In a recent article posted on the Florida Association of Realtors website, a homeowner asked a question about how he can get the HOA board to address his particular issue. The author replied with some great advice and I have some additional thoughts on how best to get their attention.
There’s a link at the end of this post to the full article 1. The question asked was this:
I live in a beautiful community that is well maintained by the board and its various committees. All is great, except for the roads – they are ugly with oil marks and patched areas. I have asked after this, but it does not seem to be a priority of the board of directors. How do I get the board to address this issue? – Philip
The author gave great advice, with the best idea being to send a letter outlining your concerns ahead of the next board meeting. If that doesn’t get their attention, he advises that he try to get some neighbors to write in too. If all else fails, he advises the homeowner to run for the board himself. All of these ideas are good things to do, but I would offer a slightly different approach.
My wife Victoria and I live in the beautiful gated community of Bent Tree in Sarasota. Our HOA is exceptional and great to work with. We actually have 2 HOAs: one for our specific community and one that encompasses all of the communities within Bent Tree. Notice I used the word “community” 3 times. I believe that thinking of your HOA as a community rather than an organization is a key point if you want to be able to influence the actions and direction of the HOA. A community implies that it’s members are involved and that they have each other’s concerns in mind.
My advice would be to talk to your neighbors about your concerns and see if anyone else shares them. You may find that everyone is thinking the same thing but is not voicing his or her opinion. Or you may find that you are the only one with your concern. Either way you have more information that will help you move forward. If many others share your concern then you have some leverage to take before the board. If you can’t find anyone else that thinks the same way as you do, well you have your work cut out for you. You’ll need to make your case to the neighbors before you make it to the board.
Sending a letter voicing your concerns is a great idea but an even better approach (I believe) would be to talk in person with a board member. Invite someone over for lunch or coffee and ask about the general direction the board is envisioning for the next few years. Ask him or her if anyone else has asked your question. Don’t be confrontational or argumentative. Just be inquisitive and genuinely interested in the board’s vision for the association. Let your guest do most of the talking and listen.
Are you aware of what is on the board’s plan for the next few years? Have you been attending the association meetings regularly? Ask a board member about the current and future plans. There probably aren’t enough funds available to address every issue immediately but there should be a prioritized plan in place. In the case presented above, the homeowner notes that the community is well taken care of with the exception of the roads. Perhaps the budget doesn’t allow for addressing the roads right now. Once you understand what plan the board has in place, you may discover that there are more pressing issues that need to be dealt with. Or you may be able to present your issue as having a higher priority than what is currently on the plan. But understand that not everyone may share your priorities.
In short, take a personal approach and get involved in your community as much as you can. Mention your concerns to other homeowners and see if you can persuade your neighbors to get on board. Be patient and persistent, but always be kind and respectful. Listen attentively as well as present your case.