Category Archives: HOA Documents

How to Create an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Plan

People frequently avoid dealing with uncomfortable problems because they are unsure of what to do. Although few people relish conflict, your HOA’s Board of Directors must prepare for problems.

No community escapes unpleasant issues forever. A dispute of some type will eventually afflict even the sweetest community. What you and your HOA Board can do is develop an alternative dispute resolution plan. Then, you are ready to respond in a rational, predefined way when a problem erupts.

ADR Supports Compliance With Texas Law

Texas law calls upon HOA management to engage with parties subject to many types of enforcement actions prior to filing a lawsuit. An alternative dispute resolution plan fits neatly into regulations that an HOA management team should observe prior to going to court.

Resolving Conflicts With Mediation and Arbitration

Alternative dispute resolution typically involves mediation or arbitration. Your plan will specify one or both as the route to resolving conflicts.

Mediation

You hire a professional mediator who acts as a neutral third party. The mediator meets with the parties in dispute and manages the conversation so that both sides may present their complaints and propose remedies. The role of a mediator is to uncover common ground and guide both sides toward a mutually acceptable resolution.

Arbitration

You hire a professional arbitrator who acts as a neutral third party and presides over the dispute discussion. An arbitrator differs substantially from a mediator in that the person has the authority to decide the outcome. Your alternative dispute resolution plan would need to clarify that arbitration results in a binding decision. Arbitration often removes the parties’ ability to take the case to court.

When Would an HOA Need ADR?

Ideally, an HOA’s board has a plan before a problem flares up. Your board should communicate the plan to property owners to know their rights and what steps to take when they have disputes.

As you might already know, disputes can arise from almost anything. They could emerge between a property owner and the HOA or between two or more property owners. Many people will immediately assume they have to take their complaints to court, but alternative dispute resolution will divert them away from costly and often damaging litigation.

Reasons an HOA Board Should Embrace ADR

Even when your lawyer tells you that the law is firmly on your side, this does not mean that a lawsuit will produce the outcome you expect. Success in court comes at a high cost, not only in terms of time and money but also because it eliminates the chance of a useful compromise.

On the other hand, mediation or arbitration can resolve a problem quickly and for much less money than litigation. You can hire a mediator or arbitrator faster than you can get a court date. These professionals can encourage complainants to fix a problem. The process possesses a collaborative nature that cannot be found in the court system and that is antagonistic by design.

Explore the Benefits of Professional HOA Management

In addition to adopting an alternative dispute resolution plan, your board might reduce conflicts by working with a professional HOA management company like Goodwin & Company. Reach us today to see how your community could benefit from our services.

How to Craft a Winning HOA Snow Removal Policy

Although Dallas and Fort Worth recently experienced their first snow of the year, it’s always best to keep in mind that Texas winter weather can be unexpected, and more snow can easily be in the near future.

While snow days are fun, snow can also prove to be a slip and fall problem or accident hazard when left unattended throughout an HOA community.

Your association should always have a snow removal policy prepared. However, if you know your policy needs revisions, this post is your first chance at creating a policy that works hard to keep your residents safe.

Here’s a closer look at how you should review your current snow removal policy, how owners can get involved, and what specifics to look out for when hiring a third-party snow removal service.

Review Your Current Snow Removal Policy

Before the next snow falls, you want to make sure that your association’s snow removal guidelines are clear. Some snow removal policies have the association heavily involved with removal while others have a more hands-off approach when winter weather strikes.

If your current snow removal policy isn’t up-to-date and the current sitting board is ready to make changes, some of the biggest items for members to consider are:

  • Determining if a snow plowing service is necessary
  • Which parts of the community the HOA is responsible for clearing
  • Where does owner responsibility begin and end

As with all policy changes, make sure that your association owners remain informed. After all, if changes are made without proper communication, policies won’t be properly carried out and your HOA could be held liable for any incidents that occur.

Defining Owner Snow Removal Responsibilities

When it comes to figuring out what your owners are responsible are during a snowfall, the best way to approach it is by focusing directly on their property.

Most associations hold owners responsible for clearing out:

  • Their driveways
  • Personal parking spaces
  • Walkways leading to their home

When defining homeowner responsibilities, it’s also beneficial to encourage homeowners to help out around the community where they can by keeping well-used pathways clear and assisting older neighbors with their snow removal needs.

Hiring a Snow Removal Service

If your association decides that it needs to hire a third-party snow removal company, your management team can easily help you find the right vendor for your needs.

However, it’s also important to keep these three factors in mind when selecting the right vendor for the job.

Gather Cost Information

Your association’s annual budget is limited, so make sure anyone you hire is ready to work within your means.

One of the biggest aspects of the decision is finding out if they charge by the hour or a flat rate. Also, before signing any contract, always review it for any small print additional fees that could go unnoticed.

Document Their Services

Always go with a company that offers your association proof that they’ve efficiently completed their services. These records are not only great for your confidence in the safety of your community but can also serve as evidence if an injury occurs on your property and a lawsuit ensues.

Ensure They Are Insured

Finally, you always want to make sure that any vendor you hire is insured. Liability is something you don’t want on your hands, especially when it comes to something as slick as snow removal.

Always double-check that your contract relieves your association of any liability if a snow removal employee slips and hurts themselves on your property.

Craft a Winning Snow Removal Policy With the Help of Goodwin & Company

If you are a member of your association’s Board and know that your team needs help perfecting its snow removal policy, you need advice from HOA management professionals.

The team at Goodwin & Company has decades of experience helping the associations we serve to become the safest, most appealing neighborhoods within their local communities.

Trust us to be your behind-the-scenes support, while your Board of Directors helps its community move into a brighter future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.