HOA summer fun: Keeping activities enjoyable and safe

Date Published : Jun-28-2024

Written By : Kim Brown

Summer brings out the best in people. The warm weather and long days make outdoor activities far more attractive, and make burgers, hotdogs and corn taste better.

Once Memorial Day hits, many HOAs witness a renewed energy in their communities.  Owners hang out by the pool, prepare dinner on the grill, or work up a sweat on the pickleball court.

   

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However, HOA amenities can present unique risks to owners and their guests. With so much happening in such a short time, it’s more important than ever for your community to find ways to promote fun and safety.

   

HOA issues that become more prevalent in summer

Keep in mind that not every association will have the same seasonal issues. If your community doesn’t have a pool or golf course nearby, it won’t encounter some of the problems listed below.

   

Poor pool etiquette  

HOA pools are prized possessions. But the mini oasis can be chaotic if people aren’t following pool rules. Usually, associations run into problems with owners bringing alcohol to the pool area, or guest capacity limits being ignored. 

   

Noise

Noise violations are more common in summer. Neighbors might be playing music too loudly late at night, or starting their lawnmowers too early in the morning.

A few HOAs have even experienced problems with pickleball courts. Homeowners who live near them may be bothered by the high-pitched sound of the ball hitting the racquet. Portable basketball nets can be equally bothersome to neighbors who can hear the ball slamming against the backboard.

   

Improper use of golf carts and/or offroad vehicles

If your HOA allows owners to operate golf carts or ATVs, you might receive complaints about drivers going too fast, or operating these vehicles in restricted areas. 

   

Fires

Some HOAs do permit owners to have fire pits, but there are limitations on the type of fire pit an owner can install. Nonetheless, accidents can happen.

Grills also have the potential to create fires if they are not closely monitored.   

   

Pet waste

Dogs are generally just as happy as their owners to spend time outdoors weather is nice. But other homeowners might be upset to find that there is more dog poop in shared green spaces (or worse, on their lawns).

   

Playground accidents

School’s out which means kids have lots of time to play. Some HOAs have playgrounds in the community, a feature that families love. But you can guarantee that kids will get bumps and bruises while they run, climb and slide. 

   

Ways to minimize accidents, complaints and closures

Even though summer is a common time for owners to take a vacation, boards and property managers may find they are busier in summer. That’s because there are more owner issues to address. 

While the occasional pool closure or violation letter is almost inevitable, there are things associations can and should do to reduce seasonal challenges.

   

Make sure owners know and understand the rules

It’s easy to forget rules, especially when owners didn’t have to think about them for several months. Help and educate your owners by reacquainting them with pool, noise and nuisance, golf cart and BBQ rules.  

Use multiple channels, such as the HOA’s website, digital announcements or the owner portal, community newsletter, and bulletin board to share applicable rules, policies and safety tips.

Reinforce rules by ensuring signage is displayed within range of your most-used amenities. For example, a pool sign stating rules about maximum capacity, conduct, attire, music, and alcohol consumption is often required in the pool area.

Education is the best way to prevent conflicts and accidents. The more informed owners are, the less likely they are to do something that could jeopardize their safety, or the safety of others.

   

Prioritize proactive maintenance

Sometimes, it’s the facility or equipment that creates a safety issue. Board members are legally obligated to maintain common areas, but maintenance issues can arise suddenly when amenities are being used often.  

When possible, the association should prioritize proactive maintenance. That means scheduling regular inspections and maintenance before equipment breaks. Inspections and tune-ups for summer amenities should be scheduled before summer arrives so that owners can get the most out of the facilities that they pay to use and maintain. Here are some examples of how to keep HOA amenities safe for summer usage:     

Pools

  • Have pool inspected for cracks or leaks
  • Evaluate condition of tiles or surfaces, including the pool deck
  • Inspect and replace ring buoys or rescue tubes as needed 
  • Ensure rescue pole or shepherd’s hook is accessible and in good condition   
  • Inspect and test pool lifts 
  • Evaluate condition of pool gate locks and fencing 
  • Check pool handrails, ladders, and steps 

   

Grills

  • Inspect the grill for damage or missing parts
  • Remove leaves, debris, and other buildup that could cause a fire
  • Trim overgrown trees or any foliage close to the grill
  • Post safety guidelines and grill instructions
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near the grill in case of an emergency

   

Playgrounds

  • Have equipment checked for defects and deterioration
  • Ensure nuts and bolts are secure and in good condition
  • Inspect and replace ground materials like sand or woodchips
  • Check for insect nests
  • Post safety signs to advise users about weight limits and proper equipment usage 

   

Emergency equipment

  • Ensure fire extinguishers and hydrants, if applicable, are functioning properly
  • Ensure equipment is easily visible and accessible

   

Don’t give pet owners an excuse to litter

This point is particularly relevant for HOAs that have a lot of dogs. Consider installing pet waste stations if they don’t already exist. Include disposable waste bags so that owners don’t have an excuse as to why they failed to clean up after their pets.

   

Review the insurance policy

Having a solid insurance plan is an association’s best defense against injuries and accidents.

HOA master policies generally cover two things: property damage and liability. Both are relevant when thinking about summer safety because shared amenities can get damaged, and people can get hurt.  Coverage depends on the community, its size, amenities, and risks.

Whether the HOA is planning to renew its current policy or find a new one, it is essential to minimize risk. Having inadequate insurance is very risky because it could cost the association millions of dollars if someone is seriously hurt while using an amenity. 

   

Rule enforcement doesn’t take holidays

Both HOA management and homeowners want to avoid violations as much as possible, there will be situations where it becomes necessary to enforce rules.

It’s not that the board or management wants to ruin someone’s good time. Rather, the association must balance personal enjoyment with HOA obligations, and that includes maintaining property values and safety for others who live in the community. If management were to look the other way when someone broke a rule, other homeowners might question why the rules exist in the first place if there are no consequences for breaking them. Furthermore, owners are less likely to exhibit inappropriate or inconsiderate behavior (speeding, blasting music, drinking by the pool, leaving pet waste in the grass) if they don’t believe they will be reprimanded for their actions.     

Violations should be issued fairly and consistently so that homeowners know what to expect. Violation processes and penalties can be found in the HOA’s governing documents, but it doesn’t hurt to include them with amenity rules and policies.

Finally, keep a record of all written correspondence shared between the association and the alleged offender. If an issue is ever brought to court, the association will need those documents to prove that it took the appropriate steps to resolve the issue before legal intervention was required.   

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