Using proper community resources, HOA boards and management companies can deal with conflicts in a meaningful way. Although they can never be eliminated when people interact, misunderstandings can be reduced. And when disagreements arise among HOA members, they can be diffused in a productive manner.
The following four guidelines will help board members and management companies solve conflicts in their communities:
- Clearly define the rules and regulations. To comply, homeowners must first know the rules and then understand them. It’s the board’s responsibility to ensure both these tasks are accomplished. The board must review all rules on a regular basis. It must also revise rules to accommodate any ambiguities.
- Review rules and regulations with new members. A welcoming committee or board member should reach out to new residents. It’s not only a good idea to bring new members into the fold, but it helps avoid any confusion with the HOA’s rules. Plus, nobody wants to move into a new neighborhood and get off to a bad start with a reprimand for not following existing rules.
- Find the shortest route to a solution. After a rule violation, the best course of action is to try to rectify the situation as quickly as possibly using the least offensive tactic. For example, a rule violation may be corrected simply by sending an informal, friendly reminder rather than a formal, threatening legal letter. In addition, violation communications should be written inclusively and not in an accusatory manner. In other words, using words such as “our” and not “you” demonstrates a “working together” attitude rather than a “blaming” demeanor.
- View problems as an opportunity to learn. By using a learning mindset, the HOA can approach conflicts and problems in a more positive manner. Every issue brings a educational opportunity. HOA leadership should strive to create an environment full of problem solvers seeking answers.
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