HOA fees can be confusing, especially for new homeowners in your community. However, board members should know the answer to every homeowners' question about HOA fees and be able to respond appropriately to any concerns. Knowing what homeowners ask most often gives board members more time to find out the answer and respond to homeowners.
How should association boards talk to homeowners about HOA management fees? Through our experience as a professional community management company, we've pulled together a few common questions homeowners ask, as well as best practices for responding.
What Is This Fee For?
When homeowners first see their monthly or annual bill, it is common that they will go online or call management companies asking what certain charges are for. Board members should research the fee before forwarding information to homeowners. They should also check with other board members to get another perspective on the right response to an HOA management fee matter.
Make sure your board has a transparent way of verifying funds and accounting for expenditures to help answer questions about what HOA fees do for your community. With an effective accounting system, there's no reason homeowners should have lingering concerns that their regular dues aren't used effectively.
Who Must Pay These Fees?
One way homeowners try to comprehend HOA fees is by understanding who pays them and the homeowners association rules for payments. Residents will ask who pays maintenance fees for certain community amenities like swimming pools, clubhouses, and golf courses. One best practice board members can implement is having homeowners sign a contract stating they understand their homeowner responsibilities before using these community amenities. This includes knowing if homeowners need to pay an additional fee for amenities beyond HOA dues.
If your community's fees cover everything that serves residents, it can help to clarify that every homeowner pays the same fees. It's also important to enforce payments consistently with every resident to avoid disputes between residents or the community and the board.
Practices for HOA Board Members
Condo associations or homeowners associations can reduce the volume of questions about fees by implementing a few additional best practices. The most important thing is to make sure every new board member understands the fee collection process, fee amounts, and how these funds are used to support the community.
1. Communicate Regularly About HOA Management Fees
Sometimes simply being more proactive with communications about fees, due dates, and budget expenditures can reduce concerns about HOA management fees. For example, in addition to homeowners' regular bills, homeowners should receive a copy of the budget and board meeting minutes at least once a year. This can help homeowners be aware of how their money is being spent and adjust expectations as necessary.
Your board can also highlight project completions, events, and other association services throughout the year to remind homeowners how their management fee is put to good use. By explaining what the fees are and what they cover before residents feel compelled to ask, your association builds trust with homeowners and can reduce concerns about how the board manages the budget and funds.
2. Set Clear Expectations Early
If you're part of a newly-formed association board, you have the opportunity to set the standard for communication and transparency with residents. However, if you participate in an established board and community, it's never too late to adjust how you do a few things to improve communication and expectations among neighbors.
HOA boards should implement a system of informing owners about their homeowners' association fees, including annual dues and special assessment fees, in writing. Either by email or through a secure online portal that residents can access at any time, the board should deliver reports on a routine basis. By following this simple practice, homeowners will immediately know when they are expected to pay these fees without the need for follow-up questions or phone calls. They also have documentation about how the current and prior years' fees helped the community through beautification projects, services (like trash collection or property management companies), facility repairs, and more.
3. Be Open To Questions
Your board should be ready and willing to answer homeowners' questions about HOA dues at any time. If you can't provide an immediate response, let homeowners know when they can expect one. While you might get some of the same questions over and over from new residents, showing a willingness to hear concerns and address them goes a long way toward building excellent relationships between an association board and the community.
Get Community Management Help to Talk About HOA Fees
Excellent communication is essential to a healthy association. If you're not sure how to set up some of the best practices we mentioned here or deal with concerns about HOA fees, the right professional HOA management company can help!
With our HOA consulting services, Revolution Association Management can help your board and residents communicate more effectively by providing resources that answer common questions. We can also help create the groundwork for an easy resident outreach campaign to clarify common questions residents often have about HOA fees.