Ridenour HOA Blog

Ridenour HOA Blog

Halloween Party and Parade

HOA Social Calendar PDF

HOA Social Calendar PDF

Social Calendar

Hello neighbors!

I'd like to thank all of you who came out to the "Meet the Neighbors" event in September. It was wonderful chatting with everyone, and the taco truck was a hit!

Attached please find a tentative social calendar for the year. Details for each event will be released closer to the date. As always, if you have any feedback, ideas, or questions please email me at nicki_elliott01@hotmail.com, or call/text (917) 541-2845.

Your neighbor,
Nicole

Clubhouse Rental

The clubhouse will be available this year for use, providing that the renter signs a Covid-19 release form in addition to the existing Clubhouse rental requirements.

Firewood For Sale // Wyckford Resident

FIREWOOD FOR SALE

Freshly cut and split firewood (picture attached). You load and you haul.
 
$75 short wheelbase truck
$100 long wheelbase truck
$25 car trunk.
 
Needs to dry 6 months before burning inside.
 
Call or text 770-841-5045 to schedule pick up.
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Kennesaw Mountain Pedestrian Project P10015279

We have received bids on the project. The Cobb County Board of Commissioners will approve a construction contract with GDOT and a construction contract with the contractor at their 4-27 meeting. We expect to have the GDOT contract fully executed by the end of May. We are shooting for a Notice to Proceed (NTP) with the contractor on or before 6-1. The contractor knows that they have to start work within two days of the NTP. The first item of construction is to close Cheatham Hill Road at Ward Creek Drive for the relocation of a 36” water line which will be installed in the pavement of Cheatham Hill. The road will probably be closed for the summer.

Construction duration is 24 months from NTP. Cheatham Hill Road is first. Then Whitlock and Burnt Hickory Roads.

For most of the summer, everyone that uses Ward Creek Farm will have to turn left, head south toward the bridge and use Powder Springs or John Ward Road as detours. Detours will be advertised at least two weeks prior to the closure and the detours signed. One advantage to you and your neighbors during this closure that there will be no traffic in front of your subdivision except those who live in or serve the subdivision during this closure. 

Once the water line has been installed during the summer, the water line installation isn’t completed. For the ties to the existing 36” water transmission line, the existing line has to be turn off; this is a big deal for water service in the western half of Cobb County. So this work has to occur between about 10-15-21 and 4-1-22 (fall/winter) when water usage typically decreases. For the two tie-ins on each end, one end being close to Ward Creek Farm, the contractor has been given 10 calendar days for both tie-ins. Cheatham Hill Road will be open during this work but there may be lane closures since the excavation or hole required for these tie-ins will be significant. We should know more from the contractor once we get them under contract as to when the 10 days will be used. 

Please keep in mind that shutting off this 36” water transmission line doesn’t impact the water distribution lines that feed all the houses; there are no houses that feed directly off of the 36” water line. Everyone will still have the same water supply as you have today through the distribution lines.

 

There will be a significant amount of work on the section of Cheatham Hill Road between Ward Creek Farm and Cavan Dr. for the next year or so. This section is the first order of business for the contractor. The reasons for this is as follows:

  1. The existing 36” water transmission line is on your side of Cheatham Hill Road and right against the existing R/W line. It is in the way of a retaining wall.
  2. So the 36” water transmission line has to be relocated in the pavement of Cheatham Hill Road, hence the closure. We are doing this during summer vacation when traffic decreases and no school buses.
  3. In the fall/winter, the ties from the new 36” line to the existing 36” line will be completed over a 10 calendar period as described above. This is the only time that the contractor will be allowed to work 24-7; we have to get that transmission line back in serviced as quickly as we can. If there was another transmission line failure while this line was down, a significant area of Cobb County could be without water for days.
  4. Sometime after the old line is deactivated, Cobb EMC will relocate their power line.
  5. About this same time as the Cobb EMC relocations, the old water line will be dug up and removed.
  6. Then the retaining wall construction can begin in about the same area as the water line was removed from.
  7. While the retaining walls are being constructed, storm drainage and a new water distribution line (6” water line being replaced with an 8” line; this is the line you get water from but the new line will be installed adjacent to the old and cut-ins may require temporary disruptions in service. If needed, those disruptions will be advertised in advance. Those will only take hours, not days.) will be constructed.
  8. Once the drainage and water line is installed, the retaining wall will be finished and the trail constructed.

The above is the most complicated section on the entire three section (Cheatham Hill Road, Whitlock Ave. and Burnt Hickory Road), 3.5 mile trail construction. The construction period is 24 months from the Notice to Proceed. But the Cheatham Hill section, especially along the section from Ward Creek Farm to Cavan Dr. should be finished within the first 12 months or so. 

James Hudgins, Program Pre-Construction Manager

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Homeowner satisfaction - Here’s What HOA Residents Have to Say

Americans who live in community associations are overwhelmingly pleased with their communities, expressing strong satisfaction with the board members who govern their associations and the community managers who provide professional support.

More than seven in 10 community association residents expressed satisfaction with their community experience, according to a survey conducted by Zogby International, a leading public opinion research firm. Almost 40 percent of community association residents say they are "very pleased," with only 10 percent expressing some level of dissatisfaction. Almost 20 percent express neither point of view.

An estimated 54 million Americans live in some 274,000 homeowner associations, condominium communities, cooperatives and other planned developments.

Here’s what community association residents say:

88 percent believe their governing boards strive to serve the best interests of the community.

90 percent say they are on friendly terms with their association board members, with just 4 percent indicating a negative relationship.

86 percent say they get along well with their immediate neighbors, with just 5 percent reporting a negative relationship. Of those who reported issues with neighbors, the most common problems were pets, general lifestyle, noise, and parking.

78 percent believe community association rules "protect and enhance" property values, while only one in 100 say rules harm property values. About 20 percent see no difference.

88 percent of residents who have interacted with professional community managers say the experience has been positive.

Beyond Lawn Care

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Wooded areas, meadows, streams, and ponds are features that add value to our community. We’re fortunate to have some of these features because they enhance property values, increase aesthetic appeal, improve our environmental quality, eliminate noise and wind, and reduce our energy bills.

The responsibility to maintain our natural areas goes beyond the capabilities of our lawn care provider, so it’s up to us to properly maintain all our common ground—-landscaped and natural.

That’s why the association pays attention to water resources and quality, wildlife habitats, and species diversity. We believe that proper maintenance and management will benefit the local ecosystems and save the association money.

Remember, environmental stewardship begins at the community level.

New Design Standards

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Dear Homeowner,It was a year ago at this time that I wrote to the association regarding the need to update our association Design Standards.  In the year that followed,  we have updated and disseminated the new Design Standards to the Association and started to enforce the new standards.  I would like to thank everyone who has used the ACC approval process prior to performing work on their yards or homes.  The ACC has been very pleased with the number of requests made and we hope that you have found the ACC to be very efficient in our response to your requests.  We are very pleased with the progress being made and appreciate your participation and hope you continue to send your ideas to the ACC committee.

Over the last 3 months,  the ACC has walked the neighborhood to access the condition of each home in our association.   The ACC will be sending out a letter to each member with our assessments.  The letters will be sent on or around the first of March.  Our goal is to provide each home in the association a general overview of the condition of their property with respect to the requirements of the new standards.  The ACC has planned our first meeting of 2014 for March 11, 2014 at 7 PM at the Clubhouse.  At this meeting the ACC will discuss our process for the evaluation and our plans for the rest of the year.  All HOA members are welcome to attend the meeting.  A formal notice of the meeting will be sent out by email a week prior to the meeting.

During our evaluation, the following issues were most prevalent: general lawn maintenance issues that included the need for weed control, pine straw, pruning, and bare areas in the lawn needing sod or reseeding. Many mailboxes are in need of painting, new posts, cleaning, and in some cases replacement.  The new Design Standards include recommendations for the type of mailbox to use if you are replacing your mailbox.  In our new standards,  permanent basketball goals are not permitted.  Many homes have permanent goal posts that were installed prior to the new standards taking effect.  In these cases, the basketball goals may remain as installed so long as they are properly maintained.  No new permanent goals can be installed.  A reminder that garbage cans should be stored in the garage. Finally,  we have had a very rainy Fall and Winter.  The damp conditions  have created the perfect environment for mold to grow on houses, sidewalks, and driveways.  The issues listed above are common maintenance issues and the ACC would like to see these issues taken care of as we move into Spring.  Our homes are aging,  so we will be facing larger maintenance issues such as tired roofs, painting, and replacement of windows and molding.  We understand these are more time consuming and expensive so please be thinking about budgeting for these items as you assess the condition of your property.  Please remember our goal is to improve the overall appearance of our neighborhood and to protect the value of our homes.  

As noted above,  you will be receiving your letter around the first of March.   The ACC will be meeting on March 11th at the Clubhouse starting at 7PM.  We hope to see you at the meeting and greatly appreciate your support and understanding.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions please contact the ACC via email at accridenour@gmail.com.

From the ACC

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Spring is here, and so happy to see everyone out working in their yards! In these uncertain times our homes have become our safe haven to stay healthy and safe. Taking pride in our home and family is what we are thankful for.

We have now completed our second round of lot reviews since our initial review in September. We are so encouraged, and appreciate everyone who has listened and performed the work needed to comply with our ACC Standards. When we purchased our homes, we each agreed to abide by these ACC Standards.

We understand that our timing will never be perfect, so if you receive a letter in the mail, but have completed some or all of the items left on the list, please dis-regard, or respond to us via email. (See our email address below) We also recognize that certain times may be physically or financially difficult, but if you regularly maintain your yard by mowing, blowing, spraying and/or pulling weeds, trimming bushes, laying mulch and or pine straw as needed and general clean-up of limbs and debris, we will have the beautiful neighborhood to be proud of.

We want to encourage your communication with us. Send an email any time to discuss your work plans, request assistance , if needed, or ask for ideas that might help solve issues. We are here to help you in any way we can. If we notice that there has been no attempt to complete the work requested and no communication from you, we will have no choice but to turn the issues over to our Board, who will then proceed with fines.Let's all work together to keep our beautiful community!  

Thanks, Your ACC Committee

accridenour@gmail.com

 

The Runaway Power of Homeowners Associations

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For more than 57 million Americans, homeowners associations regulate everything from the color of their home to when they can have the garage door open. They also can force homeowners into foreclosure.

Wind chimes hanging from front porches, basketball hoops in driveways, shampoo bottles on bathroom windowsills. Innocent markers of daily life? Depends on where -- and among whom -- you live.

For the 57 million Americans living under homeowners associations (HOAs), these can be flagrant violations of their neighborhood regulations, costing them hundreds in fines -- and at the worst, their very homes.

"No one tells buyers what deep doo-doo they can get into," says George Staropoli, who lives in an HOA, and founded Citizens For Constitutional Local Government, a homeowners' rights group. "It's a government outside the U.S. government."

Indeed, HOAs are free to regulate practically anything, so long as they don't violate state and federal fair housing laws regarding age, race or handicapped access. (An exception is made for senior living facilities, which can regulate the age of residents.) While most HOAs focus on controlling the cosmetic aesthetics of a neighborhood or building, there seems to be no detail too mundane to escape their attention.

The dog in the lobbyPamela McMahan didn't expect her cocker spaniel to become a problem at a historic condominium building. But she was fined $25 each time she walked her dog through the lobby because HOA rules required all dogs to be carried. McMahon, an elderly woman who walks with a cane, said she couldn't carry the dog. She racked up hundreds of dollars in fines last year and has since moved from the building.

"There are just too many things going on in the lobby; the dog might jump on someone or go to the bathroom," says Stormy Jech, an assistant property manager in the building.

Other things HOAs commonly regulate include:

  • Shingles and exterior paint color.
  • Fences and hedges: whether you can have them at all, and if so, what type, color and how tall -- right down to the inches.
  • Trees, lawns and weeds: what types of plants can be put in and even how many times a month you must water and mow your lawn.
  • Pools: These are often hot-button items. Boards regulate whether owners can have pools, diving boards and how large they can be. Community pools often come with strict rules on times they can be used, supervision of youngsters and whether guests are allowed.
  • Swing sets and basketball hoops: At some communities these are big no-nos. At others, they must be small and out of sight. Owners often get into trouble if they are in the front yard.
  • Garages and sheds: Unauthorized sheds are another sticking point, and junky garages will get you in trouble, as will leaving your garage door up.
  • Mailboxes and garbage cans: size, color and types. Also, leaving garbage cans out for more than a day can get you fined.
  • Pets: size, type and breeds. Dogs off leashes are usually prohibited.
  • Outdoor lights: One family got in trouble for leaving their tasteful, white decorative Christmas lights up until February. Know what types of lights and how many are allowed.

In addition to setting standards for your own home, homeowners associations usually require members to pay fees for common property maintenance. The assessments can run particularly high if the development has a pool, golf course or other recreational facility. And many HOAs let their boards raise regular dues up to 20% per year and levy other fees for capital improvements.

Beware what you're buying intoSome people love the security of an HOA and the rules designed to protect property values. According to a study by the Community Associations Institute, which represents community associations, more than 70% of people living in HOAs have had a positive experience. The danger is that most homeowners, especially first-timers, don't realize the extent of the control these associations have until it is too late.

Even if homeowners get copies of the covenants, conditions and regulations, it can be hard to decipher them. The rules are often written in legalese and can be 100 pages or more, leaving owners without a clear understanding of the extent of the regulations or what can happen if they don't comply.

"Basically, you have people who own their home, but are being treated like tenants," says Janet Portman, a managing editor at Nolo Press in Berkeley, Calif., and author of "Every Landlord's Legal Guide." "People running these associations can get into real power trips."

One homeowners association paid residents to turn in neighbors who violated association rules. Those reporting someone with a dog not on a leash got $100; someone reporting a resident throwing away trash not allowed in a Dumpster got a $150 reward.

Vindictive as that may sound, it pales in comparison to other HOA nightmares:

  • Marie Brown, a 77-year-old widow in Arizona, was evicted from her home of 18 years after it was foreclosed when she failed to pay her association dues and fines levied for failing to keep up her property.
  • In Sea Ranch, a managed community in Northern California, a widower had his home foreclosed on in 1995 when he didn't pay $600 in owed association dues. The house, worth more than $300,000 at the time, was auctioned and sold to someone for $2,000, according to his attorney. After a protracted legal battle, he got his home back.

Even a small amount of money can get homeowners in big trouble. Just ask Tom and Anita Radcliff, a retired couple, who had their home foreclosed by their HOA in 2002. They were late paying $120 in annual dues when Tom Radcliff became ill. Until then, they had paid dues on time for five years straight.

"They didn't even know about the foreclosure until someone came and gave them a 30-day notice to vacate the property," says their attorney, Michael Macomber, who filed a suit on their behalf  and was able to get their home back. "Why didn't someone just pick up the phone and call them?"

Messy, personal businessUnlike most laws, which are enforced by nameless bureaucrats, conflicts in homeowners associations can get petty and personal very quickly.

"When you have a neighbor being put in charge of you, it just breeds resentment," says David Feingold, a San Rafael, Calif., lawyer who has represented homeowners associations in disputes with neighbors for more than 10 years.

Sometimes the group responsible for enforcing the rules, a volunteer and elected board of directors, gets carried away with its role.

"Homeowner associations will dig in like nobody's business and will spend obscene amounts of money to enforce their rules," says author and lawyer Portman. "There is a sense of the slippery slope thing. If they let one person do (anything outside the rules), the community will not have that consistent, conformed look."

Unfortunately, violence is not unheard of.  In Marin County, the head of an HOA and a resident got into a battle over a shared patio wall. They ended up in a fistfight, rolling down a hill. The board president, an older man, had a minor heart attack and later sued. 

"The fistfights and almost coming to blows, it's not uncommon," says Feingold. "I've been in the meetings and seen it -- pure rage. It comes from that 'home is my castle' kind of feeling."

HOAs not universally hated?HOA supporters point out that associations are governed by an elected group of neighbors and that all property owners have a voice in monthly meetings usually open to homeowners.

"It's important to remember, these are democracies at their basic level," says Frank Rathbun, spokesman for the Community Associations Institute. "They are elected by the neighbors and run by 1.7 million volunteers nationwide."

Others argue that there are plenty of HOAs that hold meetings that are not open to everyone -- and some that even change bylaws so majority approval isn't needed to change regulations.

Some state governments are taking notice. New legislation in Arizona, Texas, California and Florida is attempting to move power back into the hands of homeowners and limit the ability of HOAs to foreclose on homes, for example. And in California, where HOAs are numerous, a new law requires associations to show residents detailed information on the HOA's finances several times a year.

How to protect yourselfDespite conflicts, it's clear the HOAs are not going away. There are more than 286,000 nationwide and the number is growing -- and with them, so is the need to exercise caution when you're home hunting.

"When you buy a home, just as important as the state of the roof and plumbing is … what it has historically been like to live with the HOA that comes with your home," says Portman.

The Community Associations Institute's Rathbun agrees: "We strongly urge people to understand the nature of the community they are moving into -- before they buy."

What you should know before buying into a homeowners associationOnce you have an eye on a home, ask the real estate agent if it is part of a homeowners association. If it is, make sure you take the following steps*:

  • Get copies of the governing documents from the association manager.
  • If you don't understand the rules, ask your real estate agent or lawyer for help.
  • Take time to talk to people who live there about the association.
  • Know how much the assessments are.
  • If you are on a tight budget, find out how easy it is for the board to increase the assessment amount.
  • Does the community have a cash reserve for new projects?
  • Are there restrictions on renting?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the architectural guidelines?
  • What are the rules on pets, flags, satellite dishes, fences, patios and home businesses?
  • If you are considering an age-restricted community, what is the policy on underage residents and visitors?
  • Consider whether the rules fit your lifestyle and sense of community.

HOAs should explore liability with ‘watch’ programs

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Neighborhood Watch programs are widely recognized around the country and actively supported by law enforcement agencies. Many police departments offer assistance in organizing neighborhood watch programs, including providing literature, training, and on-site meetings.

Whether an HOA organizes such a program is its choice, and the decision comes with benefits and risks. It is typically recognized that neighborhood watch programs tend to strengthen communities and help reduce crime.

However, when an HOA organizes such a program, it exposes itself to another area of potential risks and liability. In April, Trayvon Martin’s parents settled a wrongful death claim, reportedly in the range of $1 million, against the homeowners association of the Sanford, Fla. subdivision where their teenage son was killed.

While a rather extreme situation, the fatal incident involving its neighborhood watch “captain” in the death of Trayvon Martin, certainly brings the liability issue to the forefront.

The extent of an HOA’s role with regard to safety and crime reduction will play a large role in determining the level of risk and potential liability. For example, the governing documents may not provide authority for such a role, or may be very general, like authority for “maintaining and enhancing property values.”

Depending on the governing documents, the HOA could be assuming responsibility for duties it is not required to, or even authorized to assume. Additionally, the type of program chosen can limit or heighten the potential risks and liabilities.

Some programs are designed merely as a forum for homeowners to discuss safety issues and share information, while others go much further and have a formal program with neighborhood patrols.

Liability for neighborhood watch programs can come in various forms. One legal basis for such liability is principal-agent law, where the agency relationship is such that the acts of the agent (the watch volunteer) are binding upon the principal (the HOA).

For example, if the agent is negligent in carrying out his role and causes loss or damage, the principal could be responsible for the agent’s actions and resulting damages.

This theory of liability could be the basis for claims like that of Trayvon Martin, where the volunteer is alleged to have caused harm. Or it could be the basis of a claim where, for example, a homeowner is a victim of a crime, such as burglary, and alleges that the neighborhood watch volunteer failed to provide adequate security.

Once the HOA commits to a watch program, various theories of liability could apply, including negligent training, negligent supervision, negligent “hiring,” inadequate procedures etc.

Addressing the liability issues related to neighborhood watch programs should include careful review of the HOA’s insurance coverage. Depending on the liability insurance in place, it may not cover liability for claims related to the neighborhood watch.

For example, who is an insured, from board members to volunteers, should be determined. Additionally, many policies exclude coverage for reckless or intentional acts, which can be applicable when the volunteer takes on the “vigilante” role.

Insurance coverage issues should be carefully evaluated in conjunction with structuring a neighborhood watch program.

Yes Virginia...You CAN Have an External Antenna!

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Directly from the Ridenour HOA Design Standards Document...Found Here.

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BUT...is this really enforceable?? No. https://www.fcc.gov/guides/over-air-reception-devices-rule.

The FCC guidelines have been in place since 1996 and prohibit restrictions of Over the Air Reception Devices...and it's the law.

Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule

Preemption of Restrictions on Placement of Direct Broadcast Satellite, Broadband Radio Service, and Television Broadcast Antennas.

As directed by Congress in Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Over-the-Air Reception Devices (“OTARD”) rule concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers' ability to receive video programming signals from direct broadcast satellites ("DBS"), broadband radio service providers (formerly multichannel multipoint distribution service or MMDS), and television broadcast stations ("TVBS").

The rule (47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000) has been in effect since October 1996, and it prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming.  The rule applies to video antennas including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37") in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas.  The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.

Effective January 22, 1999, the Commission amended the rule so that it also applies to rental property where the renter has an exclusive use area, such as a balcony or patio.

On October 25, 2000, the Commission further amended the rule so that it applies to customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals.  This amendment became effective on May 25, 2001.

The rule applies to individuals who place antennas that meet size limitations on property that they own or rent and that is within their exclusive use or control, including condominium owners and cooperative owners, and tenants who have an area where they have exclusive use, such as a balcony or patio, in which to install the antenna.  The rule applies to townhomes and manufactured homes, as well as to single family homes.

The rule allows local governments, community associations and landlords to enforce restrictions that do not impair the installation, maintenance or use of the types of antennas described above, as well as restrictions needed for safety or historic preservation.  Under some circumstances where a central or common antenna is available, a community association or landlord may restrict the installation of individual antennas.  The rule does not apply to common areas that are owned by a landlord, a community association, or jointly by condominium or cooperative owners where the antenna user does not have an exclusive use area.  Such common areas may include the roof or exterior wall of a multiple dwelling unit.  Therefore, restrictions on antennas installed in or on such common areas are enforceable. 

This Information Sheet provides general answers to questions concerning implementation of the rule, but is not a substitute for the actual rule.  This document is for consumer education purposes only and is not intended to affect any proceedings or cases involving this subject matter or related issues.  For further information or a copy of the rule, contact the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322), which is a toll-free number, or 202-418-2120.

Disclaimer: This is not to be considered legal advice but comes from the FCC.GOV website.

The Right Way To Collect HOA Fees

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The process of collecting HOA fees is a constant that homeowners can always expect when living in a homeowners association.  That fee covers the maintenance on amenities in the neighborhood and costly projects that require money to be set aside for in a reserve fund.  The amount is different in each homeowners association but you can expect to pay them monthly, quarterly, or annually.  However, the association is prohibited from certain acts should you not pay the HOA fees on time.  Have you checked your rights on the neighborhood website?

Fair & Equal Treatment

While it is policy to pay HOA fees, there is an act in place that protects homeowners called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA.  The FDCPA limits what the homeowners association is allowed as it prohibits any harassment of a member.  Unpaid HOA fees are considered a debt according to the act but it controls how collectors conduct themselves.

First, collectors must maintain a level of respect and not use any means of coercion to obtain the overdue fee from a homeowner.  Other actions prohibited under the act are threats of violence, harassing, repeated phone calls, and publishing their name on the neighborhood website.  All of which have little effect on the homeowner actually settling their balance when patience and understanding have a positive impact.  Additionally, the amount should never be exaggerated as the association could be sued.

Proper Collection Technique

Most homeowners know the right path for the association to collect HOA fees as they entered into that agreement when they purchased their home.  If that agreement is violated, then homeowners have a right for their fees to be settled legally and professionally.  Periodically, the HOA Board should allocate time to communicate what HOA fees are used for and emphasize how they improve the quality of life for all homeowners.

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