Conflicts within your HOA are inevitable, and let’s be honest, generally expected. There’s bound to be a misunderstanding or disagreement from time to time. What matters most, however, is how you go about handling those scenarios. Today, we’ll outline a few tips and suggestions to help you navigate those difficult conversations. Handling your HOA conflicts professionally is the ultimate goal, and doing so will ensure you reduce your overall risks.
1. Addressing the Big Three
There are probably a million reasons to bicker occasionally. But most HOA officials will tell you there are three core topics that drive most HOA conflicts. Neighborhood rules, special assessments, and dues tend to represent the big three. You should be prepared to address these core conversations ongoing and with complete transparency. Be open about community expectations and roles. And make sure your HOA guidelines are crystal-clear among homeowners and members.
2. Keep Things Civil and Legal
No matter what the HOA dispute entails, keep the conversation civil and legal. Avoid voice-raising scenarios and practice empathy in viewing both sides of the argument. Kindness and basic respect go a long way when it comes to finding resolutions. Emotions can run hot and lead to poor decisions otherwise. Remember, too, to always operate within the legal boundaries. Be mindful of your comments and don’t say or do anything that could result in a bitter legal battle down the road. And if either party is unable to remain calm, it’s best to step away and reconvene at a later time to try negotiations again.
3. Document Every Step
When it comes to conflict resolution, it’s important for your HOA to document everything. When individuals within your HOA have an issue, it’s best to request those grievances be put in writing. Moving forward with resolution will be easier if everyone is in agreement about the core issues at hand. From there, emails, correspondences, paper trails, and photos can eliminate confusion about the facts of the matter. Presenting proof in the form of documentation will also come in handy should those conflicts escalate to court appearances.
4. Negotiation, Mediation, and Arbitration
When things get to the point that conversations aren’t leading to resolutions, it may be time for more official ideas. Negotiation meetings can be helpful as an informal tool to iron out the details with fellow board members or homeowners. Mediation can be a next step, too, inviting a trained mediator to the conversation to help move towards a solution. And before heading to court, when conflicts seem impossible, there is always arbitration. This is a formal process designed to introduce legal experts to the discussion. This step usually costs money but is still less expensive than costly court appearances.
5. Property Management Partners Can Help
One of the simplest and probably the most efficient ways to ensure your HOA conflicts are handled professionally is to make sure you have a professional property management partner in your corner. An objective third-party professional can be just the line of defense your HOA needs to keep the peace. Reduce risks and unnecessary spending by having a professional already prepared to diffuse potential conflicts. And for those situations that may end up in more complex legal situations, having a property manager perspective can help protect the HOA. Working with PMI Louisville, for example, can offer the property management leadership countless communities rely on every day.
Be prepared for anything with your HOA, including those frustrating conflicts. And if you’re ready to explore a partnership with a professional, contact us! You can’t always prevent these disputes from happening. But you can arm your HOA with the best resources to help you combat them.