Five Ways to Impact Public Policy Affecting HOAs

Posted on Tuesday July 05, 2016 |



As a board member, you know that Nevada HOAs do great things for their residents. Creating an enjoyable lifestyle and protecting property values are just part of what your association does.
 
But for some people, the benefits aren’t so obvious. Unfortunately, this is sometimes true for legislators who are tasked with creating laws that affect HOAs.
 
Educating lawmakers and shaping public policy so it is more favorable to HOAs begins with identifying key issues. That’s exactly what the Community Associations Institute (CAI), the industry’s leading trade group, has been doing with a series of panel discussions on the future of our nation’s HOAs. Their results were featured in Common Ground, the group’s publication. We’ve paired our own insight with their findings to distill five ways you can influence public policy in Nevada. Let’s take a look.
 
1. Help people understand associations better.
Common-interest communities offer many benefits to residents. They often provide amenities like fitness centers, sports facilities, and clubhouses, and it’s the HOA that manages the upkeep of these facilities, along with building exteriors and landscaping of common areas. Beyond these responsibilities, your association builds a tightly-knit community and handles the business of keeping a non-profit corporation running smoothly.
 
Because many legislators aren’t aware of all these roles and how an HOA’s responsibilities might differ from community to community, they often fall back on offering blanket solutions that don’t work for all associations. In fact, these solutions are typically developed because of an exceptional occurrence. HOA boards need to make a concerted effort to educate legislators on their full scope of duties. That way when legislators are developing laws that affect associations—typically as provisions added to Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 116—they will be able to put policies in place that really work.

2. Focus on financials.
A significant part of a board’s responsibility is ensuring that the community’s infrastructure is in good working order and undergoes improvements when necessary. Roads, sidewalks, and lighting are among the structures that need continual upkeep. Laws that mandate reserve studies and require HOAs to fund their reserve account based on the study are in the best interest of community residents. A well-funded reserve account ensures that money will be available for capital improvements. If you need help with this, look for assistance from a good community management company.

3. Be tech-forward.
Emerging technology is changing how associations do business. New web-based platforms make it possible to communicate better, vote online, and get things done with greater efficiency. Unfortunately, public policy has lagged behind these developments, and associations often don’t have the flexibility to take full advantage of them. Of course, technology is just one way community members can connect with their association. You can see a full discussion of this right here.

4. Establish good rapport with officials.
This is a task that’s up to everyone, including the board, owners, residents, and your community management company. This is the first step toward making lawmakers aware of the great things associations do for their communities. It won’t happen overnight; like any relationship, it will take time to build. This can be facilitated by including research institutions (such as those at the University of Nevada in both Las Vegas and Reno, as well as at our great community colleges) that can supply quality research to back up the HOA point of view. For strategies on developing these relationships, take a look at this article.

5. Build your brand.
A brand isn’t just for major corporations, and it’s more than just a logo or a slogan. Your brand is the connection you make, emotionally and intellectually, with your audience. You can see how a strong brand can have a powerful influence on the policies that get made. To build yours, consider a diversity of strategies that encompass the physical nature of your community, how you show up online, and much more. For more on brand building, have a look at these marketing tips.

HOAs play a major role both in enhancing quality of life and ensuring high property values. The people who steer public policy should have a deep understanding of this. All of us—including boards, residents, and industry groups like CAI Nevada—should work together to help make this possible. Start with the five tips we’ve discussed here, and for more insight, contact FirstService Residential, Nevada’s leading community management company.

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