Software firm pushes boundaries for Residents' Associations
In the US, it's estimated that over 57 million Americans are members of local Homeowner Associations. Over here, the UK equivalent is Residents' Associations, but their aims are much the same - providing a common voice for home owners in the same area, or those who have the same landlord. As such, any group of three or more people - over the age of 16 - can set one up. Granted the rules and regulations here don't go quite as deep as stipulating the color of your fences or garage door, but they do set out to collectively solve common issues like fund raising for a children's play area, planning applications, road repairs, anti-social behavior, blocked drains, as well as parking and speeding restrictions and 'neighborhood watch' schemes. Some associations will focus on local based home-care services for the elderly and work in tandem with local councils to improve roads. Some are formal and have an agreed constitution enabling them to apply for startup grants and funding to help them run. Forming an association is open as long as its potential residents live in the same village, housing estate, street, tenement building or high-rise, sheltered housing complex, or have the same landlord. They can also be part of the same suburb or an electoral district of local government. It is often the case that residents of other local residents' associations join forces and run collectively and Community Involvement Teams will sometimes assist with setting up.
Given that the initiative to form a Residents’ Association will usually come from the residents themselves, secret ballots - offline or online - will ensure that all residents can have a private vote on whether they wish to form one in the first place. It is generally recommended these voting rights should be restricted to one vote per dwelling, but where there are joint residents or leaseholders; the first named person on the roll of members will have the right to vote. The association is managed by a Committee, elected at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), that act in accordance with the decisions taken at these General Meetings. At subsequent AGMs, these Committee members may resign, but may be re-elected if no other nominees become available. Voting on the Committee is by simple majority, normally by a show of hands, and all votes are recorded and retained for up to 7 years. The Committee may also approve of non-members attending meetings as non-voting observers and they may even be invited to speak. Some residents' associations will nominate candidates for local government office to increase leverage. To become a Committee member, written notice of nomination needs to be lodged with the association's Secretary at least 7 days prior to the Annual General Meeting.
It's astonishing that in the days before the internet, hundreds of flyers would be fed through letter boxes and these meetings hastily organized, closely akin to political rallies. Here groups of volunteers would bring their gripes to the table in an effort to right their community's wrongs. The resulting mounds of paperwork, endless man-hours and stacks of time consuming phone calls, inevitably led to increased phone calls, even bigger mounds of paperwork and higher stress levels when things turned sour! Fast forward to the computer age, and while reductions in workload may seem minimal, growing numbers of UK associations have grasped the obvious advantages of input, storage and retrieval of all vital information from collective hard-drives. By doing so, this helps reduce the complexities of establishing and running a residential association no matter the size, speeds communication and the clearing of disputes and significantly lessens the chances of any important documentation being mislaid.
To that end, VoteHOANow, a leading software company, has become firmly established in this growth market. They provide a user-friendly service, thus enabling the association's voting to be more accessible and convenient for residents by offering straight forward online voting methods. This sets out to make things far easier for the quieter and less mobile residents, as votes on issues raised at meetings is initially by a show of hands, but the actual vote is often conducted via the association's online forum in the 14 days following. The service also helps to improve the association's proactive communication, leading to greater engagement, and involvement in the community.
The clear benefit for all concerned is a huge improvement in the overall quality of service to the homeowners and tenants in the association. This inevitably leads to a better and faster way of working together to improve housing and environmental standards in their neighborhood and increase their sense of pride in the community.
What our Clients are Saying!
"Anyone, whether a property manager or a volunteer Board member, who has responsibility for running an election, should use VoteHOAnow for a virtually effortless election."
"Our election was a success, with more votes than we've seen in years, and over half of all votes came in via electronic voting."
We really appreciated how flexible and easy to work with VoteHOANow was during the process of getting our community ready to vote electronically for the first time.