The Truth about HOAs: Involved Homeowners are Happier Homeowners
This is the final post in a three-part series debunking common myths about living in community associations. Click here to read part one and part two.
Myth: homeowners don't need to attend community association board meetings.
Board members are community leaders. They volunteer their time to make decisions on the well-being and financial health of their association. Every homeowner has a right to know what’s going on in the community and the board should embrace that.
FACT: Homeowners can and should attend regular board meetings to know what’s going on in their community.
However, it’s important for homeowners to understand the structure of board meetings and only participate at the designated time on the agenda. This usually happens once the board has conducted their board tasks and is referred to as a homeowner’s forum.
Transparency is key to neighborhood harmony. For boards, this is your chance to shine and show the amazing work you are doing for the community. Post the meeting minutes on a bulletin board or on the association website. (What Can a Community Website Do for Your HOA? Here are 14 Fresh Ideas.) This will allow all owners to quickly see what is being discussed. Make sure all topics of discussion are covered in the minutes, not just the ones that pass. (Download this meeting minutes template for your next board meeting!) Some projects take time to develop and some owners might have expertise in an area the board does not. Posting the projects the Board is considering might increase the chances for future Board members to step up and take a leadership role.
At a minimum send out a community newsletter or mailing twice a year. This should consist of seasonal information, neighborhood reminders, insurance information, budget updates, and include a letter from the board or the board president. Let the homeowners know what you are working on and what projects are up in the regular maintenance calendar. Informed homeowners rarely complain about receiving too much information about what’s going on in their Community. But, uninformed homeowners that are left out of the loop can create neighborhood discord if it seems like decisions are being made in secret that only benefit a few homes.
Finally, make the annual meeting an event worth attending. Talk about your accomplishments as a board since the last annual meeting. Brag about replacing the roofs on schedule without having to special assess because there are adequate reserves. Talk about your future goals and projects. Let the homeowners know next summer is the planned sealcoating of driveways to extend the life of the asphalt and save you all money in the long run. Express that you understand what a pain and a disruption these projects can be, but focus on the reason behind them. Thank the homeowners for electing you and let them know what an honor it is to serve by showing your passion for your community.
The difference between a happy and well-run community and a dysfunctional and bickering community is YOU! Be a positive contributor, educate yourself, enforce the governing documents fairly, set a realistic budget and be open and honest with everyone. Most importantly, lead by example. As a board member, it should go without saying that you should know and follow all association rules. The results will speak for themselves.