Six Must Have Solutions for Large HOA Communities

Date Published : May-03-2024

Written By : Abigail Guevara

Communities of all sizes have challenges, and large HOA communities have challenges multiplied due to their large volume of members and size of communities.

Table of contents

There are between 7000-9000 large-scale associations in the US, according to Foundation for Community Association Research. These associations manage budgets of over $2 Million/annually, with over 1000 homes or 1000 acres, and thousands of members.

To avoid chaos due to the sheer size and numbers, large HOA communities must apply:

  • Strategy
  • Efficiency
  • Consistency
  • Innovation

Of course, large HOA communities implement solutions that best suit their unique culture and location, yet there are some must have solutions that they all integrate regardless of who they are and where their located just due the nature of a large HOA community.

Let’s take a look at some of the issues large HOA communities face and solutions that help them move past their challenges.  

 Large HOA community challenges and solutions

They say every problem has a solution, well in the case of large HOA communities, this is true.

Because large HOAs have been growing in size and numbers since the 1970s, they have also grown with the times and apply different methods, strategies and modern-day technology to accomplish what they could never achieve manually.

Here are some of the ways large HOA communities address their issues.

Issue: Poor Communication

If you think about how easy it is for a message to get misconstrued among just your family, just think of the difficulty of keeping thousands of homeowners in the loop and engaged.  

Large HOAs are challenged to get key messages to homeowners in time, with accuracy as well as remind them of all the happenings in their shared living community environment. 

1.      Solution: Multiple Communication Vehicles

Often, people need to see and/or read things more than once for information to register with them. Seeing something and acknowledging it are two different things.

When the same announcement is shared through various communication vehicles like:

  • Websites
  • TV displays in common areas
  • E-mail
  • Digital newsletters
  • Text

Homeowners are more likely to acknowledge the content and engage with it. They’ll notice details they didn’t the first time they read it when they see it more than once, and will take action as they see the announcement in different places as reminders.

All of these communication vehicles are possible through the use of technology, specifically digital communication. Large HOA communities, with thousands of homeowners, use software to distribute their updates and announcements in various ways and multiple times. This ensures information gets in front of the eyes of homeowners who need to know what is happening in their community.  

Issue: Operational Management

Large associations of large communities must maintain sizeable properties with multiple neighborhoods—over 1000 acres or 1000 homes. They spread for miles with multiple shared facilities strategically dotted throughout the entire community.  

For example, Eastman, in Connecticut, has an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, 36 miles of trails to hike or ski, and the entire community spreads over 3,600 acres.

The upkeep of all the shared spaces across such a wide expanse of land requires an excellent strategy on how to maintain the property to ensure everything is taken care of to the highest of standards.

2.      Solution: Maintenance Tracking and Vendor Management

With so many property tasks taking place in large HOA communities from maintenance of the grounds to maintenance of the facilities, and maintenance of roadways, large HOA communities will hire a variety of vendors to attend to these needs; starting with from property managers to manage the property. The homeowner association industry actually hires between 60 000 and 65 000 property managers in the US.

Hiring property managers is a necessity, but property managers do their best when they have access to a maintenance tracking solution and a way to manage vendors.

With maintenance tracking and vendor management software, property managers can :

  • Schedule recurring maintenance activities, so maintenance isn’t missed
  • Track and organize repairs
  • Attach corresponding reference documents
  • Assign maintenance items to staff, so everyone knows their responsibilities
  • Source, procure and manage vendors

These solutions ensure property and assets are attended to on a regular basis and by qualified vendors.

Issue: Managing Rule Breakers

Thousands of people living in a planned community with vehicles, pets, trash, guests and different values can create situations where large association rules and regulations are broken both unintentionally and on purpose.

Architectural changes are just one of the big rules that members may break by not submitting a request and not receiving approval from the association. They make the changes anyways, which is in violation of the rules.

This takes a lot of time away from the board and property manager who then have to investigate the change, cite the member and make sure the violation is rectified.

Large HOA communities need to keep track of offenses, especially if it’s repetitive, to put a stop to undesirable behaviors and return order to the community.

But it’s hard to keep on top of possibly hundreds of violations that are taking place in a large HOA community and update different statuses; especially, if the association is using the regular mail service to send a notice and then waiting for payments of fines to come through the mail service. Everything is delayed.

3.      Solution: Violation Management

Large HOA communities can give a verbal and/or written warning to someone who just needs a reminder about rules and regulations. However, if the association finds that more action needs to be taken then they use violation management as a system to facilitate fair and consistent rule enforcement.

For example, if a homeowner consistently parks their vehicle in shared laneways this can cause an accident, damage to property, obstruct emergency vehicles and frustrate other homeowners.

Using a violation management software system allows the large HOA to ensure the violation is addressed and dealt with by:

  • Logging the violation details
  • Updating its status regularly (automatically based on dates)
  • Customizing violation types  
  • Customizing violation letters
  • Addressing the violation quickly
  • Collecting payment online (if using online payment option)

Homeowners can rip up or lose paper violations, but when it’s recorded in the system the file has to be addressed before it can be closed. This helps to enforce rules and regulations and maintain order in the community.

Issue: Managing Monies

There are millions of dollars that large HOAs must manage annually. Assessments collected from homeowners for professional management services, utilities, security, insurance, maintaining common areas, and amenities totaled $108.8 billion in 2023.

Large HOAs are accountable to homeowners as well as state and federal laws. So, managing homeowner association funds is important. While they may have accountants on their boards, it’s not the best practice to only have one person accounting for this amount of money, planning, and allocation of funds.

4.      Solution: Flexible Financial Solutions

Large HOAs have professional financial firms to assist them with their accounting responsibilities. They may also have more than one financial committee. Each financial committee can focus on particular financial aspects like the reserve fund, or maintenance fund etc.

In this way, giving dedicated attention to complex areas in the budget creates a check, double-check system with smaller financial committees reporting up to the large HOA finance department.

Additionally, to maintain proper bookkeeping, financial teams will use accounting software options like:

  • Quickbooks
  • Yardi
  • Shiftsuite
  • VMS

Large associations couple their accounting software with property management software because using both softwares together removes roadblocks and allow payments to flow. When integrated with property management software:

  • Homeowners pay their fees online
  • Members can make payments right within the property management software
  • Associations can track and pay vendors
  • Time-consuming checks are eliminated
  • Annual budgets mailouts are sent in hours online instead of days through the mail

All transactions are tracked using the property management software accounts receivable solution and integrated seamlessly with accounting software.

Issue: Booking Amenities  

In a large HOA community, there are thousands of homeowners, their children and their guests who enjoy the available amenities. These amenities may include swimming pools, golf, tennis courts and party rooms. Even leisure equipment may be borrowed like canoes and BBQ pits.  

It’s hard to keep track of the bookings and equipment, and property managers can’t spend their time ensuring everyone has equal access to facilities and booking personal requests.

5.      Solution: Self-serve Amenity Booking

Large HOAs let homeowners feel they have full access to the facilities they pay for by letting them book amenities themselves. This simplifies the booking process for everyone.

The large association can give access to amenity booking either through its website or through an app accessible with property management software.

Using apps is only growing in popularity around the world. People find apps convenient and easily accessible through their smart phones.

Image source: Statista 2024

Enabling homeowners to book any amenity they want, when they want empowers them to get the best use out of the facility and their investment. An app specific to these functions versus a mobile website makes adoption far more likely.

If there is a conflict, property managers still have access to the booking to cancel if necessary. They can blackout periods of time for maintenance, collect deposits and payments, issue refunds and even make pre-and post-inspections of amenities all in one application. Plus, if some amenities are chargeable, the easier it is for homeowners to book them, the more profits the association will make. It’s a win/win for everyone.  

Issue: Security and Safety

Large HOAs have a fiduciary responsibility to keep their communities as safe as possible. Some states also require the association to take on legal responsibilities as well. This could be in respect to risk due to people or possible risk due to a harmful condition in the community.  

So, basically, the association is responsible to protect residents and even guests while on the association property from foreseeable harm.

For example, if there has been a complaint about an aggressive pet, like a dog, in the community and then a person is bitten by the dog, the association could be held liable. Or if an individual is assaulted in a dark common area parking lot, and the lights in that lot have been out for a while, again the association could be held liable.

These are just two security and safety scenarios, but in a large, planned community with thousands of people there are so many more to consider and that the association and its members would be exposed to.

6.      Solution: Security Staff and Accessories

One of the best things large associations can do when trying to make the community safe is to install as many security cameras as possible in shared spaces and in accordance to it its security camera policy.

Of course, hiring security staff and concierge is a must. They can patrol the various neighborhoods and point out any potential security issues. But that information needs to be captured and addressed by the association as quickly as possible to avoid issues.

Large HOA communities can help security staff and concierge by providing them with security log software.

  • All log entries can be reviewed by security guards and those with administrative access, so everyone is aware of issues
  • Geo-tags can be added to photos of property or locations to find them quickly  
  • Logs are available online for quick and easy reference, eliminating slow paperwork
  • Information can be captured in the moment in real time
  • Security can track what transpired, and see the status of the incident
  • Critical data is always documented
  • Residents feel safe

Using security staff and security hardware and software together builds a more secure community.

Choosing the right solutions for large HOA communities

It goes without saying that homeowner associations have challenges, and large HOA communities must address those challenges on a bigger scale due to the size of the membership and community.  The bigger the association the more complex the issues can be.

The good news is that there are solutions, and choosing the most effective solutions can reduce issues to a negligible level.

Solutions include:

  • Hiring the right staff who are qualified and capable
  • Having the right number of staff to help manage a sizeable property
  • Using technology, like property management software, to support large HOA communities  

Large HOA communities offer beautiful amenities and their communities are attractive and orderly, but the best managed large HOAs have the happiest homeowners. 

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