Thank you for your interest in a permanent membership. The following Q&A were created to address some of the common questions. If you have any additional questions please feel free to any board member or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Why does Somerset need a permanent membership?
As a volunteer HOA, the community does NOT have guaranteed revenue and WILL NOT qualify for a loan from a bank or other lending institution. The proper maintenance, repair and improvement of the common areas, including the pool, clubhouse, tennis courts, and lake are expensive initiatives that would be better suited to be amortized over time through a loan. As a loan is not currently not possible and all large expenditures have to be pre-funded through donations. Raising capital through donations is a slow process and requires additional volunteer time to coordinate. This can delay critical repairs to aging infrastructure (spillway) or valued amenities such as the pool or tennis courts.
Standardizing the protective covenants – There are few homes in Somerset that did not sign the covenants back in early 2000s, part of this campaign will be to ensure all homes within Somerset are held to the same guidelines. The covenants are based on the land use restrictions that were in place when Somerset was built. The purpose of the covenants is to help with community wide standards NOT to try to enforce house colors, grass length or other HOA crazy rules.
Q: Why are the permanent membership being discussed again? Didn’t we already discuss this in 2017 and in 2020?
Yes, Permanent membership continues to be a key issue driven mainly from older infrastructure in the neighborhood and maintenance/improvements needed to support common areas including the pool, tennis courts, clubhouse, spillway, parking lot, bridge and lake. The September flooding in 2021 washed away a large portion of the spillway and part of the parking lot. Without the ability to secure a loan for the repairs the spillway remains an eye sore to the neighborhood and has potential to flood the clubhouse again.
Q: Do I have to join?
No, Each lot owner may choose to participate, or not. However, once a homeowner has consented, their property is bound perpetually. We have set the minimum number of members at 200 (out of 305) neighbors. Once 200 lot owners consent, Somerset has a permanent association for those who have consented. Conversely, those who elect not to participate during the initial period will incur back dues and an initiation fee should they or a subsequent owner of their property elect to join, later.
Q: Why are there different types of memberships?
Permanent membership is needed to help ensure on-going participation in homeowners association and proper maintenance and upkeep of community property. Different membership types exist to address various homeowners comfort levels and usage needs. For example, some homeowners may not actively use the swim/tennis amenities and may prefer to become a civic member. See membership options and dues for more details.
Q: What happens to the current covenants signed by 75-80% of SHOA neighbors?
The existing covenants were incorporated into the permanent association, the use restrictions were updated to common standards while keeping the overall intent of the original. (There are no extreme use restrictions regarding house colors, grass length ect..)
Anyone that signs up as permanent or civic member will adhere to the new permanent association covenants. If the homeowner signed the convents in 2004 and opts to be a contributing member the existing 2004 covenants will remain in effect.
Q: Once we sign, how is it recorded?
Consent will be notarized and filed county land records.
Q: What happens when we sell our home?
During any sale, a title search is done. If the lot is part of the permanent association, the consent will appear during this search.
When a home is sold in Somereset, SHOA is contacted by the buying agent and the current status of the HOA membership is shared and the agent is informed of any fees or back dues the lot may need to pay to become a member.
Q: Won’t permanent membership discourage potential buyers if I sell?
Not likely. Permanent associations are the standard in swim & tennis communities. They are expected and desired, because they afford protection against the demise of any common areas. Poorly maintained facilities would have a drastic effect on property values and discourage potential buyers.
Q: What happens if I don’t pay my dues?
The board will notify any permanent member who has forgotten to pay. If these reminders go unheeded, a lien may be placed upon the property. Any lien would have to be satisfied before refinancing or selling a property to convey clear title.
Q: Can the board initiate an assessment to members ?
Yes, but by having an active permanent membership we are striving to create a solid financial foundation that will support any necessary maintenance to the community without having to have an assessment. Any special assessment first shall be approved by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of eligible Full and Civic Members of the Association
Q:What if I join, but my neighbor doesn’t and doesn’t maintain their property?
We have no legal means to compel a non-member to maintain their property to the community wide standard in the covenants. However, Cobb County has ordinances on: home businesses, grass height, and many other issues. They are enforceable, now. Secondly, we can encourage the next owners to join as permanent members. There is approximately an 8% turnover per year in Somerset, so it may not take long to see many homes become members.
Q: What happens if I do not sign-up now as a Permanent or Civic Member?
You will be encouraged to continue to pay your fair share in annual homeowner dues as a contributing member, , in order to maintain the entrances, islands, and common areas, and, thus, the property values in the neighborhood. Also, if you ever decide to become a permanent member, there will be a $1000 initiation fee and up to $2000 in back homeowner dues.
Q: How much authority will the board have?
The Board manages the affairs of the association, including the right to enforce the covenants. However, certain limits have been placed on action of the Board without consent of the membership. For example, if the board wants to: change dues above a present percentage, amend by-laws or covenants, spend more than 50% of annual revenue, or levy a special assessment, they will need to get a 2/3 vote of all permanent members. If members are dissatisfied with the actions of the directors, they may remove the directors. The members may call a special meeting by petition of 25% of members. At such a meeting, the members may remove directors. The board will not be able to make any decision about community trash service or any other individual decision. In fact, under the proposed documents, the board will have less power over members’ dues than they currently have.
Q: Why should I pay for the Swim & Tennis when I don’t use them?
The Swim/Tennis facilities and clubhouse add value to all our homes and require regular maintenance. They are a great way to connect with the Somerset community and get to know your neighbors. If you would prefer not to use them, you can sign up for civic membership and optional choose each year if you would like to add swim/tennis.