How to Make Your Community Association Thrive
We work with hundreds of community associations and one of the biggest problems we see is lack of respectful, open communication between owners and the Association Board. So often we get brought in to handle “issues” that are the result of something that started off as a simple problem but escalated because of poor communication.
Our law firm is committed to being a valuable resource to community associations and to preserve and increase property values through effective governance. But sometimes YOU get in the way. That's right I said it. Rather than skip around the issue, we decided to tell you straight up some our our observations that can help your association thrive. So this may post may sound like a lecture but it's really meant to be a resource to help you get out of your own way and start to benefit from the amazing things that can come out out of living in a community and being part of something bigger than just yourself.
- Rules ARE made to be broken. – Don't just be an enforcer of rules. Always be asking, why do we have this rule? Does it add value to our community is it time for a change? Be willing to have the discussion and be open minded about changing the rules. Change is scary for most people but it's the only way to evolve and stay relevant.
- Get the facts. – Don't make assumptions about what you think you saw or heard. Get the facts by asking the people involved and listening without judgment or pretense. Create an environment where people feel safe to communicate because they know they will be listened to and heard.
- Everybody matters. – Don't show favoritism to long timers or the person with the loudest voice. Treat everyone the same and as as you would want to be treated. It's called the Golden Rule for a reason.
- Create a community that supports higher goals. – There are so many advantages to being part of a community association. The word community is defined as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” Sounds wonderful right? You can create this type of community that others would dream about living in. This impacts your day to day life and your property values. Talk about this in your meetings and create a vision of what you want your community association to be known for. Then put it into action.
- Don't gossip. – Just don't. This is one of the biggest culprits of creating division within communities. When others start gossiping, shut them down. Make it clear that your association doesn't tolerate gossiping about others. See #2.
- Have more fun. – So often community associations only get together for required meetings. Have more fun than meetings. This is where you live and spend a good chunk of your life. Create a Fun Committee that puts together interesting events that brings your community together.
- Communicate. – Use technologies like email, social media and websites to keep your members informed about up to date. The more you communicate the less room there will be for miscommunication (i.e. less gossip) We also recommend creating an online portal for your community association for easy access to documents.
- Create an Association Charter. – Put in writing how what you envision for your community association and detail what your residents can expect and what is expected of in return. Get everyone to sign it. This relates back to #4 and your community vision. But it also needs to get reviewed and updated so the vision reflects the community today.
- Don't let power go to your head. – Don't turn into a condo commando and don't accept that behavior from anyone else. There always seems to be 1 or 2 people in a community that think it is there sole responsibility to catch residents doing something wrong. They think they are doing “good” for the community but they are poisoning the environment from the inside and outside. A couple bad seeds can have a huge impact on everyone so if you see this happening put a stop to it.
- It's not about YOU it's about the WHOLE community association. – Don't let your personal feelings dictate the decisions you make for the community association. You may not ever use the exercise room so don't support an assessment to upgrade that area but that doesn't mean it's best for the community so don't let your personal feelings get in the way. You chose to live in a community association so you need to take responsibility that your decisions need to support what's best for the overall community not just for you.
These may sound like grade school rules and are not what you might expect to hear from a law firm specializing in association law. Associations get reputations and in this competitive environment it's important that your association is known as a great place to live. All these factors above affect that keeping them top of mind is important. I hope you can't relate to any of them because your association has already addressed them but if not, address them with your association board and members.
About PeytonBolin, PL
Founded by partners Mauri Peyton and Jane Bolin, PeytonBolin, PL is a Florida-based law firm focused on the practice of community association law. Committed to providing resourceful, knowledgeable, and consistent representation for associations and individual owners, the entire staff operates as a team to provide the highest quality service. We bring our litigation experience and skills to each matter in a case-specific and cost-effective way. Although always prepared to litigate aggressively for our clients, we are practical problem solvers who seek solutions that avoid or minimize litigation.