Be Part of the Solution, Not Part of the Problem, in Your HOA

[Forgive me but this post also will show up in my California HOA & Condo Blog. Worth sharing because there are many who can use this reminder.]

I did 6 telephone consultations with owners the past 3 days. They all paid my fee, and felt better after talking with me. 3 were able to resolve their issues with their associations/managers -once they understood their options and the limitations and the rights imposed by the law or documents. The others had me write letters, and were happy even though the tone was not accusatory, damning or threatening, which is what they felt they needed before understanding that” reason” generally speaks louder than shouting.

It is a service I offer – and I started doing this about 10 years ago (although I have been practicing law more like 30 years!). The consultations are not free. They cost $250 for an hour on the phone. That’s less than my usual rate for services but I know it’s a difficult sum to pay up front, not knowing anyone personally.

I realized many years ago that attorneys who really know this area of the law well were hardly available to the owners. And it has not hurt my homeowner association practice, in fact it has made me a better lawyer. Sometimes we forget there are two sides to every question.

I really abhor bad behavior whichever side of the table it is coming from, owner, manager lawyer or homeowner association. And believe me, it happens on all sides. And I understand the reasons for it. And I try to be patient with it.

But I have to say I am quicker to forgive homeowners who lose it when they are frustrated. It is not an excuse to berate or threaten anyone, but if the director, manager, or attorney on the other side of a temper tantrum can really listen, and let someone blow off a little steam (expressing why they are mad) before trying to communicate with them, 9 times out of 10 one can get a meaningful interaction going.

Yes, more is expected of the managers, directors and attorneys. We are “the parents” in the scenario. I could use legal terms like the fiduciaries … and the professionals … but really, we are like the parents more than anything else, and we should act with respect and a view toward helping the frustrated owner or explaining to them what is best based on our own knowledge, experience, and training.

Can you imagine how you would feel (I hope this does not apply to you) if your parents acted like idiots,  disrespected you, shouted, threatened, or were not willing to listen, or if they were unfair, uncompromising when they really could give a little more, or they just ignored you when you asked for some help? Would it make you a better person?

Try to bring out the best in a difficult situation.

And owners, some of you could do better too. The owners that make the best strides after a consultation with the information that I give them about their situation, their standing, and their options, are those who listen to me instead of spending the whole hour consultation complaining about what someone else is or is not doing.


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