Homeowners’ associations are becoming more popular as residential developments complete. While they offer numerous advantages to buyers in the area, there will always be a homeowner that wants to complain. The complaint process is necessary and does not have to become a huge legal battle. As long as complaints are addressed appropriately, your HOA can avoid any legal disputes.
It is imperative that your HOA has a comprehensive dispute resolution process already in place. This can tell homeowners and HOA board members how to properly handle and address the disputes they receive—and avoid costly hearings.
Five Tips for Handling HOA Complaints
1. Get Complaints in Writing – Verbal complaints are never addressed properly. Then, homeowners do not have an adequate paper trail to prove the complaint. It is best that your HOA require all complaints to be in writing and the individual must identify themselves clearly on the complaint. This not only gives you the necessary information to follow up, but it also ensures the person complaining has a legitimate reason to complain to your HOA.
If an owner wants their identity kept secret, let them know there will be a private investigation and their name will not be published; however, you still need their name for explanations.
2. Host Board Meetings and HOA Forums – Meetings are the best place to collect complaints. Tell owners to bring any complaints to their meeting and give each owner time to discuss theirs out in the open. Just make sure meetings are handled appropriately. It’s important to welcome and encourage conflict, as long as it is managed appropriately to avoid gripe sessions. If they become such, then appoint a board member to serve as the intake person to collect all owner complaints and issues and forward them to the proper committee.
3. Do Not Give One Person Too Much Authority – No matter whom oversees your homeowner’s association, make sure he or she isn’t given too much authority. While it may be a board member, it is easy for someone to let it overtake him or her if they are in charge of everything. As a result, they may start creating more conflicts than they are resolving. You should have an entire board share the authority for determining conflicts and solutions—avoiding a single person to be in charge of the homeowner disputes.
4. Know When Something Needs Board Action – Not all complaints are serious enough to need board action, but sometimes there will be a complaint that should be addressed on the agenda at your next board meeting. These can include complaints about HOA vendors, a particular homeowner dispute, etc. If one person is handling the complaint, make sure he or she documents what has already been done to accept the complaint or any recommendations they have for resolving the issue.
5. Don’t Ignore, but Don’t Accept Every Gripe – There will be some homeowners in your HOA that continue to gripe and complain about everything. While you cannot ignore them, you do not have to be thorough or make a big deal out of every little issue that arises.
For Assistance with Your Housing Committee, Call the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman
Condo and homeowners’ associations can be difficult to manage, but an attorney can help. When drafting rules and procedures, you should enlist the assistance of a trust attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Peter M. Feaman today for assistance with your homeowner’s association issues. You can schedule a consultation at 561-734-5552.
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