Courtesy of Gregory & Appel, an RCI Affiliate Access® vendor
Regular property inspections are an important part of managing condominium or homeowners association (HOA) risks. Thorough inspections increase the safety and well-being of homeowners, protect property values, and reduce the risk of costly repairs and lawsuits.
Conducting inspections regularly keeps an HOA on top of security risks, as well as maintenance and building problems. A thorough inspection should identify problems before they get worse, as well as increase the safety, health and welfare of all association members and guests.
An HOA property manager is responsible for carrying out site inspections according to a schedule determined by the bylaws or the HOA board. Not only should managers conduct formal inspections, but they serve as the HOA’s eyes and ears, finding and correcting hazards, and ensuring members and their guests follow the rules for both individual properties and shared amenities.
If your HOA does not have a property manager, the board or another appointed person should conduct the inspections. Keep in mind that inspections should always be fair, especially when it comes to individual homeowners’ properties.
Whether inspecting communal areas of the HOA or homeowners’ properties, take a comprehensive approach to examine all areas of risk. This may take extra time and effort in the beginning, but will become easier and routine over time:
- Check the HOA’s bylaws and state statues: The HOA’s bylaws may have inspection requirements, including the minimum for what should be inspected and how often. Also, look at state statutes regarding inspections; for example, HOAs should check local fire codes and conduct inspections of fire alarms and extinguishers a certain number of times per year, depending on the state. An HOA’s insurance company may also have recommendations for what to inspect and how often.
- Document the inspection: Documenting the inspection results is critical, as it serves as a written record of problems, issues and violations. As with any HOA document, the inspection documentation should be clearly written and professional, as it may serve as evidence in case of a claim against the HOA.
- Create an inspection checklist: List all areas and amenities of the association’s property and define the items to check in each area. It’s important to revise or add to the checklist as new issues emerge; but the same checklist should be used for every inspection.
- Update the checklist with corrective measures: It’s important to identify problems, but it’s just as important to fix them—either on the spot or in a timely manner. Serious problems should be addressed immediately, but there should also be a timetable for correcting problems of other varying priority levels.
- Present site inspection results to the board: Outcomes from site inspections should always be communicated to the board, as the results may require action from the HOA’s leadership and or affect the annual budget. For example, if the inspector notes that the pool is beginning to deteriorate and will need repair, the board should keep this in mind when they discuss the annual budget.
- File the checklist with the HOA’s records: Inspection checklists should become a permanent record of the HOA. They serve as a record of maintenance, how problems were addressed and when, and may serve as evidence in a lawsuit.
Gregory & Appel is the oldest and largest independently owned insurance agency in Indiana. You can learn more about their products and services by visiting the RCI Affiliate Access section of our website.
This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.
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