How to Plan Ahead for the Success of Your HOA Website
You probably know that the state of Florida now requires that homeowners associations maintain websites for their communities. If you’re not located in Florida, however, you may figure that those laws have no relevance for your HOA. Although it’s true that Florida law regulates homeowners associations to a greater extent than the laws in most other states, you also can expect those laws in Florida to percolate other parts of the US. So what should you do to ensure that when you create a website for your community, it’s built to provide the right functionality to meet your needs?
Choose the right solution
If you assume that a page on a social media site is enough to establish an online presence that satisfies the Florida law, you’d be wrong. Florida requires a completely independent website, one that’s not the property of the owner of the development itself. That means that your HOA and your board must be the ones to create and update the site. A Facebook page or LinkedIn group will not cut it.
Provide the right kinds of information and access
If you create one or more pages on a free page-builder site, that, too, is not enough, at least not in Florida. What’s missing from those kinds of free, convenient solutions is the ability to create one or more pages that you can password protect for members only. That’s not the same thing as creating one simple login that you share with every resident. To make that kind of solution work, you’d have to create a new password each and every time one of your properties changed hands. Otherwise, prior owners could log into the members-only portions of your site, which they no longer would be entitled to access.
The Florida law prescribes a fairly lengthy list of documents that you must provide on your website, most of which are easy to guess. These include governing documents, contracts, budgets, financial reports, information about the members of your Board of Directors, notices of board and overall meetings and the agenda for each, along with a bunch of other information. Some of these documents, including notices of meetings for owners, must be made public.
The Florida law went into effect in 2019, so existing HOAs in the Sunshine State already must be in compliance. New communities must include a website in their plans.
But we’re not in Florida
Remember that what happens in Florida provides a model for what other states decide to do. Even if your state does not yet require that HOAs, condo associations, and other organizations that represent property owners must create and maintain an online presence, it’s safe to say that that need may be in your future—and it’s easier to create and execute a plan for a great website when you’re not under pressure to comply with upcoming legislation.
Besides, adding a website for your homeowners association can offer you a long list of advantages, so long as you choose the right HOA website software provider.
Why create a website for your HOA?
For starters, a website gives you a place to direct prospective residents who want to learn more about what your community is like and sample your neighborhood spirit. It becomes an easy-to-use marketing tool that you can exploit whenever you want.
With the right software, you can set up an extensive range of customizable, private communications that make it easier for your residents to get to know one another and for you to keep up with them. For example, you can set up a member directory, with contact information for every resident who wants their information included. You also can make directory inclusion entirely voluntary and give residents the ability to opt out with a single click on their profile page.
Along with communications, your website also can facilitate your ability to invoice for and collect dues and fees. If you try to set up a website entirely on your own, you may find it difficult to incorporate online payment features into your site, but the right software provider will incorporate these features directly into the capabilities of your website.
One of the biggest complexities of homeowners association administration crops up when HOAs try to deal with the back-and-forth communication involved in reviews and approvals of architectural changes. Rather than relying on a combination of phone calls and email to accomplish this process, the right website software builds a completely documented and trackable ARC communication flow directly into your site itself. With this type of completely private feature at your disposal, you no longer have to rely on the combination of notes, saved e-mail messages and other scattered communications to trace each resident’s proposed additions or remodeling plans, and your requests for more information—as well as your final verdict on each request—remain part of a permanent record.
Would you like to be able to text or email your members directly through your website, thereby communicating with all or a select subgroup of members at the same time? With the right software, that’s easy, too.
As you research HOA website software providers in your quest for the ideal option for your community, why not start out with HOAStart? We offer you a completely free 30-day trial during which you can set up a site, try out our features, get your board involved, and see what your residents think. Take advantage of our professionally designed, easy-to-use templates, which speed up the process of adding both publicly accessible and members-only pages to your site. Take advantage of our extensive help system, expert support personnel, and even how-to videos that walk you through specific features.
What you quickly find out when you audition HOAStart as your homeowners association website software provider is that not only do we have extensive experience in working with HOAs, but we understand the kinds of needs you face on an everyday basis—along with the fact that the majority of your staff are volunteers, with limited time to devote to administrative duties.
Take advantage of our free trial offer today, and see what an outstanding homeowners association website provider can offer you and your community. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.