Despite being a homeowner or shareholder, it does not necessarily mean you make the final decisions when living in a community association. Feeling like making a change to your kitchen cabinets? Or changing the look of your front porch from top to bottom? It’s not that simple. There are rules put in place by community associations for you and your neighbors to follow. However, there is also a tradeoff from the community association that protects your interests, your investment, and your quality of life. This is because there are professional community association management companies hired to ensure all responsibilities are managed effectively, or the responsibilities are managed themselves. With either case, here is a look at some questions that helps you understand your new lifestyle choice and take advantage of your community association living.
1. What Is a Community Association? A community association does many things, and we’re here to help you understand exactly what that is. Your community’s homeowners comprise the association, which includes yourself. This means you have a voice and voting when setting its course. Homeowners can take it one-step further and volunteer on the board, further serving your community by establishing and enforcing specific rules and policies. This includes collecting dues and the maintenance of the facilities and common areas, ensuring everything is looking in tip-top condition at all times.

2. Know the rules. Rules are established for many reasons. This can range from resident safety or property values to resident lifestyles or community harmony. It is important that each resident understands the importance of these rules so the community association runs smoothly. It is also beneficial to know these rules before buying your home and moving in, as to understand if you can live with the policies set in place. Usually, an association has a guide which are “Governing Documents” (Articles of Incorporation, Declaration, Bylaws, etc) that summarizes the information on how the association operates, including policies and procedures regarding pets, noise, amenities, parking fees, non-compliances finance, and much more. However, if you still want to live in this residency but aren’t too pleased with some of these rules, move on to number 3!
3. Be part of your own solutions. Getting involved and joining a board is the way to change specific rules. Despite having to follow the rules for the time being, being part of your association’s board can be beneficial. Board members usually serve one or two years, with new board members being elected a majority vote of members at the annual meeting. If you don’t want to go that route, you can support the community and see if there are any other neighbors with the same viewpoints. From there, volunteer with projects and join a committee that interests you.  
4. Love thy neighbor…or at least be cordial. Unfortunately, you can choose your friends, but not your neighbors. You could get lucky and have quiet neighbors for a peaceful living, or you may have neighbors who blast loud music after hours or trim overhanging trees near your property, among other rule breaking. Despite these being annoying issues, you could handle these minor issues by yourself and asking nicely to be courteous of yourself and other neighbors. This saves time and frustration from going straight to the board. However, do not forget that the board is indeed responsible for ensuring policies are followed, but it doesn’t hurt to begin a conversation with your neighbors and establish goodwill between each other.
After getting a sense of community association living overtime, you’ll understand how they indeed protect your investment while creating a wonderful sense of community.
For more information about community association living, visit FirstService Residential today.

Wednesday July 01, 2020