There is a lot that goes into managing a homeowners association. But, with the right tools, it can be made significantly more straightforward. Here are the HOA online services every community should have.
The Essential HOA Online Services
In an HOA community, homeowners will naturally have many concerns they wish to resolve. One homeowner may want an update on their account statement, while another might want to submit an application for architectural modifications. Now, if you multiply that by the number of residents in the association, it can quickly become unbearable. And an HOA board can only do so much at a time.
To make things easier, most associations hire an HOA management company. But even a management company can’t be available 24/7. As such, companies usually offer community websites with their services.
With an HOA website, homeowners can access their accounts quickly and view essential documents without going through the board or HOA manager. But what exactly are the features you should look for in a website?
Here are the essential HOA online services.
1. Account Statements Access
Homeowners should be able to log into their accounts straight from the website. They can access their account statements there, showing them any outstanding dues or unpaid fines they still owe to the HOA. This statement should also show past payments with dates attached. A statement of account will help homeowners track their expenses and their debts.
2. HOA Online Payments
Before the age of ultra connectivity, homeowners paid their fees with checks. They typically place these checks in an envelope and mail them to the association or the management company. Then, the HOA or company would have to deposit the checks into the association’s bank account. Traditional collections involve a lot of steps.
But, thanks to online banking and financial apps, associations can simplify the payment process for owners. A management-provided website should be able to accept payments online, either through credit or debit. There should also be the option to make ACH payments or send e-checks.
Accepting online payments will make it more convenient for members and help reduce late payments. Many homeowners pay their fees late and incur late charges because they forget to send a check. Sometimes, they need more time to mail a check. With online payments, though, homeowners can settle their dues even from a remote location, provided they have Internet access.
3. Architectural Change Applications
Now and then, homeowners will want (or need) to make an architectural modification. But, many associations have architectural review procedures to maintain a standard, which usually require owners to complete an application form and submit supporting documents physically.
One of the HOA online services you should have is an online application system to streamline the process and reduce paper waste. This will let owners submit their forms and supporting documents online. The HOA board or Architectural Review Committee can then access the applications from the website for review. They can also approve or deny the applications straight from the website, which will notify the requesting owner.
4. Violations Tracking
Homeowners associations have covenants and rules that all residents must follow. But, sometimes, a violation will occur. A violation tracking feature on your website will then come in handy.
An HOA website should allow the board to keep tabs on any violations. It should contain information on the nature of each violation, the date each violation transpired, whether or not the owner has been notified, whether or not a hearing has occurred, and the board’s final decision. If the owner has yet to settle the violation, the website should reflect that, too.
Of course, these details should only be available to the HOA board and manager, and homeowners should only be able to see their violations and their status.
It is part of the HOA board or manager’s duties to send out notices for various events or circumstances. These include annual meetings, board meetings, notices of assessments, etc. While boards should send notices according to state laws and governing documents, posting them on the HOA website can be a supplement.
In North Carolina, boards must hand-deliver or send notices via certified mail. They can also send notices via email if the owner has provided their email address. In addition to these methods, associations in North Carolina can upload the notice on the community website and even post it on the homepage. This way, if an owner doesn’t receive the notice letter, they can still view it on the website.
Some HOA websites come with homeowner inboxes. In this case, boards or managers can send notices directly to the inboxes of the homeowners, and they will see the notice once they log into their accounts.
6. Documents and Reports
Any good website should have an HOA portal where homeowners can view important documents and reports. While owners can typically request physical copies of these from the board or HOA manager, a website is better because it offers easy access. If a homeowner needs to view a particular document at 2 in the morning, they can log into their account.
Some of the documents an HOA website should maintain include:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Community Plat pr Map
- Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions
- Financial Statements and Reports (Balance Sheets, Income Statements, etc.)
Remember that private or confidential information should not be uploaded to the website. For instance, an Account Delinquency Report that displays the names or lot addresses of delinquent owners should be reserved for the eyes of the board.
7. Service Requests or Complaint System
Finally, homeowners need a way to reach out to the board or HOA manager without meeting with them in person. This is especially important for larger associations were connecting with the community’s leaders is often challenging.
A built-in online complaint system lets residents submit their concerns in writing. There can even be categories of complaints, such as general complaints, neighbor complaints, and service requests or work orders. Then, board members or the HOA manager can review these complaints from their accounts. This will allow the HOA to sort and resolve complaints systematically.
Everyone Needs Help
Homeowners associations run on the sweat and elbow grease of board members and HOA managers. But, even they need help running a community. With these critical HOA online services, a community website can be better equipped to handle the association’s operations.
Clark Simson Miller provides expert HOA management services to community associations. Call us today at 865.315.7505 or contact us online to request a free proposal!
- 7 Ways To Avoid HOA Data Breach
- 4 Things To Consider Before Setting Up Electronic Payments For HOA Dues
- Can Homeowners Request HOA Financial Reports?