Tampa, Florida
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How To Manage HOA Amenities And Common Areas

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Homeowners associations must manage HOA amenities – it is simply a part of the job description. Many people underestimate the amount of time and work that goes into amenities management, though, especially if a community has many of them. Fortunately, there are some steps an HOA can take to make the task smoother.


Who Is Responsible for Managing HOA Amenities?

One of the perks of living in an HOA community is gaining access to various amenities, facilities, and common areas. These spaces are typically shared by all the residents of the HOA, though not all may be open year-round. For instance, community pools may be closed half the year to accommodate the fall and winter seasons.

The HOA is responsible for managing and maintaining the common areas and amenities. Specifically, the task falls on the shoulders of the HOA board. Given the nature of the job, though, most boards hire third-party vendors or contractors to perform cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.


Common Examples of HOA Amenities

Homeowners associations come in all shapes and sizes, so they don’t always have the same amenities. Some HOAs don’t have amenities or facilities, save for shared spaces like hallways and stairwells.

That said, some amenities are more typical than others. These include the following:

  • Swimming pools
  • Community clubhouse
  • Fitness centers or gyms
  • Tennis courts
  • Golf courses
  • Parks
  • Playgrounds
  • Community gardens


Who Can Use HOA Amenities?

An HOA’s governing documents should dictate who can use amenities and facilities. In general, though, all community members can access amenities and use them during designated opening hours. 

Communities that allow rentals may also have a sizable tenant or renter population. Typically, these renters can also use the HOA’s amenities, though it ultimately depends on the association’s governing documents. It is important to make this policy clear to rental owners in the community. That way, they can brief their tenants accordingly.

Florida law also allows HOAs to suspend a member’s right to use common areas and facilities as punishment for violating the rules or failing to settle their unpaid fees/fines (Section 720.305 of the Florida Homeowners Association Act). However, this law does not apply to parts of the common areas used to give access or utility services to the property nor vehicular or pedestrian ingress and egress from a property.


How to Manage HOA Amenities and Common Areas

An HOA can have impressive amenities but lose their utility and appeal without proper management. Managing HOA common areas and amenities often comes as a challenge, especially to inexperienced boards.


Here are the key strategies to adopt for successful HOA amenity management.


1. Set Up a Reservation System

Most associations open their amenities and facilities without restriction. This is a suitable approach for a community with a small population. However, a community that has hundreds—if not thousands—of residents will quickly run into occupancy problems. Having too many people in a single space at the same time is a hazard and an invitation to liability.

Therefore, HOAs should establish a seamless reservation system. Boards should take advantage of technology and implement an online reservation system where residents can book amenities with just a few clicks. Of course, it is important to consider the community’s demographic. For senior communities, an HOA may be better off using manual methods instead of automated ones.

Boards should ensure that their reservation system displays real-time availability. This way, residents can view open slots without worrying about double-booking, which can also be a headache for associations. Many systems also send automated notifications alerting residents about their reservation status, including confirmations and reminders.


2. Enact a Reservation Policy

Simply having a reservation system isn’t enough to manage HOA amenities effectively. An HOA should also develop a strict reservation policy. Boards should establish guidelines for every amenity, including operating hours, guest rules, and usage restrictions.

An HOA should clearly define enforcement procedures as well as penalties for violations. Boards should make sure that all policies are fair and transparent.

The job doesn’t stop there, though. Boards should also analyze usage patterns, examine bumps in the reservation system, and seek feedback from residents. Data gathered from these activities can help improve the reservation process.


3. Conduct Regular Inspections

Regular inspections allow HOAs to identify potential problems early on and address them without delay. This will help keep issues to a minimum and prevent irreversible damage. An HOA’s bylaws will normally indicate how often inspections must occur, though professional advice is always welcome.


4. Schedule Routine Maintenance

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Boards should schedule regular maintenance for HOA amenities. This includes cleaning, repainting, replacing filters, refilling water, etc. Proper maintenance keeps amenities and facilities in good working order and ensures that all equipment and spaces are safe for use.


5. Address Repairs Promptly

Ideally, routine inspections and maintenance will prevent the need for repairs. However, there are times when repairs are unavoidable. A resident could accidentally break something, or the HOA may unintentionally miss an inspection. If damages occur, HOA boards should schedule repairs immediately to avoid worsening the condition.


6. Enforce Rules Consistently

Another strategy for managing HOA amenities successfully is to enforce the rules consistently. Boards should communicate the rules to all residents clearly and concisely. Residents must also know the potential consequences of violating these rules. When a resident does break a rule, boards should follow proper enforcement procedures.


7. Communicate With Residents

Open communication is vital everywhere, including when it comes to managing amenities. Boards should keep residents in the loop about rule changes, amenity availability, and closures for scheduled maintenance. It is best to use various communication channels to get the message across.


8. Establish Fair Usage Policies

An HOA must implement fair usage policies to ensure that all residents receive access to amenities. Common tactics include limiting reservation times, collecting fees for guest usage, and executing requests for reasonable accommodations.


9. Seek Resident Feedback

It is usually difficult to gauge the effectiveness of a strategy from an insider’s perspective. Thus, board members should ask residents for feedback, as they are the ones who continually use the amenities.

Set up different methods for residents to provide feedback regarding the reservation system and management efforts. Residents' insights can help spot problem areas and improve them.


10. Minimize Risks

As with most things, HOA amenities and common areas come with risks. Board members should identify these risks to anticipate and fill gaps in safety. 

Addressing these risks involves removing high-risk parts of an amenity, implementing stricter rules, and informing residents of these risks. It is also essential to inspect amenities regularly to monitor the risks. Of course, an HOA must also secure proper insurance coverage.


11. Hire an HOA Management Company

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Not all boards can manage HOA amenities alone. Fortunately, they can hire an HOA management company to take over the community's day-to-day operations, including managing amenities, overseeing maintenance, and handling reservations.


All Things Said

It is not always easy to manage HOA amenities, especially if too many exist. However, amenity and common area management are clearly of key importance. As such, HOA boards should strive to implement effective strategies or hire a third-party professional to assist with the workload.

Vanguard Management Group offers HOA management services, including help with HOA amenity management. Call us today at 813-930-8036 or contact us online to learn more!

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