One More Quick Post on Solving HOA Problems

I like many others in this world crave more time in every day to accomplish things. I enjoy life because I care about things. These days I am sort of in semi-retirement but still doing select work in this field which includes drafting documents, solving problems, and doing telephone consultations. I care about this work and try to help where I can. Here is an area where I can help, if the person or board on the other end of the line is willing to listen.

When addressing an issue head on -instead of butting heads, get a strategy. Butting heads constantly leads to headaches, and does not solve any problems. In fact, who can even think straight with a bad headache. Not me!

Try a pragmatic approach. It helps of course to have a strategy that is based on a good understanding of what is going on, what the law and documents provide in the way of guidance, and what tends to work and what doesn’t. The average person would not have a lot of experience in that regard, certainly not as much as someone like me who has been in the business for 30 years. Still, when you lob grenades out continuously, if they keep missing the target you need a new strategy!

Here are some thoughts:

Do not go YEARS putting up with the same problem day after day until you are sick, desperate and become hard of hearing (I mean in a burn out way, not an inner ear problem). I consult with owners and directors all the time that are so hyped up over a problem, or so emotional, or so mad, that they would like to spend the hour they pay for telling me all the bad things the other side did TO THEM. Often my conclusion is that they are part of the problem. But I have to approach that in a delicate way, which I try to do. If they hear me, and do the things I suggest, it often starts to break up the log jam, melt the iceberg, open a dialogue. These things all cause a shift that is more likely to lead to a solution than butting heads!

Do not spend thousands on a people issue with an attorney that does not have experience dealing with HOA people issues. Attorneys whose only experience is “book learning” and reading the Davis Stirling Act looking for clues are not really very helpful (sorry attorneys). In fact, they can get you in deeper than you intended and without any easy escape plan. For example, many owners who contact me want to sue, want to hurt, want to do damage, because those things are where they are. They want me to solve the situation. When I tell them I can help them solve it, sometimes they resist, sometimes they just are worn out and do not want to do any of the work. However, when I tell them that once an attorney letter goes out, the attorneys take over the conversation and the board and owner lose control of the situation AND the costs, they sometimes look at things differently. Huh, it’s going to cost me a lot of money to get you involved, but there are things I can try first? Sounds good to some. Some attorneys on the other hand think the only way to solve things is if they bring down the hammer, hard. Sometimes that is necessary as a last result, but never as the first line of offense.

Do not rely on telephone messages or confrontation in the common area, or email for results. I often tell people on the other side of the phone – harping at board meetings in the forum where no one is really listening or constant emails back and forth tend to GET LOST IN THE WIND! Sometimes they think they have accomplished something if they gripe to a neighbor board member and the neighbor simply responds with some escape phrase like “I’ll look into it.” That kind of exchange GETS LOST IN THE WIND!

If you want a board or a neighbor to address a problem, write an official letter, lay out the problem, suggest a solution (to help them figure it out in case they have become hard of hearing or void of ideas), and give a reasonable timeline for a response. Deliver the letter by priority mail or some form of mailing where there is a receipt record. If you think the manager or board president are serving as such a filter that the rest of the board members are not getting the straight story, FIGURE OUT A WAY TO GET your communication to all board members. If you do not know how to reach them I can provide some ideas, but always warn that pummeling the board or board members with repeated demands does not invite success. It generally invites being tagged as “the disgruntled owner” who becomes the enemy of state.

I hope this voice of experience helps. I want what you want, solutions to problems. I don’t want what you don’t want, spending thousands on attorney fees while the dispute escalates. I don’t want to earn my living that way. That is why I write, consult, blog, and keep my feet i the water.



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