What makes a community happy? A lot goes into it, but it’s no secret that much of it depends on community leadership. That includes members of the homeowners association board and, if professional management is involved, your community manager. This also applies to the management company and the team supporting the community manager.

When these individuals know their rights and responsibilities, then they can be successful at their roles. And when that happens, everyone in the community wins!

So let’s take a look at what some of these rights and responsibilities are. You could think of it as a checklist -- or seven steps to a happy community.
The rights of community leaders include:
  1. Counting on owners and residents. Everyone who lives in the community should do their financial part by paying dues and assessments to the association in a timely manner.
  2. Relying on homeowners to know -- and follow -- the rules. Community leaders should be able to wholeheartedly place their trust in residents to be knowledgeable about all HOA rules and regulations. Beyond knowledge, they should be able to expect compliance, too.
  3. Respect. We’re talking about both receiving it and giving it. Mutual respect among residents, community managers and HOA leadership should be a given.
  4. Meetings that matter. When residents and board members get together, the focus should be on constructive outcomes.
  5. Collaboration. It takes an entire team to build a community, so board members and the professional community management company should be able to rely on residents to do their part, too.
  6. Privacy. Board members are just like everyone else -- they deserve downtime, off the clock. That means residents can’t expect them to be “on” while they’re at their homes or joining in community activities.
  7. Improvement.  Access to training and workshops goes a long way toward making board members better at what they do. Your professional management company should provide educational opportunities and board members should take advantage of them.
Community association leaders have a responsibility to...
  1. Work for the good of the community. Board members and community managers have a lot of responsibilities, including the kind of fiscal stewardship that enables a community to maintain its lifestyle standards. Further, it’s up to them to set a long-term vision for the community and to enact the strategies and tactics it takes to realize it. This includes protecting and enhancing the community brand.
  2. Know their stuff. Board members and HOA managers should be knowledgeable when it comes to the ins and outs of the community’s governing documents, local laws, bylaws, and regulations. It’s incumbent upon them to keep apprised of all revisions and changes that these documents might undergo.
  3. Roll out the welcome mat. It’s up to leadership to welcome new residents – and that includes owners and non-owners alike. It’s a great way to not only establish a neighborly rapport, but also help newcomers familiarize themselves with community standards and expectations.
  4. Be responsive. When homeowners ask for records and documents, it’s up to leadership to provide them.
  5. Collect dues and assessments. Of the many hats you’ll wear, “collector” is one of them. But don’t think that it makes you the bad guy; a good community manager or board member will help homeowners undergoing hardship to find a payment plan that enables them to meet their financial commitments. Remember, foreclosure is the last avenue you want to pursue after all other potential solutions have been explored.
  6. Keep communication open. Leadership should keep communication at the forefront of their agenda. Emails, fliers and newsletters are a great way to keep residents informed – and connected. Just remember that communication is a two-way street, so it’s wise to establish an advisory committee that determines best practices for soliciting community member input.
  7. Create community. A sense of togetherness happens through engagement. Leadership should create a robust calendar of social and entertainment events that bring residents together. After all, a sense of community is what we’re all here for.

HOA board members and community managers have a big role to play when it comes to creating a vibrant, happy community. It happens through having your expectations met – and through exceeding your responsibilities. Together, that will result in a community that will exceed your residents’ expectations. And to learn more about best practices in community management, contact FirstService Residential.
Thursday April 28, 2016