Frequently Asked Questions for Our Raleigh, NC Property Management Company
What is an HOA?
A homeowners association is a corporation created in order to enforce covenants, conditions, and restrictions, as well as maintain, enhance and protect the value of common property and the neighborhood as a whole. By virtue of purchasing a home within an HOA, you are a member who must pay assessments and abide by the covenants.
Why do people want to live in HOAs?
There are many reasons, but the most common we hear are:
- Access to amenities one may not be able to afford or maintain alone (i.e. a pool or clubhouse)
- The security of knowing that your property value will not be lowered by a neighbor who may not be as vigilant as you in terms of property maintenance
What is the Planned Community Act?
The North Carolina Planned Community Act (Senate Bill 801, now Chapter 47F) became law on Oct. 27, 1998. It applies to any planned community (defined as a development in which any owner is expressly obligated by written declaration to pay expenses which maintain, improve or benefit other real estate described in the declaration) developed after January 1, 1999, that contains more than 20 residential lots.
It can also apply to any smaller or nonresidential development, which the developer chooses to subject to the act, or to any existing community which votes to incorporate the act into its existing declaration and bylaws. The act sets standards for the creation, operation, merger and termination of owners associations; for the management and control of common elements; and for punishing violations of the declaration by imposing fines or suspending privileges or services.
What does my community manager do?
He or she implements the decisions of the board of directors, attends board meetings, oversees association contractors, inspects the community common areas and does drive-by inspections of the homes, along with many other activities.
What does my community service administrator do?
He or she answers questions by mail, phone, and e-mail about the association, processes architectural applications in conjunction with the Architectural Control Committee, writes necessary letters, handles mailings, issues work order requests, along with many other responsibilities.
What does my account manager do?
He or she handles the collection of assessments, answers account balance questions, tracks delinquent accounts, and interacts with the association’s collection attorney, along with many other tasks.
Is Towne Properties Raleigh District the board of directors?
No, each HOA has its own board of directors formed from members of the association (i.e. homeowners) who were elected to represent the association. The board makes the decisions about the HOA and directs Towne Properties Raleigh District to carry out those decisions. Towne Properties Raleigh District acts as the administrator for the association — handling paperwork, collecting assessments, hiring contractors, maintaining records, etc. We also provide expertise based on our extensive knowledge and experience with HOAs and their common issues. Towne Properties Raleigh District enhances the board’s ability to govern the association by implementing their decisions. Otherwise, being on the board might become a full-time job, which would be difficult as being on the board is a volunteer position.
How do I get on my board of directors?
If any board terms are coming available at the time of the association’s annual homeowner meeting, that fact will be noted in the meeting notice. Usually, the notice will be mailed to you several weeks before the meeting. It will contain information about submitting your name as a candidate for the board. Your bylaws may also allow nominations from the floor during the meeting. We encourage you to get involved!
I want to be involved, but I don’t have time to be on the board.
You may want to consider joining a committee or asking the board about starting a new one. Many associations have thriving social, communications/newsletter, community watch, architectural control, grounds, and numerous other committees. The best HOAs are those with caring, involved homeowners who are willing to put aside some time and effort into making their HOA truly great.
Will you send me the phone number of the board president?
No. Some boards give out their own contact information and that is their choice. However, board members are unpaid volunteers who often give a lot of time to the association. Towne Properties Raleigh District is hired as an agent of the association and is, therefore, the correct contact point for the board of directors. If you need to speak to the board, please ask your community service administrator to be added to the agenda for the next board meeting. It is best to attend the meeting because most requests cannot be acted upon by one board member individually — the entire board would need to discuss and vote. If you cannot attend a meeting, please submit your concern in writing and you will receive a reply in the mail following the meeting.
What are covenants?
Covenants are the legal documents that govern your HOA. You will also hear them called protective covenants, restrictive covenants, the declaration of restrictive covenants, and CC&Rs. These documents are created and filed prior to development.
Why do I have to abide by the covenants?
When you purchased your home, you signed a rider on your deed that stated you would abide by the covenants for your community. Your realtor should not only provide you with a copy of this document but also ensure that you read it thoroughly before your closing. If you’re a renter or tenant, your landlord is still legally bound to abide by the rules. There is likely a clause in your lease specifying that you must abide by the same rules.
Why did I receive a violation letter? The HOA is too strict.
99% of violation or inspection letters are just to bring an issue to the homeowner’s attention. We do regular drive-through community inspections to ensure there are no issues with the common property, monitor any contractors who may be doing work in the common area, and to ensure there are no covenant violations. If there is an issue, you may get a notice. We understand that often, the grass is tall only because you’ve been called out of town on an emergency, or that the broken mailbox has already been ordered and will be delivered next week. Please feel free to call us and let us know. In the rare case where a homeowner routinely refuses to adhere to the covenants, further action may be taken, but generally, the notices are just to ensure that you know about the issue.
Why do I see violations in my neighborhood? The HOA is too lenient.
Towne Properties Raleigh District completes regular drive-through inspections. When there is a violation, a notice is sent and a reasonable amount of time is given for the homeowner to bring the issue into compliance. If the issue is not resolved in an appropriate number of days, a second is sent, and if necessary, a third notice is sent. At this point, the homeowner will be asked to speak to the board of directors at a board meeting regarding the issue. The board will vote and make a decision regarding how to resolve the issue, and Towne Properties Raleigh District will notify the homeowner and ensure the decision is implemented. If you have questions about a specific problem, please contact a member of your management team.
Aren’t the rules and covenants made to settle neighbor disputes?
No. The covenants exist to protect the appearance and value of the neighborhood as a whole. The board cannot get involved in neighbor vs. neighbor disputes that do not deal with the covenants or where it would not be possible for them to know the facts of the situation with any certainty. We recommend that many of these types of issues (pet complaints, noise, etc.) be resolved by speaking amicably with your neighbor. If that does not help, there may be more appropriate avenues than the board or the HOA management company (i.e. animal control, police, etc.).
I want to purchase a home in an HOA. What should I do?
First, obtain a copy of the legal documents (covenants and bylaws) of the association. If your neighborhood has them, you will also be interested in seeing the Architectural and Land Use Guidelines, a Rules and Regulations Handbook, and any policy resolutions. These items will be available on the association’s website if it is managed by Towne Properties Raleigh District. If you need more information, please contact the Community Service Administrator for the HOA.
I am selling my home … how do I notify the HOA?
Your closing attorney will need to contact the accounting department, so you will no longer be billed for assessments.
I plan to rent out my home … anything I should do first?
Please update the HOA with your new address and phone number in writing. Also provide your tenant’s name and contact information so that association information like newsletters and notices may go to him, as well as you. It is very important to note that many HOAs have restrictions regarding how many homes in the association may be leased and many have rules regarding leases. For example, some associations may require you to obtain a background check or add a clause to the lease stating that the tenant must abide by the covenants. Your community service administrator will be able to provide more information.
I want to start an exterior improvement project. What should I do first?
Exterior changes require homeowners to submit a completed architectural application first. Many associations also have printed architectural guidelines. It is helpful to be familiar with these before submitting your application.
Why do exterior changes require prior approval?
The covenants require prior approval for exterior changes. The idea behind the restriction is to ensure that the appearance of homes remains in compliance with the protective covenants of your association, toward the goal of protecting and enhancing overall property values.
What types of projects require prior approval?
Please review your covenants and/or your architectural guidelines, as each community is different. In general, most exterior projects require approval, including:
- Changing the exterior siding, shutter, or door color of your home
- Removing a tree
- Adding a new deck
- Widening your driveway
- Building an addition or sunroom, etc.
What types of projects do not require prior approval?
As each community is different, please review your covenants and/or your architectural guidelines. If you are restoring part of your property to its original condition, then you do not need to submit an application. A few examples would be:
- Repainting your home the same color
- Replacing windows
- Repairing a deck but not changing the size, shape, color, or material
- Replacing a dead bush with one of the same type and size
Many landscaping projects do not require approval, but major landscaping projects and tree removals almost always do. With rare exceptions, interior changes do not require approval. One example of this type of exception would be a townhome community with a rule that the street-facing side of all curtains is white or off-white.
How long before construction should I apply?
Please review your covenants and/or your architectural guidelines, as each community is different. Be sure to apply as soon as possible, as most architectural committees have up to 30 days in order to review and respond to your application. Some have 60 or even 90 days, so please check your documents or speak with your community service administrator. The application form is located on your Towne Properties Raleigh District community website. The application must be complete with all requested drawings and dimensions. Please note that work may not begin until approval has been received.
How are my assessments being spent?
Each year, the annual budget is mailed to each homeowner.
Who decides how my assessments are being spent?
The board of directors, under the authorization of the bylaws and covenants, determine the budget.
Do I have to pay assessments?
Assuming you live in an HOA with a membership that is mandatory, the covenants specify that you must pay assessments. You can pay your assessments by logging into your account.
How do I submit a complaint against my neighbor?
Complaints should be received in writing (mail, email or fax) and must contain the correct address of the neighbor along with your concern. Anonymous complaints will not be read or considered. Please be 100% sure of the information before submitting it.
How do I submit a complaint against Towne Properties Raleigh District?
Complaints may be received in writing (mail, email or fax, Attn: Beverly McKernie, Regional VP). Alternately, you may wish to call Beverly McKernie during normal business hours.
How do I submit a complaint against the board or a board member?
Complaints should be received in writing (mail, email or fax, Attn: your HOA community manager). Anonymous complaints will not be read or considered.
How do I thank a board member, committee member, Towne Properties Raleigh District employee or community contractor?
Please submit the information to your community manager who will share it as necessary. Thank you.