Staying home. Traveling out of town. Wherever this holiday season takes you make sure you take precautions to keep your home and belongings safe from theft and disaster with some simple steps. We’ve put together a list of the top holiday safety tips from all of the experts.
Please note our holiday hours…
Homeowner association managers provide a wide range of assistance to communities. This can range from scheduling meetings, to vetting vendors and obtaining job quotes to helping resolve resident conflicts. With such a broad variety of duties, what does it take to shine in the HOA management field?
Proactivity is key in HOA management.
The goal of a good HOA manager or property manager is to discover problems before they happen. If he can spot potential dilemmas or dangers before they occur and attend to them before any significant damage takes place, he will have saved himself both time and money. HOA management can be a much simpler job with regular check-ins, scheduled inspections, and constant interactions with home owners.
Check-ins and Inspections: It is essential that HOA management carries out routine check-ins and inspections to maintain the property. This will include examination of the grounds, interior, and outside of community structures like clubhouses.
Grounds: The landscaped portion of the community/association property and any outdoor spaces such as swimming pools or parking lots are included in this area. The lawn and lawnscaping of those community areas is inspected to check if the lawn care staff is doing their job correctly. It is the job of HOA management to replace current landscapers if the lawn appears unattended. Parking spaces are to be marked well, and the parking lots are to be kept clean. Homeowner property is inspected to ensure it is maintained per the association’s governing documents.
Outside structure: HOA management should check the perimeter of the community properties (common areas) after inspection of the grounds. Any loose shutters and eaves, or peeling paint should be noted. Cable, electrical, and phone lines ascending from the property, in addition to any satellite dishes, should be inspected. If any damaged is found, the proper repair professionals should be called. Individual homes are inspected, however it is not up to the HOA to get the work handled.
Interior structure: The inspection of the association owned property’s interior structure starts from the ground and works it’s way upward. HOA management works though a vendor or licensed professional to check the lowest level of the foundation for any indication of leaking or cracking. Boilers, water, and gas heaters must also be inspected. Doors, windows, and light fixtures must be checked throughout the building. Additionally, toilets and sinks should be inspected for leakage by the chosen professional.
It is also crucial for the HOA manager to be active within the community. This means a constant interaction with the homeowners. Discussion of property issues, policy situations, and helping the board enforce rules and regulations are necessary in keeping the HOA community a bonded unit.
Teamwork Equals Success.
It is critical for the Board and the HOA management to work together as a team. Communication between the two should remain frequent and clear. Both should be focused on improving the living conditions of the homeowner association as a whole. Working together to discuss maintenance, property developments, or association problems, can assist in structure improvement, and a stronger homeowner association.
Develop solid relationships with law firms and vendors.
Many homeowner associations are confident in hiring HOA management firms because of the secured relationships they have with both law firms and vendors. One of the most significant responsibilities of HOA management is assisting with the clarification of homeowner association laws, and deciding various policy issues. When a certain situation arises, it is always helpful to consult with an attorney. The strong relationship that has been formed essentially means that the law firm will make every effort to supply outstanding service.
Looking for Help with Your HOA Management?
Heritage Property Management has served the greater Atlanta area for more than 25 years. With a staff including 50 property mangers, the experienced management team at Heritage Property Management supplies expert knowledge in the facets of large-scale property management, maintenance, construction, and administrative duties. If you are interested in learning more information about our Property Management Divisions, including Homeowner Associations, we would love to hear from you!
Once our bellies have recovered from Thanksgiving dinner and the Black Friday crowds have dissipated, we’re ready to venture out again. This time in search of some holiday activities for any and all members of the family.
Check out our list of great holiday activities in and around the Atlanta area for 2018.
Things to Do for the Holidays Around Atlanta
7650 Lanier Islands Parkway Buford, GA 30518
“Tradition and excitement merge at a magical place with seven miles of traditional and unique holiday lights. And there's more winter wonderland fun to be had at LandShark Landing with winter-themed carnival rides, fire pits, s'mores, specialty winter drinks, and more!”
The folks of Lake Lanier have pretty much summed it up in a few sentences. It’s a winter wonderland one-stop-shop for all things Christmas.
400 Avalon Blvd.
Alpharetta, GA 30009
December 2nd, 5pm
”Join us and Chabad of North Fulton on December 2nd from 5PM to 6PM for a Chanukah celebration this holiday season! Guests are invited to Boulevard East (in front of Brine Seafood Shack) for a traditional Menorah lighting ceremony as well as refreshments, music, and entertainment for all ages. See you there!”
(Source: Avalon Alpharetta)
3. Pet Photos with Santa
3393 Peachtree Rd NE,
Atlanta, GA 30326
December 9th, 7.30-9.30pm
Pets have Christmas wishes too! On November 12, families are welcome to bring their furry best friends for an unforgettable picture with Santa Claus in the Macy’s Court. Guests can enter the mall through the Main Mall entrance near Sprinkles and Nike. Please refrain from bringing reptiles or exotic animals. Advance registration is recommended.
4. Photos with Santa
Various Locations Around Atlanta
We couldn’t possibly choose between all the fantastic Santa appearances around Greater Atlanta so we’ll leave the choice up to you. Here’s a full list of over 25 locations compiled by 365 Atlanta Traveler of where the Big Man will be making appearances this year.
What is your favorite thing to do around Atlanta for the holidays?
Let us know on Facebook!
Some Homeowner Associations resign themselves to the idea that the only way to increase income is to raise homeowner dues. This is not always the case. There are other avenues you can explore.
Ways to Increase HOA Income Without Raising Dues
Unique Programs such as Cable Access Agreements and Water Sub-Meter Programs. Wondering if your community is a candidate for these type of programs? Contact us to find out.
Review your Governing Documents. A few of the easiest and best amendments that give your neighborhood extra money are initiation fees and foreclosure fees. Read below for more details about both.
What are initiation fees?
Initiation fees are collected from the buyer when a home is being purchased in a community. Initiation fees are determined by the association’s governing documents and adding an initiation fee requires an amendment. The amendment is typically not difficult to get the appropriate votes as it is not charged to the current owners in the community and it does assist in funding the budget, reserves, or capital improvements.
Adding an initiation fees can assist associations greatly in their financial state, allowing the associations to build reserves for future projects that would have negatively impacted their budget prior to the initiation fees.
A good rule of thumb for determining a community initiation fee is to calculate two months of dues for Condominiums or Townhomes, or one year’s worth of dues for an HOA. This will allow for the initiation fee to change as the assessments change each year. If the association prefer to set a flat dollar amount it could be written in the amendment that the amount can be changed at the discretion of the Board.
What are foreclosure admin fees?
For properties that face foreclosures, a Foreclosure Admin Fee amendment is an option that many associations look into. When a home falls into foreclosure, the foreclosing entity is required to pay all the assessments from the date of foreclosure forward until the home is resold. However, any unpaid assessments owed by the prior owner, prior to the foreclosing entity taking ownership of the property are not collectable from them in Georgia. So, this results in a loss for the association as, there will be a deficit for the period of time the prior owner did not pay their assessments and fees associated with the association.
In an effort to make the association as whole as possible, a fee can often be required of the foreclosing entity upon taking ownership, in addition to any assessments due from the date of foreclosure.
Like the initiation fee, if the language for the foreclosure admin fee is not present in the covenants then an amendment must be passed in the manner expressed in the covenants. However, also like the initiation fee, most associations see little resistance as it will assist in maintaining the integrity of the annual budget and lessen the burden on current homeowners to maintain the property.
Those are just a few ways to increase your HOA income without raising homeowner dues. There are more ways to consider.
If you want to discuss your community’s specific options for increasing income drop us a line.
If you own a home that is governed by a Home Owners Association (HOA), a professional property management company can work with your HOA to help manage resident complaints and disputes. The task can feel quite daunting for volunteer HOA members trying to handle things on their own. And when you have enough home owners in one community, there are bound to be circumstances where a homeowner disagrees with a rule or doesn’t follow the bylaws and the Association's Governing Documents.
But how can a good property management company help an HOA handle resident complaints?
1. Property management companies can provide the support and connect the board to legal professionals to enable HOA board members effectively and property govern the community and enforce the rules, regulations and covenants.
Some say it’s the best form of government and that it is closest to a pure democracy in terms of responsiveness and representation. The HOA in your community is there to ensure the good of the community as a whole and help when a home owner needs resolution to an issue. Either their own, or a dispute with a neighbor.
2. Property management companies have a process for disputes to ensure fairness from one complaint to the next.
The typical process used by a property management company to resolve a dispute is a written submission of the complaint to the management company who will then communicate the issue to the appropriate HOA board members.
Homeowners needing to submit a complaint should always do so in writing and send it to their community property manager.
Every homeowner complaint letter should include the following :
The name of the homeowner filing the complaint.
The homeowner’s address and name of the community.
The date or date range the issue took place.
A full description of the issue.
3. Once the letter is received by the board via the property manager a specified period of time will be given during the next board meeting to discuss the issue. The property management company can help guide the board members on how to best handle the situation.
This is sometimes held monthly or quarterly and depends on the severity of the issue. If a meeting is not imminent, some boards will discuss the issue immediately with their property manager for guidance on how to handle the issue in the most fair and appropriate manner based on their specific community regulations.
Homeowners may also choose to request a face-to-face meeting to discuss their issue in person with representatives from both the HOA board and property management company.
The end goal of any homeowner complaint is to handle each issue fairly, within the bounds of the community guidelines, rules and regulations and have a peaceful, successful outcome for both parties.
While this is not always possible, a professional property management company can help reduce complication, take unnecessary emotion out of the decisions and look at the issues from an outside, legal perspective reducing the stress and complexity of the issues for the individual board members.
Looking for professional help managing your community needs?
Did you know that early voting has become more popular than voting day turnout? No doubt convenience has played a factor in that statistic, but also reduced wait times is a huge consideration.
So what are you waiting for? The Georgia Midterm early voting polls are now open as of Monday, October 15th.
Where Can You Vote Early in Georgia?
To read more about the midterm elections, what (and who) is up for vote visit this great article over at the AJC.com.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.”
- An African proverb.
There’s a lot more to managing an HOA effectively than you may realize. It’s much more than property management; it’s also about governance—enforcing rules, conducting elections and more. Your home and your ownership interest in the common elements represent a huge asset—and for many people, their largest asset. Doesn’t it make sense to have a knowledgeable, trained, professional community association manager watching out for your interests?
Why Do HOAs Need Property Management Companies?
Property Managers must be aware of many laws and regulations—real estate, corporate and labor laws; federal laws and state statutes and government regulations.
Property Managers must have a working knowledge of finances, accounting, budget preparation, taxes and insurance.
Property Managers must work and communicate effectively with residents, resolve disputes and facilitate communications.
Property Managers must have a keen understanding of property maintenance—landscaping, repairs and replacements, facilities upkeep and mechanical maintenance.
Property Managers coach and mentor the board members who govern the association. They help conduct meetings, supervise elections and ensure compliance with governing documents. Governance is just one key area where property management and community management differ.
Having a professional property management company to oversee and enforce your HOA’s governing documents and day to day community needs is not only a smart move from a liability perspective, but it also shields the often times volunteer board members from misdirected anger or misunderstandings from community members who require reminders of the rules and regulations they may have violated.
Property management companies allow boards to stay focused on their main tasks. Running a community of any size can be an overwhelming task which often times requires the help of professionals. That’s why we exist!
Don’t take our word for it. Hear what some of our clients have to say about working with us!
(Click images to enlarge.)
If you are anything like us, the mere mention of PSL (pumpkin spice latte) has you brimming with anticipation for the cooler autumn months. With PSLs in hand, check out some of the top pumpkin patches around the Atlanta area for 2018.
Best Pumpkin Patches Around Atlanta 2018
7170 Jot-em Down Road Gainesville, GA 30506
If your focus is on quality and variety of pumpkins then Kinsey Family Farm is one of the best pumpkin patches in Atlanta. During our fall season they offer a really wide range of traditional, unusual and unique pumpkin varieties. Some are for decorations while others are great for cooking. Bring the whole family because the hayrides and animal feedings are a highlight for the kids.
1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain
Open on specific dates from Sept. 22-Oct. 28
Enjoy all the regular park attractions in addition to pumpkin-themed activities like a dance-a-long party parade with Spookley the Square Pumpkin, meet him at the pumpkin patch or take part in a pie-eating contest. This year, a Glow by Night experience is also added, with thousands of jack-o-lanterns lighting up the night. Huge pumpkin displays and flashlight tours will also extend the nighttime fun. (source: AJC)
3781 E. Happy Valley Circle, Newnan, GA 30263
Sept. 24 - Nov. 5, Friday & Sunday, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Not the cheapest pumpkin patch in town ($18!) but Uncle Bob’s is worth dishing out the money. From hayrides to a petting zoo, corn maze and nature trails, you’ll get hours worth of entertainment for the whole family.
628 Sleepy Hollow Road, Powder Springs
Open Sept. 22-Nov. 3, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Nighttime activities on select dates from 7-10 p.m.
After you've picked out your perfect pumpkin, Sleepy Hollow has activities during the day as well as at night. Daytime fun includes a corn maze, kids' games, tractor rides and farm animals you can visit. At night, check out the "Stranger Things" filming location tours and a nighttime corn maze on select nights. (source: AJC)
Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know on Facebook!
A common question in the property management business is, 'What are the documents an HOA needs?'. HOA governing documents are a set of documents that are used to guide the day-to-day operations and rules within a community.
Quite often the governing documents will include articles of incorporation, bylaws, covenants, and rules and regulations but these documents can vary from one HOA to the next and are also partially determined by state laws.
HOA Governing Documents in Detail
Almost every state has statutes governing condominiums and homeowner associations. In addition most associations are subject to the state corporations’ code. If you are on a board or establishing a new community, make sure you check your state laws to determine which documents are required.
Association governing documents are almost always trumped by state law. But, when association documents conflict among themselves, the declaration or proprietary lease carries the greatest weight, followed by the bylaws and then the rules and regulations.
Declaration, Master Deed, or Proprietary Lease and Their Covenants and Restrictions
Planned communities are created by declarations (also known as master deeds). Cooperatives are created with proprietary leases (also called occupancy agreement). These contain the restrictions that regulate residents’ behavior, they define owner’s rights and obligations, and establish the association’s responsibilities.
Articles of Incorporation
Most associations, and all cooperatives, incorporate and have articles of incorporation which is a document that establishes the existence of a corporation. They are generally filed with the Secretary of State.
Bylaws address association operations such as procedures for meetings and elections and specifying the general duties of the board. They may also specify such things as the number of directors and their terms of office.
Resolutions—Rules and Regulations
Board members adopt rules and regulations, and sometimes members have to approve them. Rules and regulations are recorded as board resolutions. Resolutions must be consistent with the declaration or proprietary lease, the bylaws and state law.
Do you have more questions about your HOA Governing Documents?
With the heat index so high lately, it's hard to believe Labor Day is just around the corner. Fortunately, Atlanta has an abundance of Labor Day weekend events this year to occupy every personality type. Whether you are active, adventurous or just looking to relax, we've rounded up a list of the very best Atlanta area Labor Day weekend events.
Soul Rise 5k : Mercedes Benz Stadium
September 1, 2018
Feeling energetic? The annual Soul Rise 5k might be just the thing to kick start your Labor Day weekend. The race begins just across from the Mercedes Benz stadium and runs through historic downtown Atlanta. Not only is this event good for your heart, it's good for the soul. Proceeds from race registrations will help support early childhood development at the YMCA and local community non-profit organizations.
For more details and registration visit the Soul Rise 5k website.
Decatur Book Festival : Decatur Square
August 31 - September 2, 2018
Calling all bibliophiles. The annual AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the 5 largest book festivals in the world! The event takes place in Decatur Square where visitors can mingle with their favorite authors, collect autographs, listen to author readings and children can enjoy an interactive play area, live music and much more.
This year's keynote speaker at the Book Festival will be Kenny Leon, 'internationally acclaimed director and actor of stage, film, and television."
Read more about the event at the AJC Decatur Book Festival website.
Hot Air Balloon Festival : Callaway Gardens
August 31 - September 2, 2018
The Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens is quite possibly the most beautiful way to see the summer out. On Friday night hot air balloons will light up the dark sky and through the weekend you'll be able to enjoy the balloons, live music, and a kids zone. If you're looking for a quiet retreat you can head off to the many miles of hiking and biking trails surrounding the area.
Don't miss the classic car show and dog frisbee demonstrations as well! You can see a full schedule of events at the Hot Air Balloon Festival website.
Dragon Con : Downtown Atlanta
August 30 - September 3, 2018
Pop culture convention, multigenre party, or sci-fi mega party, whatever you call it, Dragon Con is sure to leave you amazed. Founded in 1987 this annual Atlanta event fixture is returning for its 32nd year and certainly won't disappoint fans with an extensive list of guests. Highlights include appearances by Evangeline Lilly, Jennifer Morrison and Mitch Pileggi of X-Files fame.
Come as you are or come in cosplay (ie. costume). Either way, it's going to a party to remember! For full details and tickets visit the official Dragon Con 2018 website.
TOSA Festival : 10 Northside Drive, Atlanta
August 30 - September 2, 2018
The sister music event to the Soul Rise 5k Run, the TOSA Music Festival is FREE and features an impressive lineup of talented musicians. You'll find a variety of items from food, music, art, and games all paying homage to classic soul.
For more details visit the TOSA Festival website.
Stone Mountain Lasershow Spectacular : Stone Mountain
If you've never been to the Lasershow at Stone Mountain you're missing out! Many families have made this spectacular fireworks and laser/music display part of their annual tradition. Labor Day weekend shows will also feature epic flame cannons to add even more wow factor. You know it's major when the FAA has to be consulted prior to show scheduling to avoid interfering with air traffic!
Visit the Stone Mountain website for more information about the Lasershow.