You are probably no stranger to conflict if you have served on the board of, managed or lived in an HOA. We all assume that conflict is bad and something that should be avoided at all costs. In fact, I don’t know many folks who are actually comfortable with directly facing conflict. However, when handled properly, conflict in the HOA setting can actually be a blessing in disguise. Conflict can bring issues out into the open to be constructively reviewed and resolved.
For conflict to be handled appropriately, both boards and homeowners must do their part. This series of blog entries will focus on important steps both parties should take when dealing with conflict. So here we go:
Tip #1: Be Real About What Is Bothering You
It is not uncommon to see conflict arise in the context of covenant enforcement or the collection of delinquent assessments. When things start to spiral downhill and get personal, board members and homeowners should ask themselves what is really bothering them. These folks should also be real about the answer to this question and what role their egos may be playing in the conflict.
Is the board upset because the homeowner hasn’t responded to their request to cure the violation or to address their delinquency? Does the board feel the owner is thumbing their nose at them? Does the homeowner feel the board has treated him or her disrespectfully? Does the homeowner feel they are being singled out and treated differently from other owners?
By looking inward and asking these questions, I suspect you will find in many cases that the real issue is not whether a covenant was violated or how to address an outstanding delinquency. Instead, you may find that homeowners and board members both want to be treated fairly and with respect. By bringing these concerns into the light, the parties have an opportunity to talk about their feelings in a constructive and open manner which will hopefully make it possible for them to move forward in a positive direction.
Stay tuned for Tip #2 in dealing constructively with conflict!