HOA welcome packets can help new owners feel more at home, but there’s much more to a good packet than a nice letter and list of rules.
Welcome packets allow associations to showcase the best of the development, including amenities and perks of living in the community, while creating a positive experience and making expectations clear for new residents.
Moving is stressful enough without having to worry about payment processes and schedules, garbage disposal, and parking rules. A welcome packet containing this sort of information is a helpful tool in eliminating some of that stress. Owners can review the packet at their leisure, once they’ve had a bit of time to settle in.
HOAs could also send digital welcome packets to owners through email. This is advantageous because it’s easier for owners to locate during a time when they’re moving tons of stuff around. They can sign and return any forms online, and the association saves money on printing costs. It’s also easier to assemble and make edits to digital packets. And, if the HOA uses management software, it’s easier to get an owner to register and make an account if they’re already in front of their computer or on their phone.
A welcome packet can (and should) be as unique as the HOA that puts it together, but the items listed below can be incorporated into almost any association’s packet.
The first item in an HOA welcome packet is usually a welcome letter. Since this document is designed to be warm and friendly, it can be light, colourful and attractive. Keep the letter brief, include the HOA’s logo, and if possible, sign each letter for a personal touch.
You can follow this format if you’re not quite sure how to put a welcome letter together:
- Congratulate the owner on joining the community. Devote a few sentences to the things that make this community special.
- Introduce yourself and/or the board. Briefly explain your roles.
- Highlight the most important forms and information included in the packet.
- Include contact information for the property manager and/or board.
- Avoid talking about matters relating to dues, violations, etc. These matters will be covered by other items in the packet.
- End the letter with a warm or friendly message.
A contact list is a useful item to add after the welcome letter. If the new owner has questions about where to dispose of moving boxes or has an issue with something in the home, providing them with the correct email addresses or phone numbers will enable them to solve problems quickly. HOAs may provide contact information for:
- Board members
- HOA manager
- Management company
- Any other relevant contacts such as electricians, welcome committee, plumbers, city departments, etc.
Don’t forget to include a brief description of what issues each contact can help with. For example, if the owner wants to paint the front door of their home, state who they would need to contact for permission.
Now you can get into the more formal items like the HOA’s CC&Rs. This will help provide clarity and encourage cooperation from new owners. Chances are your HOA has a very long list of bylaws and rules, so it may help to bold or highlight the items that new owners would need to know about. This may include:
- Pets – including bans on certain types or breeds of animals, and limits on the number of pets one household can have
- Garbage – where to drop it off and when it gets collected
- Amenities – hours of operation, rules, requirements
- Maintenance – who is responsible for fixing what, how often maintenance duties must be performed
- Architectural guidelines – what is and is not allowed, how owners can request permission to make changes
- Parking – rules regarding designated parking spaces, limits to what types of vehicles can be parked on the property
- Visitors – rules about length of stay, guest parking
- Dues/fees – when dues are owed, how payments can be made, consequences for paying late
- Meetings – when meetings are held, how owners are notified, how owners can participate
- Noise – quiet hours, what qualifies as excessive noise, consequences for disrupting neighbours
- Smoking – where is it permitted, consequences for breaking the rules
- Violations – process for reporting violations, what happens when rules are broken
- Disputes – processes for dispute resolution
There’s no way that new owners will remember everything right away, but they’ll get more familiar with the rules as they spend more time in the community. Do your best to set your members up for success, and invite them to bring any questions about the CC&Rs to the board or property manager. If the governing documents are online, you can also include a link so that owners can always access the most up-to-date version.
After reviewing the governing documents, new owners might feel a bit overwhelmed. A “how-to” guide addresses the questions that new owners ask the most without all of the extra information they don’t need. These are some good questions that owners frequently ask:
- Do I need insurance?
- How do I pay monthly dues?
- Can the HOA recommend contractors/service providers?
- How do I set up my electricity/gas account?
- How do I secure a parking space?
- Is guest parking available?
- When is garbage day?
- Where do I leave my garbage bins?
- Where can I take old furniture and other oversized items?
- What are management’s office hours?
- How do I submit a work order?
- Do I need to book amenities in advance?
You can also add helpful information about stores and services in the area. For example:
- Where is the nearest grocery store located?
- Who can I call if I’m having issues with my water heater?
- Where is the closest drugstore located?
- Is there a veterinarian in the area?
While this information doesn’t relate to the HOA directly, it is very helpful to new owners who are not familiar with the area.
Forms should be the last documents included in the packet. Depending on the association, the forms might be for access authorization, e-consent, emergency contact information, pet registration, or committee sign-up. Mark the forms that need to be returned right away, and highlight any due dates for the forms. Make sure you have provided instructions about how owners should return the forms, and let them know if the forms are available online. It may be a lot easier for owners to fill out a digital document and press send instead of physically taking it or mailing it somewhere.
HOA welcome packets are a great tool for helping new members get acquainted with the community. Most associations include a friendly welcome letter, contact information, the governing documents, and any forms that need to be returned. Some associations even include a gift in these packets, such as a basket or a gift card to a home improvement store or local restaurant. Your packet does not need to be elaborate, but it should be assembled with thought and care.
If you were moving into this community, what would you need to know in order to get comfortable? What concerns or questions have members had in the past? Try to include information that will answer these types of questions.
Download our free welcome letter template