Yesterday I began posting a series of blog entries outlining traits of happy and effective residents in HOAs. While members of the boards of directors of HOAs certainly have a significant role in creating vibrant, healthy and livable communities – residents of HOAs play an equally important role in fostering cooperation and reasonableness. Here’s the first trait I outlined yesterday on our journey to discover how residents can do their part to make their associations a great place to live:

Trait #1: Happy and effective HOA residents understand that they must be familiar with and comply with the governing documents of their HOA. 

While it’s imperative for residents to understand and comply with the governing documents of their associations, we can’t stop there. Controversies in HOAs can arise over issues that have little to do with complying with the governing documents. This is particularly true when boards make tough decisions to increase assessments or even levy a special assessment. As a result, we arrive at Trait #2.


Trait #2: Happy and effective HOA residents get informed before reacting negatively. 


As an attorney who specializes in HOA law, I can tell you that one of the things I see far too often is residents reacting negatively to a decision of the board and going on a personal crusade of misinformation and destruction. As I mentioned above, this is particularly true when a board makes a decision that affects the pocketbooks and wallets of the residents of the HOA. As a homeowner in an HOA myself, I totally get that nobody wants an assessment increase or the dreaded special assessment. 


Happy and effective residents of HOAs understand that it’s essential to get all of the facts before mobilizing the troops to oppose a decision of the board. If you are upset with a decision of the board, it’s your responsibility to get the facts on what issue the board was facing that led to the decision, what options the board considered to deal with the issue and why the board made the ultimate decision you are concerned with. 


You can get this information by: (1) attending board meetings and asking questions in a constructive manner without personal attacks; (2) asking management for more information on the issue; (3) reading newsletters and other information disseminated by the HOA; and (4) you may even want to request that a Town Hall Meeting be held on the issue so that owners can get more information.


I think it’s fair to say that once folks take the time to get informed about an issue before they begin a grassroots campaign to change the decision, they are less likely to react as destructively and are more likely to take a measured and constructive approach in addressing the issue. 


Stay tuned for more entries on the traits of happy and effective residents of HOAs!