The driving goal behind homeowner associations is to benefit through sharing. Pools are expensive, but we all get a pool by sharing the cost. Keeping an expansive lawn is lavish for one purpose, but becomes a community park when shared and everyone benefits. Shared responsibility can cover the cost of regular maintenance and predictable repairs infinitely. But maintaining an entire community isn't always so enjoyable. Unexpected and costly repairs are sometimes also shared in ways that are financially heavy on the community members.
When it comes down to who pays, the smallest dispute can blow into a neighborhood disaster. No one wants to see a large financial responsibility looming over them. But most of all, people don't like to be surprised.
Inform Your Community with a Maintenance Chart
A Maintenance Chart is the best way to keep everyone informed and prepared when that unpleasant yet necessary day comes. The chart is an outline of all possible community maintenance costs and who will cover the cost. This is an issue of hot debate in many HOAs and condo buildings. Sometimes, the one fight that won't settle is over financial responsibility, especially when there's gray area in documents.
A Maintenance Chart outlines each predictable and possible maintenance cost and exactly who is considered responsible for the upkeep. This keeps your community informed and even braced for maintenance costs instead of surprised and potentially angry.
What Does an HOA Maintenance Chart Cover?
- Community Maintenance Calendar
- Build a calendar based on your existing HOA maintenance schedule.
- Include calendar home maintenance tips
- Who is Responsible When ...
- Define the legal HOA policies for financial responsibility
- Ex: shared walls, walls shared with public spaces, yard-to-yard landscaping damage, community fencing
- Special assessments and emergency repairs
- The Unique Maintenance of Your Property
- Community facilities, grounds, and amenities, and how they are built
- How community spaces border each home
- Known and predictable maintenance concerns
- Future Big-Ticket Maintenance Items and Predictable Risks
- Predictable Special Assessments Ex: Roof replacement, repaving, old equipment updates
- Predictable Risks Ex: Storm damage, broken fences, erosion
Start From the Governing Documents
Your community governing documents will help you define the policies for who covers which maintenance costs. Start with the terms that every homeowner in the association has already agreed to. Of course, governing documents tend to make broad statements about when the association or individual homeowners are responsible for maintenance and repair costs. They bind the community, but often don't solve the problems of tiny details where the biggest arguments can arise.
Use the governing documents as your guideposts to build out more detailed community policies. Using your building or neighborhood's unique design, cover every square foot and likely maintenance issue. Reference past experience with disputes to inform your policies and what you prepare for. Write a policy for every predictable maintenance dispute or unexpected cost.
Then define your terms clearly in the form of a handbook for members.
Create a Chart of Annual and Predictable Maintenance
Use your policies to craft a chart of maintenance circumstances. Outline annual and predictable maintenance on a calendar. Also chart all possible maintenance risks, like a burst pipe between walls or storm damage.
On this chart, mark the financial responsibility. For each item, indicate whether the homeowner, association or both pay for each area maintenance or type of damage.
You are writing a supplementary governing document for your community, with policies you intend to uphold legally. For this reason, have your association attorney look over the chart before you finalize your data.
Share the Chart and Raise Awareness
Finally, you're ready to distribute your new Maintenance Chart out to the community. Send one to every home and make sure it's included in new homeowner document packets. Talk about it at meetings and mention the chart along with a web address in your community newsletter. The more homeowners read the chart, the better prepared they will be not just for maintenance costs, but also the predictable maintenance risks of each property.
Many with homes bordering community assets may choose to pitch in a little maintenance early before something breaks and becomes a community issue. Those who dispute over border issues will have a clearer reference to find agreement and peace.
For more helpful insights and tools for better managing, your community association, contact us today!