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Subject: Welcome to the Neighborhood Letter and Package?
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GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:31


04/13/2018 1:40 PM  
Hi All,

Our neighborhood consists of 189 single family houses - most resident owners are older, many are retired. Some renters are younger with children.

We are increasing the activity level of the Board - it had slowed in recent years as many of the older residents lost interest, with some very untimely and sad passings.

We would like to reinstitute the Welcome Package - basically, someone would drop by when new folks are moving in, introduce themselves, provide nice welcome letter signed by president, copy of the Bylaws, copy of the CC&Rs, perhaps a local guidebook or two.

What does your HOA do? Does anyone have a welcome letter or list of items that is shareable?

Thanks!
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:7170


04/13/2018 2:35 PM  
I created a brochure and placed it at the main entrance where our mailboxes are. It basically covered the basics like we are a HOA, where to pay dues (amount, time, late fees etc.) and general what we provide/rules. (Garbage pickup, pool and clubhouse use). Nothing really detailed. We also posted the board members names and contact information if they were open to providing it.

Now for the rules like CC&R's and Articles of Incorporation they are not the responsibility of the HOA to provide. Those are either the seller or they can find them at county courthouse. (Depends on your state). The by-laws and ACC on the other hand are HOA documents. Those should be provided by the HOA. I only separate this because it could confuse people on what the HOA is to provide. Nothing wrong with putting this all on a CD. Just know that what the HOA is really responsible for.

I think a Welcome is a good thing. Everyone will do it differently. Just know that there are limits and lines. Renters aren't HOA members. The owner should be the one who is "welcomed" with the information to pass to their tenants. Be careful of expenses doing this as well. Remember the money your HOA spends is everyone's money. Make sure they are on board with what it's being spent on.

Former HOA President
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:31


04/13/2018 3:39 PM  
Thanks, Melissa.

We have a voluntary HOA with mandatory covenants - a bit strange, but that’s the way it is. In most cases, neither the bank nor the new owners asks for a copy of either the Bylaws or the Declaration of CC&Rs.

We’ve been looking for ways to ensure new owners, and even renters get a copy of each - seemed like a good opportunity and could meet everyone at the same time!!

With the docs, they are then armed with knowledge 😀
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:7170


04/13/2018 4:31 PM  
That is a big issue with HOA's. The documentation and responsibilities of who provides. If it was me, I would make a brochure with the resources where to find the documents. Such as CC&R's and Articles of Incorporation are Public documents. They are found at the county or state level. CC&R's are county and Articles are State. Share the link to these.

As for the other copies of the By-laws I would make them upon request or even charge a printing fee for hard copies. The reason behind this is the cost involved in making copies. The HOA has to pay for this. Which the costs can add up quickly. Plus renters don't need a copy. The landlord is responsible.

It's still a good thing. Just want to make sure you don't get over your head in providing this documentation. It's best to do an electronic copy if possible. Even if your HOA has a website, post them on the website. Believe me, if you don't have access to a mass production copier, you can spend up to 10 cents a copy. Is that something your HOA can or wants to spend?

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:5090


04/13/2018 6:38 PM  
A committee in our 200+ unit urban high rise compiled a Welcome Pak which is given to every new resident when they check in with our PM when they move in. It's 7 pages long and includes basic info about gaining access here, how to use the entry phone system at our street entrances, who to call onsite for various purposes. It also includes a small list of addresses of the supermarket, postal store, drug store, etc., etc. within 3 blocks. It tells new resident that our CC&Rs, Rules & Regs., newsletters and bylaws are on the home page of our website. We want to make it as easy as possible for new residents to transition to their new home. Wr believe the easier and friendlier the move, the more likely they'll be happy rule-abiding residents.

CA requires that new Owners be given the CC&Rs by the sellers before the close of escrow, so no one in our state has to figure out how to get to the courthouse and seek them

We've talked about going a step further with a gift basket or something, but no one is interested in doing the work.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:1972


04/13/2018 10:35 PM  
The governing documents and the rules and regulations are official records of a Florida association and if an owner requests them it certainly IS the responsibility of the HOA to provide them. When new owners move in we don't wait for them to ask. Yes it's the seller's responsibility to provide copies of the documents to the buyer. Realistically that doesn't always happen and we think that it's better to be sure that new owners are aware of them.

We include them in an "Owner's Packet" along with a welcome letter from the president, an assortment of forms an owner is expected to use from time to time, and a community directory with phone numbers.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15577


04/14/2018 3:50 AM  
George,

For us, Virginia statute requires that the Association provide to the seller, to provide to the buyer, a disclosure package. VA statute specifies what must be included. In addition to what must be included, we also include a welcome letter and information on trash/recycling service.

When I purchased our second home in TN, My wife and I actually had a visit from the President of the Association welcoming us to the neighborhood, provided a set of the governing documents and asked if we had any questions about the Association or area in general. There were no TN statutes that required that.

An internet search of HOA welcome letter example will provide a lot of sample letters for you. I've attached a sanitized (removal of names/addresses) copy of ours.

Hope this helps.

Tim

Attachment: 1414501067171.doc

MikeK22
(California)

Posts:16


04/14/2018 1:28 PM  
With 200 units, are you not using a electronic platform handle this? We are moving to this type of system and only have 60 units. This allow where owners to see the CC&Rs and access to work orders and all of the documents they might need. While CA mandates that the CC&Rs are given to the owner at time of sale. We find that this isn't generally the case and it allows for discussions to go better when there is an issue. Also, it allows for more visibility into the what the goals of the HOA are and to get input from the residents.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7420


04/14/2018 5:04 PM  
One bit of advice on any welcome packet. Be sure anything said is not in conflict with the Covenants/Bylaws. It is not as uncommon a problem as you might think.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:5090


04/14/2018 5:08 PM  
JohnC's advice is good. We compiled our Welcome Pak before I was on the Board and the board selected 4 of us new owners because we'd know the kinds of questions that should be answered. We were an ad hoc committee and the board kept a close eye on us. Sure enough we made a could of rookie mistakes because of our lack of knowledge about our CC&Rs,
CjC
(Maryland)

Posts:93


04/16/2018 6:08 AM  
We have a large welcome "packet" that we deliver in a tote bag to each new resident. We get a copy of the HUD forms from the title company at closing and get the new neighbors names etc.We include a welcome letter that lists our website, how to get pool passes etc and info on joining Next Door that we use often. It also includes pamphlets that restaurants give us for take out and delivery (we only have 3 that deliver to neighborhood) and info on the closest "big town".
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:31


04/17/2018 11:18 AM  
Tim - was Board Pres for several years in Fairfax County. Virginia was crisp on formats and supportive of HOAs ...including ability to get help at state and county level. Florida is a bit, er, earlier in history 😀

Mike - the community is pretty aged ...we have less than 50% of the emails of residents, some don’t even have emails, some won’t release them because they are afraid ...lots of long stories compounding the disqualification difficulties. I am pushing this HARD, it many simply don’t care to know more about the neighborhood - some simply don’t care, period.

The neighborhood has had some good days, generally when it was first incorporated. At about Incorporation + 10, the sad losses of the folks who were trying to govern, due to death became an issue. Then, as more and more aged, combined with post real estate bubble repossessions and foreclosures which got snapped up as rentals, things tumbled. The Board slowed significantly in covenant enforcement, which caused further strife as many in the neighborhood strongly supported enforcement. All this in the context of a voluntary association!

Since I started this thread, we had th first Board Meeting following the Annual Meeting. We appointed an Architectural Control Committee (in the CCRs and Bylaws), formed and appointed a Beautification Committee, formed and appointed a Documents Research and Archiving Committee, directed the Treasurer to provide names for appointment of an Audit Committee (per Bylaws), and asked for help from th community in forming a Welcome Committee. I also put the fear of god in them regarding the lack of D&O and General Liability insurance. I think we’ll establish coverage soon.

No one wanted to be Secretary (obvious reasons), so looks like I’m gonna have to do that for now ...while I’m a Board Member, I have a special circumstance ...I am not a resident. My mother bought one of the houses as a place to potentially live, but became ill and died. My sister kept that house and rented it ...I evaluated the rents vs the cost of the many foreclosures and bought three. I didn’t really want to be a Board Member, since I didn’t live in the neighborhood, but it was the only way to be really helpful. Being an NRO Officer might generate anxiety - but, again, I don’t know any other way to be helpful. If the Board agrees, it does give me a better vantage point from which to be a bit pushy for action.

The rental percentage is dropping - as real estate prices have increased, more and more NROs are selling. Additionally, and ironically, after being urged in writing, the other Non Resident Owners are now paying at a rate that is 20% higher than the Resident Owners.

I appreciate the letter examples and advice ...please keep it coming. I’ve informed the Board about the site with the hopes they will read the many useful threads.

Thanks, again!

JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3904


04/18/2018 9:09 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 04/17/2018 11:18 AM
Tim - was Board Pres for several years in Fairfax County. Virginia was crisp on formats and supportive of HOAs ...including ability to get help at state and county level. Florida is a bit, er, earlier in history 😀

Tim is awesome when it comes to HOA information. He similar to myself and others have lived in many HOA’s within many states or are potential “trustee” regarding estates located in many states.

Mike - the community is pretty aged ...we have less than 50% of the emails of residents, some don’t even have emails, some won’t release them because they are afraid ...lots of long stories compounding the disqualification difficulties. I am pushing this HARD, it many simply don’t care to know more about the neighborhood - some simply don’t care, period. Sometimes if not want to give emails regarding information ... it can change in future if YOU give them a reliable source to look up with regards to the HOA. You also need to stress that they WILL NOT receive excessive or “junk” emails from your HOA if they opt into receiving the HOA information via email.

The neighborhood has had some good days, generally when it was first incorporated. At about Incorporation + 10, the sad losses of the folks who were trying to govern, due to death became an issue. Then, as more and more aged, combined with post real estate bubble repossessions and foreclosures which got snapped up as rentals, things tumbled. The Board slowed significantly in covenant enforcement, which caused further strife as many in the neighborhood strongly supported enforcement. All this in the context of a voluntary association! Sometimes when shit hits the fan it makes everything difficult on everyone. While understandable for the short term ... at some point the dung needs to be flushed.

Since I started this thread, we had th first Board Meeting following the Annual Meeting. We appointed an Architectural Control Committee (in the CCRs and Bylaws), formed and appointed a Beautification Committee, formed and appointed a Documents Research and Archiving Committee, directed the Treasurer to provide names for appointment of an Audit Committee (per Bylaws), and asked for help from th community in forming a Welcome Committee. I also put the fear of god in them regarding the lack of D&O and General Liability insurance. I think we’ll establish coverage soon.

WOW ... Sounds like you are all getting your feet back under yourselves and moving forward. The important aspect is you cannot really look back ... and instead need to look forward to the future. My current HOA in past did not have money going towards any reserve fund. At our last meeting some owners were against raising dues ... but when I and a few others pointed out that it is better to pay a little more each year for future potential costs vs having a large assessment in future against each lot. The Owner’s saw the light and 100% agreed to increase assessments to build our reserve fund.

No one wanted to be Secretary (obvious reasons), so looks like I’m gonna have to do that for now ...while I’m a Board Member, I have a special circumstance ...I am not a resident. My mother bought one of the houses as a place to potentially live, but became ill and died. My sister kept that house and rented it ...I evaluated the rents vs the cost of the many foreclosures and bought three. I didn’t really want to be a Board Member, since I didn’t live in the neighborhood, but it was the only way to be really helpful. Being an NRO Officer might generate anxiety - but, again, I don’t know any other way to be helpful. If the Board agrees, it does give me a better vantage point from which to be a bit pushy for action.

I commend the fact that you recognize this potential issue with regards to your neighbors and the fact you are not a resident. However, if this HOA has apathy, I would rather someone such as yourself who looks at both sides of an issue vs tunnel vision!!! Plus ... if what you have stated comes from your heart ... you seem like someone who is looking out for everyone and not just yourself.

The rental percentage is dropping - as real estate prices have increased, more and more NROs are selling. Additionally, and ironically, after being urged in writing, the other Non Resident Owners are now paying at a rate that is 20% higher than the Resident Owners. ??? Hope this is in regards to just the property sale prices ... not HOA fees. HOA assessments are to be equal between all owners based on your governing documents.

I appreciate the letter examples and advice ...please keep it coming. I’ve informed the Board about the site with the hopes they will read the many useful threads.

Thanks, again!




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