Living in a community brings with it many benefits; enjoying peaceful and friendly relationships with neighbors is surely among the most significant. Every now and then, of course, something happens within a community that triggers a conflict between two residents. That is just human nature, and nothing to become alarmed about. For HOA board members, however, it is critical to think through the actions you might take, as an organization, to resolving conflict in your community, as quickly and as fairly as possible.
For community associations, it is always advisable to have a written conflict resolution plan in place. In fact, some state laws actually require this of homeowners associations. These laws sometimes require that conflicts be resolved within a certain span of time—30 to 45 days, in many cases. Even if your community is not constrained by these laws, implementing this kind of timeframe is still recommended.
But what should an HOA’s conflict resolution policy state? A general outline of the process is as follows:
- First, the conflict resolution must be officially triggered, generally through a written request from a homeowner. Ideally, the homeowner’s request will specify the homeowners or parties who are involved with the dispute, and who will therefore be involved with the resolution process.
- Soon after the written request is made, a meeting should be planned, in which both sides of the conflict can share their perspective and the board can assess the details of the conflict.
- Hopefully, simply through talking through the issue, the two parties will arrive at an agreeable resolution; if so, get the terms of that resolution written down and signed!
- If a conclusion is not reached, then it is necessary to schedule another meeting, this time with a third party present. This neutral third party can listen to the circumstances of the conflict and present a compromise or a fair solution—which, again, should be put into writing.
Conflicts are never fun, of course, but an HOA, when it is well-prepared, can play a vital role in resolving conflict in your community, and in fostering positive relationships between residents.