Whenever you bring two or more people together, there’s always the potential for conflict. Add to this equation a homeowners’ association (“HOA”), assessment delinquencies, foreclosures, financially strapped homeowners and a board facing tough economic decisions that could result in an assessment increase or even the dreaded special assessment. Obviously, under these conditions the potential for destructive conflict escalates through the roof.
If these challenges existed in your HOA, how would the board and homeowners handle it? Would your association come together as a community or turn into a combat zone? It’s up to everyone in the community to decide.
Here are just a few steps boards and homeowners can take to ensure that tough challenges do not split your community apart:
● Boards should communicate early and often to homeowners about tough issues facing the community. These communications should identify the issue, steps being taken to fully analyze the issue and options the board is considering to address the problem. Boards should keep owners informed on significant developments as they occur. It’s also wise for boards to invite owners to participate in the process by providing constructive input.
● Boards should act in a transparent manner and conduct deliberations in the board room. Unless there are grounds for the board to convene in executive session, it’s important for homeowners to have the opportunity to observe the deliberations and to speak to the issue prior to a final decision being made.
● Homeowners should take the time to get informed about the challenge facing the association. This can be accomplished through reading communications from the board, reviewing minutes and attending board meetings. Homeowners should also provide constructive input relating to their concerns and potential solutions to the problem.
● Homeowners should be constructive when communicating with the board. It’s important to remember that directors are volunteers who are also residents of the community. The last thing a board wants to do is make a decision that will adversely impact the residents. However, it is the fiduciary duty of directors to make tough decisions that are in the best interests of the association and sometimes unpopular. Personal attacks against directors are destructive and will not score points. Remember – you catch more flies with honey.
Returning home after a long day should be a pleasant experience and not feel like entering a combat zone. By following the steps outlined above, directors and homeowners will go a long way toward promoting a sense of community and common purpose during tough times.