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5 Tips to Keep Homeowner Association Fees Down

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4 Minute Read
Posted by Staff Writer on Aug 22, 2017 8:00:00 AM

close-up-of-paper-housesIf you're a Board member looking at how to keep fees in a homeowner association down, we have five things you can do to help reduce expenses. Without further delay, here they are:

Collect all homeowner association fees, special assessments, and late charges. One of the best ways to avoid having to raise HOA fees next year is to make sure the Board diligently collects all HOA fees, special assessments, and any charges for late payments during the current year. The few homeowners who do not pay their HOA fees and special assessments cause the remaining homeowners to make up the difference by paying higher fees. That's not fair to the homeowners that obey the rules. The Board must set the precedent to go after non-payers immediately. In hardship cases, the Board may decide to enter into payment arrangements for the payments in arrears but those repayments should complete within the same assessment year if possible so as not to short-change the HOA's ability to pay its bills.

Enforce community rules regarding architectural changes and the responsibility to keeping units neat and clean. If unit owners do not follow the rules, then the Board may have to take action to enforce the rules. We all understand that when lawyers become involved, that costs money.

Eliminate unnecessary overhead. The HOA has some of the same opportunities to reduce overhead costs as the HOA's residents. The following are just a few examples:

  • turn off lights in offices, pool changing rooms, and sports centers when no one is in them,
  • keep air conditioning in offices at 78 degrees in summer,
  • keep heat around 70 in winter,
  • replace light bulbs in common areas with new energy-efficient and long-lasting LCDs,
  • encourage staff to recycle paper whenever possible and keep paper waste to a minimum,
  • use volunteers for rudimentary maintenance work (like replacing light bulbs in common areas, snow blowing and de-icing walks in winter, etc.).

Shop around for the best value in services and make sure the Board uses HOA funds for the  intended purposes. This is a two-fold issue. Some communities may not have a lot of competition among HOA vendors but, in others, it pays to get quotes from various landscapers, construction companies, property managers, and even HOA lawyers. At the same time, keep a fiduciary eye on all expenses paid out of HOA funds to confirm that the funds pay the types of expenses that HOA members intend them to pay.

One of the best ways to secure the second item is through the annual budget process. Including HOA members in the budgeting process assures that they will understand the various services that their HOA assessment pays. Allowing them to comment on the planned budgeted items empowers them to take ownership of the budget by either agreeing or disagreeing with the budget terms. A Board who has done its homework, assessed the reserve fund requirements for the year, negotiated the lowest contract fees  possible, and shows how staff saves money through frugal measures, has the answers to any questions HOA members may throw at them.

Encourage community involvement. Encourage homeowners to take pride in their common spaces as well as their own units. Picking up loose trash, taking in kids' toys every evening from the common grounds, picking up after pets -- those are just three examples of how HOA members can help keep the grounds beautiful and save the HOA the expense of a cleanup crew. Encourage volunteerism throughout the year. It's amazing how just a few hours a month donated by each unit can keep community costs down.

To talk more about this topic or HOA management in general, please contact us. We look forward to answering your questions about HOA living.

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer

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