Serving as a member of an HOA board is never easy. While the work can be highly rewarding, it can also entail some sticky situations and difficult conversations. This is especially true during periods of economic uncertainty. As an HOA board member, you may find yourself needing to collect overdue assessment from a community member who is having a hard time just getting by; or, you may have to request that a homeowner makes significant changes to his house or landscaping, simply to bring everything up to community standards, even when you know the work will prove costly.
These are challenging situations for any HOA board member. On the one hand, board members know that they must not make exceptions or show favoritism, and that the rules must apply to everyone equally. At the same time, there is always a desire to grant leeway, especially when residents are experiencing real tumult in their personal or financial lives.
How, then, can members of the HOA board most effectively communicate with residents, even when times are tough? Here are a few basic principles to remember when communicating with homeowners :
- Consistent and detailed communication goes a long way. It is unwise to simply tell a resident he or she needs to do this or do that. Instead, make it a priority to always explain the circumstances, to expound upon what the rules are and why they must be enforced, and to make it clear that you are treating all residents fairly. Being proactive in this way is often very helpful.
- It is also important to ensure that all homeowners are engaged in the decision-making process. If you are planning anything that might require high levels of spending—and of additional homeowner assessments—then it is vital to bring your plans to the full community, talk through it with them, and get a consensus on board. If homeowners know what the HOA is doing on their behalf, and have agreed to it, they will be a lot more receptive.
- Finally, remember that enthusiasm is contagious. If you and your fellow board members make a decision, support it fully. Believe in it. Not every resident will be on board, necessarily, but your enthusiasm can help to win over a good many of them.