Self-management can put a lot of pressure on the HOA board. Without an HOA manager or management company to help them, board members can only rely on each other when managing the community. But when tasks pile up and board members become overwhelmed, communication breakdowns arise. It might not seem like it but poor communication can have a serious impact on your community. Here are common communication problems in HOA communities without a manager.
5 Communication Problems in HOA and How They Can Impact Your Community
While an HOA manager can make community management easier, it’s not an absolute necessity. However, if you are a self-managed community, it’s important to look out for potential communication problems.
1. Not Listening to Homeowners Concerns and Requests
Regardless of the size of your community, homeowners will always outnumber their HOA board. It’s also likely that each homeowner will have something to say about how the board is managing their community. Without an HOA manager to field homeowner calls and requests, the HOA board will have to face homeowners themselves.
However, because the board is also responsible for the day-to-day management of the community, they may not be able to give homeowners their full attention. Because they are feeling overwhelmed, they may not completely grasp the homeowner’s message and/or situation. They may also miss important nonverbal cues that can provide further insight into the homeowner’s concerns.
Here are the possible consequences that may arise from not listening to homeowners:
- Homeowners feel invalidated and unappreciated
- Serious homeowner complaints are left unaddressed
- Homeowner requests are not processed in a timely manner
- Helpful tips from homeowners are not heard
- Homeowners lose confidence in their HOA board
- Homeowners see their board as uncaring
- Lack of involvement from homeowners during community events
2. Authority or Hierarchy Problems for the HOA Board
Most times, an HOA manager acts as your community’s leader. Even though the HOA board still has the most power or authority, the HOA manager is often the one that establishes order and structure within the community.
Due to their expertise in community management, HOA managers also often guide the board members when making important decisions.
Without a manager, the HOA board may experience authority or hierarchy problems. On one hand, a board member may feel that he/she has the most authority and as a result, could overstep the boundaries of his/her authority. On the other hand, HOA board members may feel equal to one another and so, no one is willing to step up and take charge of managing the community. Both situations can lead to communication problems in your association.
Here are the possible consequences that may arise from hierarchy problems:
- HOA board is unable to make important decisions
- HOA board members argue over a clash of opinions
- There is no one to mediate between HOA board members
- Homeowners, contractors, and vendors receive conflicting information
- Board meetings are long and unorganized
3. An Emotional Approach to Community Management
One of the benefits of having an HOA manager is that they are a third party that can remain neutral and objective when it comes to your community. Keep in mind that board members are homeowners too. They will also be affected by how the community is managed.
And so, HOA board members can sometimes become too emotional when handling community matters. Or, their personal ties to homeowners can prevent them from making sound judgments. In high-stress situations, they may also have difficulty reigning their emotions.
Having an emotional approach to communications and community management can have serious consequences such as:
- Homeowner complaints and lawsuits
- Failure to keep confidential community matters private
- Lack of objectivity when making decisions on behalf of the HOA
- Board members unable to self-edit and respond in a logical manner
- Lack of professionalism from HOA board
4. Unclear Governing Documents and HOA Reports
Communication problems are not only limited to verbal interactions, but it can also manifest in the written form. CC&Rs and bylaws are important governing documents that dictate how a community should function.
These documents are usually created with the help of an HOA manager or HOA attorney. But, if left to their own devices, HOA board members may end up creating unclear governing documents and inaccurate HOA reports.
Here are the possible consequences that may arise from having unclear governing documents and HOA reports:
- A rise in HOA violations from homeowners
- Governing documents fail to comply with local, state, and federal laws
- Costly financial mistakes such as going over budget and mismanaging funds
- Serious problems with insurance coverage and tax returns
5. Failure to Disperse Communications
Without an HOA manager, board members are responsible for disseminating information to the entire community. This can be quite an undertaking if you have a large community.
Usually, an HOA manager develops a communication hierarchy that flows from the top, the HOA board, all the way down to each and every homeowner. However, without an HOA manager, the board may not be able to disperse communication to everyone and in a timely manner.
Here are the possible consequences that may arise from the failure to disperse communications:
- Homeowners not attending meetings and community events
- Contract breaches with maintenance service providers and vendors
- Non-compliance to newly-established HOA rules and regulations
- Missed deadlines and duplication of work
- Lack of transparency between the HOA board and homeowners
Do You Need an HOA Manager to Address Common Communication Problems in HOAs?
Communication is an aspect of community management that is often overlooked — and HOA communication issues can easily become a problem if not realized soon enough. Without an HOA manager or management company, even a hard-working and well-meaning board can fall prey to the common communication problems in HOA communities.
If your HOA board is continuously struggling with communication — to the point that the community is already suffering — it might be time to invest in an HOA manager or management company. They can provide the support that HOA boards need to lead their community to success.
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