The “Comm” in Community

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Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s particularly important when living in a homeowners association.

Failure to do so can result in misunderstandings or arguments between neighbors.  It can also cause unpleasant feelings towards your managers.  To avoid these misunderstandings or difficulties, there are some simple tips to help encourage better communication in the community.

  • Attend monthly meetings.  Find out when and where your HOA meets and go.  Even if you don’t have an issue to bring up, it’s good to know what’s going on in the community.  It’s also good to know your board members and to make sure they know you.  That way, you know who you can go to when there’s an issue or a question.
  • If you can’t attend meetings, find out where minutes are posted.  If they aren’t posted anywhere, contact your community’s secretary and ask for some highlights or important information.
  • Volunteer for committees.  The more involved you are, the more open the lines of communication are.
  • Be familiar with your community’s disclosure packet and bylaws.  The more you know, the less confusion there is.  If you have a question about one of the bylaws, email your community manager.
  • Take the time to say “Hi” to your neighbors when you see them around.  A smile and a wave go a long way towards building community ties.
  • If you do notice a neighbor disregard the rules, gently remind them of the policies.  If you notice that they are ignoring the rules on a frequent basis, be sure to submit a complaint, via email, to your community manager so that they can handle it.  That way, there’s less tension among the neighbors.

Of course there are many other ways to maintain good communication within a community, but these tips can be a start.  Let us know how your community communicates!

HOA Protip: E-Mail Writing

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In the May/June issue of Community Manager, the article, “Before You Press Send” discusses the importance of creating clear, concise e-mails that “won’t get ignored.”  In the world of community and property management, there is a lot of information being sent back and forth electronically.  Whether you’re a manager, administrator, homeowner, board member, or vendor, you’re essentially in a competition for electronic attention.  Creating an e-mail that is not only professional, but clear enough to convey what you want or need right away is the best way to insure that you get attention.

Bryan A. Garner, writer for HBR’s Blog Network, gives some pointers for efficient e-mail writing:

  • Start with a short, descriptive subject line.
  • Keep your message brief — within one screen capture — and direct.
  • Make any requests for information or action clear and succinct.  Include deadlines.
  • If your message must contain descriptive text or narratives, structure the information chronologically and with a “clear beginning, middle, and end.” also produced a list of tips for e-mail writing by Helen Coster:

  • Avoid metaphors.
  • Keep language simple and avoid needless words.
  • Use English rather than jargon or slang.
  • Don’t use exclamation points (!), characters or symbols.

Along with these tips, e-mailers must remember that once the message is sent, you cannot take it back.  In order to optimize your correspondance, you must remember that everyone’s time is valuable.  The better crafted the e-mail, the more smoothly everything goes.