As many of you already know the two most frequent complaints from owners in common interest communities are: lack of transparency and lack of communication. Am I right? How do we help the association’s we manage overcome these issues?
My observation is that board meetings are poorly attended (stop laughing). As we all know, Board meetings are where issues are discussed, contracts are awarded, rules are adopted, and owner suggestions are considered. Frequently, the same few owners attend these meetings, and the other ninety percent, or greater, are not aware of the board’s resolutions.
Many associations provide a bulletin board, a newsletter and a website with the ability to send e-mail blasts to all owners in order to combat the notion that they are not transparent enough, and they are poor communicators. Sadly, too often the information is not read, websites are not visited, and e-mails go unopened. What to do? I propose the following suggestion:
Consider sending the e-mails to all owners with a read receipt. Yes it is cumbersome, but it will help to identify which owners are not responding, and may help management create a strategy for reaching out to these owners, or at least have the information available should the owner complain about not receiving timely information.
The various communication devices also help to mitigate the “lack of transparency” argument. The Statutes provide a method of requesting information and documentation available to all owners. In many communities we manage, the community websites provide the current and historical financial information, meeting minutes, current and historical budgets, committee minutes, current projects, social activities, board members names and announcements about upcoming projects that may inconvenience the owners and guests.
Management and owners have a shared responsibility for communication. If the information is available, but not accessed what is the remedy for claims of poor communication when the board and management are faced defending this claim? The only avenue is to define what the options are, and invite the owner to utilize any or all of the communication vehicles provided. You will likely not eliminate the complaints, because it’s human nature. Please make sure you are working toward a principle of open communication and transparency as to the management of the community and you will likely weather the brief tantrums that flare up from time to time with grace knowing you have done your best. You are amazing! Go get ‘em.
Endeavor to persevere.
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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