What Is an HOA Architectural Control Committee?

If you want to build a deck, install a fence, or otherwise redesign part of your home’s exterior, you’ll need approval from your Aurora community association. It’s an aspect of HOA homeownership that many find inconvenient, but it’s necessary to preserve property values throughout the neighborhood. When it comes to approving construction projects like these, the HOA’s Architectural Control Committee, or ACC, is the party that has the final say in whether you can move ahead with your renovations. What exactly is an ACC? In this blog, we’ll break it down.

What Is an Architectural Control Committee?

The Architectural Control Committee is a group of volunteers appointed by the HOA board to oversee and approve external modifications that owners want to make to their homes. The ACC reviews all proposed modifications and ensures that they fall in line with the community association’s architectural guidelines as set out in the association’s governing documents. 

What Does an Architectural Control Committee Do?

Homeowners seeking to change their home’s exterior will need to fill out an application detailing the modifications they plan to make. They’ll usually need to provide detailed construction plans and a list of materials prior to any work beginning. The ACC then has a set amount of time, as outlined in the community’s bylaws, to review the plans and provide a decision. They’ll assess whether the plans are in total compliance with the HOA’s guidelines for things such as material requirements, height restrictions, and setback guidelines. If they don’t approve the project, it can be amended so that it meets the HOA guidelines before being re-submitted for new approval.

What if I Don’t Get ACC Approval?

Impatience can get the better of homeowners, even if the ACC is limited to a certain turnaround time. However, you should never start a project without the ACC’s approval. If you start the project without approval and any aspect of your construction does not meet the community association’s guidelines, you could be forced to not only stop work but also reverse any work that has been done. In addition to this costly effort, you can also be fined for violating community guidelines. To avoid these serious and expensive consequences, it’s always best to wait for ACC approval before moving forward with any changes to your property.

If you want to streamline the architectural review process and generally make life easier for your residents and board members, consider an HOA community management firm such as The Management Trust. Our HOA management solutions cover every aspect of community association living to ensure that your community is a happier place to live. For more information about community association management services for the Aurora, Colorado, area, give The Management Trust a call today at (303) 750-0994 or fill out our online contact form. We serve more than 1,500 communities nationwide and have been an industry leader for more than 30 years.

Tips to Prepare Your HOA for the Summer with COVID-19 Changes

Now that most U.S. adults are vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions have, for the most part, been lifted, Tacoma residents are itching to get outside and enjoy the summer they missed last year. However, COVID-19 is still present and will be around for quite a while. With this in mind, it’s important that Tacoma community associations prepare for the summer with appropriate safety measures in place. Here are a few tips to help your HOA prepare for a safe and fun 2021 summer.

Communicate clearly with your residents

COVID-19 and its associated restrictions are constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay in touch with your residents and communicate any changes with them. Make your current restrictions clear via email blasts, printed newsletters, and clearly placed signs throughout common areas. Make sure to update these as the circumstances change, so everyone is fully aware of what is expected of them in public spaces.

Continue virtual events

Where possible, continue hosting association meetings and other gatherings online instead of in person. This mitigates any risk of transmission and ensures everyone feels comfortable, whether they’re vaccinated or not. Avoiding any risk of large, unmasked crowds will make your job easier and make your residents feel more at ease in their neighborhood.

Manage crowds

If you do choose to have in-person events at your community association, implement a strict capacity limit and keep the gatherings small. Look at your local legislation to see what the current permitted capacity is, and do not permit large indoor gatherings where residents may be maskless. Masks should be required where it’s reasonable, especially for non-vaccinated individuals, and all event participants should be comfortable with the environment and safety precautions. If you need help organizing COVID-safe events within your community, speak to your HOA community management representative for further assistance.

Continue safety & sanitation efforts

Although COVID-19 rates have declined, sanitation efforts should still be maintained. Regularly sanitize pools, athletic facilities, clubhouses, office spaces, and any other shared areas within your community association. A resurgence in cases could happen at any time, and regularly sanitizing common areas could help significantly reduce that risk in your community. Sanitation still benefits the community association by preventing the transmission of other illnesses, so regardless of COVID-19, these practices are good ones to have in place. Your community association management firm can assist you with coordinating these efforts to make them more efficient and effective.

COVID-19 is a new landscape for everyone, and so the future is still uncertain. While local guidelines have been lifted and things are looking up, it’s important to stay proactive and keep proper precautions in place to best protect your residents. HOA community management firms can help you stay on top of the latest local COVID-19 restrictions, implement safety and sanitation practices, and organize community events. For our full range of comprehensive HOA management services, including HOA financial management, call The Management Trust at (253) 472-0825 or fill out our online contact form today.

How to Choose the Right Vendors for Your HOA

Successfully running a Tacoma HOA takes a village. From the HOA board to the management firm and from the local vendors to the residents themselves, there are a lot of people supporting the success of a Tacoma community. If you’re in need of reliable and quality vendors that you can rely on for maintenance, landscaping, and more, make sure that you follow these steps and consult your HOA management company.

Determine your budget

Smart money management is the responsibility of every HOA board, and that includes setting appropriate budgets for vendor fees. Make sure that you allocate an appropriate amount of funds to take care of the task that needs doing, and find a vendor that quotes you for a price within that set budget. Check your bylaws, consult with all board members, and make sure all financials are signed off before going any further.

Employee vs. independent contractors

Next, you’ll need to decide whether you want to hire an association employee or an independent contractor. This will likely depend on the type of vendor you’re searching for and the nature of the work that needs to get done. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, both functionally and financially, so work with the rest of the HOA board to make the best decision for your particular community.

Collect quotes and references

You need to exercise due diligence when deciding on which vendor to hire to get the job done. There should be an interview process before selecting your vendor, during which time you should collect ample project quotes and references. Verifying the quality of their work through third-party reviews, word of mouth, and testimonials will help you make sure that you’re guaranteeing a job well done. Verify their licenses, insurance, and credentials as well to make sure that the HOA isn’t liable if any accidents occur on the job.

Get it in writing

Once you’ve selected your vendor, draw up a written contract and ensure it’s signed by both parties. The contract should outline the duties that the vendor is expected to perform, the timeline in which they’re expected to perform them, and the payment they’ll receive as compensation. If needed, have your lawyer or HOA management firm review the documents before you sign them in order to ensure that they protect the interests of your community association.

Ask your HOA management firm

If you want to streamline the process of hiring vendors for your community association, ask your HOA management firm for their trusted companies. The Management Trust’s Trusted Partners program was created with this scenario in mind, offering a reliable source for high-quality vendors that are assured to get the job done well. Our better vetting process only accepts vendors who deliver high-quality services, in a cooperative manner, for a fair price into our program. We provide a $2,500 client satisfaction guarantee for work performed by our enrolled vendors, and we have full contractor liability insurance coverage. Bringing together great vendors and HOAs that need their services is essential in fulfilling our mission to create the best community associations in the country.

With more than 30 years in the industry and over 1,500 communities successfully managed, we have the expertise to guide you in all aspects of community association management, including vendor sourcing. To find out more about our comprehensive HOA management services or our Trusted Partners program, give The Management Trust a call today at (253) 472-0825 or fill out our online contact form.

Why You Should Choose an HOA Management Company Over a Virtual Assistant

With so many aspects of community association management to handle, it’s understandable that many Aurora HOA boards are seeking out HOA management solutions to help them tackle day-to-day tasks within their communities. However, the decision to choose between an HOA management company and a virtual assistant can leave some confused. While a virtual assistant is a low-budget option for simple administrative duties, there’s no substitute for a full-service HOA community management firm like The Management Trust.

You Get What You Pay For

The biggest benefit of a virtual assistant is the lower cost compared to HOA management companies. However, this lower cost is often an indication of the lower quality of work and a shorter list of services that they provide compared to HOA management firms like The Management Trust. While HOA management firms can be more costly, their overall value is much higher because of the wide range of services and duties they provide. For instance, they can help resolve in-person issues among residents and reduce the number of conflicts that the HOA board is tasked with resolving. 

Personalized Local Service

Your HOA management firm’s in-person presence also means that they’ll have a better understanding of your community’s unique operational needs. Virtual assistants can be located anywhere in the world, and are often overseas, so they won’t understand the needs of Aurora residents specifically. At The Management Trust, our employees have a physical presence within the communities they serve, making them uniquely qualified to best serve your homeowners and recommend local vendors and other tailored solutions.

In-Person Relationship Building

Arguably the biggest aspect of managing an HOA is resident happiness. An HOA is all about the homeowners that live in it and ensuring that they have a higher quality of life. When issues inevitably arise within your community, virtual assistants aren’t there to help solve the problem or get to know the residents personally. Full-service HOA management companies have a daily presence within the community, so they’ll build one-on-one relationships with residents and create a greater sense of trust and well-being.

Responsive & Always Available

HOA boards sometimes need issues to be handled at a moment’s notice, whether it’s a policy change or a resident conflict. With a virtual assistant, you’re at the mercy of their schedule, and they may not be available online to handle your problem when needed. HOA management firms are always on-call to assist at a moment’s notice, so last-minute tasks are anticipated and handled with ease. 

If you want to ensure that your residents are receiving the best care possible and all duties are being handled correctly and in a timely manner, there’s no better choice than The Management Trust for full-service HOA management. From financial guidance to vendor coordination, we can handle all aspects of homeowners association management for you, so you can focus on the bigger picture. For more information about community association management services for the Aurora, Colorado, area, give The Management Trust a call today at (303) 750-0994 or fill out our online contact form. We serve more than 1,500 communities nationwide and have been an industry leader for more than 30 years.

3 House Repairs You Need Before Summer (Without Needing HOA Approval!)

New seasons bring new spaces; refreshing your home with the changing of seasons is one of the biggest perks of being a homeowner. However, if you live within a homeowners association, you need to be aware certain renovations need approval before making any changes. Each HOA has its own unique set of rules and regulations that also vary if you live in a detached home or a town-home or condominium so let’s break it down.

If you own a detached home and plan on making an exterior renovation such as painting the outside of your home or getting a new roof you should seek HOA approval. Then, if you live in a condo or townhome you should ask your HOA about any structural changes such as adding or removing a wall, replacing flooring, or anything that can affect the plumbing and electricity. 

Summer is approaching fast, so timing is crucial, and going through the hassle of getting things approved and processed may not be something you want to go through. So here are some repairs you can make before the summer days without needing HOA approval!

 

  • Install peel and stick kitchen backsplash

 

Peel and stick backsplash is the perfect way to change up your kitchen without a huge renovation. It comes in many forms: gel, vinyl, metal, glass, and stone and the only tools you will need are a utility knife, ruler, and level. There are a variety of patterns that you can find that will suit your dream kitchen!

 

  • Repainting interior with 2021 color of the year

 

The interior color of your home can completely transform the environment. Deep dark colored walls reflect fall and winter, whereas light and bright colors reflect spring and summer. Whether your home is painted dark or light, consider one of the 2021 colors of the year to refresh your home for this summer! Research the colors based on the most popular paint brands! For example, Benjamin Moore Aegean Teal is the best color for your home this summer.

 

  • Garden in the fenced backyard

 

Revitalize your home by creating a garden within your backyard. Whether it be an herb garden or flower garden, it will not only bring natural color into your home but also attract life such as butterflies and birds. Starting a garden is as simple as grabbing basic tools, finding the right soil, and choosing the right greenery for you!

Get your home ready for the bright and sunny months of summer, without waiting for your HOA’s approval! We hope these tips will inspire some quick and easy renovations for your home.

Steps to Enforce HOA Rules & Handle Violations

One of the most challenging aspects of being a Tacoma HOA board member is enforcing all of the community rules and regulations. Although it may not happen often, when a homeowner violates a community rule or bylaw, the board must address it swiftly and promptly. Handling such sensitive subjects can be tricky, as the enforcement must be done in such a way that it doesn’t encourage an overly negative response from the offending homeowner but simultaneously remains fair to the rest of the residents and their quality of living. If you’re having trouble handling rule enforcement in your community association, here are a few steps to help guide you along this delicate process.

Check the Bylaws

If you suspect that a resident violates one of your community’s laws, the first thing to do is check your HOA’s CC&Rs or bylaws. This will not only help you double-check that they are in fact violating the rule, but it should also outline enforcement policies and give you a guide for how to handle the violation.

Send a Warning Letter

For many communities, the first step in handling a violation is to send a warning letter. Depending on the severity of the law being broken and the resident’s past history (or lack thereof) violating rules, you may feel it’s appropriate to issue a one-time warning rather than immediately issuing a violation notice. This will give the homeowner an opportunity to right their wrong or stop doing whatever they’re doing that violates your HOA’s rules. If they fail to heed the warning, further action will then be necessary.

Send Notice of Violation

If the homeowner fails to correct their actions, or if you feel that a warning letter isn’t appropriate for the situation, then the next step is to send an official notice of violation to the resident. This letter should be fairly simple, outlining the violation and the consequences of the violation, including any fees they’ll need to pay. If you’re unsure of how to draft a violation notice, ask your HOA management company for examples to reference.

Hold a Hearing

After issuing the initial violation, you may want to hold a hearing with the offending resident and the HOA board. This hearing will aim to establish the legitimacy of the violation and give the homeowner a platform to explain their side of the issue. If the homeowner does not show up for the hearing, or if they refuse to pay the fine and an agreement is not made, you can then consider taking further action.

Suspend Rights & Privileges 

The most common next step after issuing a violation, if the homeowner does not pay the owed fees, is to suspend their rights and privileges as a member of the community association. This means that any amenities, community events, or voting privileges would not be available to the resident until the fines have been paid.

Impose a Lien or Take Legal Action

If you have a homeowner who is entirely uncooperative and you feel drastic measures are necessary, your HOA may have the authority to impose a lien against their property. You may also be able to file a lawsuit in small claims court, depending on your state and local laws. Some HOAs are required to attempt to resolve any issues through mediation or arbitration before going to court. Of course, no one wants to have to resort to legal action, so it is best to first consider all other options and attempt to resolve the issue in other ways.

Enforcing your community’s rules can be a tedious task, but it’s a necessary one. If you feel you need guidance on or assistance with HOA rule enforcement, speak to an experienced HOA management firm such as The Management Trust. With more than 30 years in the industry and over 1,500 communities successfully managed, we have the expertise to guide you in all aspects of community association management. To find out more about our comprehensive HOA management services, give The Management Trust a call today at (253) 472-0825 or fill out our online contact form.

5 Signs of a Good HOA When House Hunting

If you’re looking to purchase a new home in the Aurora, Colorado, area, you may find yourself falling in love with a home in an HOA. Properties that are part of a community association often have high curb appeal and steady property values, making them desirable for homeowners. There’s also the additional appeal of amenities, exterior maintenance, and enhanced security, among other things. If you’re hunting for a new home within an HOA, look for these key signs that the community association you’re choosing is a good one.

1. Well Maintained Common Areas

One of the biggest advantages of having a home within a community association is the common areas and shared amenities. When touring the community, pay attention to how well maintained the common areas are. Facilities that are clean and properly maintained are generally indicative of an HOA that’s on the ball and will place members’ happiness at the forefront. The last thing you want is to move into an HOA where proper cleanliness and amenity management are neglected.

2. Open Communication

Communication is a crucial aspect of any well-run HOA. You want to ensure that your input and opinions are being valued and truly taken into consideration where you live, so open communication in both directions is required. Speak to other residents within the community association and find out how well the HOA board communicates with its residents. Check the website for meeting notes, community updates, and other signs of a well-run community. Your HOA may also have an HOA management firm in place that will ensure that you have a point of contact to communicate with at all times.

3. Community Newsletter

Another sign of a well-functioning HOA is a community newsletter. While not crucial for every community, it’s an effective way to communicate important news and events to residents. A community association that has a weekly or monthly newsletter is the one that is doing its part of open communication and keeps residents up-to-date on all the latest, most important happenings within the neighborhood.

4. Clear Rules

Before choosing your new home, make sure that the rules and regulations for the community association are clearly outlined. Confusion in the rules can be a detriment to your time living in the neighborhood, as it can negatively impact you, your neighbors, and the HOA board. You don’t want any surprise fines from rules you weren’t aware of or sneaky neighbors trying to report on one another using loopholes. To ensure that you have full transparency and peace of mind once you move in, make sure that the HOA you’re considering has very clear rules in place.

5. An Effective HOA Management Firm

Many modern community associations utilize an HOA management company to help run their operations. Having an HOA management firm allows your HOA board to focus on the big picture and pass new rules and regulations unencumbered while simultaneously ensuring that daily tasks are executed in a more timely manner. Having a community association management firm ensures that everything runs more smoothly and fairly, so it’s a common sign of a good HOA when house hunting.

HOAs that utilize a community association management firm will often be better equipped to handle any homeowner issues and can make your time at home more enjoyable and hassle-free. For more information about community association management services for the Aurora area, give The Management Trust a call today at (303) 750-0994 or fill out our online contact form. We serve more than 1,500 communities nationwide and have been an industry leader for more than 30 years.

How HOA’s Help Increase Property Value

Secure, comfortable, and positive: three things you want to feel when purchasing a home. However, sometimes investing in something that serious can bring a lot of anxiety. You want to be sure you’re making a good investment; that you’re not putting your money into something that won’t be worth it in the long run. To ensure positive growth in your investment and ease that anxiety, you may want to consider purchasing a home that is a part of a Homeowners Association. 

A Homeowners Association exists for the sole purpose of upholding a community to certain standards and regulations that boost home and property values. According to the Henderson Institute, “Homes in communities with a homeowner’s association are typically listed and sell for 5-6% more than their counterpart homes in areas without an HOA.” Being a part of an HOA ensures that your home will be upheld to standards of the market, therefore will maintain or increase your property value.

An HOA takes care of your home; it manages repairs and upkeep, creates a cohesive community, and manages the neighborhood.

 

  • Home Maintenance

 

Most HOA’s have a set of rules and regulations of how homeowners should keep their lawns, paint their houses and keep it uniform with the rest of the neighborhood. Although it may be frustrating to be limited in your home’s upkeep, the HOA’s main goal is to create a pleasant environment that heightens property values. With the HOA managing the upkeep, you have more time to simply enjoy being in your new home!

 

  • Cohesive Community

 

An HOA brings the community together because everyone is pitching in to make what the HOA contributes to the neighborhood possible. This could be a contribution to a neighborhood park, tennis court, or swimming pool where everyone can mingle. An engaged and tight-knit community is highly desirable and can raise property value immensely. 

 

  • Neighborhood Management

 

Problems are bound to arise, even in a well-run community. An HOA can handle that unabiding neighbor or the pesky trees that overhang your yard from theirs. With set rules and regulations also comes the penalty of not following them. They will be able to resolve conflicts as soon as they arise which anyone would want for themselves and their community.

There are many benefits to joining an HOA, but the biggest one is being a part of the community and feeling connected to your neighbors. Not only will you have your dream home but you will also be a part of something bigger and your property value will be getting bigger.

The Difference Between HOA Management and Property Management

We receive a lot of inquiries from people looking for property managers in Tacoma, and we hear the terms “HOA management” and “property management” used interchangeably. However, community association management and property management are not the same. If you’re starting the search for a reliable Tacoma HOA management company, it’s crucial that you know the difference between an HOA management firm and HOA property management.

What is an HOA management company?

A Homeowners Association is run by volunteer homeowners who sit on a board of directors. They often hire a community association management firm to ensure that the community association is well cared for. While the HOA board is still the ultimate decision-maker in the community, creating policies and maintaining values, the HOA management company effectively executes the board’s decisions while ensuring residents’ happiness and satisfaction. The community association management firm will perform designated administrative tasks, including answering homeowner inquiries, vetting, scheduling vendors, and collecting dues from residents. Some management firms like The Management Trust also offer comprehensive HOA financial management, including tax filing assistance, annual budget preparation, vendor billings, audit coordination, and much more. HOA management companies generally help ease the burden of HOA board members and ensure that every aspect of their HOA’s daily operations is met. 

What is HOA property management?

Although they sound similar, property management differs from community association management in key ways, even if the properties being managed lie within an HOA. Property management companies are hired by corporations or private homeowners to oversee properties that they are renting or leasing, in order to ensure that everything is running smoothly. A property manager’s responsibilities include liaising with the tenants and landlord, sourcing local vendors for the tenant, responding to urgent repair needs themselves, and generally overseeing the property’s wellbeing. They may or may not work with the HOA board, but ultimately their client is the private homeowner. 

What are the key differences?

One main difference between an HOA management company and a property management company is their client. Community association management firms work exclusively for homeowners associations and report to their board. Property management companies, by contrast, work for private companies or individuals who are renting their home, regardless of whether it’s in an HOA. Property managers may represent one homeowner within the community or many, but they typically don’t work with the homeowners association itself.

Another key difference is their level of power. Property managers will have access to their designated property and likely a certain amount of power when it comes to the current tenant, but they have no power when it comes to the larger community the property resides in. They will have to follow the same rules and regulations for the property as every other resident, and they cannot enforce rules against other residents. An HOA management firm, on the other hand, is hired by the HOA board to help enforce rules and run day-to-day operations within the community. This means that they’ll be able to enforce rules, collect dues, and take care of common areas.

If you’re a homeowner in need of someone that will look after your rental property, then HOA property management is for you. However, if you’re an HOA board in need of greater assistance across several aspects of your HOA’s operations, you need community association management. HOA management companies like The Management Trust will provide you with everything from legal advice to common area maintenance and HOA financial management. Whatever you need, we’re here to help and enable your Tacoma, Washington, community association’s success. To find out more about our comprehensive HOA management services, give The Management Trust a call at (253) 472-0825 or fill out our online contact form today. 

The 4 Most Common HOA Complaints & How to Handle Them

Neighborhood disputes are unavoidable in any Aurora, Colorado, community. From trash schedules to noise complaints, if one lives next to someone long enough, odds are that there will be an issue or two that arise over time. Most issues between neighbors can be settled quickly on their own, but sometimes some issues will be escalated to the HOA board if you live in a community association. Here are a few of the most common complaints you’ll likely receive as an HOA board member and how to best handle them.

1. Noise

By far the most common complaints in community associations are noise complaints. From parties late at night to incessant yard work, there are numerous reasons a property could spark noise complaints. To help avoid these complaints, set a specific time that residents must quiet any loud noises or turn down the music, such as after 10 p.m. Having this curfew or designated “quiet time” will set clear guidelines for residents and help avoid disagreements over what (or at least when) noise is deemed excessive.

2. Pets

Another common concern among HOA residents is neighborhood pets. Whether a resident has an overly aggressive pet or their dog is barking late into the night, animals can be a point of contention for many neighbors, both in and out of HOAs. Set clear rules about picking up pet waste, where pets need to be leashed, and how many pets are permitted in one household. Make sure to apply these rules strictly and uniformly, and take the time to investigate aggressive animal behavior complaints as thoroughly as you can to ensure fair rulings.

3. Home Exteriors

HOAs are desirable for homeowners because it gives them peace of mind that their neighborhood will be well-kept and property values will remain high. In order to maintain this standard of living, virtually all community associations have rules about the appearance and upkeep of home exteriors within the community. If one neighbor appears to be in violation of the rules and their home’s exterior looks worse for wear, you’ll likely start to receive complaints from community residents. Common violations include overflowing trash cans, unkempt lawns, overdue holiday decorations, or even offensive signage. The best thing to do in this situation is to be proactive and issue a notice of violation to the homeowners before the complaints start flowing in. 

4. Illegal Activity

Of course, not all resident complaints are mere nuisances. Sometimes you’ll receive reports of illegal activity being conducted in your community association, from gambling to drug use. Encourage homeowners to file a complaint with the community association management if they issue anything that could be a threat to the health and safety of community members, including harassing or discriminatory behaviors as well as criminal activity. 

If you want to spend less time resolving neighbor disputes and more time focusing on your Aurora community’s big picture, you’ll benefit from an HOA management firm. Community association management companies handle the nitty-gritty of daily operations, from vetting vendors to collecting dues, so you can spend more time on the important stuff. They also serve as a reliable consultant for financial and legal matters, so you can reduce your liability when navigating tricky neighbor disputes. If you’d like to find out more about HOA management companies such as The Management Trust and exactly how we can benefit your Aurora community association, give us a call today at (303) 750-0994 or fill out our online contact form