From time to time, the members of an HOA board may need to collect special assessments — perhaps because of an urgent, emergency repair need, because of a significant capital improvement project, or because there has simply been a budgetary shortfall of some kind. The most daunting part of the special assessment is simply getting homeowners on board—convincing them that they need to effectively buy in to whatever the board is planning.
Daunting though it may be, there are a few steps the board can take to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. When trying to communicate to your residents the need for a special assessment, remember these rules of thumb:
- First, keep in mind that the term “special assessments” will probably ruffle some feathers right off the bat, so avoid using that kind of language until it is necessary—and until you have the supporting evidence you need to prove why a special assessment is necessary.
- Another tip is to give homeowners some time. They will probably not immediately warm to the idea of a special assessment, which is why it is critical to give them a little bit of time between telling them about it, and expecting them to provide their share.
- Be prepared to show your residents why a special assessment is needed. If possible, use illustrations—pictures, graphs, and charts. Be prepared to have several meetings to explain why the assessment is needed, and how other avenues of finance have been exhausted.
- Make sure that, in addition to providing information about the need, you are also supplying plenty of information about whatever financing options and payment plans you can provide.
The bottom line is that a special assessment may seem, at first blush, like a tough sell—but the patient and prudent HOA board can work to unite the community around it.