8 Strategies for Building Community within Your Homeowner or Condo Association
August 11, 2023 at 4:00 AM
by Towne Properties

Of the many reasons to live in a homeowner association (HOA) or condominium owner association (COA), a sense of community is one of the top benefits cited by residents. People know it when they see it — well-tended homes and public areas, busy recreation areas, friendly faces, and social events that bring neighbors together.

That sense of community doesn’t just happen. Community wellbeing needs to be actively nurtured and tended to by the HOA/COA board. It is the result of time and energy spent building trust between the board and residents and fostering social connections between neighbors. When these activities are neglected, apathy and distrust can take root.

So what does it take to cultivate community harmony? Here are eight interrelated strategies for building trust and connections between the board and community:

1. Be transparent. Transparency is one of the hallmarks of a good, trusting relationship between a board and its community. Examples of transparency include holding open board meetings, posting board and committee meeting minutes on the association website, holding community forums, and organizing an annual meeting to report out on financials and operations.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate and then communicate more. When you’re on an HOA/COA board, it can feel like you’re talking about the community’s top issues all the time. The trick is to step back and think about how you are communicating and to whom. Is it only with other board members or through one-on-one interactions with residents? Or are you taking steps to reach the broader community? Easy strategies for boosting communications include maintaining current news on your website, publishing a quarterly newsletter, organizing meetings to discuss potential or planned projects, and advertising upcoming events and important news via email.

3. Give community members a chance to speak. Communication is a two-way process. Providing residents with a chance to speak and listening to what they say are just as important as keeping them abreast of community news. Many boards do this by hosting a public forum or providing a regular public comment period during board meetings. The key is to take into consideration residents’ concerns or complaints, act on those that are reasonable, and report out to the broader community when appropriate.

4. Seek community input on consequential projects. Taking on large or consequential capital projects without seeking residents’ input is a surefire way to sow distrust. It may take longer, but seeking input from residents on the front end will lead to greater buy-in for the project. It may also result in a more successful project by uncovering ideas or revealing snags the board never considered.

5. Be consistent with rules and regulations. Enforcing rules and regulations fairly and consistently is crucial for building and maintaining trust. Any exceptions could fuel animosity between the board and the community, which will hurt the board’s ability to govern effectively.

6. Tackle the difficult issues. It can be tempting to ignore difficult or uncomfortable situations that don’t have an easy answer. However, allowing a situation to fester will create friction between the board and the community. It could also result in residents seeking legal advice or action against the board for not doing its duty. Board members need to be professional and act accordingly. Listen to the stakeholders, state that you are hearing the issues, and take time to think before reacting.

7. Establish committees and support their work. Committees are an excellent means for boosting resident engagement. Social committees, welcoming committees, landscaping/grounds committees, communications committees, and capital improvements committees are all examples of community-building groups. Board members can show their support by inviting committee members to speak during forums or board meetings, providing meaningful feedback on their ideas, attending committee events, and investing in their ideas when feasible.

8. Set a good example. Ultimately, board members set the tone for their communities. Maintaining your home, being present in the community, greeting people in public areas, being gracious with everyone, and praising the contributions of other residents will go far in fostering a community people love to call home.

Building a Community with Towne

An association needs to be run like a business. An experienced association manager can provide the structure and impartiality to help community and board members recognize that distinction.

Towne Properties provides highly trained association managers to serve as guides, mentors, and partners. By managing day-to-day operations, our association managers free board members to focus on nurturing community wellbeing. Our fully customizable solutions include:

· Community relations – Show your community that things get done by working with a problem solver who doubles as community cheerleader.

· Collections and enforcement – Let a trained third party be the “enforcer” so you can focus on positive developments and relationship building.

· Training and guidance – Work with a team that will help you navigate difficult situations, avoid pitfalls, and stay compliant with rules and regulations.

· Communications support – Keep community members up to date with dedicated support for your community website.

Learn more about how our customized, full-service management solutions can improve your operations so you can achieve your priorities.