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!
As the end of summer draws nearer and the school supplies start to line store shelves you may want to consider squeezing in one last little break before the latter half of the year begins. With only a few weeks left in the summer traveling too far afield may be out of the question. Why not consider an Atlanta staycation?
Here is a list of some great options in and around the Atlanta area for a fun-filled vacation-vibe day out.
Atlanta Area Staycation Destinations
1. For the Family
Ponce City Market: The Rooftop
You can easily make a full day out of visiting Ponce City Market. They recently opened Rooftop has old-fashioned carnival games, mini golf, rides and a beer garden with breathtaking views of the city. Not into beer? No problem at Ponce. Just take the elevator down to the food hall to explore a foodie's paradise with unique quick food options to satisfy the picky eaters all the way through to the most adventurous palates.
Ready to walk off that meal? Check out the one of a kind boutique shops with items from local Atlanta-area artisans (psst, they make wonderful gifts for family and friends).
2. For the Couples
Mandarin Oriental Buckhead
With an indoor pool, full-service spa and surrounded by the famous nightlife, shopping and dining of Buckhead, a night at the 5-star Mandarin Oriental will definitely make you feel like you've left town.
The best part? You might just be able to justify the expensive room rate since you're only staying one night and you don't need to buy plane tickets or rent a car!
3. For the Nature Lovers
Take a day or overnight trip to Serenbe and you'll feel miles away from the busy city life. Hidden away in the farm fields of Chattahoochee Hills, about an hour south of the City, you'll find a surprisingly unique self-sustaining community, unlike anything you've ever seen.
Taking farm-fresh to a whole new level, Serenbe is becoming well known nationwide for it's leading example of new urbanism design. A peaceful town with a few shops, a lot of character and nature surroundings, it's just the thing if you're looking for a bit of downtime. Check out the fried chicken at The Inn, it's amazing!
Your backyard swimming pool or neighborhood pool may look refreshing, particularly on a sweltering hot day. But if it’s not properly monitored, the water can harbor bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) call recreational water illnesses. Instances of these ailments, which include ear and eye infections and respiratory, intestinal and skin diseases, are dramatically on the rise according to the CDC; reported cases have more than tripled in the past 20 years.
If your home or community includes a swimming pool, hot tub or wading pool, take the following steps to minimize outbreaks of infections and angry homeowners:
- Be diligent about hygiene. If you're part of the HOA, consider a sign near the pool to remind residents.
- Change diapered children well away from the pool and its surrounding deck, and make sure all swimmers take frequent bathroom breaks.
- Remind swimmers not swallow pool water and to shower with soap each time they enter or leave the pool.
- Don’t allow pets in the water.
- Don’t allow anyone who has an infection or illness to enter the pool area.
Be Aware. Check the water pH and chlorine levels regularly—or have it monitored regularly by a professional pool service—particularly during times of heavy use.
If you're looking for a pool service company in the Atlanta area, check out our list of vetted pool vendors.
Clean Pool Water = Happy Residents All Summer!
The CDC website says the following signs can indicate whether or not pool water is safe:
- Water should be clear enough that you can see any painted stripes and the bottom of the pool.
- The sides of the pool should be smooth and not sticky or slippery.
- A well-chlorinated pool has little odor, while a strong chemical smell indicates a maintenance problem.
- Make sure the pool pumps and filtration systems are in good repair and operating as they should.
Be Informed. The chemicals used to sanitize pool water are themselves toxic if used, stored or applied improperly, so make sure you know how to handle them or have a professional pool service do it for you on a prescribed schedule.
Swimming pools are a great source of recreation, exercise and relaxation, and a little vigilance on your part can help ensure that you and your guests don’t get sick.
Visit the CDC website for more information about pool water safety. And have a fun summer!
If Punxsutawney Phil (the famous Groundhog) is right, we are in for 6 more weeks before Spring weather arrives in Georgia. That leaves homeowners plenty of time to get a jump start on preparing their lawns for the Spring season.
Lawn care and landscape maintenance is a key part of ensuring home values stay high and the neighborhood as a whole continues to be desirable to homebuyers. Most homeowners appreciate living near neighbors who care for their lawns. Maintaining a clean-looking lawn can be as simple as mowing every 5-7 days and keeping things tidy by removing down branches and debris on occasion.
While many homeowners who are clients of Heritage Property Management Services enjoy full or partial lawn maintenance by one of our trusted Atlanta lawn care providers, there are plenty others who don’t have hired lawn care or perhaps enjoy taking on the rewarding lawn work themselves. Either way, there are plenty of simple things each Atlanta homeowner can do to prep their lawns for lush, beautiful spring growth.
How to Prepare Your Atlanta Lawn for Spring
+ Clean Up Debris
Preparing your lawn for spring starts with a bit of clearing up. On a nice dry sunny day grab your rake and garden waste bags and head outside for some spring cleaning.
+ Pull Weeds
- Rake and dispose of old leaves, twigs, and debris from fall and winter.
- Remove any down branches (carefully!) or hire an Atlanta area tree removal specialist.
- Pull out any undergrowth to clear space for new spring growth.
By cleaning up your yard, especially the turf, you’re ensuring that future fertilizers won’t be blocked from reaching the soil and drainage will be optimal for new growth.
+ Prune Summer-Flowering Shrubs
It may seem early, but late winter is actually the best time to start trimming those summer-flowering shrubs like hydrangeas, crape myrtles, butterfly bushes, and most types of roses. Make sure to hold off on pruning any spring-flowering shrubs though as they need a bit more time.
+ Mow Your Lawn
Dust off the lawn mower and check it over. Clean it off and sharpen the blade if needed. Also, make sure to check the blade height while parked on a flat solid surface.
The height of the blade makes a surprisingly big difference in the spread of weeds and overall growth of the grass. Georgia Gardener, Walter Reeves has a great reference chart for mower blade height vs. type of grass on his website.
+ Don’t Fertilize…Yet
You’ll want to wait until Spring has arrived to lay that first batch of fertilizer but a good tip to ensure you don’t miss your ‘fertilizing window’ is to swing by the lawn care store and pick up a bag or two to have ready. Then all you have to do is set a reminder on your phone or on your calendar so you don’t miss this crucial opportunity to get your landscape off to a healthy start.
Also make a call to your landscape company, if your community has one, and ask them if lawn fertilization is included in your monthly maintenance. You may be able to skip this step if it’s already provided for you.
+ Edge Flower Beds
Late winter through early spring is a great time to edge your flower beds to create definition between the beds and the lawn. From there mulching is a breeze. Choose a good quality, heavy mulch and you’ll get more life out of it.
+ Hold off on Seeding
Brown patches, bald patches, and colorless dormant grass are typical of this time of year. Like fertilizer, resist the urge to spread new seed. When spring arrives you can lay a combination of some pre-emergent or weed killer and fertilizer. Another good reminder to put on your calendar.
+ Check the Schedule
Most lawn care providers and landscaping companies offer a maintenance schedule for homeowners. Check the website for your landscape company and print off their maintenance schedule to avoid any overlap in efforts. This also allows you to fill in any ‘gaps’ in additional maintenance you want to include in your annual lawn care.
Looking for a Lawn Care Provider for Your Community?
Heritage Property Management offers clients an extensive list of pre-vetted Atlanta-Area vendors, including lawn care providers, for communities. Need help choosing? Drop us a line and we’ll help you assess your community’s landscaping needs.
Tax season is upon us and as Benjamin Franklin once said, “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Unfortunately, HOAs are no exception.
If you serve on the Board of Directors for your neighborhood’s HOA, and especially if you’re the treasurer, it might mean significantly more stress. However, there are ways to lighten the load.
A resourceful, client-focused property management company in Atlanta like Heritage Property Management understands HOAs, non-profits and how to confidently and accurately assist you by answering any relevant questions you might have.
To get you started, below are some of the most common questions and answers associated with filing taxes for an HOA.
Common Questions about HOA Taxes
+ When are HOA taxes due?
“For the calendar year associations, the due date is April 15 (formerly March 15th), although it can be extended for 6 months (until October 15th) by filing an extension form (IRS Form 7004 ).” (Source)
+ Do HOAs Need to File a Tax Return?
Corporations are generally required to file taxes. Choosing which form to use for filing is a very important consideration. Read the tips below for choosing the correct tax form for your HOA.
+ Are Home Owners Associations (HOAs) Considered Non-For-Profits?
According to the IRS;
“A homeowners' association that is not exempt under section 501(c)(4) and that is a condominium management association, a residential real estate management association, or a timeshare association generally may elect under the provisions of Code section 528 to receive certain tax benefits that, in effect, permit it to exclude its exempt function income from its gross income.”
Read on for more details.
Tips for Filing HOA Taxes
+ Which Tax Forms Should an HOA Use?
For an entity to request non-profit status, an HOA would typically use Form 1024. However, acquiring that type of status can be expensive and complex. Without a substantial reserve budget, it’s smarter to file Form 1120-H.
A property management company can help you understand which deductions you can claim, as well as organize the necessary forms and documentation to make those claims. Additionally, the property management fees themselves are also tax deductible.
+ How to Fill Out Your HOA Tax Form.
Filing an 1120-H form properly requires careful review. Be aware of your state income tax filing requirements as they can vary accordingly. They differ from Federal requirements, so please consult your community association manager if you have specific questions on your state’s return.
+ How to Account for HOA Reserves in Tax Filings.
Filing a federal return requires Form 1120, which, among other things, implies that an HOA must account for all income it collected during the year. This potentially makes reserve funding difficult.
For example, if X amount is set aside for Project Y, those funds would be taxable if they weren’t spent during the current tax year. In other words, it can negatively impact reserve budgeting, thereby affecting all its allocations.
Because HOAs are distinct from corporations, the IRS has developed Form 1120-H, a single page form that streamlines the filing process for associations. A knowledgeable property management company in Atlanta like Heritage understands this and other tax law like it.
+ How HOAs handle tax exemptions.
An HOA must formally “elect” to file Form 1120-H and it has to be done so on the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the HOA’s tax year. With Form 1120-H, an HOA is required only to pay taxes on non-exempt income.
Non-exempt income includes:
- Laundry or vending machine income
- Rental income from an HOA owned property
As with any nonexempt tax, the HOA is allowed deductions specifically for expenses directly related to those items listed above. So, for example, repairing a dryer is deductible. The final sum is then taxed at a flat rate of 30%.
Need More Help? Don't Worry!
Heritage Property Management is a full-service Atlanta property management group who can help clarify key elements of your HOA’s taxes and answer your questions. You have a partner in Heritage. Contact us today for a free consultation and proposal.
Winterizing your home is a crucial part of annual home maintenance for any homeowner regardless of where you live in the country. Winterizing your home generally includes taking small preventative measures to protect your plumbing, heating/cooling, and exterior during the colder months of the year.
With over 30 years of property management experience, we know a thing or two about maintaining a home and it's property value. Below are some easy ways you can prepare your home for cold winter weather and keep things working order and avoid costly repairs in the spring.
Run Your Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Many homeowners don't realize it, but fans aren't just for cooling a room. They can also be used to push warm air down to floor level. Remember 5th-grade science class? Warm air rises and cold air falls. In the winter months, your ceiling fans can help keep that warm air where you need it most by running in reverse.
Run the fans in reverse
Change the direction to clockwise.
What direction is reverse on a ceiling fan? Clockwise.
Most ceiling fans have a switch allowing you to change the direction of the fan blades. This simple trick could save you up to 10% on your heating costs.
Use Door Draft Stoppers
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of a home's energy usage. You can buy door draft stoppers online or in a home improvement store, or if you're crafty, you can make one yourself.
This is a simple and highly effective way to keep your house warmer and also may help keep your thermostat from incorrect readings if located near a drafty door or window.
Lower the Thermostat While You're Away
Lowering your thermostat just one degree will save you 1-3 percent of your heating bill. Most modern thermostats have a programming feature, make use of it. Lower the temperature while you are out of the house for work each day and overnight while you are sleeping. It has been said that a temperature between 60-67 degrees is ideal for a good night's sleep.
If you're feeling particularly tech-savvy upgrade your old thermostat to a modern, energy-efficient model which you can conveniently control from your smartphone and while you are away from home as well. Some gas providers will offer discounts and rebates for energy efficient equipment.
Seal Up the Leaks
Buy a few tubes of calk and some weatherstripping and start sealing up your windows and doors to head off any cold air leaks into your house. The US Department of Energy reports that air leaks in a home can lead to a 5-30% drop in home efficiency each year, that adds up on your heating and air conditioning bills.
Seal Any air leaks
Air leaks can drop home efficiency by up to 30%!
In addition to the obvious spots like windows and doors, have a look at areas like fireplaces and chimneys, areas where wires and piping exit the home, and all along the home's foundation.
Have Your Fireplace Cleaned & Inspected
Throughout the year birds and other animals can make their way into your chimney building nests and wreaking havoc on your fireplace system. Each year before lighting your first fire a thorough inspection and cleaning will protect you from potential fire damage and ensure your fireplace is working properly throughout the colder months.
Bring the Plants Indoors
To prevent your potted plants from dying over the winter it is recommended that you bring them indoors before temperatures drop below 45 degrees. It will certainly save you time and money come spring when you don't have to purchase and replant from new.
Looking for more ways to winterize your home?
Download this home winterization checklist full of simple ways to protect your home over the winter.