Top Benefits of Living in an HOA

Living in an HOA can sometimes be a polarizing topic, as some homeowners don’t understand the value it brings to their property. If you’re a Tacoma resident wondering what value living in an HOA has, consider these top benefits that make HOA neighborhoods some of the most desirable in the Tacoma area.

Access to Amenities

Condominiums, single-family residences, and other homes that belong to an HOA often have access to desirable recreational amenities that are hard to come by in other neighborhoods. Walking trails, sports fields, swimming pools, playgrounds, parks, and barbecue pits are just some of the many amenities popular in HOA neighborhoods. If you live in a homeowners association, part of your HOA dues go toward the running and upkeep of these facilities, and you have access to them as a community member. 

Reduced Maintenance & Upkeep

Outside of an HOA, you’re entirely responsible for the upkeep of your amenities, and you will need to source your own repairmen and vendors when issues arise. However, in an HOA, amenities such as the pool or gym are well-kept at all times. If you are partnered with a professional community management company, finding a reliable and trusted vendor is extremely easy. They will source, vet, and recommend vendors to your elected Board of Directors. This eliminates the need for random Internet scouring and gives you peace of mind that they’ll do good work that is HOA-approved.

Stabilized Property Values

One of the biggest reasons why residents prefer homes in an HOA is because homeowners’ associations are proven to stabilize home values and prevent domino foreclosures. Having well-kept common areas as well as strict home appearance rules means that property values will be more consistent. There’s no risk of a bad house on the block negatively affecting the rest of the neighborhood’s property value; in fact, this is one of the main reasons that HOAs were established. Protecting the value of your property is why HOA neighborhoods are so desirable and homes in them often sell for more than homes in a non-HOA community.

Dispute Settlement

Have you ever had an issue with a neighbor over a barking dog or loud parties? If you’re living in a homeowners association, your community management company will address these issues on behalf of your HOA and ensure that everything is resolved amicably and effectively. Having an official mediating party will not only discourage these issues in the first place, but it will help any neighborly issues get resolved as quickly as possible. 

Community Engagement & Bonding

HOAs often partner with their management company to host social events such as welcome parties for new residents or block parties for the holidays. These activities hosted by community associations encourage resident engagement and help you get to know all of your neighbors in a way that non-HOA homeowners rarely get to do. Fostering a sense of community is a big part of what makes HOA living so enjoyable for so many people. With an HOA there to take care of the big stuff, you can spend more time enjoying your neighbors’ company and sharing fun amenities that encourage socializing. 

If you’re a Tacoma resident searching for homes in community associations, don’t let the stereotypes and HOA fees scare you. Homeowners’ associations are an enormously popular living style because they foster a sense of community, create less work and concern for homeowners, and stabilize property values during times of economic concern. Community association management companies such as The Management Trust ensure that your community association runs smoothly and efficiently, allowing board members more time to focus on improving their communities. If you’re an HOA board member in search of an effective community association management firm, call The Management Trust today at (253) 472-0825. We promise to always listen to your HOA’s needs and react with exceptional customer service that always serves the best interest of your homeowners.

HOA Terms Everyone Should Know

If you’ve recently joined your Aurora community’s HOA board or have recently moved into a neighborhood with an HOA, you may be unfamiliar with some crucial terms that every community association member should know. From governing documents to your fiduciary duties, you’ll get the most from your time in a community association by familiarizing yourself with the most important and most common HOA terminology. 

  1. Fiduciary Duty

HOA board members have fiduciary duties that they must fairly and consistently carry out. A fiduciary duty is defined as one party acting for another, specifically when entrusted with the care of property or funds. Essentially, the law dictates that HOA board members must act in the best interest of their community members. Regardless of personal relationships, financial circumstances, or any other factors, board members must always fairly exercise the duty of care, the duty of reasonable inquiry, and the duty of good faith.

  1. Quorum

A quorum is the minimum number of board members necessary to legally conduct your HOA’s business and make decisions. If you do not have a quorum, you cannot take votes, propose changes, or conduct any other type of official HOA business. Most community associations define a quorum as a simple majority. However, you should check your HOA’s bylaws for their official definition. 

  1. Governing Documents

Every HOA has a set of governing documents that outline exactly what board members can and can’t do in terms of governing their neighborhood community. Although homeowners may sometimes feel as if they’re the only ones restricted with a set of rules, the HOA board similarly has sets of rules and regulations that they must follow when governing their community. Virtually every community association has the following governing documents: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, CC&Rs, Rules & Regulations, and Plats of Survey & Easement Agreements.

  1. CC&Rs

Of the governing documents listed above, new planned neighborhood homeowners often have the most questions regarding the CC&Rs. CC&Rs stands for the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions. It contains the rules of your neighborhood, which makes it an important document to be familiar with. The CC&Rs will outline the limitations of what you can do with your property, such as lawn maintenance requirements or parking rules. The main goal of the CC&Rs is to protect and preserve property values in your community, and it’s an integral part of any successful homeowners’ association. 

  1. Assessments

Assessments are mandatory dues or fees that all community members must pay. There are several types of assessments that you may have to pay: Regular Assessments, Maintenance Assessments, Extraordinary Assessments, or Special Assessments. Your Maintenance Assessment is also known as your HOA fee. These fees pay for the maintenance of everything that falls outside of your property line, also known as the common area. An HOA has more items to upkeep than you may think: street lights, entry gates, landscaping, irrigation, recreational centers and facilities, main office utilities, and community events. Your HOA fees, or assessments, go toward paying for these and allowing you to continue to live in a well-kept, desirable neighborhood with high property values. 

  1. Community Association Management Company

A management company is a third party that is hired by an HOA’s board to execute the decisions made by the board. From collecting assessments to scouting reliable vendors, a community association management company helps build a stronger sense of community by enabling board members to spend more time in their community and making decisions that will most benefit it. It’s important to note that the management company does not make any decisions on behalf of the association. It merely acts at the direction of the board to execute duties and enforce rules where needed.

The Management Trust is one such community association management company that has helped communities throughout Aurora become stronger and operate more smoothly. Just like an HOA board is composed of its fellow residents, The Management Trust is entirely owned by its employees. This makes us uniquely positioned to understand the diverse needs of HOA board members and offer exceptional, personable customer service with every interaction. From vendor billings to record-keeping services, The Management Trust can do it all and leave your HOA with more time to focus on building community relationships. For more information about our services or to request a proposal, give us a call at (253) 472-0825 today.

5 HOA-Approved Holiday Decor Tips

Holiday decorations are an integral part of the holiday season, as they make the winter feel more festive and cheery. Aurora residents of many different faiths come together during this time of year to put out holiday lights and celebrate as a community. From a single string of lights to full winter wonderlands, every household and neighborhood is beautifully diverse in how it chooses to celebrate the time of year and decorate its homes. While every HOA’s guidelines for holiday decorations are different, here are some decorating tips that will benefit most HOA residents and board members.

  1. Follow the Approved Timeline

Most HOAs will have a guideline for when it’s appropriate to put up and take down your holiday decorations. A common rule is to put them up no earlier than a month before the holiday and take them down no later than two weeks afterward. However, this can vary from community to community, so make sure that you carefully look through your HOA’s CC&Rs before the holiday season. You can also follow your board members’ lead and wait until they begin decorating their homes for the holidays. As HOA board members, they should closely adhere to the guidelines and set the example for the neighborhood when it comes to holiday decorating.

  1. Avoid Roof-Anchored Displays

Although most HOAs don’t want to be a Scrooge when it comes to restricting decorations, roof-anchored displays such as inflatable Santas are often not allowed due to the safety hazards they impose. These decorations can blow away if not anchored correctly, which creates a danger for the neighborhood.

  1. Be Mindful of Excessive Light and Noise

When it comes to HOAs, they often abide by the rule that less is more. In order to maintain aesthetic integrity and keep their neighborhoods enjoyable to reside in, there can be restrictions placed on noise-emitting decorations and the number of lights that can be hung. In order to avoid excessive lighting, most HOAs only allow a certain length of light strands, such as up to 200 feet. There may also be restrictions on when noise or holiday music can be emitted, such as from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Some HOAs may ban sound elements altogether. As always, make sure to thoroughly read your community guidelines before purchasing any holiday decor.

  1. Place Your Tree Wisely (Or Choose Pre-Lit!)

Fire hazards are a major risk during the holiday season due to decorative lights and flammable trees. If you purchase a real Christmas tree, be sure to choose one that is fairly flame resistant. Place it away from fireplaces, candles, radiators, and other potential fire hazards. Make sure that the tree stand is adequately filled with water at all times as well. Pre-lit Christmas trees are also a wonderful option, as they’re easier to set up, more environmentally-friendly, and less of a fire hazard than natural trees.

  1. Utilize Light Timers

Light timers are another excellent tool to utilize this holiday season, especially if your HOA has rules about what hours your Christmas lights are allowed to be on. You can program the timer to turn your lights on in the evening and turn off when you go to bed, so you don’t have to worry about doing it manually every day. There’s no more accidentally leaving lights on all day and night anymore.

No HOA wants to ruin Christmas cheer, but maintaining the aesthetic integrity of the neighborhood through this time of year means that restrictions will likely be placed on holiday decor. In order to avoid any penalty fines or other hassles this holiday season, be careful to read your Aurora community’s CC&Rs and follow these tips for HOA-approved holiday decor. If you’re an HOA board member seeking guidance in HOA community management, trust The Management Trust’s community management services to help you through the holiday season and beyond. We can assist you in a range of invaluable management services, including collecting and processing the decor non-compliance fees that run rampant during Christmastime. For more information about what we do or to request a proposal for your HOA, give us a call today at (303) 750-0994.

5 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer in Your Neighborhood

As Tacoma residents recover from their Thanksgiving feast and begin to get into the Christmas spirit, many HOAs organize social gatherings, toy drives, and other events to help spread holiday cheer within the community. The holiday season is a time for people to come together and celebrate friends, family, and neighbors alike, so spreading holiday cheer through your community is sure to help lift spirits and inspire joy. Here are five popular ways to spread the holiday spirit in your neighborhood.

  1. Organize a Toy Drive

The holidays are the season of giving, so what better way to spread cheer and do good than to organize a community toy drive? Partnering with charitable programs like Toys for Tots will inspire your neighborhood to get into the giving spirit and will create an even greater sense of community. Place a designated box in a community center or with a chosen HOA board member and encourage your fellow community members to give what they can in the spirit of the holidays.

  1. Host a Cookie Swap

One staple of the holidays is holiday cookies. Whether it’s creating gourmet treats or decorating sugar cookies with the kids, there’s a wide range of delicious treats that are part of almost every family’s holiday traditions. Organizing a neighborhood cookie swap will encourage people to spend more time with their own family baking cookies and will allow neighbors to mingle and get to know each other even better over a delicious plate of cookies.

  1. Decorate the Neighborhood

No matter how many activities you organize, nothing brings the holiday spirit like homes decorated with Christmas lights. Your HOA will most likely have guidelines instructing residents on what sort of decorations are permitted and how long they can be kept up. Make sure that you follow these guidelines strictly before you begin decorating, as you’ll be setting the example for the neighborhood as a board member. Once you’ve read over your community’s CC&R, break out the Christmas lights or offer to assist your neighbors to create even more holiday spirit.

 

  1. Create Some Friendly Competition

Once the lights have been hung and the cookies swapped, organize some friendly competition to engage community members and create excitement. From snowman building and ornament decorating to gingerbread house creating, there’s plenty of ways to excite kids and adults alike. Incentivize participants by announcing winners in the community newsletter or offering a small prize. Anything that brings the community together in an engaging way is sure to spread a bit of holiday cheer!

  1. Carol for a Cause

What’s more in the Christmas spirit than caroling? Caroling for a good cause! Gather a group of HOA community members and carol door-to-door raising money for a local charity. No matter how much or little you raise, lifting your neighbor’s spirits with joyous Christmas carols is sure to spread cheer through the community just in time for the holidays.

If you’re a homeowner’s association searching for HOA community management services in Tacoma, look no further than The Management Trust. We are a 100% employee-owned community management service that not only reacts to our clients’ needs, but anticipates them. We promise to always listen to your HOA’s needs and react with exceptional customer service that will leave you with the utmost confidence in The Management Trust. For more information about our services or to request a proposal, give us a call at (253) 472-0825 today.

Tips You Should Consider When Planning for an Evacuation

Let’s face it-contemplating a catastrophe can be stressful in itself. Does your family have a disaster and communication plan? While it certainly is not enjoyable to think about, why not start this year with a plan to keep you and your loved ones safe and secure should a disaster strike? According the federal government’s website, Ready.gov, here are the top tips you should consider when planning for an evacuation

Before an evacuation:

Learn the types of disasters that are likely in your community and the local emergency, evacuation, and shelter plans for each specific disaster.

-Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.

-Identify several places you could go in an emergency such as a friend’s home in another town or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency.

-If needed, identify a place to stay that will accept pets. Most public shelters allow only service animals.

-Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.

-Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.

-Develop a family/household communication and re-unification plan so that you can maintain contact and take the best actions for each of you and re-unite if you are separated.

-Assemble supplies that are ready for evacuation, both a “go-bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or public transportation and supplies for traveling by longer distances if you have a personal vehicle.

If you have a car:

-Keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.

-Make sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car.

-If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if needed. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.

During an evacuation:

A list of open shelters can be found during an active disaster in your local area by downloading the FEMA app

-Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.

-Take your emergency supply kit.

-Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.

-Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency now.

If time allows:

-Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.

-Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.

-Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.

-Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.

-Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.

-Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

-Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.

-Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas

After an evacuation:

-If you evacuated for the storm, check with local officials both where you’re staying and back home before you travel.

-Residents returning to disaster-affected areas after significant events should expect and prepare for disruptions to daily activities, and remember that returning home before storm debris is cleared is dangerous.

-Let friends and family know before you leave and when you arrive.

-Charge devices and consider getting back-up batteries in case power-outages continue.

-Fill up your gas tank and consider downloading a fuel app to check for outages along your route.

-Bring supplies such as water and non-perishable food for the car ride.

-Avoid downed power or utility lines; they may be live with deadly voltage.

-Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.

-Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.

Collecting unpaid assessments

One of the most stressful parts of being part of an HOA is how to proceed when a homeowner stops paying their maintenance fees. When owners don’t pay their association fees, the rest of the property owners have to make up the difference through higher fees, special assessments, or reduced spending on community amenities and upkeep. If the unpaid assessments are large enough, the HOA can face an enormous problem that can destroy the HOA if it’s not resolved. Many banks will not loan an association money for capital improvements if 8% of an association’s units fall behind on their payments. At 15% delinquency, they can no longer attain a federally backed mortgage, meaning that only cash buyers are eligible to buy foreclosed units. Trying to collect unpaid assessments can be expensive, frustrating, and stressful. However, there are a variety of strategies for HOAs to use to collect unpaid fees.

This may include:

  • Suspending the owner’s right to vote

  • Suspending the owner’s use of the common areas until past due assessments are paid. This tactic is especially helpful with rental units. Tenants will typically put pressure on their landlord if they can’t use the amenities.

  • Suspending access to utilities.

  • Suspending the owner’s rights and privileges to cable TV, laundry facilities, parking, etc.

  • Recording a lien against the property

  • Filing a collection lawsuit against all owners listed on the title of the property.

  • Commencing foreclosure proceedings to sell the property

 

It is best to act quickly with each option and be consistent in regards to your actions towards all homeowners. If collection efforts are pursued, the amount due and owing will include all past due assessments, late fees, interest, administrative fees, collection costs, and legal fees incurred by the association as a result of the delinquency.

 

The prompt payment of Assessments by all owners is critical to the financial health of our communities. It is important to have the support of a professional management company to support your collection efforts in a fair, consistent, and effective manner. Contact The Management Trust by calling or clicking here.

Reasons to Form a Landscaping Committee

A well-maintained community landscape helps to increase owners’ enjoyment of their property and enhance the investment value in their home. Many condominium associations encourage residents to get more involved. Although landscaping committees are not a requirement, forming one may alleviate the stress and workload of the general association board. Regardless of the size of your community’s common areas, or the dollar amount of your landscape budget, a committee formed with the sole purpose of watching over your landscape can prove to be an asset to your association.

There are a variety of ways to start your landscaping committee. First, determine which type of committee is needed, standing or ad hoc. A standing committee, formed to last throughout the year, meets on a regular basis and handles ongoing landscape needs. An Ad hoc committee is formed to address a specific project or issue and is designed to exist for the duration of the project.

Prior to appointing volunteers to the landscape committee, the Board of Directors should determine specific guidelines for the committee to keep things under control and ensure all parties are happy. Once appointed, the committee members should hold formal meetings on a regular basis to discuss their findings. Some responsibilities often assigned to Landscape Committees include:

  • Creating recommendations for the Board on landscaping improvements.
  • Obtaining proposals from two or three landscape companies covering the scope of work for a project.
  • Evaluating proposals and checking references.
  • Expressing the community’s desires to the landscaper and/or walk the property with the landscape provider.
  • Inspecting the work performed by the landscape provider and suggesting additions and improvements as needed.
  • Providing updates and feedback to the Board on landscaping and grounds maintenance issues.

While the landscape committee does not have the authority to act without the Board’s approval, they are still very important to the association. The volunteers that serve on the committee do so for the benefit the community as a whole. Their primary responsibility is to preserve and maintain property value and the results of those efforts will be a clean, safe, and enjoyable place to live.