Are you on the board of your neighborhood's homeowners association? If so, you likely know how challenging the job can be. It's not uncommon for a homeowner or even a group of residents to object to certain HOA policies. Often these disputes arise from poor communication. The residents may not understand the reasoning behind certain policies or decisions. Or they may feel that they should have been given more inclusion in the decision making process. You can avoid homeowner disputes and dissatisfaction by being proactive with communication. Here are four tips to increase your communication efforts:
Create a digital newsletter. For many of your residents, the best place to reach them is on their cell phone or tablet via email. Many homeowners associations produce paper newsletters, but in today's digital age, it may be time to transition into a digital format. There are plenty of programs and software available that allow you to quickly create and distribute attractive email newsletters. The newsletter should include any information that the residents may find useful, such as HOA financial information, important rules and guidelines, and notifications of pending rule changes and proposals.
Leverage social media. You also may want to have a forum where residents can ask questions, express concerns, and even organize fun, community-building events. An HOA Facebook page can be a great way to do this. Some of your residents may not have the time to come to in-person meetings. You can give them the opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns on Facebook so they can still be included in the process.
Send out timely reminders on HOA guidelines. As a homeowner, there may be nothing more frustrating than upgrading your property only to find out after the fact that the upgrade violates and HOA rule. You may have a lengthy list of property guidelines and and rules. It could be unreasonable to expect your residents to remember all of them. Instead, make it easy for them and send out reminder letters on a regular basis. In the spring, you may want to send out a letter or email about lawn care maintenance and landscaping rules. In the winter, you may remind them about snow shoveling requirements and Christmas light guidelines.
Take feedback seriously. Residents are often frustrated when they feel like the HOA doesn't consider their ideas or contributions. Sometimes this can lead to intense disputes and confrontations. Give your residents plenty of opportunity to express their concerns. Also, take those concerns seriously. Just because the HOA board thinks something is a good idea, doesn't mean the rest of the community will appreciate it. Be open to the idea that some rules or guidelines need to be changed.
For more information, talk to a homeowners association management company like Cornerstone Properties Inc. They can help you establish a communications process that will avoid unnecessary disputes and confrontations.