Everyone has concerns and complaints, and when you are part of an HOA board, you are going to hear a lot of them. If your association is getting overwhelmed with trying to respond to every complaint a homeowner has, check out these three tips.
Create Reasonable Guidelines
The first step to help deal with owner concerns is to create reasonable guidelines. You don’t want to just say, “the board will respond to every concern.” This simply isn’t feasible. If a homeowner happens to pass you on the street and says, “I don’t like my neighbor’s van,” is that a concern? Is every rant on your HOA’s social media account a concern?
Create guidelines for submitting concerns in a professional and clean manner, such as requiring homeowners to fill out a specific form. When you require homeowners to take a few steps to have their concerns met, only the more serious ones will actually take action, which makes it easier to address them.
Let the Community Manager Handle Some Concerns
The board doesn’t need to handle every concern that comes their way. In fact, the board should really only address the bigger concerns, such as those that address changing HOA rules and regulations or requesting clarity on a specific rule. Concerns regarding day-to-day management and enforcement of the rules can be delegated to the community manager
Consider the example with the van. If the van is clearly a business van with a company logo and the association prohibits these vehicles, it’s best the community manager handles the concern. The board doesn’t need to vote on whether the van is allowed or not. The rules clearly state it’s not, and the manager just needs to enforce it.
Take Concerns that Follow the Guidelines Seriously
Once you do craft your guidelines and agree to respond to everyone who follows these guidelines, you need to actually treat them all with respect. Someone may complain about something that isn’t against the rules, but you still have to take it seriously. For example, if a neighbor complains about the smell coming from a backyard barbeque. So long as the person cooking isn’t breaking a rule, there isn’t much you can do.
However, you don’t want to just dismiss their concern. The concern may seem silly to you, but it is real to the person complaining. In situations like this, try educating the homeowner instead, and explain that this is a community and people have a right to barbeque as long as they aren’t breaking rules. As long as you take the time to address the concern, even if you can’t fix it, the person will feel heard.
You can’t make everyone happy, but you can do your best to address every official concern. Sometimes, you may not be able to solve a problem, but listening and acknowledging the concern can go a long way.