Most would agree that one of the most important characteristics of a well-run homeowners association is its ability to disseminate information between the board, the members and their management team. Relevance of information and making such information readily available is crucial to keep residents informed of the latest happenings in and around the community. Good communication makes things run smoothly and fosters a sense of confidence in association members about their governing board and administrators.
According to Michael Brower of Michael Brower Realty Co. Inc., a management firm based in Hackensack, a lack of communication is the number-one basis for shareholder complaints against a board. The most common complaints have a common root: not enough meetings held, failure of a board to follow up promptly on its decisions and responsibilities, board members and managers ignoring resident concerns, and so forth.
Keeping the Door Open
Boards and management can do their part to improve relations with all association members by making themselves available to address questions and by distributing information on upcoming decisions or projects to all the residents in the community. In the past, the main method of getting the word out about anything in a homeowners association was to put it in the association newsletter, or to announce it during a meeting and count on those who attended the meeting to inform those who didn't.
There are a number of reasons an HOA might cite as their reason for sticking with a more old-school means of communication; perhaps their staff is comprised of volunteers who are not technologically savvy, or perhaps the residents of the community are older and either don't have Internet access, or are more comfortable receiving printed materials from the HOA in their regular mailbox.
So a newsletter sent via regular mail is a big component of an association's communication effort. In addition to newsletters, HOAs also may send out reminders, event calendars and official documents such as ballots. They may dedicate a community bulletin board in a centralized common area or a clubhouse where managers and residents will regularly post announcements, updates and events calendars.