New Year’s Resolutions [Part 4] – The Service Provider

As the association’s service provider, I resolve to: Number one: Follow the Golden Rule. [treating others how I want to be treated] Proposals: Give the board the best proposal I can. If I think the association’s request for proposal is missing important elements of the work, I will add those elements to my proposal but will also disclose the extra costs of those items. Tell them if they really don’t need my services right now. Explain my recommendations, and never tell them just to “trust me.” Promise only what I know I can deliver. Not seek a contract of more than one year in length, unless there is no way to complete the work in less than a year. Knowledge: Pursue professional designations and attend seminars to keep me up to date. Take the Educated Business Partner course from CAI, to make sure I am familiar with the unique needs and characteristics of common interest communities. Service: Answer the board’s or manager’s questions promptly. Explain my company’s charges, taking no offense. Take instruction only from the manager or from the person designated in the contract. If a homeowner, even a committee chair or director, interferes with the work, I will immediately alert management. If work outside the contract is needed, will get written authorization for that work, for which I have quoted a price. If I recognize work outside my expertise is needed, I will not attempt the work but will immediately advise the association. Community relations: Always be courteous to every resident, aware that my work might be occasionally disruptive to those residents. Regularly provide updates to the...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 3] – The Manager

As the association’s professional manager, I resolve to Number one: Follow the Golden Rule. Attitude check: Remember I am a professional, and will give the board the best advice I can. I am not employed to be silent. Strive to give the board the answers it needs to hear, regardless if it is the answer the board hopes for. Avoid reacting defensively to upset homeowners, and will make sure they are informed as to the “whats” but also the “whys.” If the board disregards my advice, I will document it in writing to the board. Not attempt to give specialized advice, but will refer the board to the appropriate specialized professional. Try to please all, while knowing that I can’t. Be knowledgeable: Pursue professional designations and attend seminars to keep me up to date. Be prepared at any board meeting to explain significant deviations from budget. Understand the Business Judgment Rule, and confirm the board has sufficient information to make each decision. Encourage my board members to join the Community Associations Institute, knowing educated boards are better boards. Better board meetings: Protect the board from overly long or disorganized meetings. Create agendas with consent calendars to quickly handle non-controversial items. Alert the board when an agenda is too ambitious. Become comfortable with the fundamentals of Roberts Rules of Order. Help the board stay on topic and on agenda. Alert the board if it is handling matters in closed session which should be in open session. Bring the HOA governing documents, including all rules, to every meeting. On each agenda item, be prepared to provide a recommendation or recommend retention...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 2] – The HOA Member

I, the HOA member, resolve to: Number one: Follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. My attitude: Not refer to the HOA or board as “they,” since it is all “us.” The directors are also members who pay assessments and give their time to benefit us all. Be neighborly, because shared ownership fails without cooperation. Assume our directors are doing their best as volunteers, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Not first assume the board is incompetent or dishonest when I believe it is overspending. Avoid the “my home, my castle” attitude. We share the benefits of common interest ownership, which means we also agree to share the control of our property. Ask questions before making statements, criticizing, or even accusing. Acknowledge the board may have more information than me. This doesn’t mean the board is right, but it does mean my opinion might not be fully informed. Take the long view of our association property, supporting growth of our capital reserves fund and maintaining our buildings. Be knowledgeable: Read the information the HOA sends to me. Be familiar with the CC&R’s, bylaws, and rules. I will reduce confusion and disputes by understanding the use restrictions and rules. Read the association budget and reserve study. I will ask informed questions, particularly about deviations from budget. If I ask to review financial documents, I will not ask for “everything,” and request only documents which I really need, acknowledging my manager is not a librarian. Help board meetings: Insist the board follow the Open Meeting Act, and only handle in closed session the...