With more and more people choosing to live in HOA communities, board members and managers should actively encourage community involvement in HOA. Building a sense of community in HOAs can lead to so many benefits. You can start with a constructive approach — which involves educating new members and fostering ownership — to build a successful community where members collaborate and live harmoniously.
How to Build Community Involvement in HOA
Here are some helpful tips for building an HOA community that is strong and active:
1. Welcome New HOA Members
Every community should have an HOA welcome committee. They should provide welcome packets that will help new HOA homeowners feel at home in their new community.
The welcome packet should contain the most important and helpful documents such as:
- welcome letter from the board
- summary of HOA rules and regulations
- instructions on how to access the community’s governing documents
- list of amenities with operating hours
- relevant registration forms
- contact information for board members, managers, and other pertinent personnel
It is important to orient new HOA members as thoroughly as possible. This already fosters a sense of community and lessens the likelihood of miscommunications and infractions on the new homeowners’ part.
2. Keep an Open Line of Communication
It’s important for board members to keep an open line of communication with the homeowners. This doesn’t necessarily have to be face-to-face contact. You can foster a sense of community just by having an HOA website. The HOA website should contain relevant information for both homeowners or potential buyers. Having a committee to update and maintain the HOA website can also further build community involvement.
HOA newsletters and calendar of events help keep owners informed of community events. They are also a means of encouraging participation. These documents should include dates for events, items or services needed, and any other information that will encourage homeowners to participate.
3. Form HOA Committees
Forming HOA committees is another way to build community involvement in HOAs. This can be a landscaping committee, a party planning committee, a communications committee, and so on. Your goal should be to encourage homeowners to join committees that would suit their particular interests or skill sets.
Committees can be very valuable to an association. The board can have additional resources and important community tasks can be done at a much faster rate. With homeowners joining committees, the board can also identify which members have the potential to be future board members. By getting to know homeowners, you also get to know their talents and experiences which can greatly benefit the association.
4. Regularly Revisit HOA Rules
Rule enforcement is one aspect that almost all associations struggle with. Homeowners don’t always comply with HOA rules and regulations. It could be because they are unaware of such stipulations, or they disagree with these regulations.
As a way to encourage HOA rule compliance, boards should be willing to review HOA rules and regulations at least once a year. This will help determine which rules are in compliance with the governing documents, as well as local, state, and federal laws. Boards will also see if there are rules that are unreasonable or outdated.
When updating HOA rules and regulations, make sure to inform homeowners of any changes. They won’t be able to follow the rules if they don’t know about them. Also, governing documents should always be accessible to homeowners. This will lessen the likelihood of homeowners violating the rules. There should also be a standard appeal process to let homeowners know that they have an avenue to explain their side properly.
5. Have HOA Social Events and Board Meetings
HOA social gatherings and board meetings are a great way for the entire community to come together. With social events, owners can have fun and get to know their neighbors, which helps foster a sense of community. It’s also important for owners to be able to share their opinions during board meetings. If they have ownership over certain HOA rules, they will be much more willing to follow or cooperate.
The HOA board should try to incorporate homeowners’ input as much as possible. If members see this, it will send a message that their board is open to collaborating and working together. With a more transparent approach, homeowners will also have a more positive impression of the work that is being done by the board.
Some Problems You May Encounter If You Lack HOA Community Involvement
Here are some problems that boards and managers may encounter if they lack community involvement in their HOA:
1. Higher Operational Expenses
Outside the community, homeowners are valuable members of society, too. They may have expertise in business, communications, catering, and other areas that can be very valuable to the HOA. But, without a sense of community, homeowners will not feel obliged to volunteer for committees and community projects. Thus, the HOA will have to outsource more services, which then leads to higher operational expenses.
2. More Conflict Between Neighbors
A sense of community leads to the camaraderie between homeowners. If the community lacks involvement, homeowners won’t have the opportunity to get to know their neighbors.
This increases the chances of having conflicts and rising tensions between community members. Instead of being able to talk to your neighbors and peacefully resolve conflicts, homeowners may resort to more violent or aggressive manners such as verbal arguments or physical confrontations.
3. Negative Perception of HOA Board/Management
A sense of community also helps board members and homeowners get along. Even if the board has authority over them, homeowners will understand why such rules and regulations are enforced. However, without community involvement, homeowners may react strongly to the board’s authority. If community members don’t have a say in which rules are enforced, they are also less likely to comply.
4. Lower Property Values
If homeowners are happy with their community association, they will make an effort to make it as beautiful and well-maintained as possible. This also means following the architectural standards of the community.
Without community involvement, though, homeowners may not care as much as protecting the property values of their neighbors. If every homeowner the exterior changes that they like, the community will not look cohesive and attractive to potential homebuyers.
As you can see, community involvement in HOAs can also have a detrimental impact on the association’s operations and finances. So, fostering a sense of community isn’t only to make homeowners happy, but it is also a way to ensure the success and growth of your community.
Importance of Having Community Involvement in HOAs
Building a sense of community in your HOA does not have to be complicated. It can be done by simply taking the time to welcome and educate new homeowners. If this becomes standard practice, the HOA board can create deep and meaningful relationships with all members of the community.
In turn, homeowners will be more willing to help in community matters, follow HOA rules, and protect property values. With this kind of approach, everyone is able to benefit from community involvement in HOAs.