Could Holiday Charity Include Your HOA?

h o a homefront hoa homefront Dec 22, 2023

By Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL, HOA Homefront Column

Regardless of one’s religious leanings, most agree that the holiday season is a time of generosity. Here are several ways those involved with the HOA can through generosity promote community, peace, and harmony throughout the year.

Board members can:

  • Assume first that homeowners violating the rules or CC&Rs for the first time might be unaware they are violating a rule. Take some time to explain the purpose of the rules, instead of assuming intentional disrespect.
  • On less-serious violations give first-time violators warnings instead of fines. Give them a chance to correct their mistake and be a better neighbor going forward.
  • Try not to involve legal counsel so quickly in disputes – maybe counsel can stay in the background to reduce the intensity of disagreement.
  • Before “going legal,” when there is a problem, first consider a chat with the homeowner. Maybe it can be worked out without the expense and angst of legal intervention.
  • Do things the board is not legally required to do, but that builds trust in the membership. Work harder to better inform the members about significant decisions the board is making, and give owners substantial advance warning to prepare for upcoming projects or major policy changes.
  • Show respect for directors who think and vote differently from you. You’re all working for the best HOA you can have, right? 
  • Be respectful and attentive during member remarks in open forum- regardless of whether the remarks are supportive.
  • Be kind.

The homeowner can:

  • Remember that the board of directors are unpaid volunteers who govern the HOA in their spare time after work, and who pay the same assessments as you pay. 
  • Remember that the board and management are responsible to the entire HOA community, not just you.
  • When a rule violation is brought to your attention, don’t assume you’re being singled out but remember that boards typically do not disclose enforcement actions to the membership and keep things private.
  • Keep things businesslike, and avoid assuming ill intentions by the board or manager- they’re just trying to do their job. 
  • The next time you speak to the board in a meeting, start with suggestions, not criticism.
  • Take a moment to thank the board volunteers for their service.
  • Volunteer for the board, for committees, or to help in other ways. 
  • Be kind.

The neighbor can:

  • Remember the “Golden Rule,” treating others as one would like to be treated. Try to be neighborly, and show neighbors the same concern and understanding you feel you deserve.
  • Avoid making changes to your home that may be pleasing to you but which conflict with the appearance of other homes in the HOA community.
  • Be kind. 

The manager can:

  • Give grace to homeowners who are upset. Without condoning rude or even abusive language, listen for the core of the homeowner’s concern – In the middle of the angry words there may be a legitimate complaint that is just expressed poorly.
  • Help the board become an educator for homeowners, not just an enforcer of rules. Operating HOAs becomes more complex each year, as more and more laws regulate HOA governance.
  • Treat the complaining members as respectfully as the appreciative ones.
  • Be kind.

If everyone helps, your HOA can become a happier place to live in the new year. Life is too short; Let’s all try!