Latest Property Management News: Emergency Preparation, Budgets, Solar, and more

Solar panels on a house roof

Staying updated with the latest property management news is key to improving your operations internally.  Additionally, certain news and trends can impact the services you provide to the residential community.  Learning about challenges communities encounter and how they respond to those challenges can provide your management team with newer perspectives.  In this post, we focus on the latest community and property management news in the HOA, condo, and rental space. Here you’ll learn about several communities that are rebuilding homes after natural disasters hit many communities last year, a new regulation calling for increased transparency in HOA’s, marketing practices, budgeting, and energy efficiency considerations.  We also share tips to spark some brainstorming about these topics so you can implement these tips for your communities.

Communities continue recovering from wildfires in California, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and Irma in Florida last year

In CAI’s Common Ground September/October issue, the theme “Strong Response” emphasizes on several community associations that are currently rebuilding their communities after weather-based disasters in 2017 destroyed many homes – wildfires in California, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and Hurricane Irma in Florida.   This took an emotional and physical toll on residents and now they continue to work together in rebuilding their homes. Communities have developed stronger architectural design guidelines that are more sustainable for residents in response to the natural disasters. Additionally, residents and management have created committees and re-evaluated association documents to allow for a more flexible response.

How can your communities prepare for an emergency?

  • Assess the likelihood of each type of situation your communities might encounter. Understand the strengths that can be used or weaknesses that need to be improved.
  • Develop an emergency plan for before, during, and after an emergency. The plan should encompass management/board roles and responsibilities, resident communications, technology tools to manage data, building structures and preventative maintenance, compliance with association guidelines, and effective insurance policies. In this ebook from Pilera, you’ll learn how to prepare for an emergency and develop plans to safeguard your communities.
  • Form committees to develop guidelines for the community such as home safety, fire committee, and architectural committees. Invite residents who may have expertise in specific areas to give their ideas and help form these guidelines.

Property Management Company in New Zealand Criticized for Social Media Ads

Quinovic’s franchisee, a property management company based in Auckland, New Zealand recently came under criticism from many landlords and an activist group, Renter’s United. Quinovic’s Te Ao franchisee published three image and text-based ads on Facebook targeted toward landlords, asking them “Are you subsidizing your tenant’s social life?”  Quinovic took quick action by requiring those ads be deleted and their CEO Paul Chapman issued a statement to the public stating that the ads did not conform to company brand standards and that they had taken action.  Meanwhile, Quinovic’s Te Ao apologized for the ads, stating they did not intend to hurt tenants’ and landlords’ sentiments.

What can be learned from this situation?

  • Property management companies need to make sure that their marketing strategy aligns with the business goals and values the organization as a whole is trying to promote. It can be very tricky to use humor as a marketing appeal to achieve the desired reaction from potential customers. In this case, the attempt at humor hinted at a current issue facing the country’s rental industry.  Thus, the ad was not well accepted by tenants, landlords, and activist groups.
  • If your property management company has developed a company policy, the best way to promote compliance is through communicating those policies and training employees in franchisees, or property managers and board members (if in HOA or condo associations) in communities. These policies should be written in simple language and then shared with property managers and board members. The simplest way to share these policies is through a document management system that can be updated and accessed at any time.
  • It is essential for a company to have a strong crisis mitigation plan to address widespread criticism internally within the company or its franchisees, and externally to its public stakeholders such as clients, potential clients, and activist groups.

Kuester Management Group Shares Budgeting Strategies With The Industry

With budgeting season ongoing, HOAs are busy analyzing this year’s expenses and activities to prepare for the upcoming year.  Recently, Kuester Management Group provided some great tips to help associations draft better budgets and manage costs effectively.  These are some of the best practices the company suggests to balance cost effectiveness and savings in contracted services. They also provide some great tips on increasing transparency and analyzing previous budgets.  Balancing cost effectiveness and savings in contracted services will help to lower association dues for homeowners and generate enough finances to cover expenses.  The association should practice transparency internally and externally when it comes to funds. Internally, steps the association can take include listing all financial sources and expenses. Externally, they should inform residents on how their dues are being spent to create a better residential living experience. That will help to minimize resident complaints.  Additionally, associations should analyze previous budgets and spending to identify which activities account for the highest cost. Furthermore, Kuester suggests requesting more bids from contractors to determine cost-saving opportunities and negotiate for better rates.

How can you use current or new technology to plan for budgeting season?

  • Retrieve past budgeting documents from your accounting system to identify cost-saving opportunities Kuester shared.
  • Create internal help articles for your staff members on the budgeting process so that actions performed are consistent.
  • Use a vendor management system that will help you organize your current list of vendors, their Certificates of Insurance (COI), rate vendors based on their performance, select your preferred vendors and approve vendors or contractors to work for a specific community.

To Allow Solar or To Not Allow Solar, That Is The Question

Solar panels are becoming a more desirable way for homeowners to power their homes because of long-term savings and its positive impact on the environment.  Soon enough, HOA’s will have to deal with the questions (if it already hasn’t been addressed) of whether or not to allow residents to install solar panels in their homes, and if so, where the panels will be placed.  Currently, half of the 50 states passed regulations that prevent HOAs from placing restrictions on the placement of a solar panel due for community aesthetic reasons. Texas, California, and Oregon are a few states that have regulations in place that prevent HOA’s from denying requests from residents to install solar panels in their homes.  However, with that being said, HOAs can still make decisions on where the solar panel is placed.

How can you stay ahead?

  • Stay updated on latest news regarding your state’s regulations as they pertain to solar panel placements in homes in HOAs.
  • Upholding transparency is always the best policy. Inform prospective homeowners on what is permissible in the community with regards to solar panels. Are solar panels allowed, and if so, what are the rules that need to be adhered to? Be sure that this is clearly stated in the association’s CC&Rs (governing documents). Make the CC&R\’s available online for prospective buyers. This is especially important because the permittance of a solar panel can be an essential factor in the homeowner’s decision to buy a home in the community. For current homeowners, make sure the CC&R is available on an online portal or FAQs section they can easily access. Send emails to your residents reminding them of association guidelines and how they access the information.
  • Survey your community to determine whether there are many residents requesting to install a solar panel. If so, consider it an important topic to discuss in the next board meeting.

New HOA Law Passed in South Carolina

Recently, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into a law a new regulation in an effort to enhance transparency in HOA communities.  Under the new law, South Carolina HOAs are now required to submit their governing documents to the Clerk of Court, notify potential homebuyers if the property they are about to purchase is part of an HOA, and inform the homeowners of any increases in budgets at least 48 hours in advance.  

What does this mean for your HOA association?

Your current processes will need to be evaluated to comply with the new laws in place.  This extends to how you will communicate these requirements to your staff, property managers, current homeowners, and potential new homebuyers.  Designate responsibilities to board members and property managers regarding communications to potential home buyers and current homeowners. Evaluate how your current homeowners prefer to receive their information – by phone, email, text, or through a website.  Send information to the residents about budget increases in advance through their preferred communication methods.

Staying Updated

Keeping up with the latest community and property management news is essential so that your company and associations can gain fresh perspectives on managing many aspects of your community from emergency situations, making operations more transparency, marketing to new clients and more.  Google alerts, property management-based blogs, social media, and local news outlets are great resources to be updated on the industry.

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations.  May we help your community achieve these success stories?  

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