Creating a Welcoming Community Atmosphere: The Role of Communication

HOA New Apartment To Couple

Homeowners’ associations face unique challenges when it comes to HOA management. They want to be welcoming to newcomers but also meet the needs of long-term residents (which might conflict). They are often tasked with implementing new policies that may be necessary but somewhat unwelcome (for example, new requirements for recycling or saving energy). They’re also the go-to place for resident complaints and demands, which can sometimes get contentious. 

To head HOA problems off before they spiral into acrimony, it’s important that the HOA build an effective communication plan that embraces the entire community. This way they can outline rules, regulations, new policies, changes to existing policies, and resolutions for problems in a transparent way that helps gain buy-in from residents who appreciate being spoken to as a valued member of the community rather than a powerless tenant whose overlords have spoken. Transparent communication from the board will help lay a foundation for successful policies and contentment among residents. Open communications will result in residents who are more likely to comply, and even assist with the process of implementation of new or changed policies, making them easier to enforce. 

The following are some best practices HOAs should follow when it comes to communications with property owners. 

Being proactive rather than reactive. HOAs should initiate communication in a way that anticipates homeowners’ needs rather than reacting to them. Of course, this may not work in an emergency when a quick reaction is necessary, but for factors that can be controlled, take the time to brainstorm and anticipate all reactions and address them in advance. 

Don’t emphasize the punishment. Adults don’t enjoy being spoken to as if they were children, so moderate your language in communications and try not to take the tone of a teacher addressing naughty children. While fines for non-compliance should be communicated clearly, they need not be the leading message. Instead, emphasize the benefits for the community of compliance. 

Ensure that communications are timely. A homeowners’ association, like any community, will have its fair share of gossip. Delaying communications can create a void in which gossip runs rife, leaving some homeowners to feel they’ve been left out of hearing the news – particularly bad news – in order to cover up a problem. Try to get ahead of community gossip by communicating early and frequently and be clear if not all the details are yet available. 

Moderate communications forums. Some issues could become contentious, leading to message boards or social media comments that become contentious and even insulting. Inform residents that message boards will be moderated and comments that are less than productive or personally insulting will be removed…and follow through on the promise. 

Study effective communication methods. It might be worth giving board members a bit of homework in learning skills for effective communication so they have best practices to follow and can avoid scenarios that might set residents against the board. This might include understanding how damaging “my way or the highway” language can be and helping them learn how to effectively communicate long-term benefits to residents that outweigh short-term pain. 

Paladin Property Management offers management of day-to-day operations for HOA client associations, including reserve studies, maintenance requests, communication, collection of common charges, payment of vendors, bookkeeping, rule enforcement, resale packages, and construction projects, as well as any other routine administrative responsibilities. For more information or to contact us, call 860-395-8863 or visit our website.