Every homeowner’s association has its unique challenges. However, lack of communication seems to be a recurring theme until a dispute arises. HOA boards can force tenants to communicate, but they may get better results if they initiate the conversation.
Strong communication involves dialogue between two or more parties. Boards can start the process by reaching out, perhaps even individually, to association members. They can also mail out the minutes of a meeting and announce open meetings and work sessions in advance. While some may be put off by or ignore the unsolicited messages, proactive communication illustrates that:
- The board is trying to engage with the association.
- It is sharing information in the spirit of full disclosure.
- Its members are approachable on this and other issues.
These measures reduce the likelihood of misinformation and help keep discussions forthright and constructive rather than mired in gossip, resentment, and an increased chance of legal action.
Common themes to address
These issues often are the cause of disagreements:
- Rules: This can involve potentially instituting a new rule or regulation or a necessary change to a current one. Change can be difficult, so the board members should be prepared to walk residents through the reasoning for the change.
- Money: Nothing seems to get associations up in arms than the “misuse” of money. Tenants may disagree with the action, not understand why they are paying more out of pocket, or not realize what boards spend money on. Financial transparency can help them better understand where the money goes and why.
- Violations: It’s a fact that people don’t like being told what they can and can’t do. They also don’t like it when others flaunt those restrictions or are unaware of them. The board should address these issues as they arise rather than leave them until matters reach a breaking point.
How to communicate
Casual verbal interaction can be an excellent way to initiate a conversation. Still, it may be wise to compose a letter if the issue is complex or includes violations of the bylaws. Sometimes the most effective form of communication is a letter from a law firm that can explain the matter in a neutral tone that deescalates the situation before it reaches court.