Pearls of Wisdom

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116 Tips To Ensure a Happy Community Association Experience
Compiled by Kenneth M. Budd
H. Jackson Brown, Jr., wrote Life’s Little Instruction Book to provide his son with wisdom he could refer to as he lived his life. In that same spirit, CAI editors have combed through 20 years of CAB publications and periodicals to offer similar instructions for community association life. Here then are 116 pearls of wisdom to guide you and ensure that your community association experience is a happy one.
Be a Good Homeowner
1. Review the documents before you buy your unit.
2. Read them again when you move in.
3. Pay your assessments.
4. Attend the annual meeting
5. Read the newsletter and the minutes.
6. Follow the rules.
7. Serve on a committee.
8. Serve on the board.
9. Don’t expect someone else to do it for you.
10. Remember that you are a member of the association. What is good for it is good for you.
Be a Good Neighbor
11. Love thy neighbor.
12. Respect thy neighbor.
13. Curb thy dog.
14. Don’t play the stereo too loud.
15. Park in your own space.
16. Don’t be a six-car family.
17. Clean up after yourself.
18. Take care of your property.
19. Help form a neighborhood watch.
20. If there is a problem, talk about it—direct conversation is more effective than sending a letter or banging on a wall.
Be a Good Board Member
21. Serve because you care, not because you have a hidden agenda.
22. Use CAI courses and information to learn how to run a community association.
23. Study the documents before you enforce them.
24. Don’t go on a power trip.
25. Remember your fiduciary duty to protect, preserve, and enhance the value of the property.
26. Conduct a reserve study.
27. Let the manager manage.
28. Focus on policies, plans, and objectives.
29. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
30. Communicate some more.
Be a Good Leader
31. Establish clear goals.
32. Articulate them.
33. Don’t put things off.
34. Set high standards.
35. Make decisions.
36. Do what is right, not what is popular.
37. Be positive.
38. Ask others for input.
39. Plan and save for the future.
40. Send thank you notes.
Have Productive Meetings
41. Distribute materials—financial reports, agendas, bids—to board members a few days before the meeting.
42. Study this material.
43. Prepare an agenda.
44. Follow it.
45. Follow the rules of parliamentary procedure.
46. Act professional—don’t let the meeting turn into a social event.
47. Don’t serve alcohol.
48. Don’t call people names.
49. Open the meeting to other owners.
50. Allow questions only after the meeting.
Work with Committees
51. Define the committee’s purpose.
52. Support the committee members.
53. Keep in touch with them.
54. Seek their opinion.
55. Ensure that they follow the rules of parliamentary procedure.
56. Give them objectives.
57. Give them deadlines.
58. Remember—a committee usually offers recommendations, not solutions.
59. Offer them love, praise, and acceptance.
60. Reward them.
Develop A Successful Budget
61. Obtain input from owners, board members, committees, and management.
62. Conduct research to ensure the budget is accurate.
63. Develop a month-by-month evaluation—don’t just divide by 12.
“A well-informed membership harbors fewer ‘hard’ feelings.” – Bill Meyer
64. Talk with contractors to estimate costs.
65. Be realistic.
66. Raise assessments if necessary.
67. Be straightforward about it—don’t use gimmicks or emotional appeals.
68. Plan for the future.
69. Look for ways to cut expenses, but don’t reduce the level or quality of services or without telling the owners.
70. Communicate the budget to members.
Enforce the Rules and Deed Restrictions
71. Give residents a voice when creating a rule.
72. Make rules specific and reasonable.
73. Communicate the rules.
74. Review the rules—new ones may be needed, old ones may need to be discarded.
75. Make the first contact with violators informal, if possible.
76. Never “look the other way.”
77. Offer compromises.
78. Hold a hearing.
79. Try arbitration or mediation.
80. Hold public meetings on divisive rules.
Renters and Kids, Parking and Pets
81. Don’t treat renters as outcasts— involve them in the community.
82. Publish a tenant’s handbook.
83. Plan events for children.
84. Let the children help organize the events.
85. Give them a place to play.
86. Tow cars only as a last resort.
87. Place parking signs where they can be seen.
88. Give pets a place to walk.
89. Encourage the purchase of fish.
90. Watch Old Yeller.
Work with Complainers
91. Remember: the only way to improve is through constructive complaints.
92. Be diplomatic.
93. Listen.
“Heaven and hell are the only mandatory membership organizations which can guarantee compatibility of neighbors.” – Byron R. Hanke and Thomas S. Kenny
94. Appear interested.
95. Remain calm.
96. Don’t say anything about anyone’s mother.
97. Try working together—two people cooperating are more effective than one person telling another to change.
98. Do not allow complainers to insult you or use foul language.
99. Never complain about complainers—your words will get back to you.
100. Invite them to volunteer.
End Apathy
101. Recruit new residents.
102. Promote volunteerism as a positive experience.
103. Be enthusiastic.
104. Publicize the association’s accomplishments.
105. Recognize volunteers.
106. Give awards.
107. Meet people.
108. Hold social events and “meet the owners” nights.
109. Offer owners motivation for serving.
110. Ask for volunteers in the newsletter, in-house bulletins, and through face-to-face contacts.
Know When It’s Time to Go
111. Check your blood pressure.
112. Determine if you are buying aspirin in bulk.
113. If you’re burned out, get out— new volunteers can offer new energy and ideas.
114. Make yourself available to new board members.
115. Continue to read the newsletter.
116. Pat yourself on the back.
Those Who Made the Pearls
These pearls of wisdom were taken from articles in Common Ground, The Magazine for Condominium and Homeowner Associations, and CAI’s newsletters and publications. They were written by the following authors and contributors:
Robert B. Aglar, PCAM
David G. Baratti
Bradford J. Brady, PCAM
David Gibbons, PCAM
Jim Groth
F. Scott Jackson
Carole Murphy, PCAM
Michael E. Packard, PCAM
Carol Paul, PCAM
Arnold Sanow
Sherri Schmoekel
This article is provided by Accell Property Management