Making Life Easier For HOA And COA Boards
As a board member of a Homeowners or Condo Owners Association, you’re on the front line for making sure that the common areas shared by your residents are maintained well and repaired promptly. One thing you certainly don’t look forward to is a midnight phone call about a breakdown in the clubhouse plumbing or a power outage in the parking garage.
You’ve got master insurance to cover structural damage from fire and other property perils, but that insurance doesn’t cover the expense of repairing or replacing functional systems and major, even built-in, appliances that break down or that just plain wear out from normal use.
Once manufacturers warranties on those systems and appliances have expired, it’s the association’s responsibility to cover those costs, and they might be substantial. So here are some questions you should be asking, and some answers that will help.
Q: What Is A Protection Plan?
A: It’s a warranty that covers all or part of the costs of servicing, repairing or replacing systems and appliances that stop functioning for reasons other than the ones covered by your master insurance.
Q: How Does it Work?
A: If you have a service plan from a highly-rated company like American Home Shield, you make one call and you’re connected with a proven local professional who will make it a priority to come out and resolve the problem. Even better is that repair services contracted through such a plan cost far less than what you’d pay if you contacted the service on your own. With a service plan, you pay a pre-determined flat fee per service call, and that fee sometimes can include parts or total replacement.
Q: What Does A Plan Cover?
A: Depending upon your association’s needs, you can choose a protection plan that covers some or all of the systems and appliances in your common areas and community facilities.
The systems include air conditioning and heating units and ductwork, plumbing (fixtures, pipes and stoppages), water heaters, electrical, central vacuum, garbage disposal, and instant hot/cold water dispensers.
The appliances include stoves, ovens and cooktops, built-in microwaves, refrigerators, free-standing icemakers, built-in food centers, dishwashers, trash compactors, and clothes washers and dryers. Some plans will even cover garage door openers, ceiling fans, smoke detectors, doorbells and re-keying.
Q: What Doesn’t it Cover?
A: Protection plans don’t cover furnishings, walls, floors, windows, or the other non-mechanical and structural features that are included in master insurance coverage for damage from fire and other destructive occurrences, nor do they cover theft of appliances or damage from other than normal wear and tear.
Q: What If Our Equipment Isn’t New?
A: You can buy a protection policy at any time in the life of your functional systems and appliances. Covered items do not have to be new to qualify for coverage, and no inspections are required.
Q: What Are Our Residents Responsible For?
A: The condo and home owners in an association are responsible for everything in their own dwellings. While shared risks are covered by a protection plan the association buys, residents need their own individual plans if they would like coverage for their appliances and the systems that operate within their own units. Your association bylaws should specify what those non-common portions of functional systems are.
Q: What Else Should We Know?
A: Regular maintenance of appliances in your communal facilities will keep everything running smoothly, reducing the number of annoying breakdowns and saving on your electric bills as well. You might appoint a member of the board to make sure that your maintenance staff performs these simple tasks on a routine basis:
- Check refrigerator and freezer seals. These rubber gaskets can get brittle over time, letting in air and lowing the temperatures inside.
- Clean refrigerator coils. Condenser coils that are dusty waste energy. Every six months someone should unplug the unit and use an appliance brush or damp cloth on the coils.
- Check oven seals. Deteriorated seals let heat escape and waste energy.
- Check washing machine hoses. Detecting a weak spot before it cracks can save you from a flooded laundry room. Check for leaks at the connections, too.
- Clean out the dryer exhaust. Users should clean off the lint screen every time they finish a dryer load, and at least once a year the exhaust venting should be cleaned. For that job, here are tips from a pro.
- Replace heater and AC filters. Whichever is currently in use, filters on heaters or air conditioners should be replaced or cleaned once a month.