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5 Tips for Getting Your Association Winter-Ready

An association board member’s job is a year-round commitment. While this responsibility is an honor, board members are volunteers who also have lives to live outside of community decisions. This issue especially comes up as the winter season approaches a community.

With the help of an association management team, your board can comfortably get your community winter-ready and ensure that no issues arise during a frigid Dallas winter.

Make Sure your Furnaces Are Prepped for Winter

Winter can get pretty cold out here in Texas, so taking the time to check your community furnaces is a great preparation practice. We suggest you reach out to a local HVAC company to come out and inspect your properties. Keeping your furnaces clean and maintained is important to them operating more efficiently and lowering heating bills as they are used more often. As an extra step, see if your management team can get your community on board with an energy savings program so that your community can always be prepared to beat high energy bills.

Schedule a Roof Inspection

Roof inspections are something your Association should be keeping up with and early winter is a great time to carry them out. Schedule a roof inspector to visit your community and check your roof for leaks, cracks, or insufficient insulation.

While this is being inspected, check up on the cleanliness of the gutters. These are also parts of your community that you want to keep clear during the winter. Frozen debris and build-up can cause substantial damage and flooding to your properties.

Maintain Leaf Removal

Schedule a routine leaf removal. Leaves pile up fast in the winter, and removing them from your community prevents the growth of harmful fungi and damage to your living plants. No homeowner wants a dead lawn once spring rolls around.

Empty Out Your Gas Tanks

All HOA communities rely on equipment to get their duties done. Before winter is in full-effect, run your gas-powered lawn equipment until the tank is on empty. You won’t be using this equipment much in the winter and gas left in your tank loses its volatility. Removing your gas will also prevent issues in the spring when you go to start your mower again.

Check That Your Irrigation System is Winterized

Winterize your irrigation system before it gets too cold. Pipe and sprinkler blowouts can be costly accidents. Some simple insulation tips can help prevent water from freezing in your pipes. If you aren’t sure of the winterizing steps you need to take for your community, ask your association management team about a reputable plumber who can perform these vital checks before it gets too cold.

Goodwin & Company Helps Your Association Find the Right Vendors for the Job

Hiring vendors that are reliable can be a tough choice to make as a board member. However, with the help of an association management team on your side managing seasonal maintenance, your board can make these important decisions with confidence.

At Goodwin & Company, we are a team of managers that have many trusted vendors in close contact. Reach out to us for any help with vendor services or general Community Association management.


Association Management Tips to Keep Homeowners Obeying the Rules

Ensuring that your community follows the Association rules is one of your main jobs as a Board Member for your Community Association. Sometimes, rules may be broken, or a member of the Board may fail to follow up with a community member.

Goodwin & Company has seen small mistakes regarding Association rules add up to large problems for the Board. Here are some tips from the professionals that will help keep your community rules at the forefront of your homeowners’ minds.

  • Rules Need to be Simple
  • Rules Need to be Consistent
  • Enforce Rules Accordingly
  • Communicate Properly with Residents
  • Revise Rules that don’t Work

Make Sure Your Rules are Simple

When creating your community rules, keeping them as clear as possible will make them easy for your community to follow and for you to enforce. Keeping your rules simple can help prevent any future complications and let your community members instantly know the Board’s expectations.

For example, if your community allows pets, you will want your rules to clearly state which types of pets are permitted. This can get as specific as size restrictions, breeds, or a limit on the number of pets a homeowner can have.

Keep Things Consistent

If you find that the rules of your community tend to change frequently, this may be the reasoning behind your community members having issues following the rules. If you find that you need to make HOA rule changes within your set rules, make sure that your community is aware and that changes are slowly rolled out for an easy adjustment period.

Enforce the Rules Across Your Community

If your community members see the Board being lax on the rules, then why should they be forced to follow them? If you want change, it is going to have to start with the Board itself. One way to do this is to examine the property of each Board Member and ensure that everything is up to date and following the rules. Leading by example is the best way to lead your community.

Communicate Properly

In order to maintain the consistency of your rules or to introduce new ones properly, communication should always be the number one priority. Regardless of what changes are made, make sure that your homeowners are always updated via meeting agendas or digital/physical notices.

Remember, homeowners who don’t know the rules will be the ones that have difficulties following them. Keeping your community informed will ultimately make your spot on the Board easier. By working with an experienced management team, you will have all the tools necessary to have consistent and accurate modes of communication to your community.

Revise What Doesn’t Work

Sometimes, rules that have been made simply don’t work for a community. If you notice a rule being consistently violated, even after your efforts to enforce it, there may be a problem within the rule itself. Take the time to sit down with your management team and work on revisions that will be useful and clear for your community.

Let Goodwin & Company Help Your Community Follow the Rules

At Goodwin & Company, our mission is to provide support, structure, and education to your community and Board. The best place to start with this is by ensuring that everyone involved understands the neighborhood rules and use restrictions. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get your community and its rules in order.

5 Mistakes Your Association Board Can Avoid with Professional Management

Your Community Association Board is the entity that absolutely always needs to have its act together. In order for your community to run smoothly, working with professional management to avoid common mistakes should be top priority. When a professional management team steps in, they avoid these common DIY mistakes that happen in their absence.  Here are five mistakes that we see Board Members make and how Goodwin & Company can help your Board avoid them.

  1. Not Reading Governing Documentation
  2. A Blasé Attitude for Community Rules
  3. Not Collecting Overdue Fees in a Timely Fashion
  4. Not Reviewing Financials
  5. Not Maintaining Proper Insurance

1. Failing to Read Governing Documentation

Your community bylaws and CC&Rs are important documents that help you avoid getting your community in legal and financial trouble. By not knowing the ins and outs of the Association Documents, an Association Board could try and enforce rules which actually aren’t rules or miss important procedural requirements.

Working with a professional management company like Goodwin & Company is an easy way to stay on top of important documents and reminders that your Board will need to follow in order to operate properly.

2. Your Association Board has a Blasé Attitude Towards Community Rules

Even when some Boards know the rules and what is required of them via governing documents, they can seemingly ignore the rules.  Association rules need to be enforced fully, consistently, and in compliance with the requirements set forth in the documents.  If a Board is specifically not going to enforce a certain rule due to personal bias, that not only opens up the Association to liability, but it also isn’t fair to the other owners who joined the Association under the assumption all rules would be enforced.

Your management company can help your Board with handling community issues like violations and ensuring that scheduled meetings run as planned.

3. Taking Your Time with Overdue Fees

Your management company can also help your Board successfully collect any overdue fees. We understand that a Board is made up of volunteer community members that now must take on the responsibility of collecting money from their neighbors. Remember, letting one owner get away with paying late because you want to avoid confrontation with your neighbor is not fair to the other community members you represent. Let us play hardball for you, while you work to keep your community happy and successful.

4. Failing to Review Your Financials

Failure to review your community financials or failing to truly understand them can be devastating for the community members relying on the Board. Your main goal is to invest your members’ hard-earned money into the community correctly and account for every single dollar spent.

This can be a taxing task and working with a management team that specializes in community finance is a great way to stay on track without making any critical financial errors.  Goodwin & Company knows that most Board Members are not financial professionals; so we go out of our way to explain financial reports and general industry practices in financial record keeping so that Board Members are comfortable with their financial reports every month.

5. Not Maintaining Your Insurance Coverage

Failing to stay on top of your Association’s insurance coverage could leave the Association open to huge expenses.  Even if coverage is in place, be sure to know what it covers and what it doesn’t.  Take the time to work with your management team to review your current D&O insurance policy, what it covers, and when it lapses.

Get the Professional Help Your Board Needs Today, with Goodwin & Company

Mistakes quickly add up for an Association Board. Don’t let your community suffer because you didn’t look to a professional for help. At Goodwin & Company, we help your Board improve its community while also ensuring that the essentials are all taken care of. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our services in your area.

Want to learn more? Here are some broad examples of the responsibilities your HOA board members should expect.

5 Reasons to Avoid DIY HOA Management

Some Community Association Boards believe that they can manage a community on their own without help from third-party community management specialists. While they may be able to get some of the essential duties completed, the responsibility is a lot for a volunteer-based group to handle.

Here are 5 reasons why your community should work with a professional management company and say “no” to self-management.

1.  You Leave Yourself Open for a Lawsuit

Unless your Board is one that is insurance savvy, your Community Association may not have the insurance coverage that it needs.

Getting coverage like general liability and/or D&O insurance is important and having an association management company on your side can help to ensure that the coverage is complete.

2.  Little Understanding about Community Management

There isn’t really a standard course for how to professionally run a community. Each Association’s wants and needs are different, but having a management company which is familiar with the best practices of Association management can prevent:

  • Overpaying on projects and general maintenance
  • Misunderstanding your state’s Community Association laws
  • Failing to follow legal procedures

3.  Financial Mismanagement

Association Boards are made up of members of your actual community. One of the main tasks of a Board is to collect assessments and other funds that are due to the Association. Some self-governed Boards may not feel comfortable trying to collect from their neighbors or simply are not familiar with the ins and outs of financial record keeping.  Unless your Board includes a CPA, there could be potential for costly financial errors.

4.  You Could Be Breaking the Law

Your self-managed Association could be breaking the law without the Board members even knowing it. There are several specific processes that need to be followed in terms of assessment collection, violation enforcement, notice requirements, and information disclosure. Getting any of these and other details wrong can easily put your Board Members on the wrong side of the law.

5.  A Neutral Party is Necessary

One of the biggest dangers of a self-managed Board is the lack of a neutral party during disputes between community members or when it comes to a complex community decision. The “our way or the highway” mentality can easily take hold and quickly turn a happy community into a disgruntled one.  A professional management company will help mediate between the Board and owners at large for the most acceptable resolution as allowed by the Association documents.

Goodwin & Company Helps You Avoid Management Missteps

DIY Association management is a dangerous path to take as a volunteer board. Having a management company help you take control is the easiest way to ensure that all of the legal boxes are checked and your community is well-covered for years to come. Contact Goodwin & Company today to find out how we can make your Association better.


4 Signs It’s Time for New HOA Management

Although your Community Association is the leading figure of control in the neighborhood, they are still a team of volunteers that lead normal lives. Association management can help them with the finer details of the community and handle the issues that go beyond volunteer qualifications.

However, not all management companies are created equal, and sometimes you could end up stuck in a contract that just isn’t working out. Here are four red flags that it’s time to start shopping around for a management team that will strive to meet your community needs.

1.  Current HOA Management is Unresponsive

Goodwinlent communication should be a core value to your management company. Responding in a timely manner to emails and phone calls, general inquiries, and having required information prepared to share with the community is essential.

If your management team fails to meet even these basic communication expectations, this should be a major red flag that something isn’t right. When signing a contract with a management company, make sure that there is no question about who the most reliable point of contact is, otherwise you may be facing some confused and irate vendors or community members.

2.  Hidden Costs Creep Up

The fee structure between your Community Association and management company needs to be crystal clear. If you sign a contract and then notice surprise fees and charges in the coming months, address your management team. If these hidden fees were something that was swept under the rug during negotiations, then it may be time to work with a management team you can trust.

3.  Project Completion is Slow or Nonexistent

Association management ensures that community projects and improvements are handled in a timely fashion. From large projects to smaller ones, your community manager needs to be able to complete their tasks promptly. Not doing so creates a strained relationship between the Board and community members.

Oftentimes, when project completion is slow-moving, it’s because a professional HOA management company was never hired to begin with. Sometimes, DIY HOA management can be successful, but usually, it’s best to leave it to the pros.

4.  Compliance Becomes Secondary

Your management company needs to remain on top of compliance situations in your community. The creation and distribution of violation letters and the supervision of compliance adherence need to be consistent and a key priority.

Goodwin & Company Helps You Make the Right Choices for Your Community

Community Association management is essential to the success of a community. Poor management can easily bring a successful community down. If you are a member of your Association Board and don’t feel like you are getting the most out of your management company, Goodwin & Company can help.

Contact us today to find out more about how our management approach directly addresses these common management issues.


5 Misconceptions About HOA Management Associations

HOA management associations are essential to the success of a community that thrives under a Home Owner’s Association. While HOA management is something that is quite common, many homeowners and elected board members believe some even more common misconceptions.

Goodwin & Company is proud to help clear up some of these myths and show your HOA how we can be a helpful partner in the development of your community.

1.  Myth 1: The Management Company is the Association

Many community members mistakenly believe that the management company is the Association. It makes sense that many people would believe this myth, since the management company is the primary point of contact, however, this is not the case.

The management company is an outside entity that is responsible for enforcing and managing the day-to-day operations of the Community Association.

The Association itself is responsible for community governance and decisions about community maintenance and how it should look and run. Even though an Association can manage itself, a management company can help with enforcement of community rules, financial and account organization, and guidance on best practices for how an Association should run.

2.  Myth 2: The Management Company Replaces the Board

Your community management company should really be seen as a partner to the Board. We want your community to run smoothly and be governed effectively. We are in close communication with Board Members and work with them to ensure that, in the end, only the best decisions are made for the community.

Although we do have input and provide guidance, the ultimate decisions are made by your elected Board of Directors.

3.  Myth 3: All Management Companies Are the Same

No two management companies are alike. This is why it is important for an Association Board to do their research, shop around, and truly understand the vision that they have for their community and select a company whose management philosophy aligns with theirs.

At Goodwin & Company, we pride ourselves in the specialization of:

  • General HOA Management
  • Condo Property Management
  • Developer Services
  • Project Coordination
  • Community Finances, and more!

4.  Myth 4: Management Companies Are Hands-Off

Management companies are made to serve as a glue to the order of a community. Many people think that we tend to be hands-off and manage the company from a distance. The truth of the matter is, we are on the front lines addressing homeowner concerns and issues so that the Board can focus on the overall governance of the Association.

We serve as a non-biased party and help with any conflict resolution or community violations that disrupt the wellness of a community. Our management is personalized and caters to making your community the best that it can be.

5.  Myth 5: We Keep Need-To-Know Information Hidden Away

Keeping secrets from community members is something that a reputable management company will never do. In order for a community to work, regulations and rules must be made public to the community. Other information that is available from an association management company includes:

  • Meeting minutes
  • Financial reports
  • Policies
  • Planning documents/ plat maps
  • Newsletters, and more.

Find the Management Company that Your Board Needs with Goodwin & Company

If your Community Association Board still has any questions about how an association management team helps a community, Goodwin & Company is available to help. Contact us today to find out more about our services in your area and our past accomplishments in communities like yours.

D&O Insurance 101

A Community Association management company can help any Board understand the necessities required to protect their community and ensure that it runs smoothly. From emergency insurance to financial protection, a Community Association Board has a lot of responsibilities to consider.

What happens, however, when there is a lawsuit against the Association? How can a Board protect its volunteers?

One often overlooked area of insurance is D&O insurance. With all of the responsibilities that the Board has, it makes sense that not every member of a community will be pleased with the Board’s actions. Disagreements can even lead to legal action against the Board. These actions are why D&O insurance is crucial to a Board of a common interest community.

Stay informed and make sure that you understand how helpful this insurance can be, and how your management team can ensure it becomes part of your overall protection.

Why is D&O Insurance Important?

As mentioned before, an Association Board has many responsibilities and the people who volunteer on these boards usually do so with the best intentions. However, in modern times, when people become disgruntled or unhappy with decisions that impact them, the word “lawsuit” seems to be thrown around quite frivolously.

D&O coverage should be in place for a Board to cover any legal issues that may arise against the Board.

Who is Covered by This Insurance?

Based on how your management team and insurance carrier work with your Board when crafting your insurance coverage, your D&O insurance can include and exclude specific people involved with Board actions.

A typical policy will cover all Board members of the HOA. This is crucial because sometimes an individual wanting to sue over something will have an issue with a specific Board Member and not the Board as a whole. With D&O insurance, the legal costs and fees for any legal claims against them are covered.

However, it is not just the Board that can be covered by this insurance. D&O insurance also has the potential to insure:

  • Committee members
  • HOA employees
  • Volunteers of the HOA

Once again, the coverage is limited to who the HOA wants the policy to protect, note, that most policies only cover current Board Members.

Are There Limits to My Community’s Coverage?

In short, yes. Every insurance policy has a limit. However, the maximum coverage limit for a D&O policy for an Association Board is determined by the size of the development and what type of amenities are offered in the community.

Are there gated entrances? Security? Pools and fitness centers?

All of this and the number of people living in the Association help an insurance agent determine how strong the protection on the policy needs to be. In order to best be prepared when deciding on D&O insurance, consult with your management team for an estimate of what these costs and coverage possibilities may be.

Goodwin & Company Helps You Understand Coverage on All Fronts

Whether your Community Association Board has questions about emergency preparedness, selecting a new Board Member, or acquiring D&O insurance, Goodwin & Company has all of the answers. Contact us today to speak with a member of our experienced team and find out how our association management team can work wonders for your community.

How Association Management Creates an Emergency Preparedness Plan

Your community association management company is responsible for ensuring that your community is able to operate effectively. One aspect of operations that all communities need to deal with is how to approach an emergency situation.

Whether it be a natural disaster, an accident on community grounds, or even a crime, emergency preparedness is a necessity for every community. By working with your association management team and focusing on these 4 steps, your association Board can help come up with emergency plans that ensure the preparedness of your neighborhood.

1.  Create an Emergency Committee

Your Association Board already has a ton of responsibilities on their plate. By working with the association management team responsible for the community, the Board can create an emergency committee that has is responsible for preparing a disaster response plan.

An emergency committee will be responsible for:

  • Designing an effective emergency preparedness plan,
  • Speaking with other communities that have already developed plans,
  • Defining what the community needs in order to have an effective plan.

    2. An Emergency Action Team is Key

Creating an emergency committee is the first step for preparedness. From here, examining your association will be effective in finding out who can help in specific situations. Your community is full of individuals with their own needs and skills for situations that constitute an emergency.  Asking for volunteers is a great way to find out who has the skills to help in an emergency situation.  Finding the firefighters, police officers, or EMTs who live in your association, and looping them into your emergency plan could make a huge difference when it really matters.

Even partnering with neighboring communities can be helpful in the face of an emergency.

  3.  Determine a Disaster Budget with your Management Team

Everything in community management comes with a cost and a disaster budget is no exception. Having the Board meet with the community management team can help answer a lot of financial questions. Some points that could be brought up in this project coordination meeting include:

  • How much of the annual budget should go towards disaster relief?
  • Are there vendors in place that can help the community after an emergency?
  • What resources need to be obtained for initial preparedness?
  • And what responsibilities does the HOA have in response to a disaster?

4.  Be sure to communicate your plan to your Association Members

Of course, none of this effort can succeed without a solid communication process. Everyone from the Board to property owners needs to be aware of the processes in place in order to effectively handle an emergency situation. Your management team can help your committee create an emergency guidebook that every household can refer to in the case of an emergency situation.

Goodwin & Company Keeps Your Neighborhood Prepared

At Goodwin & Company, we understand the importance of emergency preparedness and how the Community Association can work with property owners to ensure a smooth execution of the plan. If your community is in need of some guidance from an association management team, Goodwin & Company is prepared to get your community members on the right track. Contact us today to find out about our services.