Considering an HOA Name Change
Most homeowner and condo associations stick with the same name. However, an association may need or desire a new name for a number of valid reasons. Changing the name may be mandatory based on legalities such as trademark or tax issues. Or, your HOA Board may suggest a name change to eliminate confusion with a similar name or to transform the community image. Whatever the reason, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before you leap into changing the name.
First, evaluate the reasons why to change the name. If it is due to a legal mandate, you may have no choice. Your name is the community brand, so don’t accept a legal mandate at face value. For example, if your name is a registered trademark belonging to someone else, you may be able to negotiate keeping the name. If you’re trying to create a new image, explore how a new name can help you create a new image vs. how the old name could support the new image.
If people constantly confuse your community with a local business name, changing your name can make sense. A change can also be good if past mistakes created a negative impression that you want to correct. Keep in mind that similar mistakes can damage your new image, so consider the result that you’re trying to achieve by the name change. Ask yourself if you can achieve your goal by keeping the name. If not, how will changing the name benefit the association? Answering these questions can help you determine if you’re taking the right path.
Changing the HOA name is a legal process. Thus, it’s a good idea to work through your HOA attorney to make sure that you cover everything. You also need to ensure that the IRS can connect the old name with the new name. Changing your name is a marketing process that can be costly. The association name needs to change on signs, website, social media pages, stationery, account names at financial institutions and other applicable areas.
A name change is a big branding decision because people already know the name, so you’ll have to rebuild trust or at least establish a connection between the names. This is a lot of work. It can be well worthwhile if you want to establish a completely different image, but not worthwhile if you’re only upgrading your image.
CC&Rs and bylaws follow the association, not the name. While they need to be updated to reflect a new name, they are still valid. Many Board members don’t expect this. It’s very much like a woman changing her name upon marriage. Her assets and debts follow her through the name change. CC&Rs and bylaws follow the association the same way.
Think carefully before changing your HOA name because it’s a drastic step that’s shouldn’t be taken lightly. It can be beneficial in some cases, so get professional advice to help you consider the pros and cons before making such a big decision.
*** Wise Property Solutions is a property management company serving the Tri-Cities TN area, as well as the Knoxville, TN area. Specializing in Condominium Association Management, Home Owners Association Management, HOA Management and Gated Community Association Management. Tri-Cities, TN: 423-926-7373 – Knoxville, TN: 865-643-8989