My phone rang a few days ago and it was a friend of mine calling to let me know that she had resigned from the homeowner association board. It takes a special kind of person to participate on an association board to begin with.
I suspect she’d had enough of the internal strife and complaining and whining from fellow homeowners, most of which was probably while she was on her way to the mailbox or trying to relax by the pool. I both admire and sympathize with anyone would want to do such a thankless job.
There is a good deal of problem solving and conflict resolution that takes place internally within the mini-government of an homeowners association. Having been a member to a homeowner/condo association or two in my lifetime, I can tell you that they can certainly get colorful at times. Just like with any government or nation the members can enjoy peace or there can be an attempted coup d’état or revolution when unrest occurs.
Regardless of the size of the association, like any government there are rules, policy and procedures to follow in order to get things done or address an issue. A good portion of the conflict between residents and the association occur when the proper procedures for addressing issues aren’t followed. Sometimes it’s as simple as notifying the management company to make them aware of an issue, other times it may be a written request to put a larger item on the meeting agenda for discussion.
There are meetings when residents will show up to a meeting, having never attended before, with the intention of discussing and solving whatever dilemma that is troubling them. Most of the time, if it’s not on the agenda it isn’t going to be a topic of discussion and will thereby be delayed for the next association meeting after a request is made to put it on the agenda for discussion.
Unfortunately, folks sometimes think that there is some sort of subterfuge when their issues aren’t discussed on the spot, when it is simply a form of order for the meeting. If everyone in the association showed up for a gripe, session meetings would last a lifetime and nothing would ever get resolved.
Whether you’re interested in filing a complaint or you’re looking to become involved in your homeowner association or condominium association, there are a few things you can do to get up to speed on procedure and policy for your meetings.
Associations are already sporting a hefty a set of bylaws that may actually cover your issue if you just bring the violation or issue to the attention of the proper party.
Create dialogue with current elected officers and board of directors to begin learning the internal matters of the association. The matters that are troubling you may already on the agenda for the next meeting. For what it’s worth, “dialogue” should generally not contain shouting, swearing, finger pointing, name calling, threats or weapons.
Address the board and management company in a documentable fashion such as email or written mail. Most management companies prefer email at this point. Spray paint is frowned upon.
Speak with the property manager or CAM (community association manager) regarding association agenda and notice requirements to make sure your item is submitted for discussion at the next meeting.
When there is an association vote, make sure you vote even if it’s by proxy so that the quorum is met and to also be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Just like any body of government, if you didn’t bother voting you probably haven’t earned the right to complain because you don’t like what’s going on.
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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.