Effective HOA Communications: Why the Right Technology Matters
The extent to which your HOA values high-quality communication tools is likely to be a reflection of your board’s overall view of technology. Some boards understand the benefits. Others may not realize what they are missing when they settle for clunky or outdated software. And still others may have a general fear of all forms of technology.
The Risks of Using the Wrong HOA Communication Tools
As with any tool, it’s important that those that your association uses for its communications are the right ones for the job. If you are still working with technology that you implemented years ago or if your software isn’t designed to address the needs of today’s HOAs, it probably has limited capabilities. As a result, chances are that your community isn’t communicating as effectively as it could be.
What’s worse, you could even be creating liability issues for your board and putting your members and your association at risk of security breaches. In a state like Nevada where HOAs are highly regulated, it’s especially important for your HOA to ensure that certain information is properly distributed and that access to other information is well guarded in order to avoid being in violation of the law.
For example, NRS 116 requires that HOAs prevent unauthorized access to certain homeowner information:
- Association records pertaining to a homeowner’s property
- A homeowner’s financial payment history
- A homeowner’s collection status in a foreclosure matter
- Homeowner violations
Features of First-Rate HOA Communication Tools
The best technology should provide the advanced functionality you need to handle your HOA’s communications while minimizing your community’s exposure to risks. Here are some of the features to look for:
- Specifically made for your HOA community. Communication tools should be designed with HOAs in mind and customized for your community’s unique needs. A good community management company will offer customizable communication tools as part of a robust and comprehensive HOA management software package.
- Communication capabilities for everyone in the community, anytime and from any device. All members of the community should be able to communicate with each other or obtain information 24/7 from their laptop, tablet or smart phone. In particular, it should enable email communications so that all association business is kept separate from homeowners’ personal or work-related communications.
- Privacy and security protection. Nevada boards are bound by law to keep certain information confidential. For example, they are prohibited from sharing a resident’s payment history with family members, other residents or even people outside the HOA. A good communication system will enable you to determine access rights based on a community member’s role. It should also provide reliable security measures to protect HOA and homeowner information from hackers and other unauthorized users.
- Fast response times. The system should provide various ways to contact your community management company. It should also ensure that residents and board members receive a response quickly.
Mass alerts. An advanced system will enable your board or your community manager to send out urgent alerts by phone or email. This capability can be extremely important during severe weather or other emergency situations.
- Informational website. HOA members should have access to a customized community website where they can locate important documents and keep up on community news. Residents should also be able to use it to make payments, form social networks within their community, post announcements and buy and sell items.
- Flexibility to adapt to changing technology. As fast as technology continues to evolve, your communication tools will need to be able to keep up. According to the Community Associations Institute (CAI), technology advances are likely to affect many areas of HOA management in the future, including communications. In fact, CAI says it is likely that the demand for greater technology integration in association activities will have far-reaching effects.
For example, the growing demand for virtual meetings may soon make in-person meetings obsolete. Not only will virtual meetings require that board members and homeowners have the technology to participate in HOA meetings from their homes, but it will also require that state laws and association bylaws be revised to allow for such meetings.
Learn more about how FirstService Residential Connect can help your community improve its communications and how all of our value-added services can maximize your property values and enhance your residents’ lifestyles. Contact FirstService Residential, Nevada’s leading community management company.