How to Recession-Proof Your HOA from a Maintenance Perspective

By Alissa Thompson
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When the Great Recession of 2008 occurred, home-owners associations took a hit. Not only was there an increase number of homeowners unable to pay their dues, but continued maintenance was unfortunately overlooked. Without sufficient funds, how can HOAs complete necessary maintenance in their communities if they didn’t plan? As the U.S. economy gets hit by COVID-19, managers need to use preventative maintenance measures to avoid future issues.

Maintenance is one of the first things homeowners notice when the community isn’t being taken care of. It also is one of the first things overlooked when an association’s budget gets tighter. Even during a recession, homeowners are paying their dues expect the same amount of care be given to their community. There is still time to prepare, so get in touch with an HOA consulting expert, and refer to the tips below to help recession-proof your community.

Tips to Help Recession-proof your HOA

1 Hire an expert. It’s important that managers have someone on their side who can look at their community from a fresh perspective. Hire a consultant to inspect the community and/or building from top to bottom, and provide feedback on the most important maintenance items to fix right now and issues to keep an eye on.

2 Do more with less. To prepare for a recession, community managers need to be doing more with less, which means taking a good look at your budget. Do you hire an outside consultant to repair your HVAC equipment when you could certify a team member? Can you reduce the flower changes from four to three times a year by selecting a different type of flower? Does holding back on one window cleaning allow you to repair a plumbing problem that could cost more down the road? Are you doing more to benefit the association by having windows that are a little dirty for a couple of months than running the funds dry? These are important questions to consider.

3 Listen to your building. From large fixes to general wear and tear, these are things that can escalate over time and don’t stop for a recession. You know your community best, so if there is something you know will cost a lot down the road, tackle it before the recession while funds are more stable.

4 Plan for an emergency. Emergencies don’t stop because the economy slows down, which means it is vital for managers to prepare. Think back one, five, 10, even 20 years and make notes of the emergency situations that happened. This will help you evaluate if they might happen again. Get ahead of emergencies with a solid plan. Have detailed emergency protocols posted by all major equipment so whoever finds the problem has a plan of action in front of them to follow.

5 Be honest. Let homeowners know that the association understands the unprecedented times that lie ahead, and management is taking the necessary steps to make sure maintenance issues are addressed and taken care of beforehand. Don’t be afraid to be upfront with any changes the homeowners might see. Even if it is something seemingly small like cutting back on gardening, homeowners will notice and they will ask questions, so it is best to get ahead. explores questions and comments from community association members living in condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. We then assemble trusted experts to provide practical solutions to your most commonly asked, timely questions. We never use real names, but we always tackle real issues. Have a question or comment about your community association? Submit here for consideration:

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Alissa Thompson

Alissa Thompson is the vice president of operations for Cornerstone Managing Partners with offices in San Diego and Los Angeles, Calif.