Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are a great way to maintain the value and quality of life in a neighborhood. Sometimes conflicts arise within an HOA, however, which can lead to tension and dissatisfaction among the homeowners. Whether it’s an issue between neighbors, a case of choosing sides, or a resident’s dispute with the HOA itself, it’s important to resolve things quickly and calmly.
At Goodwin and Company, we understand how important it is to feel a sense of peace, community and purpose within your neighborhood, and we’re committed to helping you at every step along the way. Read on for some basic best practices for resolving conflict in your HOA and reestablishing that sense of peace.
Establish Clear Communication Channels
Make sure all homeowners are aware of the communication channels available to them: email, phone, text chain, social media and/or in-person meetings. You can use these channels to make sure all important information is communicated to all members of the HOA. This will cut down on confusion and misunderstandings that might end up in conflict. When actively trying to cool a situation down, these same channels are invaluable to stopping trouble as soon as it starts.
Develop a Conflict Resolution Policy
A resolution policy is crucial to prevent conflicts. It’s best to establish a clear and concise policy proactively before any issues arise. This policy should outline the necessary steps, assign responsibilities, and establish a timeline for resolving conflicts. To ensure that all homeowners understand and actively participate in the resolution process, it’s crucial to obtain their agreement. By following these steps, you can prevent potential problems and foster a harmonious community.
Encourage Open Dialogue
It may sound basic, but this can actually be very easy to overlook in the heat of the moment. Encourage all parties involved to express their concerns and opinions openly and honestly. Ask follow-up questions and stick to “I” statements: “I feel…” “It seemed to me…” and so on, centering your words on your own experience and how the situation is affecting you. Listen carefully to each person’s perspective and acknowledge their feelings and concerns. It’s a simple thing, but it’s the key to civility and that’s what is going to get you through this trouble.
Be Respectful and Professional
Conduct all interactions with professionalism and respect. Avoid personal attacks and stick to the issues at hand. Remember that everyone involved is a member of the same community. Residents have chosen to create and live in a community with one another. That choice is a deeply important aspect of your neighborhood and collective life. Remember that every conflict has a resolution, and it’s the job of all parties to find it as easily and quickly as possible.
If you aren’t able to come to an equitable solution yourselves, consider bringing in a neutral third party to help mediate the conflict. This could be a professional mediator or someone outside the HOA who is trusted by all parties involved. When neighbors get upset with one another, it can really help to have a less involved voice of reason to help them find a solution.
Once a resolution has been reached, make sure all parties follow through on their commitments. This will help build trust and prevent future conflicts. The covenants between HOA and homeowner don’t mean much if we don’t keep our word, even when issues get complicated or too drawn-out. Ultimately, everyone involved has the same goal. It’s just a case of getting there together, and that means compromise and commitment.
Learn From the Conflict
After the conflict has been successfully resolved, reflect on what went wrong and how this issue can be prevented in the future. Updating policies, improving communication or addressing underlying issues within the community are just some of the ways you can use this situation to improve life for everyone in the neighborhood.
Count on Goodwin and Company
Remember that conflict is a natural part of any community. By establishing clear communication channels and resolution policies, remaining respectful and professional, and seeking mediation when necessary, your HOA can fulfill its mandate by effectively managing conflicts to maintain a healthy, thriving community.
Since 1978, Goodwin & Company has offered best-in-class community management to the finest homeowners associations and condominiums all across Texas. We are here to help manage your community in both good times and more challenging times. We have the experiences and the resources to give your community the service it deserves.