“Better Together” in Belmont, NH
Long-standing resident-owned community thrives under prudent management.
The ROC USA® slogan Better Together couldn’t be a more apt description of the good that comes out of resident ownership, according to Lois Parris, a homeowner in the Lake Region Cooperative in Belmont, NH, since 1983. Lois has served on her Cooperative’s Board of Directors since it was founded in 1990, ten years prior to the community becoming resident-owned in 2000. “Through resident ownership, you improve your quality of life,” she says.
The first and perhaps most important element of the cooperative’s success has been its Board. “We have a diverse and well-intentioned Board,” says Lois, which is “a source of continuity and strength. We run the community by the book, like a business,” she says. “This is the hardest thing for people to accept, but it comes down to the fact that fairness and good rules make a good community.”
The other element of success was the Cooperative’s decision early on to place the day-to-day management of the community in the hands of professionals. With 111 homes in the community, there is a lot of administrative work, as well as many situations that are best handled by an outside management firm. For example, the company assumes responsibility for addressing rule violations, as well as collecting monthly fees and following up with homeowners who are late. “There is no favoritism,” says Lois, “everyone is treated fairly and equally.”
One of the other factors affecting the success of the Lakes Region Cooperative has been the continual improvement of its infrastructure, from upgrading electrical services, replacing old septic systems, adding a new well house and repaving the streets. “Even though we’ve made all of these improvements, our monthly fee has only gone up once in eight years by $20.00,” says Lois. She also points out that, due to the oversight of the Board and the accounting services of the management company, they have a clean audit year after year.
When asked for a word of advice to homeowners sitting on the fence about resident-ownership, Lois had this to say: “You are going to pay rent, one way or another. Who would you rather pay it to, yourself, or someone else?”
A special note: Effective September 4, 2008, Lois Parris has been appointed to ROC USA’s Board of Directors as a community leader representative.