When homeowners contact the management company or the Board of Directors to lodge a complaint, instead of dismissing them, ask them to volunteer for a committee. This gives them a constructive outlet to be part of a solution on something they are passionate about. Sometimes in serving on a committee, they discover their complaints are not as valid and what they are trying to accomplish is not as easy as they originally thought; but at least they were provided the choice and know that they were heard.
Boards are typically empowered by the governing documents to appoint residents to serve on committees. Although it may not be detailed in the governing documents, members of the same household serving on a committee could be considered a conflict of interest, so Boards will usually steer clear of making such assignments. If a committee member is not doing his job or takes action that could jeopardize the Association, the Board has the ability dismiss this volunteer.
These committees then appoint a chairperson to run meetings and report back to the Board. Examples of committees are Architectural Control, Finance, Landscaping, Pool and Social. There are also temporary committees (called ad hoc committees) that are developed for specific purposes or special projects, such as a Budget committee. Each committee has its own budget which is submitted to the Board for approval annually.
Now for a few examples of concerned homeowners being asked to serve on committees:
One homeowner who had been on the lease waiting list for five years asked if the covenants could be amended to increase the number of homes permitted to lease at any one time. With the Board’s blessing, she was permitted to send a survey to the community to see how many people were interested in amending the covenants, before the Board went through the expensive and arduous process of getting an amendment passed. Because of this exercise, the homeowner felt the Board understood her concerns, and she learned first-hand how hard it is to be get people to respond. In addition, many that did respond were opposed (for various reasons) to changing the covenants. The matter was dropped.
Another homeowner complained on how the money was spent and the amount of the assessments. He was invited to serve on the budget committee. Despite several attempts to reach him afterward by both the Treasurer and Community Association Manager, he was never heard from again.
A truly legitimate concern calls for a truly legitimate action on the part of the person identifying the problem. While some homeowners only wish to complain but not help resolve issues, making it a standard that all challenges will be meet with an invitation to a committee will reduce needless negativity and help those who agree to volunteer to gain a better understanding of how and why Associations operate as they do.