and its finances. “Consequently, the first vital sign for a healthy HOA is whether it is being managed inclusively and transparently. Board meetings should for example always be open to other HOA members that wish to attend, and there should be an owner forum at those meetings to allow them to input ideas and feedback. “In addition, the minutes of board meetings and the estate’s financial statements should be easily accessible to any HOA member, and members should be given plenty of notice and opportunity to comment on any proposed change to the HOA rules or policies that would affect their lifestyle or ownership responsibilities.” Secondly, Gilmour says, the HOA can only function well if the rules and architectural guidelines are not only clear and reasonable, but are also widely communicated in a positive way that encourages compliance, and are uniformly enforced. “And thirdly, it is essential for the HOA to have a ‘big picture’ – a forward-looking and proactive management plan – that includes a reserve study and an annual action calendar.” However, he notes, most HOAs need help to achieve good health and that is why they should become members of ARC. “Our only aim is to help HOAs operate efficiently and effectively, and we do so by sharing best practices with our members and giving them access to extensive resources and relevant expertise. The HOAs of 300 top estates in SA are already benefiting from our assistance.”

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