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Neighborly Etiquette: Navigating HOA Community Interactions

Learn how to navigate the ins and outs of HOA community interactions with this comprehensive guide on neighborly etiquette.

Written by

HOA Loan Services

Published on

30

Jan

2024

HOA communities can be a wonderful place to live, but they also require a certain level of neighborly etiquette to ensure a harmonious environment for everyone. Understanding the basics of HOA communities is crucial for navigating these interactions effectively.

Intro

I read an article the other day in the LA Times about the return to work in an office after Covid and how some employers were sending their employees to "charm school" in order to help them with business etiquette, table manners and how to coexist with others in the office.

It really got me thinking about the Homeowners Association, Condo Associations and interacting with and being friendly to our neighbors. I think even though the American Dream of homeownership seems daunting to some these days, we all still hold some very core values near and dear to our hearts.

The American Dream

We all want to live somewhere (whether it's a condominium or a house) that we feel comfortable and safe. I think most people also want to know and be friendly their neighbors. In a hilarious Episode of Seinfeld, Kramer proposes an idea where everyone in the apartment buildings name and picture are posted down in the lobby so that neighbors in the building can get to know one another.

While that's obviously a comical take on it, the idea is that knowing and respecting your neighbors is one of the great keys in community building and development. To take it a step further there are many publications out there actually reporting on this very topic. The consensus seems to be that knowing and being friendly with your neighbors not only helps build community relations but can also help cut down on crime and improve overall neighborhood appeal.

Consider This Scenario

One of your neighbors has let their yard get a bit out of control and it's starting to become an eyesore in the community. Everyday you drive by it on your way to and from work and it starts to get under your skin.

You've brought it to the attention of the board and you've discussed it with a few of your friends but nothing seems to be getting done. You have seen this particular neighbor around the community before but you have never really introduced yourself or connected.

One day you decide enough is enough and you go over to their house to confront them. Before you can start into your neighbor about the importance of upkeeping their yard, you notice they look a bit fral and out of sorts. You introduce yourself and ask them how they are doing. The neighbor confides in you that they've been diagnosed with an illness and have fallen on hard times.

You connect over a love of music or sports and you realize that this is not a bad person or someone out to destroy the community. It's just a human that has had more than a few bad days. You offer your help and together you form a bond and a friendship. You may even help them clean up or mow the lawn.

The point of the story is you never really know what's going on in someone's life. In a homeowners association or condo association, there is a unique connection because whether you like it or not, each family needs to rely on the people around them.

Community Togetherness

In a community association, financial decisions are made as a group and your property value is similar to your neighbors property value. When you need money to repair the roofs or the building siding, everyone has to participate in the special assessment or HOA loan. When the building needs to be painted, everyone in the community shoulders that financial burden.

It's a unique way of living and that brings me back to why etiquette and respect are so important.

HOA Community Meeting Etiquette

We often sit in on HOA board meetings and calls with property managers. What strikes me everytime is that most people in the community don't seem to know one another and therefore they don't respect one another.

Board members will talk over each other, interrupt each others sentences, yell at their property managers you name it we've seen it! It doesn't have to be like this. This is a gentle reminder to be a good neighbor. Strive to know and understand each other. Just because you can afford a $20,000 assessment doesn't mean that your neighbor is in the same financial situation as you.

Some Helpful Tips to Being a Good Neighbor

  • Get to know the other members of your community
  • Practice being a good listener (this is important)
  • Try your best to consider the impact of decisions on others not just yourself or your own property
  • Treat your community like a business, gather unbiased data and think critically through options
  • Consult with experts outside of the community when it comes to financial decisions like HOA loans or special assessments
  • Consult with experts outside of the community when it comes to capital improvement projects or community maintenance and repairs
  • Think to yourself "would I treat someone at work like this?"
  • Smile! A simple smile at someone can turn their day around. This is the easiest and best way to make a quick impact. It's hard to get mad at someone when they are smiling at your

Conclusion

In closing, fostering a sense of community begins with small gestures—smiles, knowing your neighbors' names. These simple actions pave the way for more informed and fair decision-making within homeowners associations. You don't need lengthy conversations daily; just recognizing those around you can lead to a stronger, more prosperous community. So, let's start with the basics and watch our communities thrive.

Want to know more?

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