Tips to Increase Homeowner Participation and Build Stronger Communities
The decision to purchase a new home is never an easy one, and when that purchase is within a deed-restricted community or building, the word “association” is often front and center. The important thing to remember is that membership in your association, whether community association or condo association, is an added bonus to homeownership. An association is comprised of fellow, likeminded homeowners and stakeholders who, like you, want to protect the community’s property values, enhance the quality of life of its residents and make it a desirable place to live.
However, the key to an association achieving those goals is homeowner involvement – after all, the only way to have a say in what happens in your community is to participate.
“Every homeowner has the opportunity to make his voice heard in their community. When you volunteer your time to serve on a committee or as a Board member, your voice can lead to action, which in turn makes your community stronger,” said Wayne Leventhal, regional director for FirstService Residential.
While apathy or lack of interest can lead to little or no homeowner involvement, oftentimes homeowners don’t get involved because they simply don’t know how. Communities with active and involved homeowners typically have robust associations and offer a better living experience for their residents.
Below are three effective ways to become more active in your association. Each option requires a varying level of time and commitment, which allow you to pick and choose how you will make an impact.
1. Attend the annual meeting.Perhaps the easiest way to participate in your association is to attend the annual meeting. At the annual meeting, Board members and association officers will discuss association business and activities. If your property is professionally managed, you’ll hear from the property management team as well. Usually, the annual meeting coincides with Board elections and voting – an important way that you can not only make your voice heard, but also help make decisions that may shape your community’s future. And as an added bonus, by attending the annual meeting, you’ll also have a chance to meet and connect with your neighbors. If you’re not sure when your annual meeting is scheduled to take place, check your association documents – the time and date will usually be stated in the bylaws. As a homeowner, you should also receive several notifications in advance of the scheduled meeting.
2. Join a committee.While attending the annual meeting is the first step, you may find that you want to become a little more involved in your association. Joining a committee is the perfect opportunity to do so. Committee members are usually appointed by the Board, and play a key role in providing Board members with recommendations on important issues concerning their building or community. Most associations offer several types of committees to choose from, including social, landscaping, maintenance and repairs, communication and more. Committee involvement is a great way to not only help your association, but also work closely with other homeowners or stakeholders who share similar skills, backgrounds and/or interests. Serving on a committee can also be an excellent springboard for becoming a future Board member (read on for more on that).
3. Become a Board member.Without question, the biggest impact that you, as a homeowner, can make on your association is to become a part of its leadership team. When you volunteer to serve as a Board member, you are tasked with making decisions and taking actions for the greater good of the community. That can include ensuring the proper maintenance of your community’s common areas and enhancing the quality of life of the residents and their guests. However, the decision to run for a position on the Board should not be made lightly – it requires a serious commitment of time, responsibility and dedication. Not to mention that as a Board member, you will have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the association and its members.
Becoming involved in your association may take a big commitment on your part. It is, however, the best way for you and your fellow association members to gain understanding that can lead to shaping the future of your building or community – and that benefits everyone. For more information about association management and enhancing residents’ quality of life, contact FirstService Residential.