The last thing anyone wants is to receive a notice out of the blue that they owe a few hundred (or thousand) dollars as a special assessment from the HOA. Though efforts are taken to decrease the need for special assessments, sometimes they happen anyway. There could be an emergency that pops up that there is not adequate funding to cover, or a capital improvement project that costs more than anticipated. In any case, a special assessment is needed in order to cover these costs.

Homeowners are sure to have plenty of questions – and probably some push back too. That is why clear, effective communication from the HOA is essential. With a solid communication plan in place, the board can gain more buy-in and understanding from members, smoothing the path.

Alert homeowners as soon as possible.

The earlier they know, the better, because this allows time to plan ahead for these expenses. Hold meetings to discuss the upcoming special assessment and be prepared for questions. It’s a good idea for the board to work with its property management company to have a plan of action and gather all of the necessary details. Use several forms of communication such as emails and letters to update members on the situation and remind them of upcoming due dates for payment.

Be transparent.

Homeowners will likely want to know why the special assessment is occurring. Be truthful and give as much information as possible – including what the HOA is doing to reduce risk of similar situations in the future. Provide data, images, and plans for exactly how funds will be used to address the problem, and why these repairs (or extra expenses) are necessary.

Provide payment options.

Asking homeowners to pay a large sum of money all at once can be financially challenging for some people, especially if there was little notice. The HOA should do its best to offer payment plans and financing options to help homeowners manage these costs and be able to pay their part.

Be patient.

Give homeowners time to absorb all of this information and figure out what they need to do to pay their share. Realize they may be understandably upset at first,but continue trying to provide as much information as possible to demonstrate the need and importance of the special assessment and what it means for the community. Work together with homeowners to provide support and answer any questions they may have.

Partnering with a property management company like Kuester can help HOAs to better manage their finances and plan ahead to reduce the risk for special assessments. A property manager can also offer guidance and insight on what to do in these types of situations and how to effectively communicate with members. No one likes special assessments, but with the right approach, the board can generate support from homeowners and keep the best interests of the community in mind.

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