As a member in a homeowners association, navigating the specifics of HOA living can get confusing. Where do you look for your HOA’s architectural guidelines? How can you find out more about upcoming events? What, exactly, does the board do? And how does your management company fit into all this?
Lack of understanding can lead to friction if you’re not sure where to turn for answers. In this article, we’ll outline crucial HOA management resources to make your interaction with your homeowners association proceed more smoothly.
Resource #1: Your HOA Manager
Your management company is here to serve you. Your management company — and community manager(s) – were hired by your HOA to facilitate the smooth operation of your association. By law, your management company has no decision-making powers over your HOA; all decisions are made by your HOA’s board of directors. However, your manager’s job is to help make the administration and day-to-day duties of your HOA operate more seamlessly.
Approach your manager with any questions you have about living in an HOA. As experts in homeowners association management who also know the ins and outs of your specific community, they’ll be able to answer your questions on the spot, or they’ll help you direct your requests to the board.
Resource #2: Your Community’s Communications Channels
Part of the duties of your homeowners association management company is to facilitate your HOA’s communications. Most associations have helpful resources such as a community website, email newsletter, Facebook groups, Twitter or Instagram accounts, printed newsletters and community message boards. Each of these resources exists to help you find answers to your questions, increase your engagement with your community and deepen your relationship with your neighbors.
By taking advantage of your community’s communications channels, you’ll get a clearer understanding of what’s happening in your HOA and the value that living in a homeowners association brings to your community.
Resource #3: Community Associations Institute (CAI)
The Community Associations Institute is an international industry organization dedicated to HOA advocacy and support. CAI is a vital resource for HOA board members and HOA managers – but also features plenty of helpful information for homeowners. In addition to online education and industry happenings, CAI offers in-person events, seminars and mixers to encourage deeper engagement from homeowners.
While some resources and events are restricted to current CAI members, there is plenty of information about homeowners association management that can help you as a resident. We encourage you to explore the CAI website’s section on Education for Homeowners.
Resource #4: Your Community’s Governing Documents
You received a set of important documents when escrow closed on your home. Though you might not have ever looked at them (yet), your HOA’s governing documents are a wealth of information that applies to life in your community. Most HOA governing documents include:
- Articles of Incorporation – When your association was formed and by whom
- Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) – The overarching guidelines and standards for living in your community
- Bylaws – The rules and processes that outline how your association is run
- Rules & Regulations – Specific and detailed rules that apply to daily life in your community
Your governing documents not only specify all the rules for your community, but also give you an understanding of how each document fits into context with the others, as well as outlining the processes for making amendments. For more information on what is contained in your community’s governing documents, check out this article, “Understanding the Differences Between CC&Rs, Bylaws and Rules & Regulations”, or ask your community manager.
Resource #5: Davis-Stirling.com
This is a helpful resource that all community managers know well, but most homeowners have never heard of. Davis-Stirling.com is a website dedicated solely to the “Davis–Stirling Common Interest Development Act,” the section of California Civil Code that governs condominium, cooperative and planned unit development communities in California. Simply put, the Davis-Stirling Act outlines the laws and rights that apply to homeowners associations, and by extension, to you as an HOA member. As a non-profit corporation, your HOA is required by law to operate in a certain manner, and Davis-Stirling includes all those details.
If it seems like your HOA’s decision-making moves slowly, or you receive an annual avalanche of information about your HOA, the Davis-Stirling act can explain why. Keep in mind, however, that all of these processes are in place to protect you as an association member and your collective investment: the combined values of the properties in your HOA.
Exploring the website will give you a deeper understanding of how and why your HOA operates the way it does. Davis-Stirling.com is indexed by topic and case law, so you can review the actual wording of the law, as well as a common language explanation.
We encourage you to explore the above resources and always feel free to reach out to your community manager. Part of living in an HOA is gaining access to the benefit of collective organization. You are a valuable part of your community and the more engaged you are, the more rewarding HOA living becomes.
Have questions about how your HOA operates? Our HOA management experts are here to help.