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HOA 101: How to Start Working with Your Local Government

Juggling everything from rule enforcement to meeting management can be tough for any board member of a homeowners’ association (HOA). However, you might be able to take some items off your to-do list by working with supportive partners—namely, your local government. When leveraged properly, your local government can help you educate homeowners, reduce your workload, and solve zoning-related issues. Read on to learn why a relationship with local government is so critical and tips for initiating a professional partnership.

Why a Relationship with Local Government Matters

Community associations—and the community association management industry—are a regular focus in legislatures across North America. What happens at the state or provincial level can impact local government and, consequently, your own community. Creating a relationship with your local government can not only ensure you’re up to date on various legislation, but it can also help your board be more efficient and plan strategically.

While your local government can help your association in many ways, some complimentary services include:

  • Notification of upcoming construction.
  • Animal control issues.
  • Wildlife control issues.
  • Zoning issues, such as hoarding or too many vehicles in the yard.
  • Notification of local events and activities.
  • Newsletter content that you can repost for your residents, including local policies and programs.

One of the biggest benefits of working with your city, town, or county is that they’re there to serve you—at no cost, thanks to your tax contributions. Government personnel are public servants; similarly, government programs and initiatives are directed for the greater good of its municipality, including your HOA. 

Tips: How to Build a Relationship with Local Government

There are many agencies, including the Department of Public Safety, school board, zoning, the health department, and animal control, that can support and add value to your association. The key is knowing who to contact and keeping in touch with them. To start, visit your municipality’s website to find each department's contact information. Call them, introduce yourself and your community, and provide your direct contact information. Let them know that you’d appreciate being notified of any projects or happenings around the city or county and add your name to public information distribution lists.

Other tips for creating a partnership with government entities:

  • Learn how your local government works, including how each department works with other internal departments, what functions each department handles, which has to get permission from another entity, such as the mayor, and which departments can take action without obtaining permission.
  • Locate the person who can help you with your issue. Most phone numbers online direct to a general mailbox for the department, but if you can record the name and number from someone who’s assisted you in the past, you’re more likely to get quick service from that same person.
  • Remember to ask: Is this the department that can help me with my issue? Can you please direct me to the person who can help me with my association’s needs?
  • Always be polite, even if the department or person cannot help you with your current issue. Who you’re speaking with might be able to help with something else.
  • Post the contact numbers and/or extensions for the various departments on your community's website.
  • Follow social media channels for government entities and representatives. Many of them notify residents of events, activities, construction, campaigns, such as Click It or Ticket, and other activities on social media.

4 Ways You Can Work with Your Local Government Right Now

There are countless benefits to creating a positive working relationship with government leaders. They can support you in many ways and should be relied on for a variety of services. Some ways you can work with your local government right now include:

  1. Hosting a public safety educational event. A presentation by a police officer or neighborhood watch division can be helpful for your neighborhood watch committee. Or, look into participating in National Night Out, where residents can meet with local police officials and learn how to prevent crime and increase safety in their own backyard.
  2. Partnering with a local utility company. It’s possible to partner with the local utilities to complete projects at a lower cost. Find the right contact and get information on the city enhancements happening near you to understand how you may be able to save on upcoming maintenance to-dos in your own community.  
  3. Reaching out for weather-related guidance and tips. If you live in an area with drought, your water district can help you with watering days. It can also provide information on how to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting during colder months.
  4. Inviting a government representative to your annual meeting. A rep from the city can advise homeowners and board members of any new laws or regulations impacting your association.

Learn More About Valued Relationships with Helpful Partners

Whether it’s helping your neighborhood watch committee or completing projects more cost-effectively, a government partnership can increase your productivity as a board member and provide you with information needed to better support your community. Finding the right partners, like government contacts and professional service providers, can ease some of the stresses of your role. Read our ebook, "The Community Partners & Professional Service Providers Every Board Needs," to learn what partnerships are most valuable to your community.