HOA Policy: Why Consistent Communication Is Key
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Establishing solid HOA policies that meet the community’s needs and are reasonable to uphold can be challenging. To ensure success, boards must lay an effective groundwork with open communication at its core; this will establish trust between all homeowners.
Here are some proven tips and best practices to ensure that your HOA policy positively impacts your community and strengthens the association’s reputation for years to come.
HOA Policy Tip #1: Identify The “Why” Behind the PolicyGreat boards understand the importance of staying connected to their residents and working together towards mutual goals. By proactively communicating with them the “why” behind the policy, a board can ensure that decisions are in line with the community's best interests while increasing resident satisfaction and property values.
As a board, ensure you answer the question, “What’s the purpose behind our policy?” In other words, why was the policy introduced?
- Did it come about because of multiple homeowner complaints?
- Has a new law or ordinance come up in your area that requires an HOA policy?
- Will this policy prevent or mitigate potential liability in the community or building?
HOA Policy Tip #2: Communicate the Purpose and BenefitsOnce you’ve identified the reason for your HOA policy, you must communicate that purpose to homeowners. Help them understand the benefits of instituting this policy and why it will ultimately improve the resident experience and property values.
(Reminder: If you can’t easily communicate the policy to residents, the benefits aren’t clear, or it goes against governing documents or local laws, take a step back. Ask yourself, is the policy reasonable, necessary and enforceable? If not, consider reviewing the policy again with your board and management company.)
When implementing a policy in the community, it is essential to remember that they can be opportunities to allow additional activities or exceptions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many associations relaxed limitations to enable additional activities and experiences for homeowners. A great example is changes made around basketball installations or street parking rules - creative solutions which could not only serve practical purposes but also bring joy during difficult times.
“People often look for quality of life and consistency in an HOA. When you communicate with residents and have them understand the why behind the particular policy being proposed, that level of understanding leads to greater compliance and agreement,” said Kevin Pennington, vice president of community management at FirstService Residential.
A solid management company will have the resources and technologies to communicate effectively to your unique community or building. They will also provide your board and manager with templates and best practices for communications.
HOA Policy Tip #3: Explain the Process, From Development to EnforcementStrong, effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful new policy. Keeping residents informed and engaged throughout every stage - from conception to enforcement- helps ensure that everyone comprehends the rules and regulations in place so they can comply without hesitation or confusion.
Explain the process of rule creation and enforcement to the membership so that homeowners know what to expect. Consider giving them a vital role in the process and requesting their feedback before you move forward with a change. Some states have requirements or recommendations in place that include homeowner feedback during the policy development stage.
HOA Policy Tip #4: Reinforce the Long-Term Benefits and ValueEven after you’ve communicated the new policy’s purpose and process, ensure you are reinforcing the long-term benefits. Work with your manager and management company on creative ways to communicate the importance of the policy. You may consider asking a well-known realtor or subject matter expert to share how a particular rule might increase property values. This should be done on an ongoing basis so that new homeowners understand the benefits and value as well. A good management company will help you come up with a solid communication plan and strategy to reinforce the benefits with residents and homeowners
The Key to Great HOA Policy: CommunicationFrom policy creation to policy enforcement, the key to effective and reasonable policy is communication every step of the way. When homeowners understand why the association has certain policies and what the benefit of those policies is, it leads to happier residents and a stronger association.
Learn how FirstService Residential can support your community in implementing HOA policies by contacting us here.