If you’re a homeowner or condominium resident living in an association-run community, you have a voice. HOAs and condo associations — and there are a lot out there — want to help you feel heard, but are unsure of how to go about it.
Well, let’s make reading this blog your first step toward finding and using your voice to better your community. The managing association of your community needs all the help and support that they can get, not because they’re bad at what they do; rather, the complicated and intricate nature of properly managing a residential community is highly challenging.
The more support, the better.
Let’s take a quick look at two tip categories: (1) Motivational tips for getting over analysis paralysis; and (2) Practical tips, i.e. things to actually join and do to make your voice heard.
Motivational Tips for Residents Seeking Their Community Voice
There are a lot of things that could keep you on the community sidelines. Kids, work, anxiety, ... and unfamiliarity with association rules and procedures. Now, clear your mind and focus on why you feel the tug to have a bigger voice in the decisions and actions that shape your community:
- You have useful skills. Perhaps you’re an accountant or a lawyer. Maybe you’re an admin at a big company that has out-of-this-world organizational skills. Or maybe you run an event planning company. All of these skills would be very useful to your association.
- You see a problem or issue you can help your association solve. Perhaps snow removal has been late. Perhaps there’s a dangerous issue at the community playground or the playground that’s there is run down and you could raise funds for improvements. If you see an issue that’s important to you, it’s likely important to other people. Be the one to step up and make something happen.
- There’s an issue with the board itself. It happens: Boards mismanage communities sometimes. It’s very often benign negligence, but sometimes it’s not. If you feel like your board is not following the law or is running your community into the ground, make your voice heard.
- You really just want to be helpful. It could be that you have the time, the energy, and the desire to simply be helpful in some way. In that case, walk down to the community center or find a board member and volunteer your time for whatever is needed.
A lot of community residents will complain and complain but do nothing to solve what’s bothering them. You don’t need to be a legal expert or a past board member to make a difference. You just have to motivate yourself to act and know that as a community resident your voice is important and valuable.
Now That You’re an HOA Resident Ready to Act, What Should You Do?
Once you’re ready to use your voice and participate, there are any number of opportunities to do so. Here are a few actions to consider now that you’re motivated and ready to make a difference at your HOA or condo association:
- Volunteer. As we mentioned earlier, offer your time to the association. Trust us, they’ll use it and they certainly need it. You could take tickets at a community pool event or pass out flyers announcing the next board meeting. This is an easy, no-strings-attached way to get involved and will get you familiar with how the association and board work should you want to get involved more seriously later on.
- Join a subcommittee. That new playground we mentioned earlier could become a subcommittee that you could join. There are also subcommittees required by the association’s governing documents for architectural review, as an example. There are typically three kinds of subcommittees you can join:
- Ad hoc, which addresses issues as they arise. The playground subcommittee would be ad hoc and eliminated once the playground was completed.
- Fixed, which is a permanent entity that focuses on ongoing areas like safety and finances, for example. This is a direct arm of the HOA or condo association board.
- Mandatory, which are subcommittees directly tied to mandates in the governing documents.
- Attend meetings. Like volunteering, attending meetings is a great way to learn more about how the association works and keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening. You even have the opportunity to share your views during segments of the meetings.
- Become a board member. This one might take some time, but if you enjoy helping and have skills and time to lend, becoming a board member is the most powerful means to making your voice heard in your community.
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