Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Clear as Mud

One of the greatest struggles in Board stewardship is homeowner interaction. The majority of homeowners don’t understand what their Board actually does and more than likely only “participate” in community affairs when they personally have an issue. Rather than simply waiting and reactively responding to conflict, many Boards have made the decision to follow the mantra of transparency.  By publishing more information (financial statements, maintenance decisions, etc.), Boards may feel that false allegations will be less likely to take root.

However, this type of transparency is not always enough. A board also needs to consider its obligation to maintain governance continuity - years of experience and knowledge are at stake. Board members need to ensure that they are acting in a way that will set a standard for future board behavior. When a homeowner has an issue or concern within their community, you often hear comments like “I could do a better job than the current board is doing” and other similar statements. In actuality, it’s not that simple. Taking steps to mitigate homeowner revolts and wholesale board turnover is a must!

Homeowner hurt and confusion can stem from the following rules regulating Association living:               
·         Governing documents are written in legalese, and certain phrases have special meanings
·         Overlaps and exclusions in insurance coverage may leave homeowners underinsured
·         Delays in enforcing violations (i.e. noise, smoking, pets) are due to a series of required disclosures and time periods that vary by situation and government law
·         Collections can be arduous, with their own special set of regulations and court procedures
·         Ownership, maintenance responsibilities, and insurance obligations may diverge
·         Leasing restrictions and regulations
·         Technical aspects and government regulations of various vendor professions
·         Differing contractual terms and obligations
·         Fair Housing and Americans with Disabilities considerations
·         Budgeting and capital reserve obligations
·         Parliamentary procedures
Boards often have only a passing understanding of these various frameworks, and the average homeowner may not know these even exist - much less understand how they work separately or together!
Boards must take an active role educating the membership about the dynamics in these different arenas.  An effective option is to mail or email on a monthly or quarterly basis, providing simple overviews on each of these areas.  Not only does this proactively prevent conflict and anger, but it prepares the next generation of Board members to responsibly represent the community once your time of service concludes. 

Set the example and tone of future Boards by taking time to educate today! 

No comments:

Post a Comment