Maintaining an appealing, functional HOA community requires regular upkeep and this costs money. These expenses, both short- and long-term, are covered by HOA assessments. Every homeowner pays this monthly fee to support the community and the amenities made available to them.
A common concern – and sometimes complaint – is increasing assessments. It is important to remember that this is in part due to the economy and the cost of repairs, but it can also be affected by planning. There are several ways that HOA boards can strive to keep costs reasonable for homeowners:
- Plan accordingly. Some amenities need seasonal upkeep while other tasks, such as landscaping and trash removal, are ongoing. Regularly evaluate the community to get a better feel for when major repairs may be needed so you can budget accordingly. Stay on top of small repairs to prevent them from becoming more serious and costly issues.
- Hold homeowners accountable. It is everyone’s responsibility to use common areas appropriately and do their part to prevent damage. Carelessness or not reporting issues can mean unexpected expenses which can in turn raise assessments. Encourage homeowners to follow rules and take pride in keeping things clean and well maintained.
- Re-evaluate expenses. Periodically review service costs and compare prices with other vendors. You may be able to get comparable service for a lower price by switching providers. Also look for ways to cut overhead or reduce utility costs. Install motion sensor lights and adjust the heat and air conditioning in common areas when they are not being used.
- Balance fees. Review expenses from the past 12 to 18 months. You may set assessments slightly higher to cover anticipated increases in repairs or services, but this may mean more stable fees or minimal increases in the future. Analyze the budget and have a solid understanding of how assessments are being used.
Be transparent and educate homeowners about how assessments are used and what they can do to keep costs lower. While some people may get frustrated over increases, explaining why it was necessary and what this money is going toward can help ease tensions. Encourage homeowners to become part of the board if they have an active interest in helping the community better manage its finances.
While assessments are not always a pleasant topic, they are a necessary part of keeping up an enjoyable, well-maintained community.