By Bob Gourley
Communications within a condominium or homeowners association are vital to the community’s success. In most states, timely communication is a right to the association member that is granted in the governing documents and guaranteed by law. Along with the financial and management efforts put forth by the community, communication is the third leg of the tripod that keeps the community functional.
Self-managed condominiums and HOAs of various types and sizes face the same communication challenges as their professionally-managed counterparts. The communication needs vary from community to community but one thing remains clear. If a self-managed condo or HOA chooses to keep its residents in the dark by not providing a reliable communication effort, there will be problems. Unit owners and HOA members have a right to know how their money is being spent and what items are being handled by the board of directors. Without an association manager to assist with vital communication efforts, well-meaning boards of a self- managed condominiums or HOAs could easily find themselves fighting a losing battle when it comes to keeping residents informed.
The easiest and most common method of communication is in writing. Meeting notices, minutes, newsletters and other communications should be sent out to all unit owners at regular intervals. Quarterly newsletters are the very minimum a self-managed association should consider. Larger communities will require more frequent newsletters and more frequent mailings.
E-mail, community association websites and social media can also play an important role in communications within a self-managed community although none will replace mailed communications. Not all residents have access to the Internet so e-mail and websites should be considered as communication support and not replacement. Even fewer residents are likely to use social media so be very cautious in using websites like Facebook or Twitter to power your self-managed community’s communication efforts.
You’ll avoid the Rumor News Network by keeping all unit owners and residents informed of the actions taken by the board. Running a self-managed community can be challenging enough. You don’t need rumors and innuendo gumming up the efforts of a well-meaning and hard-working board. If you need help telling your story, consider hiring a third party newsletter provider. For a small fee, these firms will compile the news of your community and produce a great-looking newsletter that can be mailed, e-mailed or posted to the community’s website.
Bob Gourley is founder of MyEZCondo, a communications firm that produces newsletter and website content material for condominiums and homeowner associations throughout the USA. He has also served as board president of his local HOA.