Community can be defined as, “a group of people living in the same place; having shared attitudes or goals.”
When I think of my community, I think of our neighborhood, our neighbors and of course our home owner’s association (HOA). I like our HOA but that isn’t always the case with homeowners. Frequently, the HOA is seen as a necessary evil. In fact, when telling our friends, we were opening a HOA management company, they frequently gasped and shook their heads in sorrow. This was followed by the inevitable question, “Oh my! Why?
So why do we have HOAs and property owner associations (POAs)?
- For starters, there is greater strength in numbers, especially when dealing with municipal, city and/or government services.
- With knowing your neighbor comes greater security and safety.
- A well-organized community will encourage communications. Increased communications increase the community’s abilities to problem solve.
- Problem solving helps create a common bond and as a group, you are able resolve larger maintenance issues, creating a sense of accomplishment and pride in ownership.
- And pride of ownership helps maintain if not increase property value.
So why are some HOAs/POAs more effective while others are, shall we say less popular amongst homeowners?
Communication ranks at the top of the list for most homeowners. People appreciate honest and timely communications, even if the message isn’t popular. With today’s technology, communication is literally at one’s fingertips.
- Welcome letters to introduce new neighbors helps foster inclusion. When residents feel recognised and appreciated, they may be more likely to become involved in their community.
- Community newsletters are a great way to keep the community current with events. Sharing information helps homeowners stay compliant with community rules, encourages participation in events and fosters inclusion.
- Communication is a two-way street and homeowners need the ability to communicate with the board and/or the HOA/POA management company. It is incumbent on the board and/or the management company to respond in a timely manner. And when communicating with homeowners, it is important to do so with respect and at times with empathy.
And how does a HOA/POA management company support strong communications?
- A good HOA/POA management team facilitates the board’s ability to connect with the community. On-line portals facilitate scheduling events, reserving facilities, posting maintenance notices and sharing meeting agendas.
- A HOA management team should be handling small concerns before they become major issues. This eliminates headaches for the board members, validates homeowner’s concerns and helps minimize costly repairs.
- The process for paying and tracking HOA dues needs to be made simple and transparent for homeowners. And when a homeowner fails to pay dues the lapse needs to be addressed in a respectful manner that encourages compliance.
- An effective HOA management team will ensure fiscal transparency. Monthly reports, to include accounts payable, receivable and the reserve analysis must be accurate, timely and available to the HOA board.
The overall goal is to achieve a realistic and measurable community vision, a co-operative decision-making practice that allows for a collaborative process and a sense of belonging. An effective and adaptable HOA/POA management company helps the board and the community achieve those goals.