Do you remember the childhood fable about the infamous Henny Penny who had an acorn fall on her head and was convinced the sky was falling? Our dear little Henny Penny freaked out telling the King and every other animal who would listen to her (including Cocky Lockey) that the "sky is falling!" Ms. Penny and her cohorts, on a quest to warn anyone who would listen about the fate of the universe, met with an untimely demise when a fox invited them into his lair and ate them all. The moral of the story: Do not believe everything you are told.
I couldn’t help but reflect on poor Henny Penny, when I read an article published in the Green Valley News entitled HOA NUGGETS: Deal with problems early on. The article recounts a real life tale about a “previously very important person” in a Fortune 100 Company who moves into a well run high-end retirement community and convinces residents the community is going down the drain as a result of wasteful spending. He proceeds to bully folks into believing his story, gets elected to and is appointed President of the Board. From that point on, things really do go downhill for this community. Four years later, residents of the community were so fed up with this fellow’s reign that they threatened a recall. The “previously very important person” quietly resigned.
As we enter “annual meeting season” this story is extremely relevant. Unfortunately, it’s not all that unusual for a member of a homeowners’ association (“HOA”) to believe the sky is falling in the HOA and to try to convince other members of the community that the place is falling apart! Sometimes this is true – but many times it’s an overreaction that doesn’t serve the community well. Sometimes these folks are well-intentioned and sometimes they have a personal vendetta against members of the board or management.
Before you become a Henny Penny convinced the sky is falling, here are some tips:
- Use the “Sniff Test.” Do the story and conclusions you are hearing seem based in reality or do they seem based upon emotion or a personal agenda? If you are unsure, ask the person making the allegations to substantiate their claims or conclusions.
- Do Your Homework. Before believing everything you hear, do your homework by attending meetings of the board, asking questions of the board and management and requesting documents that might be illuminating.
- Don’t Jump to Conclusions. Do not react emotionally to information you are provided about the condition of the HOA or actions taken by the board or management. Instead, draw your own conclusions based upon solid facts and information. Folks with a personal agenda will want you to buy into their hype without questioning their motives.
Remember – the last thing you want to do is follow Henny Penny into the lair of the fox. This could be detrimental to you and your HOA!