Common Misconceptions of Community Association Management
According to current research, approximately one in every six homes in the United States is part of a homeowner’s association. Some people believe that homeowner’s associations provide the best way to maintain value and safety in the neighborhood, while others are afraid that they take away from the rights of individual homeowners. However, many people are simply unfamiliar with what homeowner’s associations are and are not.
When people are unfamiliar or uneducated about a subject, misconceptions and misunderstandings abound. In order to combat these fallacies, you need to know exactly what they are and why they exist. Read on to discover some of the most common misconceptions regarding community association management.
The management company is out to get my money.
No homeowner enjoys receiving a violation notice, especially when that violation is accompanied by a fine. Often, they get mad at the management company because they believe that the company is just trying to get more money from them. However, you want homeowners to realize that the management company does not make the rules or profit from the fines. The regulations are set by the local government and/or the homeowners association, and the management organization simply enforces the policies.
It is also important for homeowners to have a full understanding of what the management company is hired to do. The specifics vary based on each situation, but most management companies handle a variety of issues, including budgeting, paying bills, managing dues and contracting with vendors. In reality, reporting violations and giving fines is a very small part of the management companies job. Most importantly, the money collected goes to the homeowners association, so the management company does not profit from imposing fines.
My homeowner rights are being violated.
Homeowners get angry and argumentative when they believe that their constitutional rights are being violated. Perhaps they believe that they should be free to paint their house any color they like, or maybe they are not happy about the community’s cleanliness regulations.
However, these types of opinions are not true. Homeowners associations are certainly not free to impose any and every regulation on their members. Instead, they are carefully regulated by local, state and national governments. Restrictive covenants are legal, and homeowners need to be aware of the statutes and regulations before they purchase a home.
The board is out of touch and wants more power.
Some homeowners have a negative opinion about the board members of their homeowners association. They feel that the board is made up of power hungry individuals who are just searching for ways to make others’ lives miserable.
In the vast majority of cases, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, there are a few bad apples sprinkled throughout boards across the country, but most citizens join a board because they care about their neighborhood and want to be a good neighbor.
If you have members of your community who are complaining about the current board, encouraging them to get involved is a great idea. They can join the board themselves, or simply take part in a committee. Many times, seeing what goes on behind the scenes will give them a new perspective and appreciation for the board members’ work.
Once you gain an understanding of many of the most common misconceptions, it’s time to develop a plan to educate homeowners and increase community unity. Education is the key to getting everyone on the same page, and there are several different ways that you can choose to provide honest, accurate information to your community.
Host a Meeting
When you are dealing with sensitive topics and heated emotions, there’s nothing quite like a face to face meeting. However, some management companies deal with the challenge of actually getting people to attend. Each member of your community lives a busy life, so adding incentives is a great way to entice them to show up for the meeting.
Serve a complimentary dinner and drinks before the meeting, gather some appealing door prizes, or promise a delicious dessert to end the evening.
Most of today’s homeowners don’t go a day without going online. If your association does not maintain an active online presence, you are missing a great opportunity to connect with residents and help residents connect with one another.
This can be as simple as starting a free website with answers to frequently asked questions, photos of the community, and a list of community policies. You can also consider starting a Facebook page or forum for your neighborhood to encourage interaction.
Welcome and Inform
When new residents move into your community, you have a wonderful chance to get them off on the right foot with the community management association. Don’t pass up the opportunity to inform and welcome new homeowners. Fill a gift basket with local offers and coupons, and include information about the association’s policies and where the homeowner can find answers to common questions.
Maintain Regular Communication
In most volatile neighborhood association situations, the root problem is a lack of communication. You need to find a form of communication that works best for your specific community, and maintain open and honest communication on a regular basis.
If homeowners only hear from the neighborhood association when there is a problem or they have received a violation, you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, think of ways that you can keep residents informed and help them interact with each other. The method of communication is not important. However, staying in contact is.
Whether you are having a face to face conversation or posting in a Facebook group, remind homeowners that you are all on the same team. Stay in touch on a regular basis without becoming annoying, and work toward developing a mutually beneficial relationship. The vast majority of misconceptions can be cleared up just be opening up dialogue, being present to answer questions, and listening to the concerns of homeowners in your community.