7 Cost-Effective Ways to Reduce Property Risk
Amenities like clubhouses, tennis courts, basketball courts, and recreation centers bring value to your neighborhood. Since each HOA member chips in, everyone gets to enjoy these perks without breaking the bank. However, such perks are not without their risks.
When your Homeowners Association provides such amenities, it's open to a lot of liability. By taking the right steps to reduce property risk, you'll make sure your HOA members stay happy and safe, saving you lots of money down the road.
Identify Exact Risks
You must learn what risks your board has to manage. Figure out what risks and hazards are associated with each amenity. For instance:
- Clubhouses: if you have a stove, oven, grill, or a faulty appliance at the clubhouse, there's a fire risk.
- Playgrounds/Gyms: Unsupervised children spell danger. Someone can always get hurt while using the gym equipment. The risk of injury is greater if the equipment is not properly maintained.
- Swimming pools: Falls and trips can happen on the pool deck. The water might become contaminated. The diving board is a place where accidents are bound to happen.
- Basketball courts/Tennis courts: Cracked, buckled, and uneven surfaces are accidents in the making.
Considering worst-case-scenarios doesn't make a fun board meeting. However, you must examine all of your amenities carefully. Worst-case scenarios won't come to life if you make sure everything is as safe as possible.
Study All Relevant Laws, Bylaws, and Codes
Check local laws, regulations, codes, as well as your HOA's bylaws that pertain to the amenities you have. Closely studying these tedious scrolls can be time-consuming, but it will give you great guidance on how to manage and maintain your property to reduce risk. Comply with every relevant law or code and keep your property up to scratch.
Never let them slip your mind. if you ever decide to make changes, you'll need to make sure your plans comply with city and state laws. Make sure you have the necessary approval before you carry out your plans.
Take Care of Risky Features
If there's something that creates room for trouble, just getting rid of it may be the best course of action. Not every HOA member will be thrilled, but every HOA member will be safer and the HOA board will have peace of mind.
For instance, the grill at the clubhouse, the monkey bars on the playground, and the diving board at the pool are some things that amp the risk. HOA members can manage without all of those features. The simple solution is just to get rid of them.
As for everything else, make sure it works properly. Check whether the fire duct system at the clubhouse kitchen is up to par. If it's not, it may increase the risk of fire. Make sure all gas or electrical systems are installed by certified contractors.
When it comes to portable appliances, establish controls on their use. This can also be an insurance requirement. Make sure good housekeeping standards are set in place.
Each neighborhood amenity should have its own set of rules. Write them out clearly - you don't want to have multiple schools of thought in the neighborhood revolving around the same rule. Make sure there's no chance of people interpreting the rules differently.
To minimize the liability of your Homeowner's Association, it's best to hire a legal professional to check your rules and make improvements where needed. Here are a few things to consider when writing out rules:
- Are the facilities just for members? Are they allowed to bring guests?
- When can members use the amenities? Each facility should have set hours. You may need to install locks and gates to enforce such rules.
- Do members engage in risky activities? Banning smoking and alcohol use might be the right step.
Remember, even though the board might end up looking like a bunch of party breakers, the rules are there to benefit everyone in the community. Nobody wants to see children from the neighborhood get hurt.
Educate Members on the Rules
Once the rules are in place, everyone should know them and abide by them. To lay out the rules once again, place proper signage where everyone will see it. Deliver a printed copy to every member. The wording should be clear cut. If you plan on making any changes, notify everyone in advance.
Inspect the Amenities Regularly
Keeping up with maintenance is key to reducing risk. The property manager or board members should inspect all shared areas. Brainstorming sessions on potential risks is important, but not enough.
You need to get out there and give yourself the opportunity to notice potential dangers. Consider keeping a log on all the inspections. Using a clear method to keep track will help you avoid confusion. Hire experts to inspect windows, locks, shutters, etc.
Keep an Eye on Everything, Always
The easiest way to do that is by installing security lights, intruder alarms, and CCTV systems. Install screens and barriers. Improve perimeter security. Consider hiring security personnel. It's an extra cost, but can help you prevent property damage.
The best way to save money is by developing good, meticulous practices that revolve around caution. However, setting aside funds for maintenance, prevention, inspections, and proper management can prove to be the most cost-efficient strategy in the long run. As a board, you should never lose sight of the worst-case scenario, no matter how improbable it seems at the moment.
Guest Blogger: Kevin Jefferson
Kevin Jefferson is a thirty-something single dad in the middle of renovating his home. Having decided to finally tackle the project of a lifetime last year, he's had all manner of adventures around the place and finally decided to start writing on his blog Plain Help to share his adventures in tinkering around the house with the world.