YOUR HOA

So what good is the HOA anyway?
The purpose of the HOA is to protect the property value and maintain peaceful enjoyment for all residents. However, for new owners or occupants, being part of a homeowners association (HOA) is sometimes perceived as an invasion to rights of privacy, limitation of choice, or unnecessary regulation.  In extreme cases, some homeowners test the authority of the HOA by disregarding the rules established in the CC&Rs, By-laws and supplementary Rules and Regulations.  After they compromise their peaceful relationship with their neighbors, pay significant fines, lose lawsuits, and possibly forfeit their homeowner’s ownership, they realize that HOAs are legitimate organizations with law-enforcing authority over the property.

Unfortunately, in the meantime, these rebel types make daily life miserable for the rest of us, especially the board members and their agents who must interact with them over these matters.


How does an HOA function?
The Home Owners Association (HOA) functions similarly to most representative forms of government but on a much smaller scale.  Just like taxes, each property owner pays monthly HOA fees to pay for the maintenance, repair and improvement in Squires Bluff.  As an owner, these fees are not optional.  Failure to pay them will lead to legal judgments against you.



As a owner, do I have any authority over the management of the property?
Yes, just as you have an influence over other elected officials. Annually, approximately 50 homeowners elect a handful of their property owners to represent their interest in the daily operations and management of their “home.”   By casting your vote, you entrust your interest in the Association to the individuals who serve on the Board of Directors.  To keep order among the Board of Directors, they elect at least three officers among themselves who each take responsibility for a vital area of property management:  a president, financial officer and a secretary.  In simple terms, except for decisions which have major financial impact to the homeowners, the board of directors is empowered to manage the property according to a predetermined operating budget without seeking approval from every homeowner.


Imagine the difficulty and expense that would occur if 50 homeowners had to approve every decision made on a daily basis to manage the HOA. In general, getting majority approval from homeowners is reserved for capital expenditures, special assessments and electing new board members.



If I want to participate, but I don’t want to be on the board, what options are open to me?
In addition, the HOA board has committees comprised of other homeowners who make recommendations to the board for their consideration about designated topics.  Current committees are the Landscaping and Welcoming Committee.  Most HOAs, including Squires Bluff, are always in need of more owner participation.



What does a property manager do?  Why does an HOA retain an attorney?

Because of the magnitude of caring for Squires Bluff, most HOAs hire a property manager and retain an attorney.  The property manager assists the Board in maintaining, repairing and improving the property, and the attorney provides legal counsel.  Since the HOA is authorized by the US Government to exist, the HOA must follow strict regulations in its business conduct as approved by the Sate of Ohio.  The property manger and attorney ensure that the HOA is run in an efficient and legal manner.  The attorney also handles collections of delinquent HOA fees.

As you can see, this is no small undertaking. It requires collaboration from many individuals to run efficiently.


How do I find out what issues are being addressed by the HOA?

The HOA currently maintains a website at: www.squiresbluff.com and posts, planned activities and announcements on the site.  Visit the site for contact information, HOA submittal forms and other pertinent documents.
An HOA message board located in the gazebos is also a principal method of alerting residents of important issues.
Many activities of the Board are conducted at closed-door meetings except for two open-meeting of residents to which every homeowner is invited. Currently, Board meetings are held every second Thursday of every month. Matters which might compromise the HOA business relationship with an individual or another organization by including non-board members is handled through a closed-door meetings.



Can a homeowner participate in a Board meeting?
Yes, at each Squires Bluff HOA open board meeting, an open forum for homeowners is included on the agenda.  Any homeowner who wishes to express themselves about a property or association concern may share their perspective with the Board.  The Board will discuss the topic under new business, or
table the issue to a later meeting.  Otherwise, non-board members may only observe the proceedings and do not participate in the conduct of the Board’s business unless specifically granted permission by the presiding board member.



As a owner, what if I disagree with a Board’s decision on a specific issue?

You may challenge the board’s decision in several ways:
ask a board member to raise your concern at the next board meeting for reconsideration
file a complaint with the property management company, who will represent your concern to the board
attend the next open-board meeting and share your concern during the homeowners’ forum
but of course, the most effective way to favorably influence the future direction of the HOA is to nominate yourself to serve on the Board

How come more homeowners are not involved with HOA activities?

Just like many types of investments, homeowners often expect to see their investment increase in value without actively participating in the business aspect of the investment.  They reason that their HOA fees pay for the services necessary to manage their investment (their home) and no other action is needed.  Further, they think that someone else will magically make everything happen to keep the property running.  The truth is that usually a few dedicated individuals do most of the work; sometimes successfully, but sometimes they fail. This irrational thinking puts all the property partners at risk of a depreciating property value.



If the Board continues to spend money on improvements and minor amenities, will I be faced with an increase in HOA fees next year?

Currently we are operating at a surplus, first time since our inception and all homes are occupied by owners, occupants or renters. While the board does not anticipate any increase in HOA fees, rising cost for rising utility and maintenance expenses as well as inflationary adjustments could change that thinking, The Board is committed to keeping the HOA fees in line with other comparable properties.  Remember, board members are subject to the same increases and assessments as every other Squires Bluff homeowner.



Since I don’t have time to read or the remember all the rules, in general, what do the CC&Rs, By-laws and Rules and Regulations enforce?
Common sense is the best practice; if you or your guests suspect that you may be disrupting anyone’s peaceful enjoyment, you are probably in violation
of one or more rules.

If you or your guests are behaving in a manner which may injure yourself or someone else, you are most likely in violation of one or more rules. If you are abusing or destroying Squires Bluff property, you have violated one or more rules.
If you are engaging in illegal activities in Squires Bluff, you have definitely violated one or more rules.



What happens if I violate the CC&Rs, By-laws and Rules and Regulations?

Just like breaking the laws of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, a judicial procedure exists.  Upon receipt of complaint from a fellow homeowner or observance of the violation from a board member, you will be notified by mail of your violation and either warned or fined. You may also be invited to appear before the Board to address the violation.  Generally, fines from $15 to $50 will be levied for a first time violation and/or suspended use of the common areas may be ruled by the Board. Repeat violations will increase the fine amount by being doubled or subject to daily fines.

If you are caught engaging in illegal activities anywhere on association property or Squires Bluff, in addition to the HOA violations process, the police will be summoned and criminal convictions will be pursued.


Why is the Board so passionate about our Squires Bluff Association and its Ownership?

Instead of two individuals in a relationship, we have a close relationship with 50 owners!  We face many challenges in the future, and we stand to suffer some losses if we don’t understand what our relationship means.  We may not like some of our neighbors, but we are now legally bound in a joint venture partnership. The fastest way to our demise is through divisiveness, apathy, irresponsibility, unresponsiveness, disrespect, rudeness, or treating each other condescendingly.  The best success comes from creating a shared vision, building respectful teams, staying the course, and soliciting everyone’s unyielding determination…so you bet we are passionate!