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The New Normal: What to Expect as Restrictions Are Lifted

The coronavirus pandemic has upended many aspects of Southern Californians’ personal and professional lives. As our state begins to move into a phased re-opening, life in your HOA will likely not return to exactly what it was before – at least not in the short-term. However, all challenges reveal new opportunities, so there are many ways that your community’s “new normal” may end up stronger than ever before.

Here’s what HOA board members and residents can expect moving forward as restrictions are lifted.

Shifting legislation

The “re-opening” of California leaves many variables still up in the air. Expect that legislators will be amending orders as they go, determining the best way to balance public safety with important economic and social factors. Language may be vague initially and will become more concrete over time. To stay updated, check state and local municipal websites frequently but expect that what is printed today may change tomorrow. Your property management company is keeping an eye on legislation changes that impact HOAs, so take advantage of their expertise and guidance. We’ve launched a COVID-19 resource on the Keystone website to share information with homeowners and board members.

New common area usage guidelines

Your safety is top-of-mind for your HOA board and property management company. Protecting residents from undue risk will guide many of the decisions your board makes regarding use of common areas. The aim is to avoid overcrowding and limit germ exposure. Therefore, you may see new temporary rules enacted, such as a reservation system for pools and sports complexes, distance guidelines for lawns and picnic areas, or group size limits in clubhouses. Boards should communicate not just what is changing, but why these changes matter. Association members who understand the logic behind decisions are more likely to comply.

HOA budget reallocation

HOA budgets may require adjusting as associations allocate more resources to safety. Associations may increase the frequency of janitorial crews or the amount of areas serviced. There may also be changes required from vendors for pool maintenance, landscaping, and more, based on guidelines that promote their safety and yours. Some vendors may be required to use specialized products or staffing procedures that may, in turn, increase your costs.

On the other hand, decreased usage of pools, spas and other energy-consuming spaces may provide opportunities for savings, at least in the short-term. Your property management company can help you structure a sound budget to address your HOA’s emerging needs.

Increased flexibility for board meetings

Shelter-in-place orders and social distancing measures have encouraged many HOAs to adopt new technologies to conduct business. Video-conferencing tools like Zoom enable boards and homeowners to participate in meetings from the comfort of home. Additionally, more and more board members are working from home, so HOAs may choose to schedule closed-door sessions at a more convenient time, instead of the usual post-workday hours.

More DIY home improvements

We’re seeing an increase in architectural applications in recent weeks, as residents have more time on their hands to upgrade their homes. Even if your changes seem minor, be sure to contact your community manager or check your HOA’s governing documents to determine if your project requires board authorization. Your manager can help you navigate the architectural application process and make sure you have all required approvals in-hand before you begin.

Future-focused common areas

As work-from-home becomes more commonplace, communities may consider updating aspects of their common areas to reflect the needs of a changing workforce. Converting an empty section of a clubhouse into a co-work space or coffee-shop-style lounge may be a smarter utilization of space that appeals to current and future residents.

Ready or not, times are definitely changing. As social norms continue to shift under COVID-19, there are many opportunities to build a brighter future. By maintaining a flexible, optimistic perspective, you can adapt to new developments and minimize the feeling of disruption in your HOA.

How can your HOA create a more comfortable future? Our management experts can help.

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