Successful homeowners associations function smoothly by basing community operations on transparency, accountability and communication. This requires exhibiting these values at every level, for issues big and small. Transparency is a long-term strategy that helps ensure the smooth operation of your HOA. When residents feel involved and informed, they report higher levels of satisfaction with the board of directors, community association management company and their community as a whole.
Here are some simple ideas and specific steps to increase transparency and accountability in your community association. Implement these right away to start building greater trust between the board and the membership.
Take proactive steps to keep residents informed
By maintaining open communication, you avoid repeated questions about the same topic and the confusion that leads to mistrust from the membership. Use various methods to provide progress reports for projects, share community meeting times and locations, and give updates on completed projects. We recommend including important information on multiple outlets, such as:
- Community websites
- Notices in common areas
- Letters to residents
- Social media pages
Your community association management company can assist in updating these resources.
Make it easy for residents to get information
Residents must have easy access to information. Too many steps can cause frustration or confusion. Store important information like governing documents, architectural requests, maintenance forms and helpful checklists on your community website so residents can get what they need right away.
Always provide accurate contact information
Frustration levels skyrocket when residents get stuck playing phone tag or trying to reach someone at an out-of-date phone number or email address. List important contact information in clearly marked areas, including your community website, in newsletters and in common areas. This includes an after-hours contact and the contact info for any community association management companies with whom your HOA works.
Take steps to minimize surprises
Tell your community membership what they can expect before it happens. This is especially important when it regards disruptions to daily life, including renovations, anticipated power outages and construction or landscaping that results in loud noise. Share an accurate timeline with residents and stick to it.
Ask for input
Successful board members invite input from residents. After all, the community belongs to all residents and the board has a responsibility to build a sense of community. By asking for input, residents feel heard and understood. This dialogue can reveal new suggestions or concerns that can help your decision-making process.
Wherever possible, make decisions in open session
Let your membership know exactly what is going on as often as possible. By doing so, you build trust in the board. Share the reasoning behind the board decision so residents feel included in the decision-making process. Member exclusion usually leads to additional problems.
Be accountable for all your decisions
After listening to resident input, make the decision you feel is in the best interest of the community, then stand by it. When trying to please an entire community, some residents will likely disagree with your decisions. This is the nature of serving on a community association board. However, by openly acknowledging all points of view and communicating clearly about why you have made your conclusion, you reassure residents regarding the thoughtfulness of your decision.
Maintaining transparency and accountability is an ongoing process and should be a cornerstone of how your homeowners association board operates. We recommend listing the board’s accomplishments in the year-end newsletter or budget mailer. This enables residents to see tangible proof of progress detailing all the ways the board is improving the community.
If you have specific questions about the transparency level in your HOA contact us at (949) 833-2600 and we will discuss ways to make your board more accountable to residents.