There’s no shortage of discussion on the web about rules violations in homeowner and condo associations. Just search “HOAs” and you get endless links to articles, blogs, forums and rants about heavy-handed associations.
As a Community Manager, you have the unfortunate task of sending violation notices and managing enforcement. Not fun at all.
The fact is most homeowners don’t consciously violate the rules. They have either forgotten them, or more commonly, are simply not aware of them. And, as renters become more prevalent in association communities, relying on the homeowners to relay the rules is even more problematic. Anecdotal surveys of managers reveal “I didn’t know” is the number one resident response to an HOA violation notice. Unfortunately, this “not knowing” can cause hard feelings for the residents and a time drain for managers to spot, process and track violations.
Instead of these negatives, wouldn’t it make more sense to take a proactive approach to educate and remind owners and renters about the HOA rules? Select the most common violations and create friendly content that explains the HOA rule in a simple, straight forward way. Topics can range from ARC procedures and watering restrictions to reminders on maintenance and car parking issues.Then, schedule periodic broadcasts to the residents on a consistent basis.
So, what do you need to accomplish this?
If your community has an HOA website or email blast, you can post it or send it there. However, now in the age of email overload and forgotten websites, an HOA mobile app with text message and mobile notifications can be a better choice – and is fast becoming the platform of choice for community associations. Let’s face it, a message right in your hand is hard to ignore. We have our heads buried in our mobile device a large majority of our day.
So here are some suggestions for the best technology features to look for in a communications app:
- A good system can push information over multiple formats, such as mobile app, text, email, mobile notifications and automatic website updates. The resident can choose how to receive the information for maximum exposure.
- An effective system also provides for a one touch system, where a single action or touch pushes to all multiple formats. This is a great time saver for you.
- Systems which allow content to automatically be pushed out – monthly, quarterly, yearly, seasonally – are the best choice. By creating the content once, you never have to touch it again after it’s scheduled, unless you need to modify the reminder or stop it.
- A helpful system allows reminders to stay visible and sortable, like in a community feed where residents can scroll down to see previous posts. This gives new owners and renters a resource to review past reminders.
- A system that allows some messages to be included or excluded from renters’ view is a must. There are messages that are targeted to owners only, like a budget or board meeting. Renters need to get the reminders like the rest of the residents; however, association business should stay only in the owner’s view.
- Archiving of past content for re-use is a very helpful feature, if a new round of reminders is needed. This saves time spent recreating original content.
- Also, a system that allows photos to be uploaded is crucial. Images can help give a visual to the reminder, or provide a light-hearted tone to your content, if a humorous photo is included.
- Of course, a great system always comes with support for both the technology and the content creation.
In the end, stopping HOA violations before they start is a win for everyone. The resident wins, because reminders are how we live today. You win, because reducing the number of violation reduces your workload. And, most importantly, the community wins because it keeps looking great!