Common amenities are the reason many home buyers choose to live in common interest communities. They have visions of relaxing by the pool, family reunions at the park pavilion, and movie night with friends in the clubhouse theater. But sharing these common facilities with hundreds of neighbors can be challenging. That’s where HOA reservations come in.
To get the most out of these amenities many HOAs find it necessary to take reservations for these common amenities. HOA reservations serve and important purpose — but let’s face it, they can be a pain in the butt. So what can you do to make the reservation process easier for the member and less of a burden on the manager or board members?
The worst part of the HOA reservation is dealing with the reservation process. Most communities are still using paper calendars and systems that require a lot of back and forth between managers and homeowners. They call the office to check on availability, the manager sends them the reservation agreement, they complete the form and return it with the deposit check. This process takes time and it’s cumbersome for both the manager and the homeowner.
With Technology today most of the reservation tasks can be done through an automated system. Homeowners can see available dates in real time, provide the necessary information, agree to the rules, and provide payment information. All done online, from home, using their computer or smart phone. And here’s the best part — they don’t have to call you to do it!
I recently read a post on the CAI Exchange forum where a board member was being accused by homeowners of trying to make money off the clubhouse reservation fee. The homeowners were upset because a $50 rental fee was charged to reserve the clubhouse. Here are the reasons I suggested to support the HOA reservation fee.
- When someone reserves the clubhouse, other members can’t use it. Remember, it is common area, so why shouldn’t the association profit from letting members use it for their exclusive events.
- In many communities an amenity like this can be very heavily used especially on holidays and weekends. If it’s free, you will often find that some people will use the amenity more than their fair share or reserve it for every major holiday — “just in case“. By charging a fee it will discourage this practice, and the amenity will remain available for more members.
- It’s not be fair for the entire membership to pay for cleaning and wear and tear caused by another members private event. Why not cover these costs with a simple fee and/or deposit
- There are administrative costs to reservations. Making reservations takes time of either board members or managers. Online reservations systems can make that less of a burden but some management companies charge extra to manage reservations.
It’s human nature to push limits — this is particularly true in HOAs. For example, if there is no time limit on a reservation, a homeowner may reserve it for eight hours when they really only need it for two. In addition there are safety, parking and other issues to consider. Setting time and occupancy limits along with guidelines for cleaning will prevent problems and conflicts down the road.
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