Ive been President of our HOA since its infancy almost 8 years ago now and I still often wonder why I put myself through this hell. Some of the main reasons I got involved were 1) I wanted to be aware of what was going on in our complex, 2) I wanted to know how my money (Dues/Assessments) was being spent, 3) have some control over how money was being spent and 4) I wanted to ensure my property value and 5) because I like being a leader. Having now been continuously voted back as President by the membership (all homeowners) I have to think I am doing something right.
Personally I hate finances but I do it out of personal necessity. Luckily when it comes to the HOA we have a a rather excellent finance person as Treasurer and I do enjoy in assisting to enforce that our budget is strong so that we are meeting our needs by keeping monthly dues/assessments as low as possible and still being able to operate and fund projects, keep our reserves and operating budget strong. We are close to 90% funded, that’s almost a million dollars, with an M.
I think what I have accomplished as a Board leader is most unheard of in the realm of HOA’s in that we have nearly 100 condo units and have successfully been able to function financially since 2006 with only one increase in HOA dues. I think that is a substantial accomplishment. I also had the intent when I first came on as Board President to make sure we were not seen as the stigmatic HOA that people are so used to hearing about, those rogue groups painted as neo-Nazi’s or something that like to control and complain about everything and rule people’s lives.
You wont find that in this HOA, at least not on my watch. A peeve I have, although I realize the necessity of laws, is the manner in which we have to conduct business. Things just dont happen as rapidly as I would personally like. As an example, we have a bicycle room that took almost two years to complete because we do one phase, wait for the next meeting and vote on the next phase, wait for the next meeting, you get the idea. Its annoying but we do it that way to ensure our financial strength and enforce some operational rules.
Dealing with people has its moments as well. As with any condo complex we have to put up a high turnaround of renters, owners renting when they shouldn’t be (we have a rental cap), out of town owners (other states and countries) that are hard to get a hold of in the event of emergencies because they dont give us updated contact info.
As an example of an incident, we have a no BBQ rule because of a city ordinance of BBQs on condo balconies. One day a resident knocks on my door from the second floor and tells me that a smoke detector has been going off inside their neighbors unit and they were simply telling me on their way out for a walk. Well they came back a couple hours later and the guy popped back by to tell me their neighbors smoke detector was still going off. We both went up and knocked on the door, felt the walls, door and doorknob, we didnt feel anything. However, I we smelled around the sides of the door and smelled smoke. the first thing in my mind was OH SHIT we have a slow fire started so I called 911.
You would have thought that the entire Battalion showed up by the amount of fire trucks that showed up. So they went up to the second floor at the door and verified the smell of smoke, I gave the authorization for entry and they literally took a heavy battering ram and opened the door – unit doors are thick and heavy.
Once the door was opened you can see smoke roll out but the firemen couldn’t find where it was coming from. they checked every room and the kitchen and then noticed the sliding glass door open. Going out on the balcony they looked down to see someone was having a BBQ and what was occurring is that the smoke was going up, into the unit above them and filling that unit full of smoke which activated the smoke detector.
So, because the person on the first floor couldn’t follow the rule about no BBQ’s they ended up paying for all costs associated with this incident, including a hefty fine from the HOA, in due process of course. However, since the fire department had it in writing what the cause of the incident was, due process of a meeting with the unit owner was a formality.
We have had other issues as well, mail package thefts, people moving in the middle of the night, damage to property, pool parties and asking topless girls to please put their tops back on or leave the pool and Jacuzzi area. Such is life in an HOA really.
We’ve had several positive accomplishments, we have a new bicycle room for residents, the pool and Jacuzzi has been resurfaced and the deck redone in a longer lasting, low maintenance top. We are replacing sections of our tile with a a longer lasting covering with stenciled tiles, you cant even tell its not real tiles. Our landscaping is beautiful, the gym has new weight and treadmill equipment, the billiards room has been reworked, our laundry rooms are – laundering. After much grief, and three years, our aged property plumbing is also working better than ever. That was no easy task with a condo property of almost 100 units.
After this though, I will never own another condo as long as I live. I will pitch a family sized tent first. Its nice in a way to be an owner and have a Board of Directors and management company taking care of things but I like the thought of a house where the only person to answer to is me, well my wife anyway. So for now I think I will just keep doing what I do, make my contributions until such a time that we can sell when the market is healthy and move to a nice house.
And life goes on …..