2020 has been an extremely difficult year for nearly everyone across the world. Working together and supporting each other can go a long way towards creating a thriving community. HOA Boards of Directors can have a genuine impact on the community members and can set the tone at the association in order to create a peaceful, cooperative living environment. In order to assist homeowners and community associations navigate this difficult time, here are some tips:
1. Be Kind to Each Other
This may be the most important tip of all. Each person handles stress and instability differently, and for some that mean being mean or angry. While Boards should not be forced to simply deal with harassment or nastiness from owners, responding with empathy and respect is an extremely effective tool for diffusing anger and working towards a genuine resolution of issues.
2. Lead with Your Actions
Board members have the opportunity to lead the community by their behavior and reactions to difficult situations. All too often, we see relatively small issues, such as a leaking gutter or an upstairs neighbor who seems to have elephants moving furniture at 11 p.m., explode into major conflicts due to the reaction of the Board. Instead of reacting with anger or immediate violations, Boards have the ability to diffuse the situation by working with the affected parties in a cooperative way to come up with a resolution that works for everyone. Of course, sometimes conflicts are not so easily resolved, but nevertheless, every difficult situation stands to benefit from a reasoned, rational, impartial response from the Board.
3. Have Clear Rules, and Enforce them Equally
One of the best ways to keep the peace at your homeowners or community association is to make sure that the rules and covenants are clear, and that they are enforced equally among all members of the community. Having unambiguous expectations of the community members creates transparency in the organization and makes enforcement much easier if and when violations occur. When members know what is expected of them and know what will happen if they break the rules, there will be far fewer conflicts after the fact. Additionally, members can know that the matters aren’t personal, but instead are simply the Association and the Board doing what it has said it would do all along in order to protect and support the association community.
4. Ask for Help When You Need It
Of course, all of these tips are great until a conflict gets too big or an issue gets too complex. In that situation, it is important for the Board to reach out to professionals to assist with the issue. This can include the Association’s property manager, contractors, and engineers, along with lawyers and legal professionals. It is important for Boards to seek help before situations spiral out of control so that small issues can remain small, and bigger issues can be resolved appropriately.
The attorneys at Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC have extensive knowledge and experience in all aspects of community association law, including everything from drafting governing documents and rules, to assisting with rules enforcements and violations, to protecting the association if a conflict progresses to legal action or litigation, and everything in between. Our office would love the opportunity to assist your homeowners association with any issues it may be facing. Please contact our office today!
Karly Kauf – Attorney @ Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC