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10 Reasons for the “Disconnect” Between the Board and the Owners in Your Community Association

I have been managing various forms of real estate in Florida since 1972. Since that time I have contemplated why there is a “disconnect” between a Board of Directors and their Unit Owners. To the Unit Owner, the Board does not understand what the unit owners want, need and have to endure. And with that, the Board will say, “It is right there in the documents, why don’t they read?” On the other hand, the Unit Owners are oblivious to what they agreed to when they took title to their unit/lot, etc. The Unit Owners will then say to themselves (or in some cases, out loud!), “They are dictators and they want to infringe on my rights!” Like most disputes in life there is miscommunication between parties, and hence, this disconnect that seems to be typical in community associations.

In general terms, the Unit Owners don’t seem to “get it” and the Board doesn’t “communicate it”. Today I will explain why the Owners don’t seem to “get it” and what an Owner could do to improve their understanding of what their community association does or does not do for them and with that knowledge the reasons why.

What I find is that, in general, Unit Owners do not understand the following about community association living:

1. What is the association responsible for?

2. What am I, the unit owner, responsible for?

3. What do our assessments pay for?

4. Why are the association’s assessments so high?

5. What is the role of the Board of Directors and why do we need them?

6. What are the legal differences between an HOA, PUD, Condominium and what do I live in? How does that affect me too?

7. What is the difference between an Operating Account and Reserve Accounts?

8. Why do we have to have different accounts, funds and savings?

9. What does the Property Manager do and why do we need one?

10. Why does enforcing the rules have an impact on property values?

If everyone who lived in an association thoroughly understood these questions and agreed to abide by the documents, statutes, and rules and regulations, life would be beautiful, the sun would shine and the birds would sing. However, that is not usually the case in community associations and educating the Unit Owners will be an ongoing process. Due to this “disconnect”, the Board, management and staff will have to attempt to continually engage and educate the Unit Owners on these points for the foreseeable future.

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John R. Math is the owner of Art Marketing Strategies, an art marketing & consulting company for new and emerging artists. He is also an art photographer who specializes in selling his art to the commercial and corporate art field. In addition he is the owner of Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery.

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  • Hi John, great post! & great questions. Answer them well and you are well on your way to re-connecting. I think your point about the need for ongoing education is very well made. Thanks for sharing on Bloggertone & BizSugar. Warm Regards, Niall

  • Hi John. Some interesting thoughts here that can be applied to any commercial enterprise. It highlights the importance of communication and understand between all parts of the “machine” – be that board to snr mgmt teams, management teams with each other or indeed the business and it’s customer. If we don’t understand what each wants/needs, it’s doomed to have major problems.

  • Anonymous

    Great post and great advice. Communication is the key point. 10 great probing questions that if answered correctly will lead to much better understanding throughout the organisation.

  • Anonymous

    Niall…thanks for the nice comments! I really appreciate it. Best to you.

  • Anonymous

    Gregfry…thanks for the comments. Communication + Education always helps to get to a better place. Best to you and thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    Barneyausten…thank you. Sounds like you know how it all works. It is an “Age Old” question on how to understand others, communicate those differences, then execute! It is tough sometimes to get everyone on the same page! Best to you.

  • It’s always the case when something ‘unexpected’ happens, there comes the doubts and controversial questions. Imagine the time and energy one association needs to solve the conflicts, how about the trust issue? Ongoing education is a must and not limiting to written documents. Good reminder!

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  • To some degree your points about communication can be applied to any organization. I know the executive of our Toastmasters club works hard to keep the membership informed and involved in our decision making. Communication is the key to success everywhere.

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