Being a responsible homeowner oftentimes mean being an active member of your homeowner’s association or HOA. There are a number of reasons that you might find yourself concerned with an HOA issue which could include a leaky drain or a broken sprinkler. These are simply a few examples of why you would reach out to your HOA board.
Here is how to address your HOA professionally and effectively so that your message is received in the best way possible.
Is your problem a noisy neighbor? The first step in resolution would be to speak directly to that individual. Trying to find a solution on the micro-level is much more efficient than bringing that issue to the Board. Be creative in your solution, you are not the first person to have handled this problem. Do your research on solutions and try to find common ground with your neighbor. Perhaps more insulation can be installed. Or you could arrange a curfew time for quiet hours.
Know the Rules
Planning is a powerful tool when addressing an HOA. As a homeowner, you should have a copy of your HOA’s bylaws. If you don’t have a copy they are available to you. Educate yourself about the laws governing your HOA and find out how your situation fits within the bylaws. Many HOA meetings will have an open forum component and this would be the appropriate time to bring up your issue. If they don’t have an open forum scheduled on the agenda, you should request one be added toward the end of the meeting. Some HOAs will require topics in writing beforehand, so prepare yourself in advance.
A little public speaking knowledge never hurt anyone. Again, planning ahead goes a long way with presenting so practice your presentation in front of friends and family. These are your neighbors that you are speaking with and you don’t want to come across as combative or confrontational. Additionally, keep the tone reasonable and be sure to welcome questions. Questions mean that people are listening and are interested in what you have to say. Before the meeting brainstorm questions that people may bring up and have a few answers ready.
Be the Change
If you have presented a problem that goes unaddressed, consider changing the rules. It is not unreasonable for an HOA to review rules every few years. If you have a major issue that would be resolved with a sensible rule change, try bringing a few neighbors together and petition the board to make that change.
There are times when problems need to be addressed immediately. Say a fire hydrant is leaking into the street. In this case, direct action is necessary. It would be appropriate to reach your property manager or a board member directly via phone or email.
As a reminder, these are simply guidelines meant to help you. Each HOA has its own set of governing rules. However, as a homeowner, you are part of the HOA community and you do have the right to have your concerns heard and addressed in a reasonable manner.