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Managing these specific communities requires unique approaches to financing and budget management. Watch this webinar replay on managing your HOA budget to learn more! 

An Overview of Lakeside HOAs

A lakeside HOA, or a community with a large pond or other waterways throughout, have unique elements and management needs apart from standard HOAs. Not only do the common areas, homes, and amenities need to be maintained, but also, the lake itself may need to be maintained as well should the community need it. Further, there are several legal and regulatory factors that the association needs to comply with when their HOA is built around a lake or other body of water. 

This a type of community association that manages and governs a residential neighborhood situated near a lake or a body of water. It is typically formed when a group of homeowners within the lakeside community come together to establish a framework for maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in their neighborhood. 

Here's an overview of the key aspects of a Lakeside HOA: 

Governance and Management:

These communities operate under a set of governing documents, which usually include the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R), Bylaws, and Rules and Regulations. These documents outline the rights and responsibilities of homeowners, as well as the rules and guidelines for maintaining the community. The HOA is managed by a board of directors, elected by the homeowners. The board is responsible for making decisions, enforcing rules, and overseeing the financial and operational aspects of the association. 

Shared Amenities and Facilities:

These HOAs often provide and maintain shared amenities and facilities for the enjoyment of their residents. These may include lake access points, docks, swimming areas, boat launches, picnic areas, walking trails, and community parks. The HOA is responsible for the upkeep, repair, and sometimes the security of these common areas. 

Architectural Control and Maintenance:

These communities typically have architectural guidelines in place to ensure that the aesthetic integrity of the community is maintained. These guidelines may regulate aspects such as exterior home colors, landscaping, and the construction or modification of structures near the lake. The HOA may require homeowners to submit architectural review requests before making changes to their properties to ensure compliance with the established standards. 

Environmental and Conservation Efforts:

Given the proximity to a lake or water body, these unique communities also often prioritize environmental stewardship and conservation. They may implement measures to protect the water quality, manage vegetation, preserve wildlife habitats, and promote sustainable practices within the community. These efforts contribute to the preservation of the natural beauty of the lakeside area and help maintain a healthy ecosystem. 

Community Engagement and Social Activities:

These communities foster a sense of community and often organize social activities and events for residents. These can include community gatherings, holiday celebrations, sports tournaments, and educational programs related to the lake or local environment. These initiatives help build connections among residents and create a vibrant community spirit. 

Financial Obligations:

Homeowners near a lake or body of water are typically required to pay regular assessments or dues to fund the association's operations, maintenance, and improvement projects. The HOA budget covers expenses such as landscaping, common area maintenance, insurance, utilities, and the management of the community. 

What Makes a Lake Community Unique?

how to manage a lakeside HOA

Homeowners Associations (HOAs) specifically built around a lake or that have waterways throughout have unique elements and management needs apart from standard HOAs. Not only do the common areas, homes, and amenities need to be maintained, but also, the lake itself will need to be maintained. Further, there are several legal and regulatory factors that the association needs to comply with when their HOA is built around a lake or other body of water. There are several factors that contribute to the complexity of managed lake communities.  

Lake communities are unique from a property management perspective for several reasons:  

  • Amenities: Lake communities often have unique amenities, such as private, public and rental docks, boat slips, watercraft storage, fuel sales and access to the lake. These amenities require specific knowledge and experience to manage effectively.  

  • Environmental Considerations: Lakes are sensitive ecosystems, and communities must take into account the impact of their activities on the environment. This impact includes water quality testing and management, erosion control, and management of invasive species.  

  • Regulatory Compliance: Lake communities must comply with local, state, and federal regulations related to the use and maintenance of the lake. This includes permits for dredging, construction of docks and boat slips, and compliance with water quality standards, as well as dam and am breast and spillway maintenance and upkeep.  

  • Seasonal Changes: Lake communities experience seasonal changes, and property managers must be prepared to handle these changes. For example, the lake may freeze during the winter, which requires different safety procedures and maintenance activities than during the summer.  

  • Community Events: Lake communities often have a strong sense of community, and community programming is an important part of this. The management team may organize and manage events, such as fishing tournaments, boat parades, and community clean-up days in order to engage residents and to build a strong culture. 

Lakeside Community Lifestyle & Culture

The community culture of an HOA on the lake or by the water can vary depending on various factors such as the demographics of the residents, the specific goals and values of the community, and the overall atmosphere fostered by the HOA.  

However, there are a few general aspects that often characterize the community culture of these wonderful communities: 

Appreciation of Nature: Living in close proximity to a lake or body of water often instills a deep appreciation for nature among residents. The community culture may emphasize a love for the outdoors, environmental conservation, and a desire to preserve and protect the natural beauty of the lakeside environment. 

Active and Engaged Lifestyle: Lakeside living tends to encourage an active and engaged lifestyle. Residents may be enthusiastic about participating in water-based activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, or water sports. The community culture may promote a sense of adventure and a spirit of exploration. 

Sense of Community: These neighborhoods often foster a strong sense of community and camaraderie among residents. Living in close proximity to one another and sharing access to the lake and common amenities can create opportunities for interaction, socialization, and building meaningful relationships. The community culture may emphasize neighborly support, inclusivity, and a welcoming atmosphere. 

Recreation and Leisure: Lakeside communities often prioritize recreational activities and leisure pursuits. The HOA may organize events, social gatherings, and activities that bring residents together, such as community picnics, fishing tournaments, boat parades, or nature walks. The community culture may celebrate a relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle centered around the lake. 

Environmental Stewardship: HOAs on or near the water may place a strong emphasis on environmental stewardship and conservation. The community culture may encourage residents to adopt sustainable practices, such as responsible use of water resources, proper disposal of waste, and the promotion of native plant species. Residents may be encouraged to be mindful of the impact their actions have on the lake ecosystem. 

Respect for Rules and Guidelines: These neighborhoods typically have rules and guidelines in place to maintain the aesthetic integrity of the community, protect the environment, and ensure the safety and well-being of residents. The community culture may emphasize the importance of adhering to these rules, promoting a harmonious and well-maintained living environment for all. 

Celebration of Lake Living: These communities often celebrate the unique benefits of living near the water. The community culture may include events or initiatives that showcase the beauty of the lake, such as fireworks displays, community boat parades, or educational programs on lake conservation. Residents may take pride in their lakeside community and actively engage in activities that promote and celebrate their shared lifestyle. 

It's important to note that the community culture of these waterside communities can evolve and be shaped by the residents themselves. Each HOA may have its own distinct culture that reflects the values, interests, and aspirations of its residents. 

Understanding Your Local Lake Coalition

As a board member, it’s important to know what resources are available to you to help guide your community and deliver on the expectations of your residents.  

State Coalitions for Lake Associations (CLAs) are collaborative organizations that bring together various lake associations within a particular state. These coalitions are typically formed to address common issues, promote lake conservation and management, and provide support and resources to individual lake associations.  

Here's an overview of what State Coalitions for Lake Associations do: 

  • Advocacy and Education: CLAs serve as advocates for lake-related issues at the state level. They work to raise awareness about the importance of lake conservation and promote policies and regulations that protect water quality, preserve natural habitats, and ensure sustainable use of lakes. CLAs often engage in educational efforts to inform the public, policymakers, and other stakeholders about the value and challenges facing lakes. 
  • Information Sharing and Networking: State CLAs facilitate communication and information sharing among individual lake associations. They provide a platform for sharing best practices, innovative solutions, and scientific research related to lake management. By fostering networking opportunities, CLAs enable lake associations to learn from one another and collaborate on common goals. 
  • Capacity Building: CLAs offer training programs, workshops, and resources to strengthen the capacity of individual lake associations. They provide guidance on governance, fundraising, lake management techniques, volunteer recruitment, and other skills necessary for effective lake stewardship. By building the capacity of lake associations, CLAs enhance the overall effectiveness of lake conservation efforts across the state. 
  • Technical Assistance: State CLAs often provide technical assistance to individual lake associations in areas such as water quality monitoring, aquatic invasive species management, watershed planning, and shoreline restoration. They may have access to scientific expertise and resources that can support local lake associations in their efforts to address specific challenges. 
  • Collaboration and Partnerships: CLAs facilitate collaboration and partnerships among lake associations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, research institutions, and other stakeholders. By fostering these relationships, CLAs create opportunities for joint projects, shared resources, and collective action to address complex lake-related issues. 
  • Policy Development and Implementation: State CLAs may participate in the development and implementation of lake-related policies, regulations, and management plans. They work closely with government agencies and lawmakers to provide input, advocate for lake-friendly policies, and ensure that the interests and concerns of lake associations are represented in decision-making processes. 
  • Funding and Grant Opportunities: CLAs often provide information and assistance in accessing funding and grant opportunities for lake-related projects. They may help individual lake associations identify and apply for grants, coordinate fundraising efforts, or leverage resources at the state and national level. 

State Coalitions for Lake Associations play a crucial role in promoting collaboration, knowledge sharing, and effective lake management across their respective states. By bringing together diverse lake associations, these coalitions amplify the collective voice of lake stakeholders and work towards the common goal of preserving and protecting the ecological integrity of lakes for future generations. 

For example, in New Jersey, the regulatory guidelines for a Lakeside HOA may be influenced by the New Jersey Coalition of Lake Associations. The New Jersey Coalition of Lake Associations is united for the purpose of sharing their experience in lake water and community association management, increasing their knowledge of lake association problems and alternative solutions, building a strong political voice which can help formulate legislation favorable to the preservation of all lake communities as natural resources. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about these specific communities: 

What is the purpose of a Lakeside HOA? 

They are established to govern and manage residential communities located near lakes or bodies of water. Their primary purpose is to maintain and enhance the quality of life for homeowners by enforcing rules, maintaining shared amenities, preserving the environment, and fostering a sense of community. 

What are the typical amenities provided? 

Amenities provided can vary but often include lake access points, docks, boat launches, swimming areas, picnic areas, walking trails, and community parks. Some HOAs may also offer additional amenities such as clubhouse facilities, tennis courts, or marinas.   

What are the common rules and restrictions? 

They typically have rules and restrictions outlined in their governing documents, such as CC&Rs and Rules and Regulations. These rules may cover aspects such as architectural guidelines, property maintenance standards, noise restrictions, boat storage regulations, lake usage rules, and environmental protection guidelines. 

How are they funded? 

These communities are funded through regular assessments or dues paid by homeowners. The assessments cover expenses related to maintaining and managing the community, such as landscaping, common area maintenance, insurance, utilities, and the management of the HOA. The amount of assessments can vary based on factors like the size of the community, amenities provided, and ongoing maintenance needs. 

Can homeowners make modifications to their properties? 

Homeowners within these communities typically need to adhere to architectural guidelines and obtain approval from the HOA's architectural review committee before making modifications to their properties. These modifications may include changes to the exterior of homes, landscaping, or construction near the lake or other common areas. The goal is to ensure that the changes align with the community's aesthetic standards.   

How are decisions made within these HOAs? 

Decisions are typically governed by a board of directors elected by homeowners. The board is responsible for making decisions regarding community matters, enforcing rules, and overseeing the association's operations. Major decisions may be made through board meetings, where homeowners can voice their concerns or suggestions. 

What is their role in environmental conservation? 

These communities often play a crucial role in protecting and preserving the environment surrounding the lake or water body. They may implement measures to maintain water quality, manage vegetation, prevent erosion, and protect wildlife habitats. Additionally, they may promote sustainable practices among residents to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of the lakeside ecosystem.   

Remember that specific HOAs may have their own unique rules and guidelines. It's essential for homeowners or potential buyers to review the specific governing documents and consult with the HOA to fully understand the rules and obligations associated with living in these neighborhoods. 

Pro tip: check out our resource library for more information, tips, and resources on effective community management here!  

What Sets Us Apart?

best practices for managing your lakeside HOA

While each market will have distinct intricacies when it comes to effective community management, knowing the essentials (above) is crucial when choosing a property management company and running your community.  

Whether you hire a manager in charge of 30 properties or a large firm with over 1,000, you must feel comfortable with whom you hire and believe that they will do the right thing. The beautiful thing about a free market and competition in this field is that you can always change companies if the first one you choose doesn’t turn out as well as you had hoped. 

It's important to note that specific rules, amenities, and guidelines can vary between different lakeside HOAs. Homeowners considering purchasing a property within these unique and beautiful places should carefully review the CC&Rs and other governing documents to understand the rights, responsibilities, and benefits associated with living in the community.  

Whether it is a question, a problem, or a new business opportunity, you will want to partner with a company like FirstService Residential that has a proven history of support and knows best practices for your industry. 

As the property management leader, our team has been managing HOAs, condominiums, high-rise buildings and more for decades! Our experienced team can help you establish a plan of action when it comes to staying ahead of important property management trends.  

Tuesday June 13, 2023